The Labrador Retriever is one of the most famous and widespread breeds in the world. The reasons of this success are essentially two: the beauty of the breed with its sweet face and sturdy build, and its docile, patient and sensitive nature which makes it perfect as companion dog and playmate for children. The Lab is also used as escort and service dog for disabled people, in rescue searches and pet therapy. However, we must not think that this is not a demanding breed. Labs are strong, lively and must be trained with care. Luckily, this type of dog learns quickly and gladly because it loves pleasing people and making them happy. In short, the Labrador Retriever is a loyal, intelligent and reliable companion which however should receive affection, motivation and fun in order to keep fit and happy.
Characteristics accepts by FCI:
The Labrador is a large-sized breed, not too tall but sturdy and strong. The sweet-looking muzzle of a Lab is well known and recognizable even by people that are not so experienced in dogs.
A Labrador puppy can cost anything between 1000 and 1500 euro which is expensive. Except for the initial expense, maintenance cost is not very high as the breed doesn't require professional grooming, it doesn't have special dietary requirements and it is generally healthy. It may be advisable to invest in good training if you have little experience as dog owners.
High purchase cost, maintenance quite cheap
Labradors are known for their loving and sweet temperament. This breed loves spending time with its family and doesn't tolerate solitude at all. The Labrador can adapt to apartment life provided it can move for at least one hour a day. In the past, these strong and muscular dogs were bred to work and must be engaged in an activity to keep fit.
The Labrador can live in a unit but it must exercise a lot
Labradors don't tolerate being on their own and they always need to be in the company of someone. This type of dog was bred to follow human beings at work and, even nowadays when they are mainly companion dogs, they can't be apart from their owner. Don't get a Labrador if you can't keep it with you or if it can't at least be with loved ones at all times.
Completely intolerant to solitude
The reputation of gentle and docile dog has made the Labrador Retriever the most popular breed in the western world. Nevertheless, owners may sometime fail to understand that even these very docile dogs need to be trained. In fact, they are powerful dogs that can become difficult to manage with a lack of training. Labradors are suitable for first time owners provided they are committed to seriously train or bring them to a professional.
A gentle but very strong breed that requires training
The Labrador Retriever is such a sensitive breed that is used to assist disabled people or during pet therapy. This type of dog can sense people suffering and immediately understand their needs. In short, Labradors are extraordinarily sensitive dogs and this trait requires respect. The Labrador must be treated with great consideration and care.
A breed gifted with a truly exceptional sensitivity
As the name says, the Labrador is a breed that originates from the cold Canadian wilderness and it tolerates cold weather quite well. Labradors have a particularly thick and hard coat which used to protect them while they were working with fishermen in collecting the nets that helped putting boats into dry dock. Nevertheless, mainly due to their nature they live better at home with their family rather than outside.
A breed that tolerates cold climates quite well
Being robust and quite versatile, the Labrador doesn't experience particular discomfort even in the heat. However, when temperatures are high it is necessary to be careful and keep your Labrador sheltered during the hottest hours. This breed should always have access to water and, if the weather is overly muggy best to limit any strenuous activity.
Be mindful not to let your pet out during the scorching hot hours
The huge widespread of the breed which is one of the most popular in the world is due to its reputation as affectionate, docile and patient and it is indeed a well earned fame. Labradors adore their family and they are willing to do anything to please it. The Labrador has an absolute devotion towards loved ones which can even bring it to overload on an emotional level.
A type of dog that loves its family very much
Labradors are so patient and loving with children that they are considered a "nanny" breed. And actually, a Labrador will let a kid do anything. Labs are fond of playing with children and being around them however, except for when they are puppies their games are usually too boisterous. Labrador puppies on the other hand are extremely lively which is quite normal.
A patient and gentle breed around children
If there is one thing that a Labrador Retriever cannot do is acting as a guard dog. This type of dog is so fond of human beings that it greets everyone with warmth and affection. Unless it has had a bad experience or obviously, in case its family is being threatened the Lab is generally naturally trusting of people, so much so that it is used in pet therapy.
Sociable and welcoming with strangers
Labradors will usually get along with everyone: human beings and other animals. If they meet another dog they curiously approach it and invite it to play. The Labrador is an all-round companion dog, perfect if you have another pet and want to introduce a new member to the pack. This breed is so reliable and docile that it is used to escort disabled people.
Very friendly towards other dogs
The fur of the Labrador is easy to keep clean and tidy however this breed goes through a fairly challenging moult. During the main shedding seasons your Labrador must be brushed on a daily basis to prevent it from tarnishing the house. The coat of a Labrador is double, thick and when it sheds it can become annoying and build up in the house.
This breed sheds a lot of hair during moulting season
The Labrador can display a tendency to drool, especially when it is engaged in a game or when it is hungry which happens very often. This breed is actually very greedy.
It tends to dribble while playing or when it is hungry
Keeping your Lab clean is absolutely not a difficult task. This breed is equipped with a hard and thick coat that requires little care. It only needs to be brushed well to remain beautiful, particularly during moulting season. We recommend bathing your pet approximately every two months in order to remove excess hair and dead skin cells. Given we are talking about a large-sized breed, it is probably more convenient to take your Lab to a professional groomer for its bath.
A breed that remains clean easily with brushing and a bath now and then
Labradors are generally quite healthy nevertheless they are exposed to certain genetic diseases. Amongst these we find hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Osteochondritis dissecans (a disease that causes an improper growth of joint articulations with subsequent pain), cataract.
Generally a healthy breed however subject to some diseases
A Labrador Retriever's tendency to gain weight is well known. This breed is typically very greedy and tends to eat more than necessary also because owners are often unable to resist its demands. Conversely, owners should be very careful in feeding their Lab a balanced diet without allowing too many snacks or it will easily gain weight with awful consequences on its health.
A type of dog that easily puts on weight also because it is very greedy
Labradors want to please everybody and, especially their master. They are extremely responsive during training and they learn with ease. However, be mindful not to underestimate this breed's need for training. Yes, Labradors are docile and gentle however they are also strong and the slightest inclination to disobey can cause substantial challenges in controlling them.
A type of dog that is very easy to train
A Labrador Retriever will hardly stray away from its family, especially if it is well trained. This is a very accountable breed, so much that it is used as escort and service dog for disabled people and during pet therapy with elderly and sick people. Nonetheless, like almost every breed the Labrador too can be tempted to fool around a bit if it has the opportunity.
A breed that rarely strays away from the owner
Labradors love to nip objects and toys, and they are ready to swallow anything resembling food. This type of dog can dig through the rubbish, destroy toys to pieces and swallow them. They must have resistant toys on which release their need to chew. This breed doesn't have a tendency to bite people or other dogs.
The Labrador loves chewing and destroying objects and toys
Despite the fact that Labradors were initially hunting dogs (on top of being a working breed all-round), today there is very little left of this ancient predator instinct. The Labrador can easily live with cats and other small pets, and it usually stays near the owner even in woods and countryside. If well trained and not too young or adolescent, the Labrador is reliable and calm.
This type of dog does not have a strong hunting drive
Labradors will happily bark. They will engage in this behavior to greet the owner, family friends or even just plain strangers, and also when they are bored. The Labrador Retriever must be busy with a task or it will look for a way to entertain itself, possibly in unpleasant or even destructive ways (chewing shoes, couches and various objects).
This breed barks to greet or when it is bored
As working dogs once used for varied duties, Labradors are energetic and lively despite being docile and calm. A Labrador needs to move and undertake a task that will engage it physically and mentally. Sadly, some owners mistake this breed's gentleness for laziness and try to transform them in "couch potatoes". Nothing more wrong!
A strong and full of energy type of dog
The Labrador will easily learn not to pull on the lead and how to behave responsibly however it must be adequately trained. If they are not, they tend to pull and do everything with too much power, winding up their owner. Another reason why your Labrador Retriever should be trained as a puppy when it is easier to manage.
A strong breed with an inclination to pull and be vivacious
Don't make the mistake of many inconsiderate owners who adopt a Labrador confiding in the breed's docility hoping to have an affectionate and little demanding dog in the house. On the contrary, this type of dog requires exercise and engagement in physical and mental tasks in order to exploit its great level of energy.
A breed that requires plenty of exercise
Playing is a vital activity for a Labrador which gives it joy and allows it to release the abundance of energy. This breed loves playing with humans, children included but also with other dogs. A Lab's fondness for games makes it an especially pleasant and fun breed but it is important to know when to say "no" as this type of dog has a tendency to go on forever without ever getting tired.
Labradors love to play and never get tired of it