LABRADOR RETRIEVERS ARE THE NICEST, MOST POPULAR DOGS
Labrador retrievers are popular for a reason- they’re one of the friendliest, most biddable breeds in existence. This is all thanks to generations and generations of careful breeding. Green Dog has these tips for getting to know your Lab!
The breed was originally developed in Newfoundland, Canada (not Labrador, surprisingly) in the 1500s as fishermans helpers. Due to their webbed feet, water-repellant coat, love of the water, and amiable personalities, they were the perfect dog to have aboard a boat. When valuable caught fish would fall overboard, the Labrador would jump into the icy water and retrieve them for his owner.
When folks caught on that Labradors were excellent retrievers, they began using them on land for shooting sports. Their soft mouths and intelligence made them ideal for retrieving duck and other fowl. Then, of course, people began to realize that Labrador Retrievers made excellent pets.
After they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917, their popularity as housepets took off, and they haven’t slowed down since. And that’s no wonder! Labs pretty much love everyone. Other dogs, other animals, children, strangers walking down the street: you can be pretty sure you’re Lab will want to be friends with them.
LABRADORS NEED A LOST OF EXERCISE
Now that we’ve waxed poetic about how awesome Labrador Retrievers are (and they are pretty fantastic) it’s time to get real about one of the main hurdles to Lab ownership: their energy level.
Labs are sporting dogs and require a great deal of exercise to be happy and healthy. An under-exercised Labrador won’t be at their best. This is especially true for younger dogs, who require at least one to two hours of hard exercise every day. This is as much for their physical health as their mental health. A bored and restless Labrador can quickly become a destructive one. To keep your shoes and couch safe and your Lab happy, you need to find ways to keep them well-exercised.
THEY’RE PRONE TO OBESITY
Labs need a lot of exercise to be happy, and they won’t do well if they’re cooped up in the house all day. An ideal home for a Labrador Retriever is one with a large, fenced-in yard where they can run freely and burn off all that extra energy. But, if you don't have that, a couple of long walks (or jogs) will be great as well.
Labs were bred to complete tasks, and without a “job” to do, they can get pretty antsy pretty fast. But it’s not just your Labs mental health that will suffer if they aren’t given enough exercise: their waistlines will, too.
Thanks to a mix of genetics and love for food, Labrador Retrievers are especially prone to canine obesity. And as a responsible Lab owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure they keep trim. Being overweight is problematic for Labs on a variety of levels.
It’s a problem for all the reasons that being overweight is difficult for any dog: it shortens their lifespan, decreased their quality of life, can cause heart issues, and can lead to cancer. But for Labrador Retrievers the stakes are even higher.
Hip Dysplasia (a genetic malformation of the hip joints that eventually leads to lameness and pain) plagues Labrador Retrievers in record numbers and being overweight can hasten the progression of the illness, causing the dog pain and racking up potentially catastrophic veterinary bills.
Keeping your Lab at a healthy weight will not only increase their quality of life, but it could also drastically lengthen their lifespan. Knowing that Labs are prone to packing on the pounds is the first step in taking precautions. Adequate exercise, no table scraps, and the correct portions of high-quality dog food will all go a long way in helping to make sure your Lab stays trim, happy, and healthy.
NOT ALL LABS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Because Labs are so popular, it seems like there’s one around every corner. And that’s great! Labs are exceptional dogs and they heartily deserve their spot as one of the best-loved breeds in the United States (and in the world, for that matter). But being so popular definitely has its downsides, as well, and one of the most important ones is unscrupulous breeders.
Not everyone who breeds Labrador Retrievers does so for the love of the breed and a desire to better the gene pool. Some people are in it purely for the money (and all good dog breeders will tell you, if you’re doing it right, you’re lucky to break even!)
These “backyard breeders” don’t always give much thought to their matchmaking skills, and the result is often poorly bred Labradors who are prone to a host of avoidable genetic ailments. But because everyone loves a Lab puppy, they’re sure to sell anyway, lining the pockets of the breeder and setting up the new family for heartbreak.
If you’re in the market for a Labrador pup, make sure to do your research. Ask around, attend dog shows, and inquire with friends of the breed. There are plenty of resources out there to help you choose a healthy puppy from a dependable breeder. And, of course, there are often Labs at your local shelter!
THEY’VE GOT GOOD TEETH
One thing that doesn’t seem to give Labrador Retrievers too many issues? Their teeth. While Labs fall prey to a variety of congenital problems, they generally have solid dentistry. But that doesn’t mean you can slack off. Just like any dog, Labs require regular brushing to keep their teeth and gums healthy. At least once a week is ideal. The good news? Labs are so happy-go-lucky they probably won’t mind!