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Labrador Retrievers, The Good and Bad

Updated on January 25, 2015

Labrador Retriever Puppy

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Labrador Retrievers have a great temperament which makes them suitable for a variety of things that go beyond hunting. They are an ideal sporting and family dog. Labs thrive in the family atmosphere and are well trusted in anything they do. What is the first thing we notice about a lab? When we look at their face we see friendly eyes that express their good nature, character and intelligence. Other than a change in variety, I can't see any other reason a lab owner would not get another lab. As a matter of fact, they're ranked #1 not only in the United States but also in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

A 1915 Labrador Retriever

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History

Labrador Retrievers are originally from Newfoundland. The breed is so popular we should send Newfoundland thank you cards every so often. Labs started in the fisherman game helping them pull nets and catch fish. Later they were cross-bred with other retrievers, setters and spaniels making them a superior retriever. The name labrador retriever originated because of the area in Newfoundland called "the labrador" where the dogs were retrieving.

In the early 1800's the Earl of Malmesbury imported a lab and they became popular in Great Britain. AKC first recognized labs as a breed in 1917. In the 1920s and 30's there was a large influx of labs into the United States.

AKC 2013 Breed Registration Rankings

Rank
Breed
#1
Labrador Retriever
#2
German Shepherd
#3
Golden Retrievers

Personality

Labs have one of the best dispositions. They are kind, friendly, eager to please and are not aggressive at all. A lab is very gentle, adaptable and intelligent making them the ideal dog.

There are not territorial, do not bark much and trust strangers which do not make them a good watch or guard dog. A barking dog, even though a friendly one, can scare aware an intruder. Don't expect much of this from a lab.

Labs can sometimes take up to three years of age to mature. Up to this time they may seem very hyper because they have puppy-like energy. Some think that their dog will remain this way but they will see over time a calmer dog.

Stanley Coren's, The Intelligence of Dogs, has the lab ranked as #7 for intelligence. Due to their straight A smarts, steady temperament and above average scent following, military and police use labs as detection and tracking dogs. I have seen many videos where hunters are using a lab for tracking down a wounded deer. These skills are another reason for their wide-spread use as a guide dog. In Canada, about 65% of all guide dogs are Labrador Retrievers.

They are curious and love company which sometimes makes them want to escape or explore. This can lead to them getting lost or wandering away. Most dogs will find their way back home, as so will a lab, but the problem will be when they get picked up by someone, with the wrong or right intentions, and the dog doesn't return home. As with any dog, please secure your dog and have ID tags.

Labs love to eat and can easily become overweight. Approximately 25% of all dogs in the United States are overweight. Obesity can lead to hip and joint problems, and health issues as they age. Make sure they eat healthy food, not over fed and get plenty of exercise.

All 3 Colors

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What is your favorite Labrador Retriever Color?

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Colors

The normal colors for a lab are black, chocolate and yellow. The black is a solid black color, chocolate ranges from medium to dark brown and yellow ranges from cream to fox-red. Sometimes a small white mark will exist on the chest, paws or tail. There will also be other color markings or shadings on the body but the ideal breed will have a solid color.

There are silver-colored labs being sold as a silver pure-bred. This bloodline purity is under dispute, the gene that causes a silver color is not found in a purebred labrador retriever. The AKC has stated that they will never recognize the color silver.

What color lab do you prefer? I think they are all awesome looking. But if you had to pick just one, which one would it be? Take the poll to your right and vote for your favorite color.


Surfs Up!

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Size and Shape

A lab is usually about 21-25" tall. Males are usually 65 to 80 pounds while a female is about 55 to 70 pounds.

Their muzzle is neither long or narrow and not very short and stubby. Their ears hang moderately, are not large and heavy and are well proportioned with the head. The lab's neck should rise strongly with a moderate arch and not be too short. Their eyebrows are slightly pronounced. The chest is not too wide or short and from the side it is well-developed but not exaggerated. The tail is wide at the base, tapers towards the end, should not curl up or be extremely long or short. Their front quarters are strong, muscular, well-coordinated and their hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed. Viewed from the rear their legs are straight and parallel.

A Labrador Retriever is a well muscled, strong, impressive looking dog.

Water Resistant Coat

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Lab Guide Dog

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Coat

Labs have a very short coat that is dense and straight. They have a soft undercoat that gives them protection from the cold and water. The coat is water-resistant to protect them from the cold water in the winter. They will normally shed twice a year but that can differ depending what climate the lab from.

Labrador Retriever Fun Facts

The original name of the breed was St. John's water dog.

The first recognized yellow lab named Ben of Hyde and was born in 1899.

Chocolate labs became more common in the 1930s.

Yellow labs were first recognized as golden but gold is not a color so they were later called yellow.

Life span is normally 12-13 years.

Webbed toes make the lab an excellent swimmer.

The same litter can potentially have puppies of all three colors.

TV sitcom, Family Guy's Brian Griffin, is a Labrador Retriever.

Labs are gentle, friendly, great with children and kind. There are not many bad things to say about a lab. If there is anything negative it's because of personal preference and not the breed's fault. Such as, the dog might be too big for you or they are not a good guard dog. If you are getting ready to add a new dog to the family or want to try a different breed why not give a labrador retriever some thought? Chances are your lab will have a better morals than Brian Griffin.

If you have a labrador retriever I'm sure you have some interesting stories to tell about your dog. Feel free to add a short story to the comment section below, I would love to hear them.

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    • MarieLB profile image

      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Hi Joseph Garea, What an interesting and informative article. Enjoyed it immenseley and I'd say that even those who do not consider themselves dog-lovers would too. Great article.