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Dog Breed profiles

Labrador Retriever Breed Profile

Labrador Retriever fact file

KC Group: Gundog
Size: Large
Height: Dogs: 56 - 57cm; bitches: 55 - 56cm
Weight: Around 25 - 34kg
Average lifespan: 12 years 
Temperament: A real gentleman; good-tempered, kind, intelligent, and eager to please 
Good with children?: Yes recommended
Exercise requirement: Lots
Good guard dogs?: Would bark
Moulting level: Medium
Grooming: Little
Colours: Black, yellow, and chocolate/liver
Jogging partner: Yes

Health

Labs are prone to the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Elbow dysplasia.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and OCD affect the hip, shoulder, and elbow joints; PRA is an eye condition that results in blindness.

It’s absolutely essential that the parent dogs of any puppies you view have had relevant health checks, namely that they’ve been hip scored, elbow scored, and eye tested. A breeder should have documentation to prove these tests have been done; make sure you see it.

Hip scoring

The left and right hips are X-rayed and scored individually; the final hip score is the two individual scores added together. 

The lower the score, the better. The average hip score in Labs is 16; anything higher is considered poor and the dog shouldn’t be bred from.

Elbow scoring

Each elbow is X-rayed and scored between zero and three; zero being excellent and three indicating the most severe problems. Only dogs with a zero score on each elbow should be bred from.

Temperament

  • Kind natured.
  • Good with children and other animals.
  • Revels in company and loves being part of the family.
  • Happy to be left home alone for short periods but no more than four hours.

Lifestyle

  • Ideal family pet.
  • Will thrive if you enjoy an active lifestyle.
  • A garden is a must.
  • Needs a considerable amount of exercise — at least two good off-lead walks a day.
  • Won’t thrive in an urban environment without regular access to off-lead walks.

Trainability

  • The Lab is a fantastic all-rounder — you name it, he’ll most likely be able to do it.
  • Extremely easy to please and will excel at training.
  • Training classes will get the best out of your Lab.

General care

  • Very easy to look after.
  • The Lab’s short coat doesn’t require a lot of grooming.
  • The Lab is a notorious food lover who will eat anything!
  • Be strict with portion sizes as they gain weight easily.

Working or show Lab?

Working Labs are more energetic than show-bred Labs and tend to be of slighter build; show Labs are more stocky.

While working Labs are often cheaper, it’s important to remember that it’s best not to choose a working Lab unless you intend to work him

Pros

  • Highly trainable.
  • Minimal grooming.
  • Good temperament.
  • Good all-rounder.

Cons

  • Some hereditary problems.
  • Needs a good deal of exercise.
  • The Lab loves food and is ruled by his stomach, so you’ll need to be extra vigilant with feeding.
  • Take extra care when your pup is young to ensure healthy bone development.