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Dog Breeds: Labrador retriever

Labrador retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and is one of the top breeds in Ireland*. It is a friendly, intelligent and energetic breed, known for its good nature and its high degree of cooperation. In short, a Labrador retriever can be a great hunting dog but also a family dog for an active family.
Dog Breeds: Labrador retriever

Photo: Anna-Liisa Kaitila

Facts about Labrador retriever

Size: Males 56-57 cm, females 54-56 cm 
Lifespan: 12-14 years 
Weight: Males 30-40 kg, females 25-35 kg 
Color: Black, yellow or brown 
Traits: Happy, social, cooperative & willing to work 
Common diseases and injuries: Problems with elbows and hips, allergies (skin and ear problems), overweight 
Breed group: Flushing, retrievers and water dogs (group 8) 
Country of origin: England 

Where does the Labrador retriever come from? 


The exact origin of the Labrador retriever is somewhat uncertain, though it's generally believed to have originated in Newfoundland, Canada, where its ancestors served as working dogs for local fishermen. They were specifically bred to assist in tasks such as catching fish, pulling up nets, locating injured birds, and retrieving game during hunts. Officially recognised as a dog breed in England during the early 20th century, Labrador retrievers later gained popularity in the United States and across the globe. Renowned for their working abilities, Labrador retrievers continue to excel in roles such as hunting, service assistance, and as detection dogs for drugs and more. 

Labrador retriever temperament


The Labrador retriever is known for its friendly and easy-going. They are equally popular as hunting and family dogs.  

The key to this success lies in its temperament. The Labrador retriever is a naturally sociable dog that loves being part of a family and spending time with its people. They are also known for their patience, which is an important quality if the dog is to be around children. 

Labrador retriever retrievers are intelligent and quick learners, making them easy to train. This is especially appreciated by hunters because a hunting dog that does not obey can be very dangerous. They love to play and explore new things but are also good at resting.  

When they're young, Labrador retriever Retrievers can sometimes be a bit rough. Their enthusiasm for life can lead to playful bumps into other dogs or constant rubbing against your legs. It's important for you, as a responsible owner, to intervene if your Labrador retriever tends to get too rough, especially around smaller dogs. 

Things can get pretty lively at home, especially when you first bring the dog home. Keep some treats handy or have a basket near the front door with a toy for to grab. This way, you can reward your Labrador retriever for good behaviour instead of punishing them for expressing their happiness at being welcomed home. 


The appearance and size of the Labrador retriever 


The Labrador retriever usually weighs between 25-40 kg and have height at the withers of about 54-57 cm, depending on whether it is male or female. They have a strong, muscular body that is built for work and activity. 

The Labrador retriever comes in two versions - the classic type (also known as the regular Labrador retriever) and the hunting dog. The hunting dog is slightly lighter built and is also smaller in size, while the classic is longer and sturdier built. 


How old does a Labrador retriever get? 


A Labrador retriever has an expected lifespan of around 12-14 years, but this always varies from individual to individual and is of course also affected by health and lifestyle. 


How to care for a Labrador retriever


The Labrador retriever's coat is short, dense and water-repellent, making it suitable for outdoor work all year round. They love to swim and are happy to act as swimming partners if you are the winter bathing type. 

If you have a Labrador retriever on your wish list, you should also add an efficient vacuum cleaner to your wish list. They shed a lot - all year round. A good brushing once a week during the worst shedding period can keep it down a bit, but there's no getting around vacuuming. 

Otherwise, you don't need to do much else with the fur, but of course remember to cut the claws. 


How to train Labrador retrievers?


The Labrador retriever is an intelligent breed that loves to learn and work. They are known for being easy to train and retrieving is part of their DNA that should be incorporated into training as well as everyday life - even if they are not used for hunting. It gives them great joy to be able to do what they were bred for. 

In addition, it is important to stimulate the Labrador retriever mentally. A walk around the block is not enough. Give it search information both inside and outside and invite collaboration. There is nothing a Labrador retriever would rather do than do things with you and make you happy. 

Although the breed is known to be calm indoors, this is only possible if you take care to meet your Labrador retriever's mental and physical needs. One of the biggest health challenges for the breed is obesity. Therefore, you have a big responsibility to ensure that your Labrador retriever stays in good shape throughout its life, and that means several long walks every day.  


Labrador retriever health status 


At Agria, we collect statistics on all dog breeds that are insured with us. It gives us unique injury and disease statistics that provide insight into which diseases and injuries affect specific breeds. The statistics, Agria Breed Profiles, are based on Agria's injury statistics and the material is based on more than 1,500,000 Swedish dogs. 

Just like any other dog, a Labrador retriever can get sick. We are highlighting the three most common breed-specific illnesses or diseases that affect them.  

  • Problems with elbows and hips 

  • Allergies (skin and ear problems) 

  • Weight issues (overweight) 

In addition, water-loving breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, can suffer from hot spots and water tails. 


Why we love the Labrador retriever?


The Labrador retriever is lovable in many ways, so it's hard to pick just a few aspects, but we've compiled a short list anyway: 

Their amazing ways: They are friendly, sociable and a great companion for everyone in the family. They are very rarely aggressive and they love the company of other dogs and their family. It is simply a true friend who will walk through fire and water for you. 

Their intelligence: The Labrador retriever is an intelligent breed that is easy to learn. This is also one of the things that makes them popular with hunters and police officers, but also with the average dog owner. 

Their versatility: A Labrador retriever can be your hard-working colleague, but also a calm friend. They can handle both, and if you manage to train them properly, you will have a great dog. 


What you need to know when choosing a Labrador retriever 


The Labrador retriever is a great breed, but there are (of course) challenges that come with owning one. We've summarised some of the things you need to be prepared for: 

Energy levels: The Labrador retriever is an active breed that requires a lot of exercise and stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If they don't get enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can become bored and develop unwanted behaviours. They are also physically strong, so you need to start training from a young age if you want to control your energy bundle. Having a Labrador retriever in the family requires a lot from the owner. 

Foodie with a capital F: The Labrador retriever is a breed that likes food, precisely because it is designed to work hard. This means that if they don't get enough exercise, they can quickly become overweight. Being overweight can lead to several health problems, e.g. joint and heart problems. You should therefore keep an eye on your Labrador retriever's weight. 

They carry everything: It's a trait that's innate and so natural to them that they can't help it. Regularly practice what they can and cannot carry around. They won't come up with those many hijinks themselves, but you can expect to find one or two sofa cushions, shoes or other items in the garden that your Labrador retriever brought there. 


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