Labrador retrievers are just about the perfect dog: they’re loyal, active, and they always keep their family entertained. But have you ever wondered why it is that Labs are so popular?
We sat down with a Labrador enthusiast and got the low down on the breed. Here’s what we learned:
Why Choose a Labrador?
The Labrador Retriever is best known for its love to hunt.
Labs have incredible noses that easily detect the scent, they are natural swimmers, and they love to retrieve allowing them to perform exceptionally well in upland hunting and waterfowl hunting.
According to the American Kennel Club, based on registration numbers, the Labrador Retriever has been America’s favorite purebred dog for 17 straight years.
The Labrador is a loving, playful, and very intelligent breed. The breed’s origin was Newfoundland. The first records of the Labrador Retriever were in 1822.
Labrador Retrievers can be classified as ‘working dogs’. They have been used as guide dogs for the blind, deaf, and other handicapped individuals because of their trainability, temperament, intelligence, and social disposition.
Labradors have been utilized in nursing homes and as companions for emotionally challenged children and adults.
The armed forces and many police squads use the Labrador for tracking criminals and finding drugs, weapons, bombs, and even people buried in snow slides.
Because Labs are so intelligent they are easy to train and very eager to please anyone working and playing with them. The average Lab can begin command training (Sit, Stay, Here) around 6 to 7 months. The most important command is “NO”. No means No.
Your Lab needs regular exercise, playing retrieve and walking your dog give your Labrador a chance to play and exercise and bond. Don’t overfeed your dog and keep them trim.
Always, always buy from a reputable trusted breeder. Good breeders will provide a health certificate, provide all the appropriate shots, they should be AKC registered, and they will provide you with a family tree.
Congratulations on an intelligent choice. Your Labrador retriever is the best all-around dog in my opinion.
Reasons Why Labrador Retrievers Are America's Favorite Dogs
1. Labrador retrievers are brilliantly and exceedingly trainable
The AKC notes that Labrador retrievers are not only friendly, but they’re also smart. These intelligent dogs want to please their owners. So they’re highly trainable. As with any other dog, training is still working. But Labs are up for the challenge (unlike many other dogs, who resist the process all the way). Labs are loyal to their owners and will take their cues from you. They’ll go on a run around the neighborhood with you, or they’ll cuddle up with you on the couch if you need a quiet evening at home.
2. Labs adore children
Another reason why Americans love Labrador retrievers so much? According to PetBreeds, these dogs make great companions for children. They love children. (And they definitely don’t make the list of dog breeds that are worst for families with small kids.) Like any dog, Labs need to be supervised around very young children. But they’re affectionate, patient, and often love spending time with the smallest members of your family. They also love to play fetch — a game both little humans and young dogs can easily figure out together.
3. Labs live long and healthy lives
When you bring a dog into your home, you want him or her to stay a part of your family for many years to come. PetBreeds notes Labrador retrievers often do because they can live long and healthy lives. (That’s especially true if you feed them a balanced diet and help them get plenty of exercises.) Labrador retrievers live an average of 12 years. So one of these dogs can remain a part of your family for a very long time.
4. Labrador retrievers don’t require costly trips to the groomer
People who want easy-going dogs find a lot to love in Labrador retrievers — as do people who want to avoid expensive trips to the groomer. PetBreeds notes these dogs require only very occasional trips to the groomer. And unlike many dogs with long coats, Labs don’t need to be brushed for hours every week. Of course, that doesn’t mean Labs never need to be brushed or that they won’t need the occasional bath. But they’re much easier to keep well-groomed than many other dog breeds.
5. Labs are very helpful
Labs often become guide dogs or search-and-rescue dogs. Some even get trained as therapy dogs. Sure, it helps that Labs take training well. But according to the AKC, “The Labrador retriever’s willingness to please makes them outstanding search and rescue dogs, as well as guide dogs for the blind.” In fact, Labs are the breed of choice to serve as guide and rescue dogs. That means the breed’s desire to be helpful pays off.
6. Labrador retrievers can learn not to play harsh
If you have small children, you might worry about a dog as big as a Lab unintentionally injuring one of the little humans in your family. But as Labrador Training HQ reports, Labs were bred “to retrieve downed prey, such as ducks, grouse, rabbits, etc.” The connection between the two? Even though a dog’s usual instinct “is to bite down on flesh,” that’s not true for the Lab. Labs have had “incredible control of jaw muscles,” and they can be taught to play (or to retrieve things for you) without biting down.
7. Labs have adventurous and playful personalities
Another thing Americans love about Labs? These dogs have adventurous personalities. Labrador retrievers are typically friendly around new people. In fact, Labs often want to be the first to welcome somebody new. And they often have no qualms about saying hello to strangers on the beach or in your neighborhood. Labs also do great socializing at cookouts and parties, which just makes them all the more endearing to their owners.
8. labrador retrievers are up for all of your favorite athletic exercises
Not every dog can keep up with athletic and outdoorsy owners. But Labs are up for just about anything. Labs go hiking. They’ll go jogging. And they’ll even swim with you. Whatever you do to stay fit, a Lab will want to join in. Plus, he’ll have the muscle and energy to keep up with — or even outperform — you. Need some motivation to go running each day? A Labrador retriever might be just what you need. And if you want somebody to go swimming with you? Your Lab will probably jump right in.
9. Labradors are excellent players in their own right.
Does everyone in your family play a sport? Your Labrador retriever can, too. The AKC reports, “With their combination of physical ability, intelligence, and eagerness to please, Labrador retrievers excel at dog sports like rally, tracking, field trials, obedience, and agility.” Special training and competitions aren’t for everyone. But they can make a fun activity for Lab owners and their dogs to do together.
10. Labrador retrievers are generally healthy dogs.
Even though Labs may be prone to obesity, they aren’t the most expensive breed when it comes to medical expenses. In fact, PetBreeds reports that Labrador retrievers are the 18th most expensive breed to own with regards to medical costs. That means a Lab is less likely to have costly medical issues than many other breeds of dogs. Labs still need to go to the vet, of course. But they often stay healthier than other types of dogs and aren’t prone to any specific injuries or health conditions.
11. Labrador retrievers are knowledgeable
Some dogs like to be the only pup insight, whether they’re at home with you or out at the park. But Labrador retrievers love other dogs. They naturally get along with most other canines. That makes them a strong candidate for households that already have pets or are situated in neighborhoods where lots of dogs already live. We all love friendly dogs — especially when those dogs are friendly both with people and other animals.
12. Labrador retrievers are not picky eaters.
Labs famously have big appetites. That means you won’t struggle to find a brand of dog food your Lab likes. The AKC reports, “Labs love to eat … and eat and eat and eat.” They need a healthy diet and lots of exercises. Labs may be more prone to obesity than other dog breeds. But Lab owners who restrict their dogs’ diets will help them live a longer, healthier life.
13. For several households, labs are the ideal scale.
Labrador Training HQ also notes many people love Labs because they’re the “Goldilocks” dog. (That’s not because of the color of adorable yellow Labs.) “At 22 to 24 inches in height and 60 to 75 pounds in weight for males, and 21 to 23 inches and 55 to 70 pounds for females, Labrador retrievers are the perfect size for an active family: Not too big and not too small.” They can exist in an apartment with plenty of exercises or feel right at home in a house with a medium-sized yard.
14. Adopting labs is not expensive.
Labs, like many other puppies, can be expensive to purchase from a breeder. (According to PetBreeds, they cost about $750.) But rescuing a dog from a shelter is the perfect way to give a great home to an animal who needs one. And adopting a Labrador retriever from a shelter or a rescue group costs an average of $175. Additionally, many young animals who come from the shelter have been spayed or neutered, which means you have one fewer agenda item (and expense) to worry about.
15. Labrador retrievers do not bark as much as most breeds of dogs.
Another reason PetBreeds thinks Labs are such popular dogs? They don’t bark nearly as much as other dogs. So a Lab is less likely than other kinds of dogs to annoy you, and your neighbors, with incessant barking. Of course, most dogs bark at least occasionally. And you probably shouldn’t get a dog if you can’t tolerate any barking at all. But with proper training, you can teach your dog not to bark excessively (or to use barking to get what he wants).
16. Labs can withstand a wide variety of environmental conditions.
PetBreeds notes Labs are also well-suited to households that move a lot. That’s because they can tolerate both hot and cold weather. You don’t have to worry about Labrador retrievers in any but the most extreme weather conditions. Mostly, you’ll just need to exercise common sense. If it’s extremely hot and sunny, make sure your dog has access to shade and freshwater. And if it’s ever cold or snowy, make sure you get him inside to warm up.
17. Labrador retrievers are absolutely cute.
The American Kennel Club notes that if Labs went to high school, they’d easily win the award for “Best Looking.” Labrador retrievers come in three photogenic colors: black, chocolate and yellow, and according to the AKC, the Lab’s “‘otter’ tail, dense weather-resistant coat, and friendly expression” all contribute to his uniquely adorable appearance.
Reasons Why Labradors are the Best Dogs Ever
The Labrador Retriever is currently the most popular dog in the United States and has been since 1991. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever had a Labrador. Heck, anyone who has ever just met a Labrador.
This lovable breed has so many great attributes that it’s hard to narrow down the best. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. Here are the top 10 reasons why Labrador Retrievers are the best dogs in existence.
The best cuddlers of all time
The Labrador is an affectionate, people-oriented breed, so it’s no wonder that these dogs make the best cuddle buddies on the planet. They are known to curl up in your lap like a lap dog (only six times the size!) and nuzzle up with their adorably cute faces. At the end of a long day, nothing is better than a delightful, soul-soothing cuddle with your Labrador. It’s as good as a therapy session and much cheaper!
Their enthusiasm is infectious.
The Labrador is one of the most high-energy dog breeds in the world. Some might see this as a negative. For a Lab lover, however, this is one of the breed’s many positive attributes. Red Bull? Coffee? Nah, just spend 15 minutes with a Labrador and you’ll get an instant energy burst. They bound around with a zest and passion that is second to none, and this cheerful, invigorated approach to life is downright contagious. You can’t help but feel happy and alive when you’re with a Lab!
They compel you to work out.
Speaking of energy, those Labs need lots of exercises. Long walks, trips to the dog park, play sessions in the backyard, you name it. And their need for exercise doesn’t cease for inclement weather – he needs playtime rain or shines! The good news: You will get lots and lots of exercise yourself. No excuses either. Rain, snow, wind, whatever, your dog still needs to expend that energy. As a result, you’ll get more fit than you imagined, without the grind. We’ve known people who dropped 15 pounds without trying during their first year with a Lab. Thirty monotonous minutes on the treadmill or a hike on the trail with your lovable Lab? No contest which one is more enjoyable.
A desire to be liked
Labradors originated on the island of Newfoundland and served as companions to the local fisherman, working alongside them all day to retrieve fish and tow-in lines. At the end of a long day, they would go home with the fisherman and were treated as a member of the family. With this history, it’s no wonder why Labradors love to please and impress their masters. The breed is obedient and loyal – what more could you ask for?
Combine the Labrador’s obedient nature with their sharp intelligence and curiosity, and you’ve got the recipe for a dog who likes to learn. As such, they take well to obedience training, which is a must considering their unbridled energy level. Whether you work with a trainer or do it yourself, your Lab is ready and eager to learn. Just make sure you have a handful of treats ready as a reward!
The ultimate goofballs
In addition to all the great qualities we noted before, the Labrador has a hilarious sense of humor. They are funny, silly, goofy bundles of fur that will make you laugh each and every day. The Labrador doesn’t take life too seriously, which means you shouldn’t either.
A dog’s dog
The Labrador is the ultimate dog’s dog. With his even-keeled temperament, he gets along with all sorts of dogs: high-energy breeds who love to play; small dogs who can’t stop yipping; crabby canines who don’t have patience; and about every other dog you can imagine. When you take your Lab on a walk or to the dog park, there’s no doubt he’ll get along great with any dog he encounters.
Requires little grooming
For grooming, all the Lab needs is the occasional bath and brushing. That’s it. Their coat is short and dense and sheds on its own. No need for haircuts. No irksome hairballs. No tangles. No icky eyeball stains. Easy peasy.
Great family dog
Labradors are fantastic family dogs. Their chill temperament makes them great with other pets and children. They also love being part of a pack and thrive on being a member of the family. In fact, they have a keen instinct to protect and take care of their people. Obedient and adaptable, the Lab is perfect for an active family.
So much love!
Last but certainly not least, the Lab is one of the most lovable creatures you’ll ever meet in your life. This breed will love you unconditionally! They can sense your feelings and lend a loving, supportive paw when you need it. If you want a kind-hearted, lovable companion who will be there for you through thick and thin, the Lab is the right dog for you.
What's Good and What's Bad About Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retriever temperament - My experience
Nearly every obedience class I've ever taught has included at least one Lab. That's not because the breed has a lot of behavior problems – they don't – but simply because it's the most popular breed in the United States.
And rightfully so. The Labrador Retriever is one terrific family dog – that is, when given enough vigorous exercise (including daily fetching games, and swimming if possible).
You can't just leave this breed in the backyard every day with one walk around the block. Too much confinement and not enough exercise can lead to rambunctiousness and destructive chewing.
One of the best dogs for children of all ages, Labrador Retrievers are kindly, good-natured, and take most things in stride.
Also more independent – though quite biddable and responsive to obedience training, some Labs have a noticeable stubborn streak. Some have necks like bulls and barely notice tugs on the leash.
You must control this breed's tendency to chew on objects and to mouth, your hands – provide a box filled with toys that he can carry around in his mouth.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Labrador Retrievers
- Enthusiastic attitude toward life
- Short easy-care coat
- Cheerful, tail-wagging nature
- Thrives on exercise and athletic activities
- Steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
- Peaceful with other animals
- Very responsive to training
- Needs a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
- High energy and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Sheds a lot
- Risk of serious health problems
What is the size of a Labrador Retriever?
Usually, they're 21-25 inches at the shoulder, with males typically in the higher half of that range, and females in the lower half.
Weight can be as low as 55 pounds but is usually 65-80 pounds.
Unfortunately, the trend seems to be for heavier and heavier Labs, with a lot of individuals topping 90 pounds. I say unfortunately because heavier weight isn't good for their joints.
This breed was supposed to be a medium-sized hunting retriever who could fit comfortably in a bird blind or a small boat.
Are there multiple "types" of Labrador Retrievers?
Not officially. There's only one breed. They come in several colors, yet they're all Labrador Retrievers. For hunting and field trials, though, black Labs are by far the most common color. In my obedience classes, yellow Labs are often the calmest and most mild-mannered. In contrast, the chocolate Labs I've worked with have all been very energetic. Of course, it might just be a coincidence!
But apart from color, you'll definitely see Labs that look quite different from other Labs. Different builds, different body shapes.
Labrador hunting/field lines are more athletic, agile, and energetic. They have a narrower head, longer muzzle, lankier body, and a sleeker coat.
Labs from show lines are heavier-boned and stockier, with a large blocky head and dense coat.
Even within show lines, there are variations, with British/English show lines having the shortest muzzle, shortest legs, and chunkiest build.
To me, those dogs don't really look like the classic Labrador Retriever. But they do tend to be very sweet dogs with mellow temperaments that fit well into many families.
Is it simple to train a Labrador Retriever?
Yes, training most Labrador Retrievers is easy. They housebreak quickly and are usually willing to please.
But this breed is strong and energetic, especially in adolescents. Many Labradors between one and three years old are dropped off at animal shelters or rescue groups because of dog behavior problems such as pulling vigorously on the leash and jumping on people.
Focus on teaching loose-leash walking, indoor calmness, and no jumping.
How gregarious are Labrador Retrievers?
Are they friendly with strangers?
Yes, most Labs are happy to see everyone. They'll bark when someone comes to the door, but they're not protective. This is a friendly, trusting breed.
Grooming: How much do Labrador Retrievers shed? Are they simple to groom?
For such a shorthaired dog, Labrador Retrievers shed more than you might think – on the high side of average (at least).
The bulk of their shedding occurs twice a year, for three weeks in the spring as their thicker winter coat switches to a cooler summer coat, and three weeks in the fall as their summer coat switches over to a winter coat. But they also shed some all through the year.
Labs need more brushing than some other shorthaired breeds because of the high shedding. If you don't diligently pull out the dead undercoat during regular grooming sessions, it will all fall out on your floors and furniture.
On the plus side, obviously, Labs need no trimming!
How long do Labrador Retrievers live? Are they a healthy breed?
Labrador Retrievers typically live 10-12 years. Many Labs do live to 12 or 13, but usually with chronic health issues such as arthritis.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of beloved Labs are lost in middle age to inherited forms of cancer or heart disease.
Common orthopedic diseases in Labradors include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella (loose knee joints), each of which causes chronic pain and lameness and can require expensive surgery.
Labs are very prone to rupturing the ligaments in their hind legs – expensive surgery again. And if one hind leg ruptures, the other is likely to follow at a later time. Another surgery.
Do Labrador Retrievers get along well with children?
Most Labs are among the best possible dogs for children.
However, remember my cautions about exuberance and jumping. Young Labs (up to two or three years old) romp and jump with vigor. That means things can go flying – including people.
If your Lab has been allowed to jump on people, you should stop this behavior immediately. Jumping can injure people, and even when it doesn't, it puts a dog in a heightened state of arousal that isn't good for him.
If you don't yet have your dog and your home includes toddlers or infirm adults, you might consider skipping the challenging puppy and adolescent stages. Look into adopting an adult Labrador Retriever from a rescue group. Adults have a more settled temperament and you can specifically look for a calm one.
Is it possible for Labrador Retrievers to get along with other pets?
Most Labs are fine with other dogs and cats, fine with livestock, and even fine with very small pets such as rabbits and ferrets.
Of course, introductions should be made properly. Don't just plunk a baby bunny onto the floor and let your full-grown Lab loose in the room. Even a friendly dog can make mincemeat of a small fragile creature simply by jumping on it.
A number of eye diseases cause blindness in Labrador Retrievers.
The breed is at higher-than-average risk for an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat, which can kill a healthy dog within hours.
A number of neurological/neuromuscular diseases, some of them deadly, affect Labrador Retrievers.
One example of an odd neuromuscular disease is called exercise-induced collapse. As the name suggests, affected Labradors who have been vigorously exercising suddenly begin swaying, collapse, and require rest before they can move again.
Labrador Retrievers come in what colors?
Officially, Labrador Retrievers come in black, yellow, and chocolate. They also come in silver (gray), but this color is frowned on by breed purists.
You might have heard someone say they had a Golden Lab or a Fox Red Lab or a White Lab.
These are just made-up names for yellow Labs whose shade of yellow happens to be golden or reddish or whitish. Whatever the shade, it's still just a yellow Lab.
Chocolate also comes in shades: from light coffee to deep chocolate brown.
Now, what about silver Labrador Retrievers? The official breed clubs, and breeders who show their dog in the confirmation ring, state that silver is a disqualified color for showing purposes.
In fact, most Labrador breeders insist that silver dogs aren't even purebred. Their position is that the silver gene infiltrated Labrador's gene pool by crossbreeding Labs with Weimaraners.
I think they're probably right. I think that one or more Weimaraner crosses probably did introduce the silver gene at some point. However, since genetic diversity is a good thing in living creatures, I don't view cross-breeding as an evil thing.
So if there are some Weimaraner genes floating around in a silver Labrador, that wouldn't bother me.
On the other hand, if I wanted a dog who could be counted on to look and act like a Lab, you're more likely to get that in a Lab that isn't silver, especially if the silver breeder is still using Weimaraners in his breeding program. And based on the appearance of some silver "Labs", there are breeders who are still crossing in Weimaraners.
But almost certainly silver Labrador Retrievers are here to stay. Even though they can't be shown, the AKC still accepts them for registration. However, in a funny twist, those registration papers don't say silver.
Remember, the AKC says that Labs can only be black, chocolate, or yellow. So they register silver Labs as Chocolate because they consider silver to be a dilution of the chocolate gene. In other words, according to the AKC, your silver Lab is actually a chocolate Lab also has an inherited dilution gene that washes the chocolate into a silvery gray.
It doesn't end there. Some silver Labs aren't silvery gray, but dark charcoal gray. The AKC registers these dogs as Black, considering charcoal to be a dilution of Black.
How to Select a Labrador Pup
Labrador tips from the experts
Go to a specialist breeder, so that you can see the different generations of a breeding line.
Make temperament, not sex, your overriding factor when choosing.
Don’t buy a show labrador if you actually want a gundog — and don’t buy a gundog if you can’t promise it plenty of exercises.
As soon as your puppy wakes up, take it outside. After a couple of weeks, it’ll be house-trained.
When introducing the labrador to a lead, walk it with an older dog.
Problems with labradors to be aware of
Canine hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, causing the abnormal development of the hip socket, resulting in pain and lameness. It’s seen in dogs as young as five months, but may not develop until maturity, and can be remedied using treatments ranging from restricted exercise to drugs and surgery.
Listen for a popping sound when the dog walks, and look for reluctance to use stairs, as well as sensitivity when you touch the hindquarters.
Looking for a dog to show? Here’s the Kennel Club’s Labrador breed standard
General appearance: Strongly built, short-coupled, very active; broad in skull; broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and strong over loins and hindquarters.
Head and Skull: Skull broad with defined stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks. Jaws of medium length, powerful, not snippy. Nose wide, nostrils well developed.
Eyes: Medium size, expressing intelligence; brown or hazel.
Ears: Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far back.
Mouth: Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect, regular, and complete scissor bite.
Tail: Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with short, thick, dense coat, thus giving rounded appearance described as ‘otter’ tail. May be carried gaily but shouldn’t curl over back.
Coat: Distinctive feature, short dense without wave or feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch; weather-resistant undercoat.
Colour: Wholly black, yellow, or liver/chocolate.
Size: Ideal height at withers: dogs, 22in22½in; bitches, 21½in22in.
Labradors can also be prone to retinal dysplasia, an inherited condition that affects labradors used for fieldwork, and results in their developing blind spots. Generally, the dog can work around this by changing head position.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA) are inherited conditions that may result in blindness. Reputable breeders will be able to show certification that the dog has no eye conditions, which you should ask to see when buying a dog.
Six Things to Think About Before Purchasing a Labrador Retriever
Here are the main points you may want to consider before making that final decision on whether or not to bring a Labrador into your life:
- Do You Have Enough Room For A Labrador?
- Do you have room in your life for a dog?
- Are you able to afford a Dog?
- Will a Labrador be a good fit for your lifestyle?
- Will a dog be a good fit for your family?
- Is a Labrador the breed for you?
- Will a dog be a good fit for your family?
1. Do You Have Enough Room For A Labrador?
Dogs need space, both indoors and outside.
Even small breeds need room to stretch their legs and run about, and Labradors as fairly large and lively dogs need quite a lot of space.
This means you need a decent-sized backyard if you plan on buying a Labrador puppy. Somewhere that your dog can run around, play, and enjoy training sessions with you.
Labradors can be quite silly during adolescence, bouncing and cavorting in the home. Their tails are long and thick, easily knocking any fragile decorations you might have from shelves.
If you have lots of ornaments then you will need to move them to higher shelves to avoid them getting damaged.
You will also need to move anything that could be easily damaged by chewing.
Labradors also need to go outside regularly for ‘bathroom breaks’.
With small puppies, this will be very often indeed. Perhaps every 15 to 20 minutes during their first few days with you.
If you live in a flat, or do not have a garden, this will be difficult for you.
You’ll need to set up a system where the puppy can toilet indoors, using puppy pads or newspaper, then retrain him to go outdoors when he is older.
Some people successfully use a dog crate* to help with their puppy’s toilet training and to keep them contained in the house.
These are helpful but do take up a lot of space.
Even more space invading is another great house training solution, putting a crate inside a puppy playpen* for the first few months.
Although this will take up a lot of space indoors, it can work very well for larger apartments with no easy outside access.
Ideally, however, you do need to have a garden, and a part of the garden which your dog can use as a bathroom, along with a good system for clearing up after him hygienically.
Puppies should also not be allowed to ‘toilet’ where children play, as their feces can pass on some horrible and dangerous parasites.
The right space for a Labrador includes large clear rooms in the house, with no breakable or fragile objects within his grasp.
And ideally access to a garden where they can easily be let out to the bathroom and have room to play.
Keeping a single Labrador permanently outside however is not usually a good idea, even with adequate shelter and security.
Labs are very sociable dogs and prone to separation anxiety if they lack company. This means your dog may be both sad and noisy.
2. Do you have room in your life for a dog?
It is always sad to hear from new puppy owners that are struggling to juggle the needs of a puppy with their need to work.
It may seem obvious to many of you, but a lot of people don’t realize that you cannot bring a small puppy into your life and leave it alone in the house all day. Even with a visit at lunchtime.
An older dog may cope with being left for up to four hours in a row on a regular basis, but puppies need more attention than this.
The truth is, you can’t leave a young dog alone for hours on end and expect him to remain quiet and well behaved.
Contented Labradors are fairly quiet dogs and unlikely to disturb your neighbors. Nor are they very good guard dogs.
However, lonely dogs bark and wreck things.
If you work all day, can you afford to pay someone to come in and let him out to stretch his legs and empty himself?
Or do you have a relative or friend that would be prepared to do this on a regular basis? Bear in mind that this is quite a lot to ask of anyone in the long term.
The biggest long-term time commitment in owning a dog is in the form of training and exercise.
All dogs need training in order that they can rub along in human society without being a complete nuisance. This means a regular daily commitment of ten to twenty minutes from you, in addition to your regular interaction with the dog.
Training cannot be saved up for the weekend, your dog will have forgotten most of what he learned the weekend before, and he does not have the attention span to concentrate on you for an hour and a half.
Exercise is required on a regular basis, for some breeds of dog this means at least an hour a day of walking or jogging to keep your dog fit and healthy.
Whilst your dog will not come to any harm if you miss a day occasionally, a daily routine is often the best way to ensure that you build this important habit.
3. Are You Able to Afford a Dog?
Dogs can be quite expensive to run. You need to consider not only how much a Labrador will cost you to buy, but also how much it will cost you to keep.
The price of a Labrador puppy will vary from breeder to breeder, and from place to place. In the USA as a rough guide, you are looking at $800 to $1200. In the UK you can pay anything from £650 to £850 for a well-bred, health-tested Labrador.
Perhaps you know a friend that has a litter of puppies and they are going to let you have one for free. However, the purchase price of a dog is almost irrelevant. It is such a small part of the final cost.
The cost of keeping a Labrador
The reality is, you are also going to need to fork out a chunk of your wages each week on keeping your pooch happy and healthy.
Obviously, you will have taken the cost of a good brand of puppy food* into consideration.
It is a good idea to budget for veterinary insurance too. Modern veterinary treatment has simply gone ‘off the radar. Not because it is unreasonably priced, but simply because it is now so advanced.
You can fix a lot of problems these days. No longer is ‘put to sleep’ the option of choice for most serious ailments. We can do open heart surgery, mend complex fractures, treat cancer with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Pretty much anything you can treat in a human, you can now treat in a dog. And the catch? It costs.
If you don’t have access to substantial savings, one way to avoid the burden of huge vet fees is to make sure your dog is insured. Veterinary insurance will most likely set you back at least a week’s wages or so, each year.
The more comprehensive your insurance package the more it will cost. Watch out for very cheap deals, as they may not provide continuing cover for long-term ailments.
You will also need to vaccinate your dog against common canine illness, and this will probably need to be done each year too. Especially if you are wanting to occasionally leave them in boarding kennels when you go away, as they require up-to-date vaccination certificates.
There will be a few other one-off costs such as a puppy crate and puppy playpen for your home for when your dog is young, another for your car if you have one.
Then there are bowls, bedding, collar, leash, etc. But you may be able to borrow a crate or get a one-second hand.
Here are some of the items you will need for your new puppy, and reviews on the best options for Labradors:
- Puppy crate
- Dog bowls
- Puppy bedding
- Puppy collar & leash
- Puppy toys
- Training products
- Puppy books
If you like to holiday abroad or anywhere that the dog can’t come, unless you have helpful relatives, you will also need to think about the cost of putting him in boarding kennels for a week or two each year.
The purchase price of your Labrador is not the main consideration when it comes to his cost. You will need to be confident that you will be able to cover all of the above, for at least the next ten years.
4. Will A Lab Suit Your Lifestyle?
Buying a Labrador will change your life quite drastically. In fact, bringing any dog into your life will be a dramatic change.
If you work away a lot, unless you can take your dog with you, a dog is probably not a good idea for you right now. Likewise, if you travel a lot, a dog may cause problems for you. If you spend two months each year exploring the Amazon jungle, a dog is almost certainly not for you.
Traveling with your Labrador is possible, but it will depend upon your destination.
What are you like in the early mornings? And at getting up in the night?
Long lazy Sunday lie-ins will be a thing of the past once you have a dog. In addition, for the first few weeks when puppies are small, they may need to be taken outside to the toilet during the night.
Maybe more than once. You need to be comfortable coping with that.
Labradors are messy.
They shed a lot of hair and like to swim and get muddy out on walks
Find out more about shedding before getting your puppy if you are at all concerned about keeping your home clean.
If you like to take day trips to places that aren’t dog friendly, are you able to organise for someone to care for them in your absence?
Your lifestyle will need to adapt to fit your Labrador’s needs, and you need to be happy with that arrangement.
5. Will A Dog Fit In With Your Family
If you have three children under five and your wife is expecting twins, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you don’t need a dog right now.
Labradors can be great family dogs, in the right families.
But some people take on a Labrador puppy when their kids are tiny, then struggle to cope.
Having a puppy is a bit like having a toddler, and whilst some dogs and kids do rub along very nicely together, it can be very tough in the early years.
Pushing a buggy whilst trying to lead train a large or even a medium-sized dog is no joke. And tiny puppies are easily broken by small children as they step on them, climb on them, and trip over them.
A toddler, expensive veterinary treatment, and a puppy with its leg in plaster are not a great combination.
However, if your kids are all over five, able to walk for an hour or so without needing to be carried, and to understand what a dog’s basic needs are, the chances are you will all enjoy and benefit from your new companion.
Make sure that you invest in a crate and puppy pen, so that your puppy has somewhere safe to go when he needs a break from the kids. And help to get them off on the right foot by teaching the children how to play safely with a Labrador.
6. Is a Labrador the breed for you?
If you are certain that the time is right for you to bring a dog into your family, it is also worth considering whether a Labrador is really the right breed of dog for you and your family.
You can also find lots more information through this link: Getting a Labrador Puppy.
Labradors are loving, intelligent, and fun. They are also very often large, bouncy, and as puppies very prone to biting and chewing.
Make sure that you know exactly what it is you are bringing into your home, get properly prepared, and you will hopefully be well set to have years of joy together.