A Veterinarian's Guide to Labrador Retriever Dogs

Labrador retrievers were officially recognized as a dog breed by the American Kennel Club in 1917. These animals, which originated in Newfoundland, can be found colored yellow, black, or chocolate. These active dogs need careful training to ensure obedience, but Labrador retrievers usually fit in well with the typical family. The strong retrieval instinct of these canines also makes them ideal hunting dogs.

Training and Temperament

Labrador retrievers tend to orient themselves to their owners. They need human attention, and they are happy, good-natured canines. These dogs are highly intelligent, so they respond well to training. In fact, they are a common breed for service dogs due to their intelligence and loyalty. When young, Labradors are usually very exuberant and energetic. This high level of activity makes it important to train them from a young age. Labrador retrievers also need ample space to run and roam. The ideal lifestyle for a Labrador retriever would involve having the run of the house to explore and daily opportunity for running and playing outdoors. A Labrador will get enough exercise without human participation if the dog has access to a large, fenced yard with a companion dog.

Size and Health

Labradors are medium-sized dogs with an overall athletic appearance. A male Labrador retriever will grow to a height of up to 24.5 inches, and a female could reach a height of up to 23.5 inches. Male dogs may weigh up to 80 pounds, and females could top the scale at 70 pounds. When these dogs are in optimal condition, they have strong muscles throughout their bodies and little fat.

Care

With the Labrador's elevated need for human interaction, a family should anticipate an active involvement between the dog and family members. Labradors also need daily exercise to stay healthy. Exercise helps prevent obesity and behavior problems. Walking the dog is one common form of exercise, but Labradors also like to play. Toss a Frisbee or ball to your dog for a game of fetch. An obedience class can also be effective exercise. When dog boarding is necessary, find a dog sitter with excellent references and accommodations to ensure the best care for your Labrador.

Feeding

Labradors need to eat a variety of foods to get all of the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats they need. Dog foods can combine all of these components, but it's important to choose a high-quality brand. Avoid a dog food with the majority of the ingredients coming from corn or wheat byproducts. Do not feet a Labrador a diet that consists mainly of human foods.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Labrador retriever's coat is dense. The hair of this dog is short and straight. As you run your hand over your dog's coat, it will feel hard, yet the undercoat is full of softer hairs. Coloring can vary among the three different color variations. Yellow Labradors may range between a light cream color and a darker color with hints of red. Sometimes, yellow Labradors also have color variations on their backs, ears, or underparts. Chocolate Labradors can be either light or dark in color, but no other variations usually occur in the coat. Black Labradors are plain black with no range or variation in the color.

Children and Other Pets

Labrador retrievers fit in well with families of varying sizes. These dogs work well with a single owner or with large families. Their patient nature makes them ideal for families with children. They also get along well with other dogs and other types of pets in the same home. With ongoing socialization between the dog and family members, most Labradors integrate successfully into a home to become loved and loving members of the family.

Adoption and Rescue

Visit the following websites for information about adoption and rescue of a Labrador retriever in need: