Let's talk Labrador Retrievers

There is a reason Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs worldwide. Playful and devoted, they are known for their open, enthusiastic temperaments, which you’ll soon come to adore - as long as you can stand the affection overload, that is. They are smart, too. With a little patience, the Labrador breed trains well. Just keep that plate of food away from the edge of the table.

Official name: Labrador Retriever

Other names: Labrador, Lab

Origins: United Kingdom

Mother and baby Labrador
 Drooling tendencies

 High

 Warm weather? Very low
 Grooming needs  Medium  Cold weather? Very high
 Shedding level  Very high  Suited to apartment living ? Very low
 Barking tendencies  High  Can stay alone?* Very low
 Physical activity needs  High  Family pet?* Very high
 Compatibility with other pets  Very high    

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

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Mâle
70 - 76 cm Taille
50 - 60 kg Poids
Femelle
64 - 70 cm Taille
40 - 50 kg Poids

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 8 months
 Junior age 8 months to 2 years
 Adult age  2 to 5 years
Mature age  From 5 years

Komondor running towards camera over grass

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Get to know the Labrador

All you need to know about the breed

Labrador Retrievers are definitely not the dog equivalent of a couch potato. Swimming, playing – did someone say, “Fetch!”? – and long walks with their favourite humans…the Labrador is up for anything and everything. Including training. Training sessions are usually a satisfying endeavour thanks to the breed’s inherent smarts. Balanced and playful, once trained, most Labradors are really great with children. Often trained as therapy dogs, the Labrador’s character traits mean they make for superb service animals. And they have pretty good manners, too. 

It’s important to remember that this breed has one fairly big motivator: their appetite. This can make it challenging to maintain a Labrador at a healthy weight, perhaps more so than with other breeds. However, with a balanced, right-for-Labradors diet, plenty of exercise and a good vet, you’ll have yourself a healthy, contented dog.

 

Quite robust and muscular, they have powerful jaws and a large nose. Their eyes, usually brown or hazelnut-coloured, are full of softness, intelligence and devotion. When a Labrador Retriever looks at its owner, the connection is clear for all to see. 

Labradors’ coats are short and thick, without waves or feathering, with a weather-resistant undercoat. You can find the breed in yellow (ranging from light cream to fox-red), brown or all-black. Their tails, often aerobically in movement, are quite thick at birth. Completely covered with dense hair, it gives the Labrador’s tail the appearance of roundness, or what is commonly called an ‘otter tail’. Good advice: when a Labrador is content to see you, don’t stand in the path of its tail! 

Known for their friendly, kind temperaments, the Labrador Retriever breed is supremely adaptable to almost any living situation. As a family dog, they will somehow gather the patience to wait for the children to get home from school and excitedly head into the garden to play with them. While a Labrador will bark when it hears strange or loud noises, they don’t make great guard dogs – when well-socialised, they are quite devoid of aggressiveness, bearing no ill will towards man or their fellow pets. 

Two Komondor dogs sitting together on grass

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2 facts about Labrador Retrievers

1. Labs live for 2 things: playing and food

And not necessarily in that order. But that’s what training is for. There are plenty of great Labrador puppy training videos on the internet - and great trainers locally. The playing helps keep your Labrador in great shape and prevents him from getting bored. You’ve got this!

2. Staying on top of things 

Labrador Retrievers can be prone to certain health concerns, from conditions like hip dysplasia (a reputable breeder will have tested the parents before mating them to help prevent the puppy from having it) to ACL tears - yes, like humans. With recommended exams, a balanced diet and check-ups, most problems can be found early.

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History of the breed

There’s a reason Labrador Retrievers are so good on both land and in the water. A direct descendant of the St. John’s Water Dog, named after the capital of the

Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, fishermen used these hard-working dogs to help retrieve their nets and fish from the icy waters of this coastal wilderness. The dogs also kept the fishermen company on what was an isolated, massive and surely inhospitable island. 

However, the answer to “Where do Labradors come from?” isn’t that straightforward. The breed as we know it today is believed to have been established in Great Britain sometime in the early 1800’s. Adventuring aristocrats and returning fishermen brought the Labrador’s ancestor back to England with them, where the dogs found early fame for their hardy constitutions and loyal dispositions.

The Earl of Malmesbury, a clearly forward-thinking man, took notice and deduced, correctly, that the dogs were well-suited to life on the estate. A breeding program was successfully put in place and it is thanks to the Earl and some of his fellow noblemen that the Labrador Retriever breed exists today. Still as comfortable in the water as they are on land, the Labrador Retriever remains one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

Labrador head

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Labrador Retrievers

1. Ears

Ears small in relation to head, triangular and erect, set wide on head

2. Coat

Short, dense coat over water-resistant undercoat

3. Fur

Smooth, glossy fur is close-fitting and can vary from brindle to red and white.

4. Tail

Set high, tail is naturally long and rarely stops wagging – and their whole body can wiggle at times.

5. Legs and spine

Well-proportioned, with good balance between leg and spine lengths.

Komondor puppy walking over grass

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Labrador Retriever

Healthy diet, healthier dog

Puppy
Adult
  • When choosing food for a Labrador Retriever, there are many factors to consider: their age, lifestyle, activity level, physiological condition, and health including potential sickness or sensitivities. Food provides energy to cover a dog’s vital functions, and a complete nutritional formula should contain an adjusted balance of nutrients to avoid any deficiency or excess in their diet, both of which could have adverse effects on the dog.
  • A Labrador Retriever puppy’s requirements, in terms of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins, are much greater than those of an adult dog. They need energy and nutrients to maintain their body, but also to grow and build it. Until they are 15 months old, Labrador Retriever puppies’ immune system develops gradually. A complex of antioxidants - including vitamin E - can help support their natural defences during this time of big changes, discoveries, and new encounters. Their digestive functions are different from an adult Labrador Retriever’s, too: their digestive system is not mature yet so it is important to provide highly digestible proteins that will be effectively used. Prebiotics, such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), support digestive health by helping balance the intestinal flora, resulting in good stool quality.
  • It is important to choose a kibble with an appropriate size, shape, and texture to make it easier for them to grasp with their teeth and eat. This growth phase also means moderate energy needs. Large-breed puppies, such as Labrador Retriever puppies, whose growth period is long and intense, are especially susceptible to skeletal and joint problems, including limb defects, bone deformities, and joint lesions. The first part of growth is mainly concerned with bone development, although the muscles also start to grow. Limiting the energy concentration of a food for Labrador Retriever puppies and feeding a correct daily amount will help control the speed of growth and minimise the risk of excess weight. Neutering is a factor in overweight dogs.
  • Concentrations of other nutrients should be higher than normal in a specially formulated growth food. Although the calcium content in the food needs to be increased, large-breed puppies are more sensitive to excessive calcium intake. It’s important to understand then that adding any ingredients to a complete food formulated for the growth phase is at best unnecessary and at worst dangerous for the animal, unless prescribed by a veterinarian. It is recommended to split the daily allowance into three meals a day until they are 6 months old, then to switch to two meals per day. Throughout their life, it is important to avoid feeding Labrador Retrievers human foods or fatty snacks. Instead, reward them with kibble taken from their daily meal allowance, and strictly follow the feeding guidelines written on the package in order to prevent excessive weight gain.
  • The main nutritional goals for adult Labrador Retrievers are:
  • Maintaining an ideal body weight with an adapted calorie content, an increased protein level, and L-carnitine involved in healthy fat metabolism. Labrador Retrievers are well known for being greedy and for their tendency to gain weight. A specially designed kibble shape can also help reduce the rate at which they eat.
Komondor running towards camera over grass

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Caring for your Labrador Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips

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All about Komondors

All about Labrador Retrievers

In a word, yes. They have double coats and that can mean quite a lot of shedding action for dogs like the Labrador. They shed their coats year-round, but even more in spring and winter. Staying on top of brushing – getting them used to twice a week brushing is a good idea – and grooming will help decrease the amount of dog hair clogging the vacuum each week.

Like any dog, your Labrador Retriever didn’t come into the world knowing all the rules. But they are ready and willing to learn and, with some solid lessons, you or a professional trainer can guide your Labrador puppy to understand what is expected of them. The Labrador temperament  is one that innately wants to please, so they’ll pick things up relatively quickly. Early training is essential if you have children in the house, as for any breed.

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Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/