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Large Dog Breeds: The Retrievers
Large Dog Breeds
Two of the most sought after large dog breeds in the United States are Retrievers. In fact, the Labrador Retriever holds first place among all canines, followed closely by the Golden Retriever. While both breeds exhibit a friendly attitude, are intelligent, eager to please, active and energetic, some distinctive variations in temperament between the two breeds will come into play when choosing the appropriate breed best suited to their particular lifestyle.
The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever's handsome, sturdy appearance and eager expression have no doubt contributed to his popularity. His short coat is water repellent and requires a fair amount of brushing, whether you select the black, yellow or chocolate variety. The male should weigh around 65-80 pounds and reach about 22-24 inches high at the withers, and the female 55-70 pounds and 21-24 inches high. Labs have a lifespan expectancy of ten to twelve years with good care.
Well known for its gentle nature, loyalty and dependability, the Labrador Retriever is the more family oriented of the two breeds. He is full of energy and loves nothing more than to participate in all of his human pack's activities. He thrives in an environment where he feels loved and included, and will shower his family with affection in return. Ignoring a Labrador Retriever is an invitation to disaster as he may well chew his way through anything in his path out of sheer boredom and despondency.
Highly responsive and a quick learner, the Lab is one of the easiest of all dog breeds to obedience train, even for the inexperienced dog owner. His laid back, sociable attitude makes everyone feel welcome in his circle, whether young or old, stranger or old relation, two- or four-legged: in other words, not your ideal guard dog. But beware, this breed can show an independent streak, so you will want to provide a secure area to ensure his safety.
The Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is easily recognized by his golden-toned, dense coat which goes from light cream to deep gold and lightens with age. Flat or wavy with a waterproof undercoat, this dog needs regular brushing. The male should weigh around 65-75 pounds and reach about 23-24 inches high at the withers, and the female 55-65 pounds and 21.5-22.5 inches high. The Golden's ten to thirteen year life expectancy is unfortunately often cut short due to inherited health problems.
The Golden Retriever has been blessed with a self-confident personality. His alertness and eagerness to please make him the perfect hunting partner. Extremely versatile, he will adapt readily to various functions. This dog makes himself at home in just about any environment and will fit right in on a camping trip.
Though bred primarily as a hunting companion, the Golden Retriever is often used for search and rescue operations and makes an ideal guide dog. He can also excel in field trials and in the ring. No matter what is required of him, this is a dog that can be relied upon to deliver and will prove worthy of your trust. A proud member of the sporting group, he requires daily exercise to maintain his form.
A WORD OF CAUTION OR TWO
Unfortunately, overbreeding has caused a number of problems within both of these lovely large dog breeds. It is now common to find Labrador Retrievers that are neurotic, hyperactive, dominant and even aggressive. The previously delightful Golden Retriever now often produces nervous, timid individuals that can even show signs of hostility towards people or other dogs.
Overbreeding has affected the Retrievers not only in terms of temperament, but also physically. Both breeds often suffer from canine hip and elbow dysplasia which may well deteriorate into arthritis and lameness as they get older. Other health concerns are epilepsy, eye disorders including cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, as well as skin and other allergies and even skin tumors in the Labrador.
The Golden is subject to a plethora of disorders such as entropion (the inward rolling of the eyelids), cardiomyopathy (inflammation of the heart muscle), and the von Willebrand Disease (excessive bleeding due to clotting taking longer than usual) to name a few.
In spite of these problems, the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever still are two of the most popular large dog breeds around and will probably remain so for years to come.