- Owner's Guide
- Breed Profile
The Perfect Owner & Home
Although patience is required during the Labrador Retiever's extended puppyhood, over all, Labs can be a great addition to a family that wants the dog to be a member of the family, in the house and a part of the family's activities.
The perfect owner wouldn't mind dog hair in the house, a few muddy paw prints or a very strong wagging tail. Although Labrador Reteivers can live in the city, they are happiest when they can run outside, chase the birds that fly over, and play in a puddle.
If you want a dog who is devoted only to you, don't get a Lab. Sure, your Lab will love you, but he will love your neighbor, too, and the delivery driver and even the mail carrier! However, if you want a social, happy, friendly dog; well, then, the Labrador Retriever is the right dog for you.
Appearance & Grooming
Labrador Retrievers are a medium-size breed; most are between 21 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds.
The body is sturdy and compact, and muscular. The head is broad, the eyes are dark, and the
ears hang naturally. The tail is of moderate length, thick and strong.
Labrador Retrievers' coats are weather proof, allowing them to shed off water like a seal. The coat is medium length with a dense undercoat and a coarser outer coat. Colors include yellow, black and brown. The coat is easy to care for but does require regular brushing. Brushing will help keep shedding to a minimum during most of the year but in the spring and fall, during the shedding seasons, this coat does shed!
Personality, Temperament, & Exercise Needs
The Labrador Retriever temperament is one of the things that most owners enjoy the most about the breed.
Labs are happy dogs and they love people. Once a Lab is your friend, you will be greeted with a wildly wagging tail, a wiggling body and a smiling face every time you meet, no matter whether the dog saw you five months or five minutes ago.
This personality can make raising a puppy tough, though, because Lab puppies don't take anything seriously. They are happy puppies, with no fear and no sense of keeping themselves safe from harm. Therefore, puppy owners must make sure they are vigilant about puppy proofing the house, yard and garage so the puppy can't get into trouble.
Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs.
They enjoy playing with children and are big enough to take some rough housing. They enjoy spending time with the family, even if it's just snoozing on the floor while the kids do their homework.
Labrador Retrievers need daily exercise. A couple of long brisk walks and several one-half hour
play sessions throughout the day will keep an adult Lab happy; puppies will need more playtime.
Socialization & Training Needs
Kindergarten puppy training is always a good idea for Labraodor Retrievers. Not only will this help Lab puppy owners to establish some household rules, but the training can help the owners teach some basic obedience commands that will be important as the dog grows up.
Because this breed is so attached to people, Labs are not good backyard dogs and if left alone and isolated for too many hours, they may develop some bad habits. They may dig up the lawn, chew on things in the backyard, bark too much or even try to escape from the yard.
The breed has been successful in a variety of canine sports, including agility (learn more about Dog Agility), flyball, field trials, obedience competition, dock jumping (VIDEO: Dock Diving) and more.
The Labrador Retriever can be counted on as a true friend. Labs work as guide dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and for narcotics detection. They are also one of two breeds used in the Puppies Behind Bars Program.
Labrador Retrievers originated from the original "St. John's" water dogs of Newfoundland—rugged dogs who worked alongside the fishermen of Newfoundland, helping them pull in nets and even catching fish that escaped from fishing lines. Over the years, Labs developed into the retrievers we know today when they were crossed with setters, spaniels, and other retrievers.
Labrador Retrievers used to be best known for their glossy black coats, but yellow and chocolate Labs are growing in numbers. Any of the Labs can have a small white spot on the chest, but all should have dark (not pink) noses. The coat is short and dense and sheds year-round. Eyes range from yellow to hazel to brown or black.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: Strongly built, very active, muscular in the hindquarters. Tail should not curl over the back.
The Labrador Retriever has a distinctive tail. It is covered with thick, short (not feathery) hair. It is wide at the base and tapers to a point. It should not curl over the back. It is called an "otter" tail because of its rounded shape.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.