Meet the Breed: The Labrador Retriever



  • Height: 21"- 24”
  • Weight: 55-75 pounds
  • Historical function: Hunting, retrieving, family companion
  • Modern function: Hunting, retrieving, family companion, service dog
  • AKC classification: Sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Labrador Retriever is a fairly large-sized dog. There are two body styles: The American/field/working type that is taller and lankier, and the English/bench/show type that is more blocky, thick and heavy in appearance. The coat is double, water resistant, short and doesn't have any waves. Coat colors include black, yellow and chocolate. The head and muzzle are somewhat broad. The eyes are brown in the yellow and black labs and hazel or brown in the chocolates. The ears are medium in size, hanging down and pendant in shape. The tail resembles an otter's, being thick at the base, gradually tapering towards the tip. The feet are webbed which aids in swimming.

History of the Breed:

The Labrador Retriever was once known as the "St John's Dogs" and is native to Newfoundland where it aided fisherman by jumping in the icy waters to help pull in nets. These dogs were brought to England in the 1800s on ships sailing from Labrador. They were interbred with setters, spaniels and other retrievers which further refined its hunting instincts. The Labrador has become very popular due to its high trainability as a family companion, an assistant to the disabled, a police dog, in search and rescue teams, and more.They can be good watchdogs but are generally too friendly to be guard dogs.


The Labrador Retriever is loving, affectionate, loyal and patient which makes them very popular choices for families. Their reliable temperament makes them excellent choices for working with children and as service dogs. They are highly intelligent, eager to please and playful. They love water. Their scenting skills make them ideal detection dogs for narcotics and explosives forces as well as search and rescue teams. 

  • Best suited for: Active families, people with disabilities and hunters.
  • Preferred living conditions: The field lines will need more activity, room to move and exercise. The show lines are more mellow and require less activity. The show lines can do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. Most labs prefer at least a moderate-sized yard.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care short coat sheds moderately.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, or jog. Field lines require more exercise.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: Prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, mast cell tumors, progressive retinal atrophy and other eye disorders, as well as obesity.

Breed Club Links: Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. Perfect Pairings: Total Pet Health Hip and Joint Maximum Strength Tablets

Have any stories about a Labrador Retriever? Please share!

This entry was posted by Mary.
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