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Spotlight On One Of America’s Favorite Dogs: The Lab
January 1, 2024

January has gone to the dogs! Fido will be celebrating quite a few special occasions in the coming weeks. Several breeds will be bounding into the spotlight: January celebrates the Standard Poodle, the Alaskan Malamute, The Australian Shepherd Day, French Bulldog, American Eskimo Dog Day, Boxer Day, and Yorkshire Terrier. We’re focusing on the Lab in this article. This smart and charming pup really has everything you could wish for in a dog. They are cute, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart.  A local Urbana, MD vet shares insights into these endearing companions in this article.

Basics About The Lab Retriever 

Labs have big hearts, big personalities, and big bodies. They usually get to be between 21.5 to 24.5 inches high, and should weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. However, they are prone to obesity: many of them weigh 80 pounds or more. They typically live between about 10 to 12 years. They are a great family pet, and also do well with other animals.

What Is The Labrador Retriever’s Personality?

This is one area where Fido really shines. Labradors are not only absolutely adorable, but they are also typically very friendly, lovable, and affectionate. This is the pooch that wants to be everyone’s best buddy. It’s worth noting that these Very Good Boys have incredible memories. That’s one reason they are so trainable. (Tip: your canine pal may remember his lessons better if you make a habit of playing with him after class.)

It’s no surprise that Labradors hold a special place in our hearts. They are one of the most popular breeds, thanks to their playful demeanor, intelligence, and loyalty. Fido was actually America’s number one pooch for 30 years! Just last year. The short, stout, and plucky little French Bulldog took the top spot away. We wouldn’t be surprised if  Fido reclaims his title next year.

What Health Issues  Are Associated With Labrador Retrievers?

Labradors tend to be quite hardy. You can keep your pooch healthy with a good diet, proper exercise, and regular veterinary care. However, there are a few specific issues Labradors are susceptible to, including hip dysplasia. Fido may also suffer from heart problems; hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness); eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy; and ligament ruptures. You may want to consider some specific health tests, such as eyes, hips, and elbow evaluations.

Another common issue is bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests. Watch for symptoms. 

Some of these include:

  • A hard and/or swollen tummy
  • Dry heaving (retching without vomit) 
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Signs of pain/discomfort

What Is The Labrador Retriever’s Temperament?

Incredibly cute and charming Labradors are renowned for their friendly, affectionate natures. Fido is the dog who loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and accompanying his humans everywhere. (He also loves making new friends, snagging treats and belly rubs, and playing with his buddies.)  The Lab is normally very affectionate and loyal, and always wants to please his humans.

However, Fido isn’t perfect: he can be clumsy, overly enthusiastic, and a bit prone to mischief. 

Potential adopters should be aware that Labs are high-energy dogs that require lots of physical activity and playtime. They can also be prone to doggy shenanigans, like rolling around in puddles or chasing squirrels.

It’s important to choose the dog that suits your home and lifestyle. Do plenty of research before you make a decision.

What Activities Does The Lab Retriever Excel At?

Most of these guys absolutely love swimming. In fact, Fido has slightly webbed toes, which come in very handy when he wants to jump off a dock after his favorite ball. The Lab also does well in many doggy sports, such as flyball, agility, freestyle, or Frisbee.

Because of their obedient nature, intelligence, and trainability, Labs are great working dogs. They can be found working in a variety of fields, such as search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs. Fido also makes a wonderful therapy dog, and may be found comforting his human pals in many hospices, hospitals, and other environments. 

One thing the Lab isn’t quite so good at? Being a guard dog. Fido might bark if there’s someone at the door, but he’s probably more likely to run up to an intruder with a wagging tail than chase one off.

What Is The History Of The Lab?

Fido is officially classed as a British retriever gun dog. His ancestors were first developed in the 1500s in Newfoundland. In fact, the breed was named after the local region of Labrador. The breed’s early history began when local water dogs were mixed with the bigger Newfoundland dogs, resulting in dogs known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. The pups’ thick, water-repellent coats and webbed paws made them natural swimmers. They were particularly skilled at retrieving nets and fish from the North Atlantic’s frigid waters, towing dories, and pulling ropes from one boat to another.

Fast forward to the 1830s. The 10th Earl of Home and his nephews took an interest in the pups, and spearheaded the next round of deliberate breeding. They brought some of the dogs from Newfoundland to Europe, likely aboard trade ships. Those dogs were bred with British hunting dogs, giving Fido his classification. Then, in the 1880’s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury got involved. He mated his pups with descendants of the dogs the Earl had imported, thus creating what is undoubtedly one of the cutest and most beloved dogs ever.

Fido was charming American farmers and hunters by the early 1900s, and happily bounded into the ranks of the AKC in 1917. He’s been charming us ever since.

What Color Is The Labrador Retriever?

Labs come in three official colors: yellow, black, or chocolate. There is a bit of controversy here. For instance, you may hear dogs referred to as red or white Labs. Those pups are technically yellow Labs that just chose different shades of yellow. There is also the silver Labrador Retriever, which is not only super cute, but also a little controversial: the AKC doesn’t recognize them as purebreds. (Sorry, buddy: you’re still a good boy!)

Grooming The Labrador Retriever

Fido has two coats: the top coat, which is coarse and thick, and a soft undercoat. Labs don’t shed heavily, but they do need to be brushed regularly and bathed occasionally. Nail trimming and dental care are also important. (Note: Many Labrador Retrievers enjoy playing in mud puddles, which will require a few extra baths or hose-downs.) Ask your Urbana, MD vet for specific tips on your pup’s care and grooming needs.

Celebrity Labrador Retrievers 

Fido has starred in some of the best dog movies of all time, including Air Bud, Marley and Me, and The Retrievers. These are all great options for family movie nights! Of course, these lovable pooches are also popular on social media. It’s probably safe to say that if you do a search for ‘Adorable Lab’ or ‘Adorable Labrador Retriever,’ you won’t be disappointed!

Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Contact us, your Urbana, MD pet clinic, today! As your local pet hospital, we are dedicated to providing top-notch care.