The Labrador Retriever is one of America's favorite pets. This medium-sized, athletic, good tempered dog is known as a stable addition to the family. Although they are a retrieving breed, "Labs", as they are affectionately called, make the perfect companion even off the hunting grounds.
- Physical Characteristics. The Lab is a strongly built animal with a short, thick coat of hair. It has a broad back that leads to what is commonly called an "otter" tail. It's legs are fairly short-coupled and muscular. The Lab has good endurance and is considered a "fit" dog.
- Disposition. The Labrador Retriever is a kind, likeable, and outgoing breed of dog. It is an intelligent and eager to please pet. Even though the lab is, by its nature, a gentle dog, some animals can display aggression towards other animals and humans. This is usually a bi-product of abuse and or neglect in puppy hood. As with all breeds, Labradors can be friendly companions or reserved antisocialists-it all depends on how you raise the animal.
- Physical Needs: Exercise. Labs require a lot of exercise because of their athletic build and energetic nature. If you are in the market for a lab consider the fact that a lab will need at least three short walks a day, or must have access to the outdoors several times a day. A dog run is a good investment for a lab owner. It provides your animal with the luxury of being outside all day and the ability to use its athletic prowess running back and forth (make sure you have plenty of room dedicated to the run in your backyard). Some Labs may become hyper and unruly in the home if they are not exercised on a regular basis.
- Physical Needs: Space. As a tie into the above paragraph, Labs need ample amounts of space to exercise and exist. A Lab is not a good fit for a small apartment in the city. Make sure that you have enough room for your dog to relax comfortably. Having a backyard or a nearby park where he can run is crucial.
- Physical Needs: Food. If exercised properly your Labrador will be looking for fuel to keep him going. Consult your veterinarian for advice on the best food for your pooch. Dog foods can vary in quality so be sure to scrutinize the diet you will be feeding Fido. Take note of foods that cater to medium-sized dogs. Starting your puppy on a specially formulated puppy chow (instead of adult food) is recommended as well. Make sure you always have plenty of water for your dog.
- Physical Needs: Grooming. The coat of a Labrador is thick and water resistant. In comparison with toy breeds, the coat of a Lab does not need extensive care-in fact there is no need to groom at all (just a good bath every week or two should do it). Take note that because of the Lab's short hair, the dog does shed a good amount.
- Physical Needs: Sleeping Quarters. Labs are rustic dogs-but they need a warm place to sleep. Some owners prefer to keep their dogs outside in a dog house. This is fine-however, make sure that the dog house is dry, warm, and can keep nature's "elements" out. If your pooch is an indoor sleeper it is a good idea to invest in a large, comfy dog bed-that, or you can expect your new friend to find his way into your bed sheets.
- Physical Needs: Lovin'. In addition to the above, it is important to provide your dog with a healthy dose of attention. Puppies that are reared in a loving environment flourish into well-mannered, sociable dogs.
- Health Considerations. Labradors are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. This is an arthritic condition which appears/worsens with age. Keeping your dog lean and in shape will lesson the risk of him developing dysplasia since extra pounds serve to aggravate or initiate the condition. Labs can also develop eye disorders with age-particularly PRA, or Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This condition is associated with old age in dogs and begins as night-blindness. Be aware of these conditions and speak to a vet about ways to prevent and help manage them.
- Life Expectancy. Labradors live 10-14 years, so when you are shopping for a pet do not consider this a fleeting responsibility. Owning a Lab means taking care of another living being for at least a decade!
Having a Lab means more than having a dog-a Lab, faithful, honest, and athletic, will act as your best friend if you nurture the relationship. Just as with a child, you need to invest time, money, and energy into his rearing. Consider talking to a breeder before you make a purchase so that you are aware of all the nuances of the breed.