Alone Time While they may be left alone for up to eight hours during the day, the gregarious Lab needs plenty of human interaction. Labs require at least an hour of exercise per day—more than just a short walk. Loneliness, boredom, and too little activity may be the root of undesirable behaviors such as destructive chewing. Ensure your Lab has enough quality attention throughout the day to prevent this behavior.
The Labrador Retriever has a short, thick, dense, weather-resistant coat which can be black, yellow (varying from cream to gold or almost red) or chocolate brown. There is also a rare silver variety which some think to be the result of a Weimeraner cross. A small white marking on the chest is permissible. It is possible for all colors of Labrador Retriever to appear in the same litter.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Labrador Retrievers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Labs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.Hip Dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It's thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog's elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow. It can be detected in dogs as early as four to nine months of age. Overfeeding of "growth formula" puppy foods or high-protein foods may contribute to its development.Cataracts: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow over time. They may develop at any age, and often don't impair vision, although some cases cause severe vision loss. Breeding dogs should be examined by a board-certified veterinary ophthamologist to be certified as free of hereditary eye disease before they're bred. Cataracts can usually be surgically removed with good results.Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, they lose their daytime vision, as well. Many dogs adapt to limited or complete vision loss very well, as long as their surroundings remain the same.Epilepsy: Labs can suffer from epilepsy, which causes mild or severe seizures. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more. Therefore, if your Lab has seizures, it's important to take him to the vet right away for a checkup.Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD): TVD is a congenital heart defect that has been increasing in prevalence in the Labrador breed. Puppies are born with TVD, which is a malformation of the tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart. It can be mild or severe; some dogs live with no symptoms, others die. TVD is detected by ultrasound. Research is ongoing to learn how widespread it is in the breed, as well as treatment.Myopathy: Myopathy affects the muscles and nervous system. The first signs are seen early, as young as six weeks and often by seven months of age. A puppy with myopathy is tired, stiff when he walks and trots. He may collapse after exercise. In time, the muscles atrophy and the dog can barely stand or walk. There is no treatment, but rest and keeping the dog warm seems to reduce symptoms. Dogs with myopathy should not be bred because it is considered a heritable disease.Gastric Dilataion-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Labs, especially if they're fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, or drink large amounts of water or exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.Acute Moist Dermatitis: Acute moist dermatitis is a skin condition in which the skin red and inflamed. It is caused by a bacterial infection. The more common name of this health concern is hot spots. Treatment includes clipping the hair, bathing in medicated shampoo, and antibiotics.Cold Tail: Cold tail is a benign, though painful condition common to Labs and other retrievers. Also caused limber tail, it caused the dog's tail to go limp. The dog may bite at the tail. It isn't cause for alarm, and usually goes away on its own in a few days. It is thought to be a problem with the muscles between the vertebrae in the tail.Ear Infections: The Lab's love of water, combined with his drop ear make him prone to ear infections. Weekly checking and cleaning if necessary helps prevent infection. If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Labs, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
The breed's good nature has propelled it to the number one ranking in popularity in America, a position it intends to keep. Despite their fame as indoor pets, they are even more at home outdoors. It should always be remembered that Labradors are water retrievers at heart and from early on, puppies show a strong desire to carry things around with them and a strong attraction to water, even puddles!
Maybe you’re in the market for something with more durability. You want something that will last through the wicked winter months and be there when spring is sprung. Look no further than the Super Chewer subscription. From the same dog crazy people that bring you BarkBox, these toys are designed with the toughest pups in mind. When you start a 6 or 12-month Super Chewer subscription this Cyber Monday, your first box will only be $9! Plus you can get our Limited-Edition Grinch box with the wearable Max antler while it lasts!
Filson Dog Gear: “Might as well have the best” has long been a slogan of Filson, a legendary outdoor gear and clothing company that took off during the 1897 gold rush, supplying the highest quality items to the hardest working outdoorsmen. Your dog might as well have the best too, and mine wears the Filson Dog Chest Protector ($75) to keep burrs, ticks and mud off her chest and belly and avoid pointy sticks when running crazy through the woods. There are tons of coats and vests for dog, yet almost none of them protect the underside, and while a dog like mine doesn’t need warmth, I like the protection, and this is water and tear resistant but lined with soft cozy cotton, it’s blaze orange for visibility, has very adjustable straps and buckles, is made in the USA and comes in three sizes. For more traditional topside protection, Filson makes the Shelter Cloth Dog Coat ($95), using its proprietary Shelter Cloth, a heavyweight, oil finished waterproof canvas, lined with virgin wool which remains warm even when wet. The coat is reversible, so you can go solid dark green or red and black check. It is easy to put on and off, secure, adjustable and features a double layer sueded moleskin neck for comfort. Like Filson’s human jackets, it’s a real deal outdoor garment for tough environments. You can get cheaper pet coats but as Clinton Filson said in 1914, “The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.” Or the dog wearing them.
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Labrador in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Labradors available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Labs are healthy dogs overall, and a responsible breeder screens breeding stock for conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), and eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy. A condition called exercise induced collapse (EIC) can occur in some young adult Labs; a DNA test allows breeders to identify carriers and plan breedings to avoid producing the disease. Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Labs can develop a life-threatening stomach condition called bloat. Owners should educate themselves about the symptoms that indicate this is occurring, and what to do if so.
Although not a new product, Canine Journal team members have used Embark and other dog DNA tests to better understand their rescue pups and are big fans. We think it’s the wave of the future and encourage you to give the gift of knowledge and health to your favorite furry friend this season. Embark is our #1 pick for best dog DNA kit (and they are having a big holiday sale through the end of the year!).