Labrador Retriever

Picture of a Labrador Retriever

A dog breed with energy to spare, the Labrador Retriever is the ideal companion for families that enjoy an active lifestyle. Loving, loyal, and deeply affectionate, the Labrador Retriever makes lifelong friends with all he meets. Ideally suited to first time dog owners, the Lab is a great addition to families with children and pets. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to share your heart and home with a Labrador Retriever.

Height:  Males=22.5-24.5 inches; Females=21.5-23.5 inches

Weight: Males=65-80 pounds; Females=55-70 pounds

Life Span: 10-12 years

Breed Size: Medium

Best Suited To: Active families, families with children, first time dog owners

Personality: Athletic, loyal, loving, intelligent, affectionate, playful, gentle, good-natured, sweet, sociable, active

Intelligence: Very intelligent

Shedding: Sheds moderately year-round. Blows coat twice yearly.

Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise required

Energy: Moderate

Barking: Not particularly prone to barking

Drooling: Not prone to drooling

AKC/CKC Group: Sporting group

Colors: Yellow, black, or chocolate

Labrador Retriever Overview

The sweet-natured Labrador Retriever makes for a wonderful family companion. Highly sociable, the Labrador Retriever, commonly referred to affectionately as a Lab, excels in its role as a beloved family member as well as as a working dog, assisting fishermen with retrieving heavy nets and other important items from the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

A breed developed in Canada in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Labrador Retriever is a hardy dog with a double coat that allows him to enjoy the great outdoors in all kinds of weather. Considered to be the most popular dog breed in the United States today, the Labrador Retriever is an extremely versatile dog and is equally at home in the field, in the water, or on the couch. The breed’s natural athleticism makes him well-suited to such performance sports as conformation, search and rescue, field trials, agility, Rally, obedience, scent work, tracking, and much, much more.

General Appearance

The Labrador Retriever is a dog of strength and substance. Medium-sized, this dog breed should be well-balanced and possess sufficient musculature to support his roles as a retriever and a gun dog. The ideal Lab should display the physical strength and stamina to hunt on both land and in the water for lengthy periods of time in inclement weather conditions and over rough terrain.

The Labrador Retriever has a coat that is weatherproof. It is short and thick and should consist of two distinct layers, a lush and soft undercoat and a water- resistant topcoat that is a little coarser to the touch. One of the hallmarks of the breed is its unique otter tail.

A breed that is highly intelligent, the Lab’s eyes should clearly express his kind, sociable nature. His head is clean in appearance, and his jaws are immensely powerful.

The Labrador Retriever should display effortless movement on any type of terrain and in any pursuit. This characteristic helps the dog to excel at any activity from the show ring to social adventures with its family to dog sports and even to working in the field and in the water.

The ideal Labrador Retriever is a dog with its own unique style, but he is neither delicate featured nor overly heavy. He should move with a natural grace and ease.

Personality Traits

A breed that is highly prized for its exceptionally sweet nature, the Labrador Retriever is a kind and gentle dog. The Lab is particularly fond of children. His playful nature makes him well suited to families with toddlers; however, care must be taken that the dog’s natural exuberance and size doesn’t overwhelm them. As with any dog breed, all interactions between the Labrador Retriever and children should be very carefully supervised.

Labrador Retrievers are natural people pleasers, a trait that makes them a joy to live with and particularly well suited to learning new skills. The breed is active and social and gets along very well with people and with animals of all kinds. This makes the Labrador Retriever an excellent choice for families with multiple pets.

Easygoing by nature, the Labrador Retriever takes life as it comes, enjoying every activity that comes his way. The Lab is very playful and requires daily exercise to help expend his energies in a positive way. A breed that is quite intelligent, mental stimulation is also an important part of keeping a Labrador Retriever healthy and well.

Though some Labrador Retrievers are a little lower on the energy spectrum than others, all Labs do benefit from consistent daily exercise. Since the Labrador Retriever loves to eat and can easily put on excess pounds, this commitment to providing regular activity helps to keep the Lab at an appropriate body weight.

Living Requirements

Since the Labrador Retriever is a dog that requires regular daily exercise and is of a medium build, the breed is not well-suited to life in an apartment building. The ideal living situation for this active breed is a home with a large fenced yard in which the dog can run and play. Regular daily walks, hikes, or other types of vigorous activity will still be necessary to help this dog productively expend its energy and remain in tip top shape.

The Labrador Retriever is the ideal choice for first time dog owners because he is so eager to please. Easy to train, the Lab delights in learning new things. Highly sociable, the Lab has never met a stranger; all people and animals are naturally his friends. The Lab is affectionate, loving, and very loyal, all traits that make for a wonderful family companion.


The Labrador Retriever is a dog that thrives in the company of the people he loves most. Because of this the Lab should be housed indoors and should not be left isolated from his family members. To ensure the Labrador Retriever does not resort to nuisance behaviors when left alone, it is best to leave him with a toy, bone, or stuffed Kong to keep his brain and his jaws productively engaged. Labs left to their own devices can become very destructive.

Because the Labrador Retriever was bred to be a working dog, he has immense stamina and a very strong work ethic. To keep the Lab physically and mentally content, it is recommended that the Lab engage in play and training sessions several times throughout the day to satisfy his natural desire to work.

The Labrador Retriever is unaware of his size and is a dog that has energy to burn. Because of this, the Lab requires appropriate training. If the Labrador Retriever is not trained as a young dog, he can become overly rambunctious and ill mannered. Since the Lab naturally loves to learn, all it takes is some yummy treats and lots of praise for this dog to pick up good canine manners and some new tricks along the way.

Labrador Retrievers are particularly mouthy when puppies. To help curb this activity, it is a good idea to have lots of chew toys and bones on hand for the dog to chew on when the urge strikes to chomp on something. When going out, it is best to leave the Lab in a crate for safety reasons.

Caring for the Labrador Retriever’s coat is fairly simple to do. They have very low maintenance grooming requirements. Their short double coat needs only brushing and the occasional bath when the dog’s smell or coat condition warrants it. There are three recognized colors for the Labrador Retriever: black, yellow, and chocolate.

The Labrador Retriever sheds moderately year-round. Twice yearly, the Lab will “blow” coat. During this time, larger amounts of hair will be shed to make room for new growth.

Labrador Retriever Health

The Labrador Retriever is typically a very healthy breed. However, there are several genetic conditions that can affect them including:

Reputable breeders conduct the appropriate physical and DNA tests on their dogs prior to any matings to ensure genetic illness is not knowingly passed from generation to generation.


The Labrador Retriever was developed in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador along the Atlantic coast. The breed was originally referred to as a St. John Dog in homage to the capital city of the province. The breed traces its roots back as far as the early 18th century. Its original purpose was to be the ideal companion animal for families and to work alongside the fishermen, providing a vital help in retrieving heavy nets and other fishing paraphernalia.

It is not entirely known what breeds were combined to create the early Labrador Retriever. Some believe that the St. John’s Dog was bred with the Newfoundland Dog and an array of other smaller canines to yield what we now call the Lab.

As time wore on, many people became intrigued by the Lab’s sweet nature, helpful work ethic, and innate athleticism. Some of these dogs were imported to England where they began work as hunting retrievers. It is the Earl of Malmesbury who bestowed the name Labrador Retriever upon this breed.

Today, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the United States.  However, during the late 19th century, the breed had lost favor and was in danger of extinction. It was the Malmesburies and other aficionados of the breed that fought to keep this breed alive and well for us to enjoy today. Government restrictions and tax laws in the Lab’s native Newfoundland made it very difficult for the breed to survive in its birthplace. At that time, the laws permitted only one dog per household. If a family chose to keep a female, they were far more heavily taxed. As a result, it became regular practice to dispose of any females born in a litter.

Thanks to the efforts of English breeders, the Labrador Retriever is still in existence today. It was first recognized as its own breed in 1903 in the Kennel Club of England. In 1917, the American Kennel Club also recognized the breed, and in the early 20th century, Labrador Retrievers made the journey across the ocean back into the United States.

Just after World War II, the breed’s popularity began to soar. Today, the Labrador Retriever bears the distinction of being the most frequently registered dog with the American Kennel Club. They have also retained this popularity in England and in Canada.

Labs are highly versatile breeds. A working dog, the Labrador Retriever can be seen working alongside policemen in drug and explosives detection, search and rescue, therapy work, and also as hunting retrievers. The breed is exceptionally versatile and is equally at home in the show ring as well as in dog performance sports such as agility, obedience, Rally, and much, much more.

Fun Facts About the Labrador Retriever

Here are some fun facts about America’s most popular breed:

  1. The Labrador Retriever proudly sports webbed toes on his feet. This makes him exceptionally good at swimming and also assists with more efficient movement through snow in the winter.
  1. The Labrador Retriever is the most often selected breed for guide dog work.
  1. It is possible to get puppies of all three colors (yellow, black, and chocolate) within the same litter.
  1. Though the name of the dog is Labrador Retriever, this dog breed was developed in the Newfoundland portion of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  1. A black Lab plays a starring role in the Led Zeppelin song “Black Dog.” The lyrics paid homage to a black Lab that was often seen around the studio where they spent time recording their album Led Zeppelin IV.
  1. A black Lab was once sentenced to prison for killing a cat belonging to the governor’s wife. The dog’s sentence was life without parole. During the ten years the dog was in prison, he developed a friendship with the warden.
  1. Some Labrador Retrievers can be trained to detect cancer in people. To help identify the presence of cancer, these highly trained dogs sniff samples of a person’s blood, stool, and urine.



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