If you’re thinking about getting a Labrador but aren’t quite sure if a lab is the right breed for you, then stick around and keep reading; these pros and cons will surely be enough to help you make your decision!
Labradors are one of the most popular breeds of dog out there, loved by individuals and families alike. They’ve featured in huge modern movies such as Marley & Me as well as Disney classics like Old Yeller and The Incredible Journey, and they’re highly sought after for many reasons.
(image of one of the movie posters for one of the films mentioned above)
Perhaps you’ve got a friend who has a Labrador or maybe a relative that’s got one, and you’re thinking to yourself “I’ve always wanted a dog, a lab could be perfect for me!”. You might be right but there’s a lot of thought and consideration that needs to go into adopting a dog.
A Labrador will be around for at least 10 years so before going ahead with the adoption process, you need to know all you can about the breed and what looking after one will entail. This post is by no means an exhaustive account of everything you need to know, but you will hopefully find some helpful pros and cons that could make your decision more informed.
Some General Information About Labradors
Labradors, also known as Labrador Retrievers, were bred to be hunting dogs. As the name suggests, they were often trained to retrieve birds, rabbits, and other animals that had been shot during a hunt. Their gentle jaws and soft mouths are perfect for handling objects delicately which was ideal in hunting situations.
Before becoming the hunting/gun-dog breed we’ve known in more recent years, Labradors were originally Canadian in origin and served widely alongside fisherman, helping to pull in nets, fetch things, and retrieve fish from the sea.
(image of a Labrador swimming)
Labradors are strong swimmers and were perfectly suited to this kind of life. Today, as well as being hunting companions and beloved family pets, Labradors are also commonly trained to be guide dogs, mobility assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs amongst many other services.
To find out a bit more about other traits Labradors have, you can check out this article comparing them to Golden Retrievers. Whether you’ve considered a Golden Retriever or not, this comparison will also give you a bit more insight into Labradors and how they measure up to this other, wildly popular breed.
Now, moving onto the pros and cons. Because it’s always nice to end on a high note, we’ll begin with the cons.
Looking at a happy-go-lucky lab playing with a ball or running along the beach, it’s difficult to think of the cons that might come with adopting one. And although the pros most likely outweigh the cons, it’s still important to know about the bits that are not so great.
Starting small with this list, Labradors are big shedders. They’re double-coated dogs which means exactly what it sounds like: double the fur = double the shedding.
No matter what colour lab you get, yellow, chocolate or black, you’ll have to contend with a lot of stray hairs collecting in different places around your home, sticking to your clothes and furniture, and floating around freely whenever there’s a breeze.
You can find out more about Labrador shedding at this link.
Shedding is inconvenient in terms of clean-up but can also cause issues for allergies, so although it doesn’t seem like a massive issue and is certainly a problem you’d have with most dog breeds, it is something to think about before taking the plunge.
The Great Labrador Hunger
Labs are notoriously greedy dogs. If you put food in front of them, their reputation states that they will eat it. It’s likely that it doesn’t matter what kind of food it is or how much food it is, if they’re capable of eating it, they will.
This means that labs are at high risk of becoming overweight or even obese, so their feeding needs to be monitored quite closely. If you notice your dog putting on a few excessive pounds, it might be time to think about a diet. Your Labrador might not be happy about this, but it’s for their own good!
Because of their strong penchant for sniffing out treats, you may need to watch dining tables, food cupboards, and bins until your Labrador is fully trained, just to make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t have.
All That Energy!
Having a Labrador requires a lot of energy because as a breed, THEY have a lot of energy (and when we say a lot, we mean A LOT). This means you’ll need to be prepared to take your lab on lots of walks, at least twice per day ideally, as well as ensure they have ample space to bounce around in.
(image of a Labrador running or jumping)
Labradors are not great dogs for small apartments or other cramped spaces as they hate to be cooped up and need space to expend their energy. They’ll also require a lot of toys to play with, especially while you’re out of the house (otherwise you might find your shoes and other belongings have become a bit on the chewed side by the time you get home).
Labradors don’t chew things, knock things over, and make a mess to spite you; they just need an outlet for their energy, so it’s best to keep them exercised and stimulated as best you can!
Curiosity Killed the…Dog?
Labradors are very curious dogs that love to sniff around and explore. This is a quality that many people find adorable and charming, as well as helpful (keep reading to find out why). However, a lab’s curiosity has the potential to get him in trouble from time to time.
Whether it be finding and eating something they shouldn’t or getting stuck in a small but tantalising space, Labradors can sometimes allow their curiosity and thirst for adventure to get the better of them. Especially while they’re young puppies, they might need some additional supervision.
During the training phase, if you notice your puppy gravitating towards things they shouldn’t, make it clear to them that that isn’t ok and distract them with something they are allowed.
Unfortunately, Labradors are prone to quite a few health issues and diseases. We’ve already seen how their tendency to overeat can lead to obesity, which is very common in labs, but there are a few other health concerns that you need to keep an eye out for.
Genetic problems such as arthritis, and hip and elbow dysplasia are frequently found within the Labrador breed, and although issues such as these cannot be cured exactly, there are ways to help your dog avoid injuring themselves or making the problems worse.
Cancers are also very common in Labradors, and although there are scans and other medical procedures that can detect cancers early on, it is quite a common cause of premature death. Other often lethal diseases include liver and heart problems.
Sadly, this is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the health concerns frequently faced by Labradors, but none of this is to say your dog will definitely get any of these diseases or problems; it’s equally likely that they will have a normal and healthy life.
Moving swiftly onto happier things, here’s the list of pros to having a Labrador. Every cloud has a silver lining and in the case of Labradors, the silver lining is far more noticeable than the cloud!
Sweet Disposition and Stable Temperament
The first thing on our pros list is the Labrador’s personality. There are lots of reasons why labs are so popular amongst individuals and families alike, and one of the key reasons is because they are some of the sweetest, gentlest, and friendliest dogs you’ll ever come across.
Labradors are notoriously intuitive and affectionate, making them the ideal companion, and as soon as you bring one into your home, you’ll never want them to leave. Labradors will always be happy and excited to see you when you come home after work, and you can expect lots of kisses and cuddles – what more could you want?
(image of a person hugging a Labrador)
Labradors are also very patient, good with children and other animals, and dependable; you can rest assured that unless severely provoked or hurt, your lab will not act aggressively or unpredictably. They are natural people pleasers and want nothing more than to make you happy.
They are also fiercely loyal so once you’ve earned their trust, you’ll have a best friend for life!
The flip side of Labradors having too much energy is that they are incredibly athletic and active, which is ideal if you yourself enjoy an active lifestyle. Walking, jogging, hiking, and cycling are all activities that you can expect to enjoy with your Labrador.
Labs are excellent swimmers and generally love the water so if you’re a bit of a water baby too then trips to a river, lake or beach could make for the ideal outing with your dog. Activities such as these can also be amazing bonding opportunities.
Labradors are strong, fast, and very trainable which means they’re easily taught tricks and “jobs” that can provide you with assistance as well as entertainment, for example, labs can be taught to fetch and carry things, pull and push things, and operate different mechanisms around the house (such as opening a fridge or turning off a TV).
(image of a Labrador doing an obstacle course)
As the last point started getting into, Labradors are exceedingly intelligent dogs who love to learn and please their master. They thrive on challenges and cognitive stimulation, and it’s their intelligence coupled with their trainability that makes them the perfect choice for so many service-dog roles.
As you may well know, Labradors are commonly trained to be guide dogs for the blind, mobility assistance dogs for people in wheelchairs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. Their excellent sense of smell makes them great search and rescue dogs too. Their talents do not simply end at doing tricks and retrieving things!
(image of a guide dog)
Labradors have also been known to be able to sense things like pregnancy and disease in humans so can also be trained to help people with epilepsy, diabetes, and other health issues, keeping them safe.
Grooming and Care
Labradors might have a double coat which means more and thicker fur than some other breeds, but their fur is also short and straight which makes grooming fairly easy and straightforward. You won’t need complicated equipment or expensive tools to ensure your lab is looking their very best!
Because they shed quite a bit, labs will require regular brushing, but each session doesn’t need to last too long and because their coats are short and generally tangle-free, it shouldn’t be a difficult job either. In terms of bathing, Labradors only require washing once every two to three months unless they get visibly soiled or overly smelly.
Because they’re very patient and trusting, processes such as nail clipping are also relatively simple. Make sure you start grooming your dog from when they’re a puppy so they get used to the different sensations and processes.
Difficult to Beat
Labradors are fun-loving and excitable dogs that just want to have a good time. They’ll make a game out of anything and can sense when you’re happy so if you encourage them by laughing or reacting positively to something they’ve done, they’ll likely keep doing it.
Whether it’s going for an adventure together outside or curling up on the sofa in the evening, your Labrador will bring a smile to your face and be the perfect companion. Their intuitive nature also means they’re great at detecting if you’re having a bad day, and they’ll show you they care by rubbing up against you, bringing you one of their favourite toys, or simply placing a paw on your leg.
There might be a few cons to having a Labrador in your life, but it’s fair to say that for most people, the pros far outweigh the cons. Most people couldn’t ask for a better dog!
Many of us know the struggle – you want a furry companion to come home to after a long day at work, but your pesky allergies make the decision very difficult. What about a Labrador Retriever? Aren’t they hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, the very short answer to this question is no, no they’re not hypoallergenic. But before you despair, it’s worth looking into the subject a little bit more. Not all allergies are created equal after all, and likewise, neither are all allergens.
The key reason why Labradors are not considered hypoallergenic is because they’re shedders; they shed a whole lot. They shed so much in fact that without regular grooming and clean-up, you might find your carpet has a whole new layer to it over time (which no one wants, let’s be honest).
The other thing we need to consider is that fur is not the only consideration when it comes to dog allergies. Allergens can be found in dog fur, yes, but also in things like urine and saliva so even a dog that doesn’t shed, like a Portuguese Water Dog for example, could in theory still cause allergies.
Before getting too caught up in fur vs other substances and one dog vs another, let’s bring it back to basics. We can work our way up from there.
First Off, What is an Allergen?
If you’ve got allergies, you’ll probably have heard the term “allergen” countless times before. It’s a term that can be used in many different contexts and can therefore refer to many different allergy-causing substances – because that’s what an allergen is after all, a substance that causes an allergy.
Allergens work by tricking the body’s immune response into thinking they are attacking the body. The immune system works to fight off this perceived threat which results in what we see as an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can range from barely noticeable to deadly, from slight rashes or the odd sneeze to lift-threatening anaphylaxis.
Allergens associated with having furry pets are often thought to be caused by the fur itself, and this is equally common in cats and dogs. However pet allergens are much more varied than just fur. Pet allergens can include any of the following:
By this logic, even hairless pets such as sphynx cats are capable of causing allergies. Unfortunately, this makes the decision to get a pet a bit more complicated for people who suffer with allergies. What it’ll come down to is the specific reaction you have, how severe it is, and what triggers you can identify.
Dog Allergens in Particular
When someone says they’re allergic to dogs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re allergic to all dogs, or to all kinds of dog-related allergens. If this is the case for you, you might be able to tolerate certain allergens more easily than others, or may only be affected by a small proportion of allergens in the first place.
To make matters even more complicated, a person with a dog allergy might have an allergic flare-up around one dog, but not around another dog from the same litter as the first dog! Most people don’t realise how specialised allergies can actually be.
If you know you’re quite severely allergic to dogs, then sadly the best thing for you is going to be avoiding dogs completely – giving a dog a cuddle is not worth risking an aggressive reaction. Anaphylactic reactions are quite rare when it comes to dog allergies, thankfully, but many people still get severe rashes, intense sneezing and coughing fits, and even asthmatic attacks.
On the other side of the coin though, if you’re more manageably allergic to dogs, it’s possible that you’ll be able to find a dog that doesn’t cause you to experience flare-ups or reactions. This is where the idea of “hypoallergenic dogs” comes in.
What is a hypoallergenic dog? What does hypoallergenic mean?
The term “hypoallergenic” means relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. It is most commonly used to describe make-up and other body-care products but is also often used when talking about dogs and other pets.
While we now know based on the information above that no dog or mammal pet is completely hypoallergenic, due to the varied nature of allergens, there are a few dog breeds that are widely accepted as being hypoallergenic. Some of these include:
This is not an exhaustive list and as we’ve already said, no dog is truly hypoallergenic so bear that in mind when considering your options. You’ll notice that unfortunately, Labradors do not make the cut, but let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of Labradors as allergen harbours.
A Specific Look at Labradors Retrievers
Labradors shed, this we know, but shedding is not the only factor to take into account when considering allergies. For more information on Labrador shedding, check out this article.
Although labs might not make it onto the most popular “hypoallergenic dogs” list, there are certain traits they have that might make them suitable for you, depending on your allergies.
You might already be aware that Labradors love water and swimming. Generally speaking, dogs that spend a lot of time in water produce lower concentrations of allergens as the water can wash away dander and other itch-inducing substances. Breeds like Labradors and Portuguese Water Dogs have this in common: they love to swim and are therefore less likely to cause allergic reactions than dogs that prefer to stay dry.
Does this mean that ANYONE who has a dog allergy can have a Labrador? Of course not, sadly. After all, there’s no guarantee your lab will be able to swim regularly enough for the water to make a difference in allergen production.
Does this mean that NO ONE with a dog allergy can have a Labrador? Also, no. A Labrador might be a perfectly good fit for you despite your allergies, as long as your allergies aren’t overly severe, and you know how to properly manage the allergens.
Managing Your Labrador Retriever's Allergens
If you decide that your dog allergy is manageable enough to allow you to have a Labrador, then you’ll still want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to make your home as safe as possible. Even if your allergies are mild, it can’t hurt to take extra precautions.
Because labs shed quite prolifically, you’re going to want to make sure you know how to properly groom yours. Proper grooming will ensure less dog hair and dander are allowed to fall out organically and litter your home.
Labradors need to be brushed twice per week at the very least, but if you’re trying to manage your allergy then daily brushing will yield better results. Brushing with several kinds of brush is also important to execute different functions.
A rubber brush should be used to remove any loose hairs accumulating in your Labrador’s coat as these loose hairs will naturally stick to the rubber rather than floating off your dog as you brush. One you’ve removed all loose hair, you can then go in with a bristled brush to get deeper into your lab’s coat.
This secondary brushing will help to distribute natural oils in your dog’s coat to ensure a healthier, stronger coat, as well as remove loose hairs found below the surface layer of hair. Labradors are double-coated so there’s quite a lot of fur to contend with when brushing.
Although brushing should be regular and thorough, it’s also important to ensure you aren’t over doing it as this can cause sparce patches in your dog’s coat, leaving them more susceptible to sunburn and parasites.
Generally, Labradors don’t require such frequent washing and the optimal frequency is around once every two to three months unless they become unduly soiled or smelly. When trying to manage a dog allergy though, you might want to consider using a milder dog shampoo and washing more regularly.
Always wash your Labrador in warm water and try to remove any loose hair with a rubber glove or gentle brush while they’re still wet. Once you’re done washing all remnants of shampoo out of their fur, it’s a good idea to dry them as much as you can with a towel and give them another brush outside to ensure any stray hairs don’t pollute your home.
There are some dog shampoos on the market that are designed to minimise shedding so it might be worth looking into one of these, perhaps with a recommendation from your vet.
As mentioned above, swimming can reduce the concentration of allergens in your Labrador’s coat. If you live near a pond, river, or beach, taking your Labrador out for regular swims will help in managing your allergies as well as giving your lab a chance to do one of their favourite activities – it’s a win-win!
Of course, not everyone will have regular or easy access to bodies of water where their Labrador would be able to swim freely, but it’s a good tip if you’re one of the lucky ones.
Invest in a Good Vacuum
Regardless of how well your groom your Labrador, you’re still going to get loose dog hair accumulating on your clothes, carpets, and furniture. A high-quality portable vacuum will be your best friend in dealing with this hairy doom!
Something hand-held or cordless might be the most suitable option as this will allow you to get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Vacuuming regularly will definitely help to minimise the amount of fur and dander drifting around your home and should result in a noticeable reduction in your allergy symptoms. It will also ensure your house looks cleaner which is an added bonus.
On a Balance
Is a Labrador the right dog for you considering your allergies? Maybe, maybe not. Only you can make this judgement as only you know the true extent of your allergy. If you suffer with quite severe allergic symptoms when you come into contact with animal fur, then perhaps a dog isn’t a good fit for you, period.
Whatever you decide, Labrador or another breed, furry pet or reptile, there will be something out there for you. Do your research, shop around, and if you’re still uncertain then consult a doctor.
The main thing to remember is that your health must come first. Labradors (or any dogs for that matter) are a big commitment so before jumping in, make sure your health won’t suffer as a result of your new furry friend.
Labrador’s are a very popular family pet and getting one as a puppy is a common way to go. You’ll be there for all the stages of its growth and development, taking care of it, loving it, and giving it all that it needs to thrive. When it comes to food, what type is best for your Labrador puppy?
(image of Labrador puppy eating from a bowl)
There are several schools of thought about what type of food is the best for Labrador puppies, and there’s merit to all the different arguments. Each breed of dog will require different kinds and concentrations of nutrients so once you know what kind of puppy you’re getting, you can start to flesh out exactly what it needs.
Labradors are fairly large dogs and although they’re obviously much smaller in their puppy stage, lab puppies are bigger than puppies of a lot of other breeds. They need a fair volume of food when they’re growing, and you can find out more about giving your puppy the correct quantity of food here.
As mentioned above, there are several types of food that people generally give to their puppies, and we’ll go through each on in detail so that you’re in a better position to make an informed choice. Before doing that though, it’s also vital to understand that your puppy’s needs will change with age.
From Birth to Six Weeks
When Labrador puppies are born, they are completely reliant on their mothers for sustenance. Labradors generally have litters of between 6 and 10 puppies, although it’s not uncommon for Labradors to have larger litters of 12 or more.
Regardless of how many pups in a litter, the mother will provide food for her babies in the form of milk. Puppies nurse from their mother’s teats until around 6 weeks of age where they are usually fully weaned. Puppies start growing their milk teeth around 3 weeks so the mother will start gradually weaning soon after this to avoid discomfort.
(image of litter of Labrador puppies nursing)
If for some reason, the mother lab is unable to feed her puppies or in circumstances where there is no mother, puppies can be bottle fed canine milk replacement by people. As early as 3 weeks of age, you can then start to introduce very softened solid foods in tandem with bottle feeding to help wean the puppies as well as ensure they have all the necessary nutrients.
Once puppies have been fully weaned (either from the bottle or their mother), they are ready to begin eating soft, solid foods.
The First Few Weeks After Weaning
This is where the different dog food options begin to come into play. The key types we’ll be looking at are wet food, dry food, raw food, and home-made food.
You might be thinking “wow, who knew picking a puppy food could be so complicated?” but once you know what your puppy needs and what will suit you best, the decision becomes much easier. It’s all about understanding the pros and cons of each option.
No matter what your ultimate choice, very young puppies that have just finished weaning off their mothers or bottle-feeds will still require soft, moist food. Making your chosen food into a paste or gruel and mixing it with a bit of milk replacement will create the optimal consistency and nutrient mix for 6-week old pups.
Exploring Your Options
Once your puppy is able to manage this paste-like meal with ease and its appetite starts to grow, it will be time to start considering the different options mentioned above to see which will be most appropriate for you and your puppy.
While there are merits and drawbacks to each kind of dog food, you’ll need to use your best judgement to decide which option is going to work best. It might be a case of experimenting between different types, or maybe you’ll know immediately what suits you and your lifestyle straight after reading this.
(image of a pouch of wet dog food)
One of the first options people consider, and the one that seems the most intuitive for puppies getting used to solid foods is wet food. This kind of dog food commonly comes in cans or pouches and there are many types that are specifically formulated for puppies.
If you’re going to try wet food, make sure you buy a reputable brand as well as a variety that’s going to be appropriate for your Labrador; a pouch of small dog wet food is not going to give a growing lab puppy the right nutrients to help it thrive. Depending on the contents of the wet food you choose, you may need to supplement it with some dry food.
Some pros of wet food:
Some cons of wet food:
(image of a bag of dry dog food)
Dry food, often referred to as biscuits, kibble, or pellets is also an exceedingly popular option and there is a lot of variety across brands and purposes. A high-quality dry food suited to large dog breeds will be perfect for giving your puppy all it needs, and dry food can be upgraded/changed as your dog grows.
For younger puppies, you could always try dampening kibble with some milk replacement or water to make the biscuits a bit easier to handle, until your pup is more used to it.
Some pros of dry food:
Some cons of dry food:
(image of a Labrador chewing some meat or a bone)
Raw food is less commonly accepted by dog owners but there are some people that absolutely swear by giving their dogs a raw food diet. The main belief is that feeding your puppy or dog raw food will give it a host of health benefits not present in kibble and wet food.
If you’re going to try a raw food diet for your puppy, you need to do a lot of research to ensure you know exactly what kinds of food your Labrador puppy can handle and what foods will provide it with the right nutrients. It’s also advisable to make the transition gradually to avoid any shock.
Some pros of raw food:
Some cons of raw food:
(image of home-made dog food in a bowl)
The idea of cooking your dog home-made meals might seem like the height of privilege ad luxury that only influencers on Instagram could afford or bother with, but there is a growing community of people turning to home-made dog food as an alternative to generic store-bought foods.
Preparing home-made food for your dog requires a lot of research as we all know there are many foods out there that are dangerous or even lethal to dogs. If you’re going to go the way of home-made food, make sure you get some expert advice before continuing.
Some pros for home-made food:
Some cons for home-made food:
Some Foods That Are Definite No-Nos
We’ve all heard before that chocolate is bad for dogs, and more recently you may have learned that some things that people popularly give their dogs such as peanut butter might contain ingredients that are also harmful, in this case, xylitol.
(image of a stop sign)
To give you some extra peace of mind when feeding or treating your new Labrador puppy, here is a list of things that you should DEFINITELY NOT give your dog:
This is not an exhaustive list but should give you some idea of things to avoid giving your puppy at any point. You can easily find out about more harmful substances by doing a quick Google search.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, each feeding method described above comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Every one of them represents a perfectly suitable diet choice for a Labrador puppy if done correctly, but the cost and effort required are also important factors to consider.
After all, if an option doesn’t work for the puppy’s owner, then it won’t work for the puppy. As long as you feed your Labrador puppy quality food that is nutrient-rich and age-appropriate, you and your puppy will be just fine.
If you’ve found yourself reading this article, the likelihood is that you either already own a Labrador and might be concerned about its weight, or you’re thinking of getting a Labrador and want to make sure you know what you’re doing. Either way, you’ve come to the right place for answers so keep reading!
Overfeeding your Labrador can literally be a death sentence; Not to scare anyone but obesity is rife amidst the breed so it’s important to know how much to feed your lab, and how much food is too much.
This article will tackle not only the correct volume of food you should give your lab, but also the reasons why this is so important and techniques for helping your pooch to lose a few pounds if they are on the chubbier side of the spectrum.
On that note, it probably makes the most sense to start with the reasons why it’s so important not to overfeed your Labrador. Let’s get into it!
A Labrador’s Greedy Tendencies
Whilst Labradors have innumerable desirable traits (just ask anyone who owns or has ever owned a lab, they’ll tell you how amazing Labradors are), one not-so-fortunate trait is their notorious greed when it comes to food. It matters very little what the food is or how much there is of it, if you put it in front of a lab, there’s an excellent chance it’ll be gone within a few minutes!
There doesn’t seem to be any consensus on why Labradors are as intensely food-motivated as they are, but the lack of reasoning doesn’t make it any less true.
Because Labradors eat like there’s no tomorrow, they have a predisposition to putting on weight very quickly and easily which can lead to obesity in severe cases as well as other health problems. This is something you need to help your lab avoid, and you can do this by ensuring they only consume the food they need.
Nailing Down Good Food Habits
Like humans, all dogs are different and even within the Labrador breed, there will be some variation. What suits one lab might not be exactly right for the next one so it’s vital that you get to know your own dog well.
Knowing your dog will help you to pin down exactly what they need, as well as the best way to ensure they get it. When it comes to food, knowing your Labrador’s eating habits and schedule can make a world of difference.
To make the task of keeping your Labrador at a healthy weight easier, there are a couple of different strategies you can employ:
These simple techniques are more effective than you might imagine so if your current feeding routine is a bit too casual, why not give them a try?
How Much Food Does My Labrador Need?
As stated above, not all Labradors will need the exact same amount of food. But once you’ve built up a relationship with your dog and trialled different feeding techniques, you should have a better understanding of what your lab personally needs.
As a general rule, you can use the following suggestions as a guide:
If these numbers seem overwhelming, don’t panic! All good dog food brands will have feeding charts on their packaging and websites for you to refer to.
Another factor to consider which ties into how labs differ from one to the other, is level of activity. Whilst all Labradors crave, need, and thrive on exercise, it goes without saying that some will be more active than others. How active your lab is will determine how much energy they burn and subsequently how much food they’ll need to replenish themselves.
An adolescent Labrador that goes jogging with their owner several times per day will require more food than a 10-year old lab that spends more time snoozing on the sofa.
If you feel like your dog seems hungry all the time, or you start to notice them looking a little stockier than usual, a call to your vet should be all that’s necessary to put your mind at ease.
Why is My Labrador Always Hungry?
If you notice that your lab seems hungrier than usual and you’re certain that their gobbling isn’t just down to greediness, there are several reasons why this could be:
Another possibility could be an evolutionary quirk dating back to the first domestication of wolves. Sounds crazy, I know! But many scientists believe that dogs have the ability to fake hunger in order to garner sympathy from humans and ultimately obtain more food. A less delicate way of putting this is what we more commonly know as “begging”, a very common behaviour in Labradors.
How to Know Your Labrador is Getting a Little Chunky
It’s vital that excessive weight gain in Labradors is nipped in the bud before it has the chance to develop into something more serious. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, then once again, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your vet.
Before doing that though, it might be worth making sure your dog is actually becoming overweight. To tell if the extra pounds are over the threshold or not, these are the signs you should look for:
You might also notice that your dog gets tired more quickly and takes longer to recover from exercise. They might also show less enthusiasm for games and exercise, although this probably won’t be overly obvious as all Labradors love a game!
Shedding the Pounds
If your Labrador’s weight is becoming an issue, your vet will likely recommend some techniques to help them lose weight, or suggest a diet dog food. Some common ways to help your lab shed those extra pounds include:
Healthy Weight = Longer Life
It really is as simple as that. Keeping your Labrador at a healthy weight will ensure they have the best quality of life as well as the longest life they can. Obesity can lead to so many additional issues and it’s really not fair for any dog to have to go through that.
As responsible pet owners, it is up to us to ensure we give our dogs high quality food and the correct amount of it. And the accountability doesn’t just stop with food. Exercise, sleep, and positive reinforcement all go hand in hand when considering your Labrador’s health, and you need to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to support your dog.
If your Labrador gains a bit of extra weight, it’s not automatically the end of the world; you just need to be able to identify and address it as soon as possible. Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll feel better equipped to do just that!
For advice on puppy feeding, click here.
Of all the dog breeds out there, two that are very similar in many ways are the Labrador and the Golden Retriever. You’re probably thinking, “but aren’t Golden Retrievers just long-haired Labradors?”. Keep reading to find out!
(image of a golden retriever and a Labrador sitting next to each other)
You’d be forgiven for assuming that the two breeds are just slightly aesthetically different versions of each other: one short-haired, one long-haired. Labradors and Golden Retrievers have very similar appearances and temperaments, but at the end of the day, they are two different breeds.
Things are not always what they appear, and this is indeed the case with these two dogs. While they might have many obvious similarities, it’s the less obvious differences that we need to get to grips with in order to fully understand how they compare to one another.
Although their similarities might seem to outweigh their differences, when you analyse the two simultaneously, you get a better idea of the contrast between the two breeds. Without further ado, let’s get into picking apart the tangles to reveal just how similar Golden Retrievers and Labradors are.
Similarities and Differences Across Different Criteria
Harking back to the original question of goldies and labs being two versions of the same dog, it makes sense to begin by unpacking their appearances. This is the first thing you’ll notice when it comes to either dog after all.
Where yellow Labradors are concerned, Golden Retrievers look very similar indeed, bar their longer, wavier fur. Both dogs have a medium to large build, floppy ears, sweet smiles, and long tails that they love to wag! Labradors tend to have broader heads and are slightly larger and more muscular than Retrievers.
Although their fur may look different, both breeds are highly water-resistant which makes them ideal swimmers. They both also have gentle jaws which allow them to carry things carefully without damaging them (you’ve probably seen videos of people getting their dogs to hold eggs in their mouths without breaking them – both labs and goldies are exceptionally good at this challenge).
One of the most notable factors in which they differ is in colour options. Labradors come in three main colours: yellow, black, and chocolate, as well as some rarer presentations such as fox red and snow white. Golden Retrievers on the other hand, are somewhat bound by their title of “golden” and they only come in variations of similar hues: standard gold, white, and rust-red.
(image of a variety of colours of each breed)
Some people talk about “black Golden Retrievers” (yes, the irony!) but it’s likely that the dog they’re referring to is probably a flat-coated retriever. These black dogs look incredibly similar to Golden Retrievers but are in fact a different breed. It’s probable that some black “golden” retrievers exist, but this will likely be due to a normal Golden Retriever breeding with a flat-coated retriever or something similar.
You’ve probably heard it said that both Labradors and Golden Retrievers make excellent companions and family pets, and this is completely accurate! Both breeds are an absolute joy to be around and will provide you and your family with unending love and affection.
Labs and goldies are both gentle, sweet-tempered, and very curious, and it’s safe to say that both breeds love and require a lot of attention and exercise. Both can be fast and powerful, and it’s important to understand that regular walks and exercise will be vital if you decide to adopt one of either breed.
(image of dog toys or collar and leash)
Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers love to play and are naturally curious. Lots of walks with ample time to sniff around and explore will do both of them a world of good. They’re incredibly similar in that they don’t like being alone or cooped up, and will unfortunately turn their attention to chomping down on shoes and furniture if left to their own devices for too long!
Both breeds are exceptionally intelligent, and they like to learn. There’s no limit to the number of tricks and functions each one can be trained to execute. Labradors and Golden Retrievers both thrive on a challenge and enjoy following directions and pleasing their masters.
Service Dogs and Other Purposes
Whilst both labs and goldies make wonderful family pets, due to their intelligence and trainability, they’re both also commonly used as service dogs and for other functions.
Golden Retrievers are frequently trained for different services including guide-dogs for the blind, mobility assistance dogs for people in wheelchairs or with otherwise limited mobility, emotional support dogs, therapy dogs and many others.
(image of a guide dog)
Labradors are used equally commonly for the same functions and both dogs excel at the tasks they are given due to their trustworthiness, intelligence, and attentiveness. Due to their generally sweet and friendly natures, neither dog is particularly well-suited to the role of guard-dog, but they will defend you and themselves if threatened.
As their names suggest (Labradors are also commonly known as Labrador Retrievers), both breeds also love to retrieve. Be it a ball or frisbee in a park, or a pheasant or rabbit whilst out hunting, either dog will be the ideal side-kick.
Both breeds are natural-born hunting dogs and as such, have an impeccable sense of smell. This makes them perfect for search-and-rescue type missions as well as for hunting.
Because of their water-resistant coats and adventurous nature, Golden Retrievers and Labradors are very capable swimmers. They’re strong and powerful when in the water and they can also be trained as “lifeguard dogs”. This is a job that takes a lot of training but once certified, they take their jobs very seriously and can save people from drowning!
Health and Longevity
Labradors ad Golden Retrievers generally have the same sort of life expectancy, in the range of 10-14 on average. Because they are very similar in build and other traits, they tend to suffer from similar illnesses and other health concerns unfortunately.
Both breeds are prone to developing hip and elbow dysplasia which can be exacerbated by frequent strenuous exercise and age. If left unchecked, this condition can lead to pain, arthritis, and lameness in both types of dog.
Cancers are also very common in both breeds, and obesity, although more common in Labradors, is also something to watch out for in goldies. Both dogs love their food but as a general rule, labs tend to be bigger gobblers, so they need to be monitored more closely when eating.
Grooming and Care
We’ve seen several times now that Golden Retrievers and Labradors both have water-resistant fur, even though their coats are quite different in appearance. This water-resistance is due in part to the fact that both breeds have what is called a double-coat.
A double coat is basically the combination of a downy undercoat designed for warmth and the top-most layer which is more protective in purpose. Due to these double-coats, both labs and goldies shed A LOT. Because Golden Retrievers have longer, wispier hair, it tends to be more difficult to identify and remove from clothing and furniture than Labrador hair.
This means that both breeds will require regular brushing, although due to the Golden Retriever’s longer hair, more thorough grooming will be required to avoid matting. Goldies also tend to have even longer hair around their tails, bellies, and ears which is more prone to tangling. These areas might require trimming to keep under control.
In terms of baths, there’s no need to wash either breed too frequently – once every couple of months should do it. The only exceptions should be if your dog is visibly soiled by rolling or digging in something unsavoury, or if you’re using a very gentle shampoo in which case you can be a bit more regular with washes.
As far as food and nutrition go, there aren’t any notable differences in what goldies and labs can and cant eat. There are specific food brands tailored to each breed but at the end of the day, their contents and make-up are basically the same or do the same job so there’s no point stressing over which food to get. As long as it’s a decent quality food with balanced nutrients, all will be well!
No Matter What You Decide…
You’ll have a friend for life! As you can see from the information above, both Labradors and Golden Retrievers are perfect family pets and lifelong companions. From the moment you bring them home, they will be loyal and affectionate and loving.
What more could you ask for?
Yes, you might have to contend with the odd chewed shoe here or there, and a tumbleweed of fur rolling across your living room carpet when you let a breeze in, but these small inconveniences are barely a price to pay for such wonderful dogs.
Whether you have children or not, both breeds are gentle and intuitive, and will provide hours of cuddles and fun. No matter which breed you choose, you’ll see a furiously wagging tail and maybe some excited leaps whenever you enter the front door after coming home from work.
That sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
(image of a happy golden retriever and happy Labrador)
When you have a dog, that dog becomes a part of your family. As a part of your family, you want to be able to spend as much time as possible with your Labrador, but unfortunately their lifespans are not quite as long as ours. So how long can you expect your Labrador to live?
(image of a Labrador)
No breed of dog can be expected to live as long as a human, and sadly, Labradors are no exception to this rule. Whilst they might have long and happy lives, what we consider long for a dog is very different to what we’d expect for ourselves.
Realising that you’ll most likely outlive your canine best friend can be a hard pill to swallow, but what’s most important is that we give them the best possible life for however many years they’ve got. Time works differently for dogs too, so what is only ten years to us feels like much longer to your Labrador, and that’s a comforting thought.
With all that said, it’s worth noting that the quality of the years you spend with your dog is much more important than the quantity. Bearing that in mind though, there are several factors that can affect the average life expectancy of a Labrador, and looking out for these factors can give you a better idea of what to expect.
What’s the Average Lifespan for a Labrador?
Assuming your Labrador is healthy, well looked after, and generally happy, they can be expected to live for at least 10 years and even as long as 15 or 16 on some rare occasions. The typical range tends to be in the 10-14 years ballpark.
While this might seem like such an insignificant fraction of our own lifespans, we should feel blessed to be able to spend even that much time with these furry companions that are loyal and affectionate to the very end.
Yellow, Black, Chocolate – What’s the Difference?
Is there any difference in life expectancy between the different colours of Labradors? Some studies suggest that there could be.
(image of all three coloured Labradors next to each other)
Whilst black and yellow Labradors are though to be able to live for similar lifespans, chocolate labs seem to have slightly shorter life expectancies. The reasons behind this are most likely down to genetics as the chocolate colour is a recessive gene.
This means that in order to produce a chocolate-coloured puppy, both parent Labradors have to have the gene that carries the code for that colour. This in turn, means that chocolate Labradors result from smaller gene pools than black and yellow labs.
Coming from a smaller gene pool means exposure to a higher proportion of problematic genes, meaning there is more chance for a chocolate Labrador to develop undesirable health conditions than there would be for their yellow and black counterparts.
Of course, this is no reason not to adopt a chocolate lab, but it does bring up some interesting questions about breeding, as chocolate is actually a very desirable Labrador colour. There is a lot of pressure on breeders to produce chocolate Labradors when in reality, chocolate labs are sadly at a genetic disadvantage.
What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Labrador?
There are a number of different influences that can affect how old your Labrador lives to, and even though there aren’t any factors that will increase your dog’s longevity beyond its reasonable limit, there are signs you can look out for to ensure your lab is as healthy as possible.
Genetics and Size
As we’ve touched on briefly above, genetics is one of the most important factors in determining a dog’s lifespan. We’ve seen how chocolate labs live slightly shorter lives due to genetics, but the Labrador breed as a whole has some genetic factors to contend with.
Firstly, small dogs generally outlive larger breeds by quite a few years. For example, a Yorkshire Terrier’s average lifespan is between 13 and 16 years, a good couple of years longer than that of a Labrador. Chihuahuas frequently outlive even Yorkshire Terriers, having an average lifespan of between 12 and 20 years!
(image of a Labrador next to a small breed of dog)
This general trend contradicts inter-species relationships of size and longevity as we often see larger species (eg elephants) living much longer than smaller species (eg mice) due to larger mammals having slower metabolisms. Having a slower metabolism essentially means that less energy is expended on aging.
Coming back to large dogs vs small dogs, there doesn’t seem to be much scientific consensus on why smaller dogs live longer than larger ones but some possible reasons include:
Regardless of the reasons why, the fact remains that medium to large dogs are not likely to live as long as smaller breeds.
Genetic Predisposition to Diseases
Unfortunately, Labradors are prone to certain health conditions due to their genetics. Whilst it is not completely certain that your Labrador will develop such a disease, the breed as a whole is genetically predisposed to certain issues including:
While there may not be much you can do to protect your Labrador from getting certain illnesses, there are different scans and medical procedures that can help to identify these illnesses quickly, as well as determine how likely the risk of contracting them is. If you notice your lab acting different, not eating, or moving unusually, make an appointment with your vet as soon as you can.
(image of a Labrador at the vet)
You can help your dog to avoid obesity by ensuring they are fed a healthy and balanced diet, as well as an appropriate volume of food. Regular exercise is also vitally important.
Something like hip dysplasia might not be completely avoidable but you can take steps to lessen the risk of issues for your dog. Monitor physical activity to ensure your lab isn’t doing anything overly strenuous, and make sure they don’t try to jump off things that are too high.
Labradors, and other pedigree breeds, have more genetic links with disease to deal with than crosses and mongrels too. This is because dogs with parents of different breeds, or parents that are also mongrels, come from a wider gene pool which gives them greater resistance to diseases and other health concerns.
Just like humans can suffer with mental health issues, dogs can too. When a human is depressed or anxious for a prolonged period, they may start developing physical symptoms that can end up making them quite ill.
The same is true for dogs. Labradors have a sweet and gentle temperament from the time they are puppies all the way to old-age, and it’s something we love about them as companions.
Unfortunately, however, if a Labrador is placed under stressful conditions for too long, this can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear. Aside from the fact that it’s just not nice for a dog to feel scared, fear and anxiety can actually have an impact on a Labrador’s lifespan.
( image of a Labrador looking sad/scared)
Regularly being put in a situation that triggers a fear response can make Labradors more susceptible to exhaustion and disease. Hopefully, this isn’t something you’d need to worry about with your lab, but it is worth bearing in mind anyway.
Ways to Increase Your Lab’s Lifespan or Support Their General Health
While it won’t always be possible to save your Labrador from diseases, injuries, and other issues, there are some steps you can take to ensure they are the healthiest and happiest they can be. Physical and mental health are some of the most important cornerstones for a long life anyway.
Make sure your Labrador gets daily exercise and fresh air. It is important that Labradors are not overworked as this could result in joint and skeletal issues, but it’s equally important that they exercise to build muscle, stay fit, and work off pent-up energy.
Daily walks and lots of playing will keep your dog mentally healthy as well as physically, helping them to hopefully live longer. An added bonus is that exercising together will help you strengthen your bond with your lab.
(image of a person jogging or walking with a Labrador)
As we’ve already covered, feeding your Labrador a healthy and balanced diet is paramount in ensuring their overall health. Keep treats to a minimum or switch to using nutrient-rich vegetables as treats rather than things containing animal fats and bones.
The other thing to remember where diet is concerned is to feed your Labrador only the amount of food that they NEED. Overfeeding is so easy with labs as they are renowned overeaters, and will likely gorge themselves if given the chance. Small, regular meals are sometimes the best way to go to avoid allowing your Labrador to put on too much weight.
Neutering or Spaying Your Labrador
Apart from the fact that neutering your male dog will reduce anxiety, aggression, and overzealousness in terms of energy, it can also help to extend your dog’s life. Neutering removes the dog’s testicles which eliminates the possibility of them getting testicular cancer and will also stop them leaving home to look for a mate, minimising the risk of traffic accidents.
Similarly, spaying your female dog removes the uterus and ovaries which means they are no longer able to get uterine or ovarian cancers. It will also stop your dog from getting pregnant which comes with its own list of risks and concerns.
Aside from all these health and longevity benefits of spaying and neutering, it is also the most responsible decision you can make as a pet owner – there are so many puppies and dogs out there looking for homes, the last thing the world needs is more puppies.
At the End of the Day
Your dog will live as long as it lives. There are some things you can do to support your Labrador’s overall health and happiness, but genetics are difficult to contend with and there’s only so much you can do.
You might live longer than your Labrador, but don’t let the fear of losing them stop you from enjoying your time with them. Labs are some of the sweetest, most affectionate, and loyal dogs out there so any time you have will be precious!
For more information on the pros and cons of having a Labrador, click here.
If you’ve started a new adventure with a little fluffy bundle of joy scampering around, or you’re thinking of doing so, it’s important to get things right from the start. How much should you feed a Labrador puppy?
Labradors are incredible dogs. They are loving and excitable and they absolutely love to play. With a Labrador in your home, you can rest assured that no day will be boring again!
Unfortunately, as much as they love affection and attention, these things are not going to sustain your new puppy and it’s vital that they get the correct amount of food the right number of times per day. If you’ve never had a Labrador before, or indeed if you’ve never even had a dog before, it might be overwhelming to think about all the factors that need to be considered.
But that’s why you’ve found yourself here. Keep reading to find out exactly how to feed your Labrador puppy and how much is too much!
(image of Labrador puppy eating)
Firstly, What Do Labrador Puppies Need Energy For?
We all know that food is fuel for the body and helps us to get everything done that we need to do in a day, as well as keeping us healthy and helping us grow. Labrador puppies are no different in that respect – they also need to grow, do things, and be healthy.
These three things are the key reasons that Labrador puppies (and puppies in general) need energy, and it is food that will give them the majority of this energy.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these energy uses:
Labradors are fairly big dogs. If you’re looking into getting one, you should know that by now. But of course, as puppies they’re much smaller, and will have quite a way to go before they are the size of their parents before them.
Along with sleep and exercise, Labrador puppies need food to fuel their growth. And because they have a lot of growing to do and do so quite quickly, they’ll need quite a bit of food (but more on that later)!
Giving your puppy the correct type of food for their age as well as the correct quantity of food will help them on their mission to get big and strong!
(image of different sized Labradors – puppy to fully grown)
Playing and Exploring
Puppies are curious and fun-loving little beings. Apart from being cuddled and fussed over, all they want to do is play games, chew things, and explore their surroundings. Sniffing and exploring is how puppies learn about the world, so it is vital that they are able to do lots of this, especially in their early years!
You’ll also find that your Labrador puppy loves to play with you, whether that be rolling and jumping around, chasing after you or a ball, or playing tug-of-war, and all of these games will help your puppy bond with you as well as develop important skills.
Playing improves a puppy’s balance and coordination, strength and speed, and cognitive function. The more they play, the more they learn, and the more intelligent and capable they’ll become.
Food is the fuel for all of this, just as it is for growing.
(image of Labrador puppy chewing something)
Unfortunately for Labrador puppies, their health is largely out of their own control. A puppy might instinctually know to chomp on some grass if they’re having tummy troubles but apart from that, their health and care lies mainly at your feet.
Given the choice, a Labrador puppy would likely go for table scraps before eating their own food, and likewise, given the chance, they’d likely gobble up a whole bag of biscuits rather than just the amount they need. In their early years before they’ve learned better, lab puppies are probably best not to be trusted when it comes to their own nutrition!
Giving your puppy the right kind of food as well as the correct volume of food will ensure they are consuming the right kinds and volumes of nutrients to keep them healthy.
(image of happy-looking Labrador puppy)
Another important point to understand under the health factor is weight. Unfortunately, Labradors are quite prone to putting on weight quickly and if left unchecked, this can lead to obesity which is sadly rife amongst the species.
Thinking about and properly controlling how much your Labrador puppy eats will keep them at a healthy weight and save them from other health issues associated with obesity. These issues include liver and heart diseases, joint issues and arthritis, and respiratory and metabolic problems, none of which any puppy deserves.
How Much is Too Much?
So now that we’ve seen why lab puppies require food for fuel and why it’s important that they have the right amount, let’s move onto how much to feed them and how much is too much.
The volume of food you give your puppy will depend on their age as well as their size/weight. Most dog food packages will have a chart on them to tell you the correct amount for each age and size as a guide.
Generally speaking, a puppy of two months weighting between 7 and 8 kilos should be given around 50g of food four times per day. A puppy of three months weighing between 11 and 12 kilos should be given around 80-100g of food three times per day, and a 6-month old puppy weighing between 20 and 27 kilos should be given 175-225g of food twice per day.
Whilst these examples are not the law for every dog and owner, they do give you a rough idea of how much food is appropriate for your Labrador puppy at the different stages of his or her puppyhood.
Of course, there will be factors that might impact how much food your puppy requires – for example, if they’re super active, they might get hungrier faster.
However, use your best judgement and monitor feeding as you go. The last thing you want is to overfeed your puppy because you’re worried it’s hungry and then it ends up overweight.
Unfortunately, Labradors are notoriously greedy when it comes to food, so they need to be watched carefully. Never leave your puppy with enough biscuits to last the whole day, for example, because the likelihood is that they will eat it all in one sitting.
If you’re concerned that your puppy might be putting on too much weight, or alternatively, losing too much weight, then checking in with your vet is always the best option. They’re the experts and will be able to advise you appropriately on what to change.
To read up a bit on what kind of food to feed your lab puppy, check out this link.
If Your Puppy Eats Too Quickly or Doesn’t Want to Eat
As a general rule, Labrador puppies will eat whatever is put in front of them. For that reason, it’s important to have some strategies in place to slow down their gobbling. Some things you can try:
(image of a slow feeder bowl or kong toy)
Alternatively, if you find that your puppy is eating more slowly than normal or doesn’t want to eat at all, there could be other issues at play.
It’s normal for puppies to have fluctuating appetites as they move through different growth phases, but it’s not normal for a puppy to stop eating altogether. If you notice your lab puppy refusing food, and this lasts for longer than a day, then make an appointment with your vet as this could be a sign of an underlying health concern that could need medical intervention.
Don’t Worry Too Much, Odds Are You’re Doing Ok
Getting a new puppy can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. It’s a big responsibility and commitment so it’s easy to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re doing everything wrong.
You’re probably doing just fine though, and these fears are just a testament to how much you love your new furry baby. Labradors are sturdy dogs. Even if you make the odd mistake here and there, the odds are they’ll be just fine.
The best way to ensure you’re taking the best possible care of your puppy is to do some research ahead of time and understand what to expect. As we went through above, your Labrador puppy will be curious and energetic, and will have a lot of growing and developing to do, and for this all to take place, they’ll need the right feeding schedule.
Using your own judgement, your vet’s advice, and the instructions laid out on dog food packaging, you should be able to feed your puppy exactly what it needs to realise it’s full potential. And if you notice any anomalies or issues with heir feeding, make sure you address it as soon as possible.
Following this guidance, you and your new puppy will be off to a great start in your long, happy, and healthy life together!
(image of a person hugging a Labrador)
So, you’ve gone out and got yourself a Labrador Retriever, or you’re considering getting one, and you want to know what sort of hairy litter you can expect on your clothes and furniture? You’ve come to the right place!
While there are a few dog breeds such as the Portuguese Water Dog and Afghan Hound that don’t shed their fur, it’s generally accepted that most breeds do. Unfortunately, Labrador Retrievers fall into the “do” column rather than the “don’t” column.
(image of a happy-looking Labrador)
In fact, they don’t just shed, they shed A LOT!
No matter the colour of your Labrador, you can expect to find dog hair on your clothes, carpets and floors, furniture, and body as well as on your dog. The amount of shedding they’re capable of might even make you wonder how they aren’t bald 80% of the time!
Whilst this doesn’t affect the lovely disposition and dedicated nature of Labradors, nor their suitability as family pets, it is a factor to consider before jumping in with the commitment. As we’ve all been told numerous times by dog charities and animal advocacy groups: dogs are for life, not just for Christmas.
It’s therefore important to understand all the factors at play, including the hairy details (yes, I went there), so without further ado, here’s what you need to know!
What Causes Dogs to Shed?
Shedding is a natural part of life for most dog breeds, the Labrador retriever included, and it will be a life-long occurrence. Although shedding happens year-round, there are a few factors that can exacerbate the issue which are outlined briefly below:
You’ve probably heard the phrase “I’m so stressed my hair is falling out” at some point in your life, or worse yet, lived that experience yourself. Unfortunately, Labradors can suffer the same fate when placed under undue or prolonged stress. They’re fun-loving dogs that just want a happy life; I’m sure you can relate!
(image of Labrador playing fetch/frisbee/ball)
Unluckily for Labradors, despite being adorable and generally low-maintenance in terms of coat-care, they are prone to certain skin conditions that can worsen shedding. Skin conditions can include examples of parasites, fungal and bacterial infections, yeast infections, and dandruff – yes, dogs can get dandruff too.
(image of a skin condition or fleas in a Labrador)
This won’t apply to all Labradors as like humans, they’re all different. Some will have allergies and others won’t, and these allergies might be to different stimuli, some of which might cause increased shedding. Certain weeds, grasses, and pollens are common aggravators.
It’s also worth noting that as well as allergies causing shedding in dogs, dog shedding can also cause allergy flare-ups in humans.
The more a Labrador’s fur is disturbed, the more it is likely to shed. This means that if a Labrador gets fleas, lice, or any other infestation or condition that could lead to him or her feeling itchy, the result is going to be increased scratching and subsequently increased hair loss. Particularly persistent or aggressive scratching can essentially pull hairs out as your dog tries to relieve the itchy sensation.
This might seem like an obvious one but it’s still something that a lot of people are surprised by when summer rolls around – heat can lead to more shedding. The reason for this is simple: dogs that are warm require less fur to regulate their body temperature than when it’s cold.
The Heat Cycle
When female dogs are in heat, they often shed more fur than they do normally. The increase in oestrogen that comes with the heat cycle instinctually urges the female to find a mate, and these changes happening in her body can be very stressful, leading to increased hair loss.
There may be other causes for shedding but these are definitely the most prominent ones. Keeping these factors in mind can help you to anticipate and deal with your Labrador’s increased shedding.
Why Do Labradors Shed So Much?
If you’ve had other dogs in the past, or if your Labrador currently has a companion of another breed, you might have noticed that Labradors shed a lot more than some other kinds of dogs. This is because Labradors are double-coated.
Double-coated fur is exactly what it sounds like: it has two layers to it. The top layer is more protective in function whereas the undercoat’s purpose is to keep the lab warm. Because Labradors have essentially double the amount of fur as single-coated breeds, it makes complete sense that they would shed more.
As we mentioned briefly earlier, the colour of your Labrador makes no difference to the amount of shedding that they’ll experience. This is because all lab colours, be it yellow, chocolate, black, fox red, or snow white, are double-coated.
The only difference colour makes in this situation is that you’ll likely be able to see certain coloured hairs more easily than others. If you’ve got white tiled floors, then black, chocolate, and red hairs will show up more easily, but if you’ve got dark purple carpets then white and yellow hairs will be more noticeable (you get the idea!).
How to Deal with Labrador Shedding
Whilst shedding cannot be stopped, there are ways to make it more manageable. Finding clumps of hair everywhere you go or collecting on your hand every time you stroke your furry best friend can be frustrating so these are some strategies that might help to lessen the mess, so to speak.
Thorough Grooming Practices
One of the best things you can do to minimise shedding is to practice proper grooming. Keeping your Labrador’s coat in tip-top condition will help to keep shedding under control by removing the hairs purposefully instead of allowing them to fall off and collect randomly.
Generally, it’s only necessary to brush your Labrador a couple of times per week as their coats are short and typically low maintenance, however you might want to increase this to daily sessions during peak shedding seasons to make the increased fur loss more manageable.
(image of a dog brush)
Regular but spaced-out shampooing can also help to curb excessive shedding as once again, it’s an opportunity to purposefully remove hair before it collects in your carpet. Although shampooing should be regular, you should only shampoo your Labrador every two to three months, unless your dog gets visibly soiled. You can shampoo more frequently provided you use a very gentle product.
There are also certain medicated shampoos on the market that can target shedding to minimise it at its core, although you should only use such products under the advisement of your vet.
This will undoubtedly seem like advice that doesn’t need to be said but you came here for information so here’s some information! Clean up after your dog as and when they shed.
Not only will this minimise any build-up of fur collections in your furniture and clothes, it will also allow you to monitor your dog’s shedding. If you’re regularly cleaning up your Labrador’s hair, you’ll be able to tell when they’re shedding more or less than usual, and this could help you to pinpoint potential triggers.
You might not be able to eliminate any of these triggers once you identify them (you can’t skip summer and make it so that the weather is cool all the time), but you might be able to implement different strategies for tackling them (in the case of summer triggering increased shedding, you could try introducing a fan or aironditioner to your home, or give your Labrador cool baths to keep them from overheating).
During peak shedding seasons, a good vacuum cleaner can be your best friend. It might be a good idea to invest in a high-quality hand-held or cordless one to make sure you get all the fur in those hard-to-reach places.
(image of a cordless vacuum)
Modifying Your Labrador’s Diet
If you find that your dog is shedding an unusual amount or that the shedding is particularly persistent despite employing other management techniques, it could be down to a hormonal imbalance or nutrient deficiency. Modifying your Labrador’s diet can help to rectify issues such as these and in turn, reduce shedding to a normal level.
When in doubt, it’s always best to consult your vet to ensure any changes you want to make are going to benefit your dog without leaving any unsavoury effects. Labradors, like any dog breed, need to have a balanced diet to ensure optimal health. You’ll also need to take your dog’s age into account here as puppies will require different volumes of foods and nutrients to what a fully grown dog will need.
Making sure their food has sufficient concentrations of omega fatty acids and other good fats will help to keep their coats and skin healthy. There are also certain vegetables (ones safe for dogs to consume, of course) that can help to replenish any vitamins or minerals that are deficient.
(omega fatty acid symbol or graphic)
Spending More Time Outdoors
If you don’t want a lot of hair being shed in your house, there’s a very simple solution: take your lab outside more! Labradors love playing and sniffing, so they’ll be grateful for the extra adventures.
There are plenty of places that are ideal dog-walking and exploring spots such as the beach, woods, countryside or local park (assuming there are dog-friendly examples nearby) and keeping your dog outside for longer will mean less fur is shed inside your house.
This also means less clean-up for you.
When spending time outdoors with your lab though, it’s very important to bear their health and limitations in mind. Make sure they don’t overheat in the sun by providing them with cool drinking water and shade where possible, and make sure any tarmac or concrete you walk on isn’t too hot for their paws.
Similarly, make sure any cold weather conditions don’t adversely affect them either. Spend more time outdoors, but do so sensibly.
So, What Does It All Mean?
Labrador Retrievers are amazing dogs and will be loyal to you to the very end. Having coats that shed a lot certainly won’t change this. In fact, you could even say that cleaning up a bit of hair every so often is a small price to pay for such an intelligent, devoted, and adorable companion.
(image of a child hugging a Labrador)
Shedding does fluctuate across the course of the year and there are things you can do to manage it so it’s definitely not worth considering the shedding a deal-breaker.
That said, if the maintenance and clean-up aren’t for you, then neither is a Labrador. Before buying or adopting any dog, always consider all the factors and implications so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for.