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).
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from two of the most common health problems: obesity (which makes joint problems even worse) and eating inappropriate objects. Keeping a Lab at an appropriate weight has been proven to add two additional years of life, and close supervision of what he’s chewing on can save you big bucks at the veterinary hospital. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer and video editor in New York. She has worked for several publications, including Mashable, Travel + Leisure, and Bustle, as well as Brit + Co. She received her BA in Theater from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master’s degree in Media Studies and Film from The New School. When she is not working, she is writing sketch comedy and storytelling through The People's Improv Theatre and loves to knit and play music.

Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.


Labrador Retrievers are often categorised in one of two ways: English Labs or American Labs. The differences are principally behavioural, though there are differences in appearance as well. Behaviorally, English Labs tend to be more easily trainable, and are often considered better for non-professional owners to keep as pets or hunting companions.[22] American Labs tend to be more energetic and, having been bred to compete in field trials, are better suited for professional owners with more experience and time to devote to training. In terms of appearance, English Labs tend to more prominently exhibit the 'blocky' heads for which Labrador Retrievers are known, whereas American Labs tend to be leaner and longer-legged.[23][24]
The Labrador Retriever was recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1917, but pedigrees for this breed can be traced to 1878. The breed is split into two main types: field-bred, or American Labrador, and show-bred, or English Labrador. While both types come from the original Labradors bred in England, there are differences between them. Show-bred Labradors tend to be stocky, with a calm demeanor, while field-bred Labs are leaner and more energetic.
As with some other breeds, the Conformation (typically "Show", "English" or "bench") and the Field (typically "Working" or "American") lines differ, although both lines are bred in both countries. In general, however, Conformation Labradors tend to be bred as medium-sized dogs, shorter and stockier with fuller faces and a slightly calmer nature than their Field counterparts, which are often bred as taller, lighter-framed dogs, with slightly less broad faces and a slightly longer nose. However, Field Labradors should still be proportional and fit within American Kennel Club standards. With Field Labradors, excessively long noses, thin heads, long legs, and lanky frames are not considered standard. These two types are informal and not codified or standardised; no distinction is made by the AKC or other kennel clubs, but the two types come from different breeding lines. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the West, they are common in Asia. These dogs are also very good with children.

You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Labrador Retriever! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
In this guide, we've included the best dog gifts of 2018 for all sizes and personalities, from classic chew toys to unexpected treats your pooch will adore. Many of these gifts range vastly in prices to accommodate any budget as well. So, let's start celebrating the holiday season with this guide, and get ready to watch your furbaby's eyes light up with excitement!

Exercise Because of their high energy level, Labs require plenty of exercise—overeating and obesity can be a concern for this breed, and regular exercise will help maintain a proper weight. Running, swimming, fetch, and hiking are examples of activities the Lab enjoys. And of course, treks into the field are a wonderful form of exercise for this ideal gundog.
Making a donation on behalf of your friend in her dog’s honor is an excellent alternative to standard gift-giving. Consider local shelters or the ASPCA (read our interview with ASPCA’s CEO to learn about some of the great work they’re doing to help shelter animals all over the country). Most animal rescue organizations have online donation forms that allow you to pick the amount. As an added bonus, the ASPCA even lets you pick out a card design to be emailed or mailed to the recipient!

This cake toy is fun for taking pictures on your dog's birthday. We got some adorable pics of our little guy when he turned 1, but as soon as the song started playing, I realized that it was going to be a short-lived toy (because if he didn't destroy it, I would). It plays the Happy Birthday song in a high-pitched tone over and over again - like 4 times in a row. I have no idea what the manufacturers were thinking, because one time would have been more than enough, especially since it keeps getting triggered as the dog plays with it. I'm not even sure if there's a way to get the batteries out - I looked but couldn't figure it out (although that may have been because I was doing it one-handed, as I covered my ears with the other hand).
Maggie May the chocolate Labrador Retriever at 4 years old—"This is my Valentine Puppy, Maggie May. She was born in 2010 on February 14, Valentine's Day, which is funny because she is a chocolate labby:) I got Maggie in the spring of 2010. She was 4 1/2 months old. And totally crazy. For the first few months I had her, I had a tough-love relationship with her. Because she was pretty much out of control, along with being a very dominate puppy, I had to make sure from the beginning that she knew that I was the pack boss. As she got older she also showed some signs of aggression to dogs and people outside of our pack (family). I did not mind the aggression very much, as people don't expect Labs to be aggressive and that was good security thing to me, but I had to make sure that she knew that when I said "Stop it", "No", or "Knock it off", she would immediately cease her barking and/or growling. Maggie took to training like a pro. She loved to "work", as I called it. Her attention and focus on me was, and still is, out of this world. When she is playing with her doggie friends, I can call her out and she will practically fly to me, completely forgetting the other dogs and instead focusing on me. Her focus on me was so great that she was off leash trustworthy in nearly any situation by 11 months. Now at almost 5 years old, she is perfect. It takes a lot to get a dog close to perfection, and Maggie is as close to it as a dog can get in my opinion. Maggie has 3 canine siblings: Sugar, a 14 year old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, is her best friend. Angus (3 year old mix breed) and Tippy (1 year old Pit Bull/Corgi) are her partners in crime. I call them The Three Hoods."
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Breeders should sell puppies with a written contract guaranteeing they'll take back the dog at any time during his life if you become unable to keep him, and with written documentation that both the puppy's parents (and if possible, his other close relatives) have had their hips, eyes and elbows examined and certified by the appropriate health organizations. Seek out a breeder whose dogs are active in field trials, hunt tests, agility, obedience and other sports that require athleticism and good health, and not just ribbons from the show ring.
Labradors like to eat, and without proper exercise can become obese. Laziness is a contribution to this. Obesity is a serious condition and can be considered the number one nutritional problem with dogs. A study shows that at least 25% of dogs in the United States are overweight.[71] Therefore, Labradors must be properly exercised and stimulated. A healthy Labrador can do swimming wind sprints for two hours, and should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and light, rather than fat or heavy-set. Obesity can exacerbate conditions such as hip dysplasia and joint problems, and can lead to secondary diseases, including diabetes. Osteoarthritis is very common in older, especially overweight, Labradors. A 14-year study covering 48 dogs by food manufacturer Purina showed that Labradors fed to maintain a lean body shape outlived those fed freely by around two years, emphasising the importance of not over-feeding. Labradors should be walked twice a day for at least half an hour.[72]
They also found that the lesser Newfie was useful for serving as the occasional tow barge. The strength and endurance of this breed was never lost to size. Also of great benefit to fishermen were the natural physical traits the lesser and greater Newfoundlands shared. Both are equipped with webbed toes and a two-layered coat, with a top-coat that repels water, and a tail that is broad at the base, serving as a sort of rudder while swimming.

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.

Labradors as a breed are curious and exploratory and love company, following both people and interesting scents for food, attention, and novelty value. In this way, they can often "vanish" or otherwise become separated from their owners with little fanfare.[49] As a breed they are highly intelligent and capable of intense single-mindedness and focus if motivated or their interest is caught. Therefore, with the right conditions and stimuli, a bored Labrador could "turn into an escape artist par excellence".[15][50] Many dogs are also stolen.[51] Because of their curious nature and ability to "vanish," along with the risk of being stolen, a number of dog clubs and rescue organisations (including the UK's Kennel Club) consider it good practice that Labradors be microchipped, with the owner's name and address also on their collar and tags.[49][52]

Whether you’ve brought home an older dog from the shelter or just got a new puppy, teaching them to use a potty bell will help immensely with accidents. The Potty Bell by Caldwell’s Pet Supply Co. is 26 inches long and easily slips over a door handle or knob. From there, work with your dog to learn cue words about going outside to use the bathroom, and give them treats near the bell to get them to nose it. Eventually, they’ll learn to ring the bell whenever they want or need to go outside. Colors include black, blue, brown, green, red, and yellow.

Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.

"We watch The Dog Whisperer frequently, and we know what he means when he says to pick the pup out of the litter that is the most laid back. Most people go and pick out a dog based on their playful attitude because if a pup runs up to them they think the pup "chose them" when really it is just probably going to be a more challenging, hyper pup. We know this information now, but we did not know it when we went to get Bruno (or when we picked out our first two dogs), however he was the last male puppy left so we did not have a choice. I asked my husband why he thought Bruno was the last male left out of the litter and we later realized it was probably because he did not come leaping and bounding up to the other callers. The people that owned the pups had to go pick him up and bring him to us because he just sat at a distance observing the activity. When we first brought him home he went and sat in the corner all by himself after allowing the other dogs to greet him. We thought it was because he was so young and he was in a new environment. As the weeks passed Bruno was easily housetrained, never chewed anything up, and never "got in our face" for attention as the other dogs that we have liked to do. To this day if he wants attention he will just come and lie at our feet or sit by our side calmly. If we do not acknowledge his presence he will go lie by the door. When we took Bruno for his first set of shots, the vet said that he was extremely calm for a Lab puppy and said that he "was 1 in 100." Bruno will be 1 year old in January and we still have one of the best behaved dogs in the world with him."
Ah, the classic dog sweater. It’s undoubtedly one of the go-to Christmas gifts for pups, and with good reason: They’re adorable. We especially love this one from Lanyar, which has a holiday-ready pattern featuring reindeer and snowflakes against a bright red that all but shouts “Christmas!” Available in sizes from extra small to extra large, it’s easy to find the right fit for your dog (just follow the measurements on the listing). Made of 100% acrylic fiber, it has a wool-like feel that’s sure to keep your pooch warm all winter long.
While individual dogs may vary, in general show-bred Labradors are heavier built, slightly shorter-bodied, and have a thicker coat and tail. Field Labradors are generally longer-legged, lighter, and more lithe in build, making them agile. In the head, show Labradors tend to have broader heads, better defined stops, and more powerful necks, while field Labradors have lighter and slightly narrower heads with longer muzzles.[42][43] Field-bred Labradors are commonly higher energy and more high-strung compared to the Labrador bred for conformation showing while conformation breeds are calmer in energy, and as a consequence may be more suited to working relationships than being a "family pet".[42][43] Some breeders, especially those specialising in the field type, feel that breed shows do not adequately recognise their type of dog, leading to occasional debate regarding officially splitting the breed into subtypes.[44]
Your friend is always insisting that his Chihuahua is smarter than your honor student. Why not put that claim to the test? This “chess” puzzle challenges brainy pooches to manipulate plastic and rubber cones and slides to find treats. With adjustable levels, the game can be adjusted for any dog, from a scatterbrained puppy to the next Paw-by Fischer.
The Labrador Retriever should be well-balanced and sturdy with an athletic build. The skull should be wide and balanced, with ears that hang beside the face. Alert, intelligent eyes must be kind. The tail should be wide at the base and taper into the recognizable 'otter tail.' The straight, dense coat of black, yellow, or chocolate coloring should protect against the water and cold weather. The temperament of a Lab must suit the hunt, as well as the home: always friendly and stable. – AKC Breed Standards
Last (but certainly not least) is one of our favorite ideas: giving your pet loving friend pup sitting services via Rover.com. Depending on the amount you select your friend can redeem for a variety of services including dog walking, grooming and overnight stays. Users can search for qualified dog sitters who can watch after their pup at a moment’s notice. They even have the option to have sitters drop off, pick up or stay in their home. This is a gift that both your friend and her dog will no doubt appreciate!
Every dog needs a great collar to hold his name tag, connect to his leash, and make him look handsome. If you want to get a new high-quality collar, you can't go wrong with the Lupine Original Dog Collar. It has a heavy-duty design, big range of colors, multiple sizes, and a lifetime guarantee that even covers chewing. It's our top pick for dog collar overall.
The high intelligence, initiative and self-direction of Labradors in working roles is exemplified by dogs such as Endal, who is trained to, if need be, put his wheelchair-bound human in the recovery position, cover him with a blanket, and activate an emergency phone.[59] A number of Labradors have also been taught to assist their owner in removing money and credit cards from ATMs with prior training.[60]

Forequarters should be muscular, well coordinated and balanced with the hindquarters. Shoulders-The shoulders are well laid-back, long and sloping, forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees that permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with strong forward reach. Ideally, the length of the shoulder blade should equal the length of the upper arm. Straight shoulder blades, short upper arms or heavily muscled or loaded shoulders, all restricting free movement, are incorrect. Front Legs-When viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with good strong bone. Too much bone is as undesirable as too little bone, and short legged, heavy boned individuals are not typical of the breed. Viewed from the side, the elbows should be directly under the withers, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the ground and well under the body. The elbows should be close to the ribs without looseness. Tied-in elbows or being “out at the elbows” interfere with free movement and are serious faults. Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg.
The friendly Labrador Retriever is loved for its sociable nature, easygoing temperament, and ability to learn quickly. Often described as smart, kindly, and loyal, Labs have a reputation as the ultimate family pet. Not only a companion in the home, this breed is prized in the field, the show ring, and as a service dog. The hardy Labrador was bred to work, and his energy never seems to cease. Webbed feet and a water-repelling coat provide an advantage in the water—one of his favorite places.
Labs are active, unless they’re sleeping. It was probably a Lab who inspired the saying “A tired dog is a good dog.” Joint and overall health permitting, be prepared to give a Lab a couple of half-hour walks or runs daily to meet his exercise needs. The best part about having a Lab is that there are any number of fun ways you can provide him with physical activity and mental stimulation. Take him swimming, teach him to run alongside your bike once he is physically mature at 18 to 24 months of age, go hiking, make him the first mate on your boat, or get involved in dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally, tracking, flyball, freestyle — you name it, a Lab has probably done it. However, it's always a good idea to check with your vet before starting a new exercise program with your dog.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
My dog loves this! She gets super stoked when she sees me take it out for her to play with. I combine a level 1, level 2 & this level 3 Trixie game, & it keeps her busy for a bit. I am a professional dog trainer & recommend interactive games to my clients, and Trixie makes by far the coolest & most durable (unless you have serious chewers or highly destructive dogs). This one is pretty difficult, so unless your dog is beyond food motivated, opt for a level 1 or 2 to pique your dog's interest in puzzle games first, otherwise your dog may give up. A super fun toy, especially if your dog enjoys nose work.
Another can’t-miss: A stylish and comfortable dog bed. We love this one’s chevron design and plush material—and since the fabric is treated, it’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Available in a slew of different colors and sizes, it’s sure to be appreciated by dogs who could use a comfy place to nap (and owners who are tired of looking at a soggy old dog bed).
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!
They also found that the lesser Newfie was useful for serving as the occasional tow barge. The strength and endurance of this breed was never lost to size. Also of great benefit to fishermen were the natural physical traits the lesser and greater Newfoundlands shared. Both are equipped with webbed toes and a two-layered coat, with a top-coat that repels water, and a tail that is broad at the base, serving as a sort of rudder while swimming.

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!).

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