About Labrador Retrievers - Dogs Good With Children

Harley's a 12 Year Old Labrador Retriever.

Old Labs love the couch, but make them get out every day for longer life and better health.
Old Labs love the couch, but make them get out every day for longer life and better health.

Black, Chocolate or Golden Retrievers, Labs are the Most Popular Dogs in the US

The Labrador Retriever was first known as St. John’s Dogs in Newfoundland, where it’s roots are traced. The loyal animals jumped into icy waters to retrieve fishing nets and fish that had escaped the nets.

Eventually, they were brought to England on ships that came for trade and business and the English began breeding them as well, breeding them with Setters, Spaniels and Retrievers. Quickly the dogs came to be skilled Retrievers and their personality lends them to popularity.

The Origin of the Labrador Breed

The Labradors have today become the most popular dog breed in the world and the most popular pet breed in the USA. They come in chocolate brown, light golden and black. There are some that turned out to be a silvery grey, but they are lumped under the chocolate category or they are decided to be a Weimaraner cross.

The dogs have an even temperament and their intelligence makes them very trainable, and that combination with it’s natural sense of loyalty and eagerness to please makes them the favored pet and trusted companion in the US. It’s well known that they are great family dogs.

The AKC first recognized Labrador Retrievers in 1917 as a breed belonging to the Sporting groups, Gun Dogs and Water Dogs groups. Some males have been known to grow to 100 pounds, but not usually, as the average Lab is 22 - 25 inches tall.

Sturdy, medium size, athletic and well balanced are all correct terms in describing the Lab’s body structure. Their coat is short and dense; called a double coat; and the tail is frequently defined as otter-like and their faces are kind and friendly looking.

Two Labrador Retriever Dogs; Both the Same

The AKC actually recognizes two breeds of Labrador Retriever; the English bred Labs and the American bred Labs. The former are stockier, heavier and thicker than the latter American bred dogs and the English ones are more calm, laid back and they mature quicker.

Whichever breed they are, they have a natural disposition to have fun and please their masters. They’re good swimmers and they love water so much that purebreds have webbed toes. They’re highly intelligent and loyal, and affectionate, patient and willing to please, and that makes them great candidates for families and service dogs. They make great watch dogs but do not make good guard dogs; they’re too friendly.

Because they’re so smart a pup needs to begin training at a very early age. Labradors are too smart for their own good and will quickly pick up bad manners and habits if left to their own devices for too long. They need mental and physical stimulation each day to support their needs for exercise and work. They could become a digger, a runaway or a chewer, even into adulthood if not trained and cared for the right way.

Labrador Retriever Training Starts Right Away

Labs are enthusiastic about almost everything. For instance, they will want to jump on visitors to greet them, and that’s bad manners. Teaching tricks like shake helps and can be taught at a very young age. His little nose can be put to work finding treats and bits of food that were hidden before he was left alone during the work day, so he has plenty of things to do and won‘t run amuck. Daily long walks and play times in the backyard keep a young Lab entertained and exercised properly.

It doesn’t take long for a Lab to grow to adult size, even though he’s still a pup. At 7 months he weighs 65 pounds and his rambunctious nature and strong, healthy body is much harder to control. The sooner training can begin, the better.

You’ll want to teach him to ‘sit’ before you feed him, or he’ll likely jump up for the bowl as you’re putting it down and spill it everywhere. Their robust intensity of life comes out in bursts and jumps at times of importance, like time to eat.

You really have to be consistent when training a puppy. Everyone has to follow the same rules all of the time, or it can confuse the dog and make him sneaky to get what he wants. For instance, if Mom lets Fido sleep on the couch, but then he’s not allowed to when Dad gets home, the dog won’t know what to do. So he’ll try it every chance he gets or when nobody’s looking. Consistency is very important.

Training a Labrador Puppy - Be Nice

Labs, like most any animal or person, don’t respond well to yelling and screaming, nor do they respond well to hitting and physical punishment of any kind. They’re so eager to please their master that a stern tone of voice is all that’s needed. Praise goes a long way with them. Experiments have shown that dogs responded to praise over being ordered every single time. Labs love to be good dogs, so tell them that they are, often.

The AKC offers a class called Canine Citizenship, where dogs and owners learn manners, to start. They can earn a certificate if they pass the 10 step class at the end of the course.

Labrador Retrievers live roughly 10 to 12 years, though there are some stories of them living to 17 and 20 on very rare occasions. Older labs gain weight easily, so watch the snacks and meal portions. The good old dogs readily accept a spot on the couch, but keep them active, they’ll live longer and be healthier.

If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, a Lab is always a good choice. They’re great with children and they make good watch dogs, although they don’t make good guard dogs. They’re just too friendly.

The Down Side of the Best Family Dog Breed

Labradors are prone to hip and elbow displasia, and there are things that can be done to help alleviate these painful conditions. For instance, feeding your dog is more than just putting kibble in the bowl each day. The Lab puppy should be fed a diet prepared for large breed puppies or a food of less than 25% protein to help avoid joint problems that can occur when puppies grow too fast.

They are also prone to eye disorders such as cataracts (see photo), progressive retinal atrophy and epilepsy.

Do your homework, read up on dogs and talk to your vet about feeding and shot schedules. Learn how to house train it before you bring it home, and spend time with it.

Here's Something for Labrador puppy training and owners:

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Questions or Comments About Labrador Breeds? Leave Your Mark Here 9 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I have two black labs - they're great. Nice Hub.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

My children had a lab while they weere growing up. You are right-they are great with kids. Thanks for the great hub.


iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

Excellent hub !Very well written !


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky

I had a chocolate lab named "Joe". He's been gone now for 3 1/2 years, and I still miss him. He was truly my best friend and the best dog I have ever had. He understood every word I said. Thanks for this article about Labs. You really did a great job capturing the personality of the Lab, as only a Lab owner could do! :)


Mardi profile image

Mardi 6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

Great hub, thanks. I have two Lab crosses, couldn't ask for better tempered dogs. They also get along great with our horses, cats and chickens, but are protective enough to fend off coyotes and other animals that come around.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Spot- on accurate & I feel Labs are the best breed for anyone considering a dog for the first time~~ I am a one-breed gal...! Thank you!


SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 5 years ago Author

Sadly, my beloved Harley (black lab) died of complications due to bone cancer just yesterday. I feel broken in half but I know he'll be waiting for me at the Gates when I go Home and that comforts me some. Labs are great, loyal, smart dogs.


marcoujor 5 years ago

Oh, Sandy, my heart reaches out to you... I had been inspired by some other HUBS to write about ALVIN (my black Lab boy) who would have been 16yo yesterday and this is how I found you... the Rainbow Bridge is my reunion spot to meet "Biggie" as I know Harley will be patiently waiting for you.


SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 5 years ago Author

Thank you marcoujor, I think he'll be there, too.

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