There are few breeds of dog that have as much personality and love for the whole family as the Labrador. The Labrador, or simply "Lab" as they are commonly known, is also known as America's favorite dog. They are adaptable to many different family environments, active, energetic and always willing to please their owner.
The Lab is a smaller dog but is a good family dog for all ages. Labrador puppies are very cute and are born black, then turn brown and then gray as they mature. They have large, blocky heads and big, floppy ears that they will often shake to rid themselves of water after a swim. They are lean and muscular, quick and agile, and have short, easy to care for coats.
What Makes Labradors so Popular?
Labradors, Heim says, with a typical temperament are “light-switch dogs. Turn them on, turn them off. If I want to go for a hike, run, swim, play ball, or hunt, they are up and ready to go. However, if I want to stay home and eat a gallon of ice cream, watch the Super Bowl, or a watch movie, they are thrilled to hang right there, too. Consequently, this makes the Lab an excellent service dog.
“A friend who worked at a large Seeing Eye facility for years once said to me they should call it the Labrador Seeing Eyes for the Blind because it was the most successful breed in the program.”
Because the breed is often shuttled between families from Guide Dog Raisers to the training facility and finally to its forever family, it requires plenty of psychological fluidity. And then again when it reaches retirement, another home may be in the offing.
Beyond Guide Dog work, Heim cites the breed’s prowess at hunting, bomb and drug detection, cancer detection, and diabetic-warning.
The Lab is certainly not your vanilla breed, but when asked what the most common questions are posed by potential puppy purchasers, Heim responds, “They are pretty ordinary. How much to feed, what to feed, and how often to bathe. “We seldom bathe them. A Labrador is supposed to have a beautifully wrapped coat and a bathed coat does not wrap. They are wash-and-wear dogs. A well-bred Labrador has a well-bred coat. It is a thick double coat. Bottom line, bathe as little as possible because it will get dandruff if bathed too often, plus itchy skin.”
Why Labs Are So Popular
Even people that don’t know dog breeds can easily identify the lovable Labrador Retriever and why Labs are so popular. While these dogs have been the most popular dog breed since 1991 according to the American Kennel Club, they enjoy the same high status and polarity in Canada (for over 20 years) as well in the United Kingdom and many other countries around the world.
These Kennel Club numbers only include registered dogs. Labrador mixed breed dogs, as well as unregistered Labs, are also a popular option, but there is greater variation in size, temperature and behavior in mixed breed dogs as compared to purebreds. With that being said, both options make terrific family pets with proper training, socialization and love.
There are very good reasons why Labs are so popular. Just talk to any Lab owner or breeder and you will hear a lot about the benefits of this very versatile breed.
While Labs are considered a larger sized dog, they have a definite puppy mentality throughout life. They love nothing more than being in the thick of the family and, once they find out what makes you laugh, a Lab will delight in keeping everyone in the family involved in play and interaction.
Labs are a great choice for a family with kids. These dogs seem to have endless patience with children, but like all breeds, they need to be initially monitored around kids and well socialized to maintain that gentle and kind personality. They have unlimited energy to walk, run, jog or even hunt, which is what they were bred for, but they are also content to just lie by and watch while kids play.
Loyal and Bonded
Labs are a dog breed that naturally bond to their family. While some may have a stronger bond with some family members, they are very accepting of everyone in the home. This is different than some breeds that have a tendency to bond very strongly with one person, which makes the Lab a dog that is happy to spend time with everyone in the family.
A Lab is also loyal and will bark to let you know that strangers are around. However, they are not a guard dog, and their wagging tail will quickly give them away as friends rather than fierce protectors.
Options in Size and Colors
Different lines of Labs will have different sizes and variations in their build. For example, the English bred lines of Labs will be stockier and heavier while the American lines of Labs tend to be rangier and longer through the leg.
You will also hear the terms working line and bench (or show) line. The working dogs are bred for their retrieval abilities and tend to be the longer, rangier types of builds that are more likely to be active dogs. The bench or show types of Labs will be stockier and heavier and can become a bit more of a couch potato as they get older.
Colors in the Lab range from an almost cream color to a darker gold color, which is known collectively as yellow, as well as chocolate and black. This allows owners to choose not only a type of Lab but also a color.
Naturally easy to train and ideal for positive reward training methods, the Lab is a dog that wants to please. They are smart enough to learn even complex tricks quickly and they are very responsive to a treat for a job well done.
Why Labradors Are Such Awesome Dogs?
1. Always Ready For Sport
In a nod to their origins as a hunting/fishing breed, Labrador retrievers are classified as part of the AKC sporting group, which means they’re willing to retrieve anything—from downed ducks to that Frisbee you accidentally flung in the bushes.
2. Selfless And Kind
Have you heard the story of Norman, a blind Labrador retriever, who rescued a drowning teenage girl by following her screams and towing her back to safety?
3. Good With Kids
Labs are a very gentle, patient breed, and with the right socialization and training, get along famously with children.
They share a similar zest for life, excitement and love of playing outdoors. As with any pet, however, it’s never a good idea to leave your Labrador retriever and your kids together alone and unsupervised.
4. Good With Other Pets
Especially if introduced as puppies, labs are known to generally get along well with other dogs.
As with any changes to your family/pack, it’s important to watch for signs of aggression early on.
If introducing an adult dog, consider choosing a neutral space such as a park for the first meeting to sidestep any territorial instincts.
5. In Sickness And In Health
Generally, Labrador retrievers are a healthy breed.
Typical issues can include hip and knee dysplasia, and eye problems, which are all unfortunately common in most dog breeds as they age. You can expect to share 10-12 wonderful years with your Lab.
6. Quick learners
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!
7. They make you exercise
Speaking of energy, those Labs need lots of exercise. 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 play time rain or shine! 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.
8. 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.