**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.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
The Lab is America's number one dog, which means there are plenty of people breeding Labs who are more interested in filling the demand for Lab puppies than in breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.

^ Candille, Sophie I.; Kaelin, Christopher B.; Cattanach, Bruce M.; Yu, Bin; Thompson, Darren A.; Nix, Matthew A.; Kerns, Julie A.; Schmutz, Sheila M.; Millhauser, Glenn L.; Barsh, Gregory S. (2007). "A β-Defensin Mutation Causes Black Coat Colour in Domestic Dogs". Science. 318 (5855): 1418–23. doi:10.1126/science.1147880. PMC 2906624. PMID 17947548.
Personalize a colorful collar for your dog, or get her ready for adventure with a durable jacket. And when you’ve seen to all things practical, dress her up with playful accessories like bow ties and bandanas. Then browse our sturdy dog bowls, long-lasting toys, all-natural treats, and more to find the perfect fit, whether you’re treating a friend or pampering your own four-legged companion.
"This is our newly adopted black Lab named Dozer. He is one and a half years old in this picture and we adopted him from the pound. Like most Labs he loves the water (as you can see in the picture); in fact, he loves it a little too much. We need to work with him on not obsessing over the water so much, but he is so eager to please that it shouldn't be too hard. We take him on two walks a day with him carrying a doggy backpack, one being a three-mile walk with at least a half hour of swimming. I watch the Dog Whisperer all the time so I know that with following his methods and with Dozer being so eager to please that whatever issues he has we will be able to improve them."
Labrador retrievers are sturdy, solid dogs. They are almost square in appearance, with a strong body and sturdy legs. The maximum height for a male is 24 inches, which puts them in the medium-size dog category, but their sturdy build can make them seem much larger. Weights range from 85 pounds for a large male to 55 pounds for a smaller female. Field line bred dogs are often taller and somewhat thinner in build.
Those traits are the foundation of the Lab’s personality, but each dog puts his own spin on them. Some are serious, some are clowns, some are reserved, some never meet a stranger. You might hear that Lab personalities vary by color, but it’s more likely that a dog’s temperament is affected by the breeder’s goals. Labs from breeders who produce top-winning field-trial dogs are more demanding when it comes to exercise and training. They are unsuited to lying around the house all day while everyone is at work or school. More laid back Labs typically come from a breeder who shows dogs in conformation.
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.

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.


Our final gift idea on this list acknowledges a dog mama's h2est urge – to make her furbaby happy. A BarkBox subscription is sure to do just that. Starting at less than $25 a month, BarkBox brings a themed box of dog toys and all-natural treats to a dog mama's door once a month. This way, a dog mom can make her pup happy and engaged with new toys every month, and it's convenient for her.

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
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!
The Labrador Retriever is the traditional waterdog of Newfoundland, long employed as a duck retriever and fisherman’s mate. The breed began its steady climb to supreme popularity in the early 1800s, when Labs were spotted by English nobles visiting Canada. These sporting earls and lords returned to England with fine specimens of “Labrador dogs.” (Exactly how these dogs of Newfoundland became associated with Labrador is unclear, but the name stuck.) During the latter half of the 19th century, British breeders refined and standardized the breed.
Labrador Retrievers come in three colors—black, yellow, and chocolate. Differences in behavior and personalities between the colors have been noted by many Lab owners, though these differences are no more than hearsay. While anecdotal evidence suggests the genes may be responsible for differences in temperament as well as coloring, this phenomenon has not been studied extensively.
The warm and intelligent Lab is America's number one breed registered with the American Kennel Club. Even non-dog people can recognize a Lab, and artists and photographers have captured his image countless times — usually as the loyal companion, waiting patiently by his owner's side. Built for sport, the Lab is muscular and athletic. He has a short, easy-care coat, friendly demeanor, keen intelligence, and plenty of energy. Devotion to this breed runs deep; Labs are loving, people-oriented dogs who live to serve their families, and owners and fans sometimes liken their Labs to angels. The breed originated on the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called the St. John's dog, after the capital city of Newfoundland, he was bred to help the local fishermen — hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish that had escaped the nets — as well as to be a family dog. Today, most Labs skip the hard labor and spend their days being pampered and loved by their people. However, some Labs still serve as indispensable working dogs. The Lab's sweet nature makes him an excellent therapy dog, visiting homes for the elderly and hospitals, and his intelligence makes him an ideal assistance dog for the handicapped. He also excels as a search and rescue dog or as a retriever for hunters, thanks to his athletic build, strong nose, and courageous nature. And Labs have also become the breed to beat at dog sports such as agility and obedience competitions — especially obedience. There's one dog job that Labs are hopeless at: watchdog. In fact, owners say their sweet, helpful Lab is likely to greet an intruder and happily show him where the goods are stashed. Labrador Retrievers have proven their usefulness and versatility throughout the breed's history, easily shifting from fisherman's companion, to field retriever, to show dog, to modern working dog. One role has remained constant: wonderful companion and friend.
The modern Labrador Retriever is the ancestral result of a popular fishing and retrieving dog from Newfoundland and Labrador, an Atlantic coastal province in Canada near the Labrador Sea; as such, the Labrador carries with it some relationship to the modern Newfoundland water dog. Originally, there were two distinct types under the one classification of Newfoundland dogs: the greater and the lesser, in which size was the main dictate for differentiating the two.
In a perfect world, everyone would be home snuggling with their puppers all the time. Until then, we have the Furbo Dog Camera. It’s a Wi-Fi connected machine that let you check in your pets, talk to them, and even toss them treats at the touch of an app. This is a perfect gift for a friend who travels a lot, who is ill, or who is just missing their furry friend this holiday. Read more about it here.
The Secret Agent Leash by Paww is made with soft webbing that's surprisingly durable and has reflective fabric woven into the length of the leash to improve nighttime visibility. The best part is the quick-tether clip that allows you to securely attach your four-legged friend to fence posts and parking signs without ever having to unleash him. [$20; paww.com]
Labrador Retrievers hail from the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called St. John's dogs, after the capital city of Newfoundland, Labs served as companions and helpers to the local fishermen beginning in the 1700s. The dogs spent their days working alongside their owners, retrieving fish who had escaped hooks and towing in lines, and then returned home to spend the evening with the fishermen's family. Although his heritage is unknown, many believe the St. John's dog was interbred with the Newfoundland Dog and other small local water dogs. Outsiders noticed the dog's usefulness and good disposition, and English sportsmen imported a few Labs to England to serve as retrievers for hunting. The second Earl of Malmesbury was one of the first, and had St. John's dogs shipped to England sometime around 1830. The third Earl of Malmesbury was the first person to refer to the dogs as Labradors. Amazingly, Labs — now America's most popular dog — were almost extinct by the 1880s, and the Malmesbury family and other English fans are credited with saving the breed. In Newfoundland, the breed disappeared because of government restrictions and tax laws. Families were allowed to keep no more than one dog, and owning a female was highly taxed, so girl puppies were culled from litters. In England, however, the breed survived, and the Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a distinct breed in 1903. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1917, and in the '20s and '30s, British Labs were imported to establish the breed in the U.S. The breed's popularity really began to take off after World War II, and in 1991, the Labrador Retriever became the most popular dog registered with the American Kennel Club — and he's held that distinction ever since. He also tops the list in Canada and England. Today, Labs work in drug and explosive detection, search and rescue, therapy, assistance to the handicapped, and as retrievers for hunters. They also excel in all forms of dog competitions: show, field, agility, and obedience.
Whatever the case, it's tough to get everybody else gifts and forget about the dogs in your life. Thanks to the number of pet-obsessed companies making everything from baseball jerseys for your bulldog to cans of food that cost more than your entire lunch, there are plenty of options to pick from when making sure your dog gets something on Christmas day or the first night of Hanukkah, even if they have no clue why they're getting it. 
If you give him an outlet for his energy, a Lab will be the best dog you could ever have. If you don’t, you’ll be spending all your time and energy repairing holes in the wall, filling in holes in your yard, replacing chewed-up furniture and worse. Not because your Lab is a bad dog but simply because he has found his own special ways to entertain himself. Don’t give him the chance.

A bright piece of artwork adds cheer and energy to any room, especially if it's an original pet portrait by artist Manda Comisari. Manda's custom pet portraits are hand-painted on gouache card stock and based on a furbaby's photo. Each portrait is colorful, whimsical and makes a pet's personality shine. Any dog mom would cherish a portrait by Manda forever.
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).
With a strong, heavy built body and square proportions, the Labrador Retriever is classified as a working dog. One of their trademark characteristic features is a strong jaw set in a broad head. These dogs also have strong legs and shoulders, which add to their fast pace. At full adult size, they stand at about 21 to 24 inches in height at the withers (the highest part of the back), with a weight of 50 to 80 pounds. The coat is straight, dense, and short, with the outer coat being a bit coarse, and the undercoat thick and soft. This makes the Labrador all but completely waterproof, with the thick undercoat protecting the skin, and the outer guard coat whisking water away. Labradors have a certain distinct elegance, carrying themselves with an upright, proud demeanor, but with a friendly facial expression that invites new acquaintances and endears them to their human families.
For the human who loves their dog but hates the wet-dog smell, Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson recommends this funny-looking candle that she discovered at her vet’s office that made his office smell like an Italian apricot orchard. “It works not by filling the air with a new scent to overpower the stink, but by releasing a blend of natural enzymes — the titular ‘exterminator’ — that break down airborne animal odors at a molecular level.”
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