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Spotlight On The Labrador Retriever

January 1, 2024

A very popular dog is hopping into the spotlight in the coming weeks. January 8th is Labrador Retriever Day. These sweet, lovable pups definitely deserve to be celebrated. The Lab is one of the world’s most popular dogs, and it isn’t hard to see why. With their exuberant personalities, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty, the Lab may very well be the perfect dog. A local Watertown, WI vet puts these Very Good Boys in the spotlight in this article.

Labrador Retriever Breed Basics

The Labrador is a medium-large dog. They usually get to be between 21.5 to 24.5 inches high, and should weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. Fido can sport one of three pretty colors: yellow, black, or chocolate. The Labrador typically lives between about 10 to 12 years. 

What Kind Of Personality Do Labrador Retrievers Have? 

This is one area where Fido really shines. Labradors are not only absolutely adorable, they are typically very friendly, lovable, and affectionate. They are a great family pet, and also do well with other animals. This is the pooch that wants to be everyone’s best friend. These guys are also very, very energetic, and need a lot of activity and playtime.  Fido does love to chew, so he’ll need lots of toys. (You may notice your pooch enjoys carrying his toys around, which will never not be cute.) It’s also worth noting that the Labrador Retriever has a long ‘puppyhood’ – your pooch will act like a rambunctious teen long after he’s officially fully grown. Training is required here: Fido can be clumsy and over-enthusiastic. However, he really strives to please his humans. 

What Does The Labrador Retriever Excel At?

Fido loves swimming: in fact, he has slightly webbed toes, which come in very handy when he wants to jump off a dock after his favorite ball. He also does well in many doggy sports, such as flyball, agility, freestyle, or Frisbee.

Because of his good nature, intelligence, and trainability, Labs can be found working in a variety of fields, such asearch-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs. They also make wonderful therapy dogs. 

What Health Issues Do Labrador Retrievers Have? 

For the most part, Labradors tend to be healthy. However, they are prone to a few specific issues. Hip dysplasia is not uncommon with these guys. Other issues that we see in Labs include heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), and eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy. Labradors are also sometimes prone to ruptures in their ligaments.

Another common issue is bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests. Talk to your Watertown, WI vet about your pup’s feeding practices. You’ll also want to watch for symptoms, which include:

  • Hard, swollen tummy
  • Dry heaving (retching without vomit) 
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Signs of pain/discomfort

Bloat can be life-threatening, so contact your vet immediately if you spot any of these. 

In general, a good diet, a suitable exercise plan, and proper veterinary care should keep your pooch happy and healthy. However, you may want to look into getting some specific health tests. The National Breed Club recommends having Labs tested for the following:

  • Hip and Elbow Evaluations
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Exercise-Induced Collapse
  • Centronuclear Myopathy
  • Eye Evaluation

Ask your Watertown, WI vet for specific advice.

What Are The Labrador Retriever’s Grooming Needs?

Fido has thick, water-resistant fur. The Labrador Retriever actually has two coats. The top coat is coarse and thick, and a soft undercoat. These guys aren’t the heaviest shedders, but they do need to be brushed a few times a week.

There is a bit of confusion around coat colors. For instance, you may see dogs referred to as white or red labradors. These are technically yellow labs, just in different shades. Then there is the silver lab, which is both adorable and controversial: They are not officially accepted by the AKC, and many breeders insist that they are not true purebreds. (We’ll leave that debate to others.)

You’ll need to give your pooch occasional baths. Your canine buddy’s nails should also be trimmed regularly. Dental care is important as well. 

It’s worth noting that many Labrador Retrievers absolutely love playing in mud puddles. This, of course, will necessitate some extra baths or hose-downs. 

What Is The History Of The Labrador Retriever?

Fido first bounded into our hearts over in the UK. Technically, Fido is classed as a British retriever gun dog. The breed’s ancestors were first developed in the 1500’s in Newfoundland, and was named after the local region of Labrador. Local water dogs were mixed with the bigger Newfoundland dogs, resulting in pups known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. Fido’s thick, water-repellent coat and webbed paws made him an excellent swimmer. These Very Good Boys were adept at retrieving nets and fish from the North Atlantic’s frigid waters. Fido also helped his humans out by towing dories and pulling ropes from one boat to another.

The modern Labrador can trace his origins back to the 1830’s when the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, brought dogs from Newfoundland to Europe, likely aboard trade ships that were sailing from between Canada and Poole in Dorset and back. Those dogs were bred with British hunting dogs. Then, in the 1880’s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury took an interest in Fido, because of his skill at retrieving waterfowl. He eventually mated his pups with descendants of the dogs the Earl had imported, thus creating what is undoubtedly one of the cutest and most beloved pups ever.

Fido’s amazing character, adorable looks, and intelligence helped him become very popular. By the early 1900’s, the labrador Retriever was charming American farmers and hunters. He was welcomed into the AKC in 1917. By then, the breed was becoming very popular as a pet. Fido was officially welcomed into the English Kennel Club in 1903.

Why Are Labs So Popular? 

The Lab really has every quality you could want in a dog. They’re cute, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart. In fact, Fido is such a great dog that he was America’s number one pup for 30 years. He lost the top spot just last year, when the stout and plucky French Bulldog stole the spotlight. 

What Kind Of Personality Does A Labrador Retriever Have?

Labradors are known as generally wonderful dogs, and their lovable personalities have a lot to do with that. Fido is the dog who loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and accompanying his humans everywhere. These pups can be a bit mischievous, so you will need to make sure to burn off those zoomies.

What Are The Pros And Cons To Choosing A Labrador Retriever?

There really aren’t many downsides to having a Lab: you just need to pick the right pup for your household. As mentioned above, these dogs are sweet, friendly, and super lovable. However, they can also be a bit stubborn and can be prone to shenanigans, such as rolling around in puddles or taking off after every squirrel they see. Proper training and lots of exercise are crucial here.

Famous Labrador Retrievers

Quite a few of these charming dogs have made it into the spotlight. There’s Clifford The Big Red Dog: a red Lab. Brian Griffen from Family Guy;  Luath, from The Incredible Journey  Little Boo, a therapy dog assigned to Big Boo in Orange Is the New Black, is a Labrador. Then there’s Spike, who played “Old Yeller” from the movie Old Yeller.

Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Contact us, your local Watertown, WI pet hospital, today!