Dog Breed Information: Labrador Retriever (Lab)

Labrador retriever standing indoors in profile

The is a medium to big dog breed that originated in Newfoundland and the United Kingdom. It has a short coat and a strong build. The intellect, good character, and temperament of labs are well-known. Despite being raised as hunting dogs, they make wonderful companions. In addition to their aptitude for sports, Labs make wonderful therapy and service dogs. They are also used in water rescue, search and rescue, and explosive and narcotics detection.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 22.5 to 24.5 inches (male), 21.5 to 23.5 inches (female)

WEIGHT: 65 to 80 pounds (male), 55 to 70 pounds (female)

COAT: Short, dense double coat

COAT COLOR: Black, chocolate, or yellow

LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years

TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, active, companionable


ORIGIN: Newfoundland/United Kingdom


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Characteristics of the Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers tend to have a friendly and outgoing personality. Their temperament also is driven by a high energy level. They like having a job or activity, and they are highly trainable. 

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Labrador Retriever

The ancestors of the modern Labrador retriever really came from Newfoundland (not Labrador). A breed named the St. John's water dog, also dubbed the smaller Newfoundland, was utilized on fishing boats in the early 1800s. These canines were well-known for their skill in the water, their dedication to their jobs, and their friendliness.

The dogs piqued the curiosity of visiting British nobility in Newfoundland. Some of them were transported back to England to be used as gun dogs for hunting ducks. As the breed was disappearing in Newfoundland, they also kept improving it in England. Finally, they developed the breed standard we are familiar with today.

The Labrador retriever was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1917. And in recent years, the Lab has routinely been recognized as one of the most in the U.S. Throughout history, a number of well-known people have had Labradors, including Bill Clinton, Prince William, and both Princes Harry. Additionally, laboratories have been crucial to the military, police, and service industries.

Labrador Retriever Care

The ideal environment for labs is a household where they may receive a lot of training and exercise. They are energetic canines who require a lot of care. Despite the fact that they shed a lot, grooming them is pretty straightforward.


Without adequate regular physical exercise and mental stimulation, labs might become hyperactive and disruptive. Set aside at least two hours every day for physical activity, such as brisk walks, jogs, treks, and active play. These people-oriented canines prefer to exercise with you rather than being left in a yard by themselves.

Due to their heritage as water dogs, Labrador retrievers enjoy swimming whenever and wherever they can (even in puddles). Therefore, dock diving would be an ideal canine sport to keep them occupied. In a similar vein, they like playing fetch as retrievers. Participating in therapy, service work, and other canine activities can assist to keep your dog active and cognitively occupied.


Labs have sleek, water-resistant coats that only need the most minimum maintenance. To remove loose hair and disperse skin oils, the thick coat does have a tendency to shed a lot, therefore at least weekly brushing is necessary. Additionally, because of seasonal changes in weather, labs typically shed more in the spring and fall. In order to maintain the loose fur, you'll probably need to brush more than once every week. Fortunately, Labs only require a wash every several months because their coat naturally keeps themselves fairly clean.

Depending on how much your dog wears them down, aim to cut your dog's nails every month or so. Aim to wash your teeth every day as well. Additionally, examine the ears at least once a week for dirt, debris, and any infection symptoms. After bathing and swimming, be sure to dry your ears.


To assist your Labrador's power and energy be directed in a positive direction, begin socializing and training it while it is a puppy. Labs are eager to please and like working, even if that work involves learning obedience techniques. So long as you are persistent and employ positive reward, training is often simple.

To assist a Lab puppy develop into a calm and self-assured dog, it is best to expose it to various people, animals, and circumstances. Enroll your dog in puppy courses as soon as it reaches the required age.

Labs are well renowned for being highly devoted and caring and are considered to be true family dogs since they get along well with kids. However, while with a dog, small children should always be closely watched. Labrador retrievers often adapt well to multi-pet families, especially if they are raised in a social environment with other animals. Always keep an eye on any new acquisitions to make sure all the animals are acting properly. Instructors in obedience can offer advice on how to introduce your Lab to both kids and animals.

Common Health Problems

Since labs are typically healthy dogs, conscientious breeders should check them for any medical issues. However, there are certain inherited health issues that can exist, such as:

  • Elbow and
  • Hereditary myopathy (loss of muscle strength and control)

Diet and Nutrition

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water. Two meals a day of high-quality, nutritionally balanced dog food should be given to your Labrador retriever. Regarding quantity and variety, speak with your veterinarian because they may differ according on a pet's size, degree of exercise, and other aspects. A dog's nutritional demands might fluctuate throughout the course of its life.

Because they enjoy food and will eat past the point of fullness, Labrador retrievers frequently gain weight and become obese. You must thus control how much food you consume and how often you indulge in indulgences to avoid overeating.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Labrador Retriever

If you've decided that a Labrador retriever is the best breed for your family and that you're willing to provide the strenuous exercise this breed requires, look for a dog that needs a home at your neighborhood animal shelters and rescue organizations. The Labrador Retriever Club further offers tools to link people with breeders and rescues, including:

  • Breeder directory
  • Rescue organizations

Labrador Retriever Overview

  • Can be trained for a variety of tasks

  • Very friendly

  • Often good with kids and other pets

  • Needs a lot of exercise

  • Heavy shedder

  • Prone to overeating and weight gain

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Make sure you conduct a ton of research before deciding whether a Labrador retriever is the best dog for you. To find out more, speak to other Labrador retriever owners, reliable breeders, and rescue organizations.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Labrador retrievers good family dogs?

    Labrador retrievers generally do make excellent family dogs. With proper training and socialization, they can learn to be good around children.

  • Are Labrador retrievers aggressive?

    Labs typically aren't aggressive dogs as long as they are well trained and socialized. They tend to love people and are even open to strangers.

  • Are Labrador retrievers good apartment dogs?

    Labs can adapt to apartment living as long as they get out for enough exercise each day and have ample playtime and socialization with their family.


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