An introduction to Labradors
If you are considering buying or adopting this popular dog breed, our guide to owning a Labrador is just for you! Known as the Labrador retriever, Labrador or ‘Lab’ for short, these loving, intelligent and often bouncy creatures are adorable – but are they the right dog for your home environment? We will answer all the most frequently asked questions below, to help you determine if living with a Labrador would be ideal for your family.
Originally bred to retrieve nets for fishermen and later to retrieve fowl and game for hunters, the Labrador Retriever is now one of the most popular pets in the UK. The breed benefits from the positive character traits of being reliable, trustworthy, good natured and dependable, leading to their reputation as great family pets. Labradors are very sociable by nature, forming strong bonds with their owners. They do however, need lots of exercise and mental stimulation and can be inclined to being over enthusiastic and bouncy. They are renowned for their huge appetite for food and tendency to chew as puppies.
The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs, says:
“The Labrador is the most popular of all pedigree breeds and his popularity comes from his versatility as family companion, service dog, guide dog as well as a working gun dog.”
1. What size are Labradors?
Labradors are a strongly built medium – large breed of dog. When purchasing one as a puppy, it is important to consider this. You should ensure that your home and garden have plenty of space to accommodate a large and lively doggy resident. Fully grown males typically weigh 29-36 KG and measure around 56-57 cm to the withers. Females weigh 25-32 KG and measure around 55-56 cm to the withers.
2. Do Labradors make good family pets?
Labradors generally have an easy going temperament with playful and intelligent character traits. Their affectionate and loyal nature means that they can be ideally suited to becoming a family pet, with the vast majority enjoying the company of children. Labradors are known to thrive in a family home environment with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, attention and training. However, please note that young children should always be supervised around any breed of dogs and appropriate care should be taken.
3. What colours are Labradors?
Labradors come in three colour varieties, which are black, chocolate and yellow. The Kennel Club says,
“The only correct colours as listed in the Labrador Retriever Breed Standard are: wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox.”
4. What is the average life span of a Labrador?
Labradors live for approximately 10-12 years on average, when cared for correctly and fed appropriately.
5. How much does owning a Labrador cost?
According to Pets4Homes, the UK’s most popular classfieds website for various kinds of pets, the average cost for a Kennel Club registered Labrador is £780, with a non-registered Labrador costing an average of £597. This is just the purchase price of course, there are also ongoing costs. These include equipment such as collar, lead, toys, bedding and a dog guard or car harness. You should also budget for the cost of food, pet insurance and regular vaccinations, flea and worming treatments. There may also be additional costs, such as training classes.
6. Are Labradors easy to train?
Labradors are generally always very eager to please, with kind and willing natures. This means that they are relatively easy to train. They also have a very high food drive meaning that they learn very quickly when there is a food reward at the end of a training session. They are particularly suited to training for assistance dog roles, genuinely enjoying this kind of activity. At Barking Mad Dog Care, we are proud to be official charity partners of Dogs for Good, a life-transforming charity, which creates partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained assistance dogs. We are proud to sponsor Prince, pictured below. He is just about to be matched with a family after completing initial training.
7. How much exercise do Labradors need?
Labradors need to be given the right amount of exercise to stay fit and healthy. An ideal amount of exercise for this active breed is roughly two hours a day. This relates to fully grown adult Labradors. Puppies should be walked following the rule of five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day.
It is important to include activities other than just walking, as Labradors require lots of mental stimulation. They love to retrieve, as their name suggests, and are generally sociable when playing with other dogs, if well socialised. Just letting a Labrador into your back garden, isn’t enough to keep them happy and satisfied. If Labradors become bored, they are far more likely to become destructive and display unwanted behaviour.
8. How much grooming do Labradors need?
Labradors are fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Like all breeds though, regular grooming on a weekly basis will keep their coats and skin in good condition. Frequent grooming can also help with their tendency to excessively shed fur.Feeding a Labrador
9. Feeding a Labrador
Labradors are notorious for their love of food and are prone to putting on weight if fed an inappropriate diet or quantity. It is important to feed your Labrador a good quality food with all the right nutrients, right through from puppyhood to old age. It’s a good idea to research your pet’s food carefully and if in doubt, consult your vet.
10. Do Labradors like water?
Labradors were originally bred for retrieving objects from the water. They generally love swimming and splashing around in water courses and lakes. Remember to take care when walking them near to water which is unsafe for them to swim in. Many Labradors will decide to jump in of their own accord.
Conclusion: owning a Labrador should be determined by your lifestyle
When making the decision to own any kind of dog or puppy, it is important to give real consideration to whether or not they are suitable for your lifestyle. Labradors have an abundance of energy and require plenty of exercise, hence the frequently asked question, ‘At what age do Labradors calm down?’ If you have the time, space and energy for a large and lively breed and enjoy walking, then a Labrador may just be the dog to fit in with your lifestyle. However, it is natural to worry about what will happen if you have to leave your new best friend to go away on holiday, for work or for a non dog-friendly occasion such as a family wedding.
Barking Mad Dog Care offers the perfect solution for dog owners who don’t wish to place their canine companions in kennels. Established in 2000, we have many years of experience of offering home-from-home care for Labradors and the many other breeds of dog. Why not find your local branch today and get in contact to discuss care for your Labrador?
Please note, our information about Labradors is a brief description for the benefit of our website visitors. The points we make are a generalisation of breed characteristics. They can not be 100% true of each and every dog of the Labrador breed. Every dog is an individual and will have different needs. We would advise carrying out lots of research, both online and in person (such as with your local vet) before making a decision to purchase or adopt a Labrador puppy or adult dog.