AKC Dog Breeds: Labrador Retriever

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Sporting Group
Height: 21-24 inches   Weight: 55-80  pounds  Color: Black, Yellow, Chocolate

The gentle, intelligent and family-friendly Labrador Retriever from Canada continues to be the most popular breed in the United States. This versatile hunting breed comes in three colors, yellow, black and chocolate, and because of his aptitude to please his master they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams or in narcotics detection with law enforcement. Labrador Retrievers, originally from Newfoundland, were initially used in work alongside fisherman, helping to pull in nets and catch fish that escaped from fishing lines. After being crossed with Setters, Spaniels and other Retrievers, the Labrador Retriever honed its skills as a true retriever. From this point in the breed’s history, "Labs," as they are affectionately called, were bred primarily to perform as an efficient retriever of game, with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of activities beyond hunting. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1917.

General Appearance
There are two types of Labradors, the English Labrador and the American Labrador. The English bred lab comes from English bred stock. Their general appearance is different. The English bred labs are heavier, thicker and blockier. The American bred Lab comes from American bred stock and is tall and lanky. The Labrador Retriever is a solid, muscular dog, slightly longer than tall, with a short, hard, easy-care, water-resistant double coat that does not have any waves and comes in solid black, yellow, or chocolate. There is also said to be a rare silver or gray color that is referred to by the AKC as a shade of chocolate. This color is controversial and some claim it is a Weimeriner cross, while others say it is a true mutation. The Labrador has a broad head, thick nose, scissors bite and a pronounced stop. Its muzzle is fairly wide and its neck is powerful. The eyes are chestnut or hazel with an intelligent expression. The medium-sized ears are pendant. The otter tail is strong, thick near the body then tapering, and completely covered with hair. Its limbs have good bone structure. The webbed feet aid in swimming.


The most popular of all the AKC breeds, the Labrador Retriever is a good natured, loving, and loyal dog that makes a wonderful family pet. These dogs are intelligent, responsive, and obedient, which makes them one of the easiest breeds to obedience train. The Labrador Retriever is well suited to both inexperienced and experienced dog owners. He is very quick to learn, and is friendly and sociable, with a mild manner and a very amiable attitude. The temperament and personality of the Labrador Retriever reflects his number one position on the AKC popularity list. He is full of energy, loves to join in with a wide range of activities, and has plenty of love and affection to shower upon his family. The Labrador Retriever is not a dog that is suited to those with little time for their pets, as these dogs thrive on companionship and affection from their loved ones. Some do have a tendency to chew, and in particular can indulge in destructive chewing if neglected. Although these dogs have plenty of spirit and some can be quite independent, they are usually easy to train, as they are clever and eager to please. This breed gets along with just about everyone, from children and strangers to pets and other animals. These active dogs do require regular exercise, and will fare well with a secure, safe area in which to play and enjoy some exercise.

The Labrador Retriever requires regular grooming with a firm bristle brush. Special care should be given to the under coat to prevent mats and tangles. Bathing or dry shampooing should only be done when absolutely necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Labrador Retriever is around 10-12 years. Although generally healthy, Labrador Retrievers are still prone to the same hip and joint problems that plague most large dogs hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. They are prone to a few eye disorders as well Progressive Retinal Atrophy being the most serious. They also have large appetites and a tendency toward obesity which needs to be carefully checked by owners in order to keep the Lab generally healthy.

Activity Level

Labrador Retrievers are very excitable and will require a great deal of exercise, especially during the first three years of their lives. At a bare minimum, you should expect to take your dog for about two walks a day. Make sure to use a strong leash, as Labs have very powerful neck and shoulder muscles and can easily pull you off balance if you aren't careful. Labs are also natural and enthusiastic swimmers. If you have access to any kind of water--rivers, beaches, lakes, swimming pools, or even ponds--you should make a point of using these as ideal exercise venues for your Lab.


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