Labrador Retriever Facts
The ideal height for males is 22 – 22.5 inches (56 – 57 cm) and for females is: 21.5 – 22 inches (55 – 56 cm) at withers.
Weight: Males: 30 kg – 36 kg and for females: 25 kg – 32 kg.
Life span: 10 – 12 years
Cost: £597 - £780 depending on whether the dog is Kennel Club registered.
Behaviour: Labradors are excellent with children (rating 5/5) and with other dogs. They are friendly and sociable
Exercise: Labradors require a lot of exercise, around two hours a day
Size: Labradors are a large dog (rating 4/5)
Intelligence: Labradors are highly intelligent (rating 5/5)
Dog breed group: Gundog as recognised by The Kennel Club UK.
DNA tests available
- Hip Dysplasia
- Schedule A eye conditions
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive rod cone degeneration - Progressive retinal atrophy
- Centronuclear Myopathy A
- Exercise Induced collapse
- Skeletal Dysplasia 2
The ideal height specified here is a guideline only as provided by the Kennel Club.
Labrador Retrievers origin
Labrador Retrievers originate from Newfoundland an island off the North Eastern Atlantic coast of Canada. They were originally used to help fisherman haul nets, fish and ropes and would go home to the fisherman’s family in the evening.
Nowadays they’re popular as pets, as well as emotional support and assistance dogs. They can help people who are have both a physical and mental disability, as well as children with conditions like autism.
Labrador Retrievers are friendly, affectionate and full of energy, and make a great companion.
Labrador Retriever breed characteristics
Labrador Retriever size: Large (rating 4/5)
Labradors are large dogs therefore you should think about where you live when buying one.
If you live in a small flat with limited or no access to outside space, a larger dog that requires space and exercise may not be a suitable pet for you
Also, if in a flat, consider any neighbours and any tenancy agreements.
Ability to be left alone: Moderate amount of time (rating 3/5)
Labrador Retrievers are sociable, family dogs, that don’t like to be left alone for long periods. Long periods of isolation can make labs feel worried and stressed, and may lead to destructive behaviour, barking and whining.
Try to ensure there’s someone at home most of the time to keep your Labrador company. Options to provide this could be working from home, working part time, or popping back home in lunch breaks.
If none of these are possible, then a lab may not be the best pet type for you.
Good with children: Excellent (rating 5/5)
Labrador Retrievers are exceptionally good with children. They’ve got a friendly, easy-going nature, and don’t mind the noise and playfulness that comes with children.
However, like with all dogs, proper training and socialising are important to introduce Labradors to children and various social environments. So that they don’t fear the noise and chaos.
Children in turn need to also be taught how to treat dogs. Dogs are very protective of their food, so children shouldn’t try to remove it when they’re eating. Shouting and screaming excessively around dogs could scare them, and teasing can frustrate them.
As ‘little people’ small children are usually around the same height as dogs – meaning direct eye contact.. Dogs can see this as threatening behaviour, so you should watch for warning signs of growling or agitation.
If you’re rehoming a Labrador you should be mindful that you don’t know the circumstances in which it grew up, and whether it was socialised properly. A previously aggressive owner, or incorrect socialisation, can lead to a nervous and anxious dog. Which can in turn lead to an increased risk of biting and barking.
Being respectful of your dog is the best course of action. Always keep an eye on your children and dog when they’re playing together, so that you can quickly step in, and avert any unwanted behaviour.
Labrador intelligence level: Very intelligent (rating 5/5)
Labrador Retrievers were bred to be intelligent, fast thinkers able to work independently. The variety of jobs they can do prove that these traits are still as strong as ever. Coupled with their boundless energy, this makes Labs a pet suitable for people who can exercise them both mentally and physically.
Lots of exercise along with stimulating games, toys and training can keep your dog fit both mentally and physically.
A bored Labrador could well resort to entertaining itself through less desirable behaviours, like digging and chewing.
If you’re considering buying a lab, consider whether you have the time, motivation and energy to provide a lab what it needs.
The Labrador ratings have been provided by vet Neerja Muncaster who volunteers for Street Vet, and is a Veterinary Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey.
She advises the ratings are a generalisation and to help your dog reach its maximum potential it'll need training, socialisation and understanding.
Labrador behaviour with other dogs
Labradors usually get on very well with other dogs, because they are so friendly and sociable.
However don’t just rely on this to happen naturally. A puppy should start socialising from an early age. This begins with its mum and littermates, who will teach it the right and wrong way to behave up to the age of 8 weeks.
During this time your Lab will learn how to interact, how to read dog signals, and when to back off.
Socialisation should continue after you bring your puppy home. And learning how to socialise your dog safely is important. It should first begin with vaccinated dogs that you know, and then eventually within the wider dog community.
It's important that you introduce new dogs carefully and allow them to sniff each other by way of introduction. If there are any signs of aggression, you should separate them.
If you take your puppy into another dog's home, you should also be conscious that it’s another dogs territory, of which it is likely to be protective.
If you find your Labrador barks at other dogs you can use Positive Reinforcement training to help discourage this.
Finally, you should also attend training sessions with your Lab to help develop other positive behaviours.
Is a Labrador a barking breed?
Labradors can have a tendency to bark, because they want to protect their home, family and loved ones. It’s a territorial behaviour and could occur when you’re out and near other dogs, or at home, and have a visitor. It can also happen through play.
Learning how to stop your dog from barking, using a training method like positive reinforcement can help reduce this behaviour. And it can encourage your Labrador to remain calm in a variety of situations.
Barking can also occur if your lab has lots of pent up energy, is bored or lonely. This is the same for most dog breeds and can be overcome through providing plenty of exercise and stimulation.
Growling is one of the last responses your Labrador will give if it's unhappy with a situation according to Neerja.
Cues to look out for, that indicate your dog is unhappy are:
- Trying to move away, or attempting to move away from a situation
- Ear positioning, where your dog's ears will be flat against its head, or pointing forwards
- A stiff tail, or with its tail tucked low down
- Stiff body positioning, a crouching position, or leaning back, in preparation for jumping or attacking.
- Direct and unwaivering eye contact, while standing very still.
- Before your Labrador growls, or worse still bites, it may also bare its teeth
Do Labrador's shed?
Labradors do tend to shed a lot, particularly around Spring and Autumn when they need to thin their coat ready for warmer weather or prepare for the winter.
As working dogs initially bred to survive well in cold, wet conditions, Labradors have a double coat. This consists of a short layer, designed to keep your dog warm, and an outer layer that keeps your dog dry and protects it from dirt.
These days, many dogs spend a lot of time indoors, and don’t need such thick coats. However, evolution hasn’t caught up yet. And their bodies still produce the double thick coat that their ancestors would have needed.
Although moulting is often seasonal, you may find that your dog sheds its hair continually. This can be because central heating has an impact on your Labrador’s body and knowing when to shed.
Labrador Retrievers originate from the island of Newfoundland in Canada and were bred to help fishermen in the 1700’s with their haul in the Labrador sea. They would help pull in fishing nets and ropes, and retrieve fish from the sea.
Labradors originate from the St Johns Water dog, and it’s thought through various cross breedings they developed into the Labradors we know and love today. The Kennel Club categorises them as Gun dogs.
Labradors arrived in the UK in the 1800’s after English sportsmen began to notice the Labradors capability for retrieval, and it was thought they’d make excellent dogs to assist on hunts.
It's said the second Earl of Malmesbury arranged some of the first UK shipments of the dog, and it was the third Earl of Malmesbury who called the dog a Labrador, after the sea from which it would ‘retrieve’ in.
As the popularity of Labradors increased in the UK, it declined in Newfoundland. Restrictions on dog ownership meant families could only own one dog, and females were highly taxed. As a result the number of Labradors declined rapidly.
It was their popularity in the UK which is credited as saving the species, and by 1903 they were recognised as their own breed by the UK Kennel Club.
Over in the US formal recognition was also underway with the American Kennel Club announcing recognition in 1917. However due to the sharp decline in breeding and ownership, the number of Labradors in the country were very low.
Labradors were imported back into the US in the 1920’s and 1930’s to help repopulate the breed, and they are now credited as being one of the most popular breeds in the country.
Back in the UK, Labradors are the most popular breed to be registered with the UK Kennel Club. There were 54,141 Labrador Retrievers registered with the club between 2018 and September 2019.
The closest dog rival is the popular French Bulldog with 52,570 registrations in the same period.
These days Labrador Retrievers are more used to being the family pet and enjoying all the benefits that come with it.
However, for those that still work, they’re also great as therapy or emotional support dogs, helping those who need comfort, affection and emotional support. In this context they can support people in care homes or hospices, children with learning difficulties, people with anxiety or depression, and people who struggle with daily life.
Assistance dogs, also known as service dogs, are trained specifically to help people who need additional support in their lives. These can include guide dogs for the blind, support dogs for the deaf, and people who may need physical assistance with day to day activities. They can also support people with mental illness, such as post traumatic stress disorder, and help predict medical emergencies such as an epileptic fit.
Labradors can make a great dog for this kind of work, as they are easy to train, well behaved and are even tempered.
How much exercise does a Labrador need?
Labradors need lots of exercise. It’s as simple as that. Bred as intelligent working dogs, they are full of energy and enthusiasm. Labs will need at least two hour walk, that includes retrieval running for a ball or stick every day.
The only caveat to this is if you own a Labrador puppy. As puppies their joints are not yet strong enough for long periods of exercise, and overdoing it could cause future health problems.
Labrador puppies need around 5 mins of exercise twice a day, for each month of life. So for example: A 3 month old puppy will need 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. And so on.
Labradors also love socialising with other dogs and will happily greet dogs when you’re out walking. This is a good thing and helps build further social skills.
Swimming is also a favourite for Labradors (remember they originally worked with fishermen!), so if you live near water, this is a great option for exercising your Labrador. Just be careful to avoid the vigorous shaking it'll do afterwards, as it shakes the water off its double coat!
Like all dogs, Labradors can be prone to a range of conditions related to their breed. A responsible breeder should have screened the parent dogs to check for genetic conditions, to help avoid passing onto offspring. And they shouldn’t mind discussing the results with you.
A Kennel Club Assured Breeder will need to have mandatory health tests done on breeding stock. You can find the results on the Kennel Club Health Results Test Finder.
All dogs can suffer with genetic conditions, so don’t let this worry you too much. But it’s better to be aware of a situation and try to avoid it.
Find out more about the conditions Labradors can develop and the screening tests available further down this article.
Labradors are very easy to train and will quickly learn what you want them to do following a command. The recall training video above gives you step by step guidance.
Puppies can learn from birth, and training is most beneficial when started around 7-8 weeks. You should use positive reinforcement, and lure training. Which is when you move the reward (usually food), into a position that forces the dog to either sit, stand, lie down or come to you. You should accompany the action with the word.
Your Labrador will begin to learn that the word and action accompany each other, and if it performs the action it’ll get a reward.
You should also combine the food reward with praise, and a pat. This is known as a ‘secondary reinforcer’ Eventually you’ll be able to reduce and remove the food reward, and only ever provide a praise and pat reward. This is important to prevent your dog from becoming overly dependent on food rewards, which could pose future problems.
Learning how to house train your dog is also really important. This will help teach your dog not to poop and pee inside the house. Again, this uses positive reinforcement with a treat and praise.
Once your Labrador has had all its vaccinations, it can attend puppy training classes. These will teach your Labrador a range of behaviours, such as recall, behaviour for vet consultations; grooming, agility and how to behave politely.
You may already have taught your Labrador most of these behaviours, but puppy training classes can provide the finishing edge.
Best food for a Labrador
The best food for a Labrador puppy is dried food like kibble. It should be a complete diet, suitable for dogs. This will include the nutrients needed to promote growth and development and will help them to learn to chew properly before swallowing. You should check that the food contains proteins and rice.
You can also supplement the kibble with a small amount of home prepared food. However, the dried food should make up the majority of the meal. Vet Neerja recommends feeding your puppy four times a day to start off with.
Once your dog is 16+ weeks old you can begin to introduce raw meat in the form of bones to your dog. You can also reduce meals for your Labrador down to three times a day.
Once your dog is six months old Neerja advises you can reduce feeds down to twice a day. This can continue into adulthood, with a smaller meal being fed in the mornings.
When introducing new foods do it gradually over two weeks, and monitor your dog in case of allergic reactions.
As an adult, your Labrador will be able to eat whatever you choose.
Adult Labrador food can include:
- Raw meat
- Semi moist
The popularity of other food types such as vegan, gluten free and insect-based diets has also increased over the last few years.
However the question of whether raw meat, vegan and alternative diets are good for our pets, has also been raised. We would recommend you always do your research carefully when deciding what's best.
If buying prepared food, buy good quality if you can, as this has a better balance of nutrients, when compared to the cheaper brands.
Pet food manufacturers also work with food nutritionists, to ensure the food provides the best possible balance of nutrients for your dog.
If your Labrador is suffering with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes or cancer it may require a specialised diet. Your vet can offer you advice on this.
If your dog is overweight its also likely to require a specialised diet. You should speak to your vet about this.
How much water should a Labrador drink a day?
In general, a dog should drink around 1-2ml of water for each kilogram of weight every hour. So if your Labrador weighs around 30 kg, then it should be drinking between 720mls - 1.4l of water in 24 hours.
Factors that can influence this include diet – so if your Lab is on a wet food diet, they may not need to drink as much; the weather and exercise levels.
If you think your Labrador is drinking too much, then you should speak to your vet, as this can be a sign of ill health.
Don’t forget to ensure the water you provide is refreshed regularly.
Labradors and chocolate
Chocolate is toxic to dogs and there is no safe amount, with cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate the worse offenders.
Chocolate is toxic because it contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are stimulants. Poisoned dogs can suffer with hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, irregular heartbeat and possibly suffer a heart attack.
The amount of chocolate ingested and the weight of your Labrador impacts on the level of toxicity. As larger dogs, they can handle more chocolate than smaller dogs. However, this shouldn’t act as a level of reassurance.
If you think your dog has eaten chocolate you should see a vet immediately. It’s likely they’ll induce vomiting in your dog, to remove the toxin.
How much does a Labrador puppy cost?
According to the Pets4Homes website the average price for Kennel Club registered Labrador in 2018 was £780 and for non KC registered Labrador, the price was £597. This was based on an average of all dog prices over the year.
On checking the site in September 2019 we found that:
- A Golden Labrador puppy cost £950
- A Red fox kennel club registered Labrador cost £950
- A Black Labrador cost £850
- All were KC registered, and we only checked one listing per pet.
- The prices do vary across colour and whether the pet is KC registered.
How much does it cost to keep a Labrador?
It costs around £2,031 a year to keep a dog. This includes pet insurance, the first year of vaccines including Kennel cough, flea and worming treatment. It also includes food based on £103 a month.
This doesn’t include toy and bedding costs, which can also add up.
Pet insurance for Labradors costs around £39.05 a month with a Bought By Many Complete lifetime policy. This covers £15,000 of vet fees a year, including necessary Dental treatment.
The price is based on a quote done in October 2019, for a 3-month-old un-neutered female Labrador living in mid-Sussex.
How much is Labrador dog food?
Food costs can vary depending on the type you buy. However, you’re looking at around £103 - £118 a month for a 26 kg Labrador. This is based on canned food with a mixer or raw food, from in October 2019.
How much are dog vaccinations?
The cost for the primary vaccinations for a puppy are:
£67 with Vets4pets based in Worthing, West Sussex. This is for full course of three vaccines, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo virus and Leptospirosis. These last a year.
The yearly booster vaccine costs £44.50 with diseases alternated.
The Kennel Cough vaccine costs around £28 or £18 if given with another vaccine.
Prices will vary depending on the region you live in, and the Vets4pets practice you visit.
Some pet owners are concerned about whether vaccines are safe. If you're concerned, why not read our article: Pet vaccines: what owners need to know.
Labrador worming and flea treatment
At Vets4pets, Worthing you'll pay around £2.82 per 10kg of dog for Droncit. This covers Tapeworm.
Treatment is repeated every 3 months and can be used alongside Advocate.
Advocate the broadspectrum flea, worm, lungworm and mite treatment costs around £69.10 for a dog under 25kg, and £84.71 for a dog weighing between 25kg – 40kg. This is for 6 months of treatment, which is applied monthly.
Prices provided by Vets4Pets Worthing 3rd October 2019. Prices will vary depending on the practice you visit, and it's location.
When do Labradors stop growing?
Labradors will reach their adult height by the age of one year old, however, they’ll still be putting on weight up until their second birthday.
Labrador Retriever pet insurance
Did you know that Labrador Retrievers are the most popular pet that Bought By Many insure? (Based on data gathered in July 2019).
As a Bought By Many policy holder you and your Labrador will benefit from:
- Free 24/7 online vet consultations - your Labrador won't even need to leave its bed to receive its vet consultation
- No 14 day gap in vet fee cover, when switching from another insurer - as long as there's no gap in insurance cover
- Form-free online claims - giving you more time for other things
- A 15% discount when insuring multiple pets on the same policy
Labrador health issues
Labradors can be prone to a range of genetic health conditions. Therefore it's important to buy a Labrador puppy from a reputable breeder.
The Kennel Club UK stipulates that Kennel Club Assured registered Labrador breeders must undertake certain mandatory tests for inherited diseases in their dogs. If the results are positive, these are added to the Labradors Kennel Club record.
Breeders must undertake these tests to ensure the dogs produce the healthiest possible puppies.
A good breeder will be happy to do everything they can to ensure their parent dogs are healthy and free from disease. They'll be happy to discuss the health records with you, and any concerns you may have.
Vet Neerja emphasises the importance of choosing breeders reputable like this, when buying a Labrador.
The conditions and related tests are: :
Hip Dysplasia – Dysplasia means ‘abnormal development’, and hip dysplasia is when the hip joint becomes deformed as it grows. The hip socket and ball become flatter meaning they don’t sit together neatly. Symptoms include limping, stiffness and difficulty walking. Osteoarthritis will also develop a a result of Hip Dysplasia.
A test for this would be undertaken under the BVA/KC Scheme
Eye conditions: there are a range of genetic eye conditions that Labrador Retrievers are at risk of developing. These are listed on Schedule A, where the condition is known to be inheritable, and schedule B, where its suspected to be inheritable.
Conditions on Schedule A are: Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD); Total Retinal Dysplasia (TRD); Generalised Progressive Atrophy (GPA); Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED) (formerly Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy); Hereditary Cataract (HC).
Results from this testing will need to be added to a registered Labradors Kennel Club database.
Hip Displasia and Schedule A eye conditions are mandatory tests with the Kennel Club UK.
Conditions on Schedule B are: Abnormal Pigment Deposition (ABD).
The results from this test don’t need to be added to a Labrador breeder’s Kennel Club database.
Tests for other inheritable conditions are also strongly recommended or advised.
Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is abnormal development within the elbow. The term ‘dysplasia’ means ‘abnormal development'.
It occurs when the three bones leading into the elbow don’t fit snugly into the elbow joint, putting pressure on the joint itself. This results in osteoarthritis and discrete fractures, meaning pain and discomfort for your dog.
The test for this should be undertaken under the BVA/KC scheme.
Progressive rod cone degeneration - Progressive retinal atrophy: This condition causes the cells at the back of the retina to slowly degenerate and die. This impacts on a Labrador’s vision, because they need these cells to convert the light received by the eye, into vision.
The condition is progressive, and begins with reduced night vision, and eventually day vision.
As an autosomal recessive condition, both the mother and father need to have been carrying the gene and to have passed it on, for the offspring to develop the condition. If only one parent carries the gene and passes it on, then the puppy will become a carrier. It could then pass it onto future offspring.
A DNA test is available for Progressive rod cone degeneration - Progressive retinal atrophy
According to the Kennel Club UK these tests should be considered by Labrador Retriever breeders:
Centronuclear Myopathy: This conditions causes muscle weakness, and results in Labradors walking stiffly, intolerance to exercise and reduced muscle tone. Labradors are also prone to collapse in cold weather.
Centronuclear Myopathy is an autosomal recessive condition and a DNA test can be done to check for this condition.
Exercise Induced collapse: This condition can cause your dog to collapse under extreme exercise, or when it's very excited. It's caused by a lack of communication between the nerves in your Labrador's body.
In severely affected dogs, even mild exercise can affect them, but in other dogs’ symptoms may be mild, with collapse occurring infrequently.
Symptoms usually begin with leg weakness and collapse around 20 minutes after exercise.
Exercise Induced Collapse is an autosomal recessive condtion and a DNA test is available.
Skeletal Dysplasia 2: As the name suggests, Skeletal dysplasia also known as disproportionate dwarfism, is the abnormal development of the skeleton. It results in the long bones of the Labrador’s body not developing properly.
A Labrador with this condition will have shorter front and hind legs, with the rest of its body developing normally. The front legs can be more serverley affected.
Skeletal Dysplasia 2 is an autosomal recessive condition and a DNA test is available.
Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis: This condition causes the nose to dry out, and eventually change from a dark to lighter colour.
Other than a colour change, symptoms include inflammation and irritation, and brown crusting on the skin of the nose.
This condition is also an autosomal recessive condition and a DNA test is available.
Autosomal Recessive conditions:
Progressive rod cone degeneration - Progressive retinal atrophy, Centronuclear Myopathy, Exercise Induced collapse, Skeletal Dysplasia 2, Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis are all autosomal recessive conditions. This means that the gene's need to be passed on from both the mother and father dog, for the offspring to develop the condition.
if one parent has the gene, it may be passed onto the puppy, but it won't develop the condition. However, it may pass it onto its offspring.
DNA Tests for dogs
For all hereditary conditions listed above, a DNA test can be done.
If you’re buying a Labrador puppy and you would like to know the risk of it developing a genetic condition, you should speak to the breeder. You can check the parent dogs record on the Kennel club website, and you can also get your new puppy tested.
Our list may not include all inherited conditions that Labradors can suffer with. You’ll need to speak to your vet to find out more. Alternatively, the Kennel Club website contains lots of information and useful links.
Worms in Labradors
Dogs can suffer with 6 different types of worms: heartworm, lungworm, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm.
Puppies should be wormed from 2-3 weeks of age, every 2 weeks, until they are 12 weeks old. Then worming can drop down to every month.
You should speak to your vet about how often you should worm your dog once it turns 6 months of age.
It’s important to begin worming early, as roundworms can be passed from mother dog to puppy both in the womb, and in its milk.
Additionally, roundworms can be picked up in the environment, and as Labradors puppies are such playful dogs, this can put them at increased risk.
Roundworms are particularly nasty as they can lead to Toxocariasis, which is when roundworms are passed from animal to human. A zoonotic disease, it can be caught by ingesting the larvae found in dog poo.
Children can be most susceptible, in playgrounds and parks. Although any age group can catch it.
Tapeworms are more common in adult dogs, and are usually transmitted by fleas.
Our articles How to treat dogs for worms and What dog owners need to know about canine Lungworm, offer useful advice on worms that dogs can catch.
Fleas, ticks and mites on Labradors
Fleas and ticks: You'll need to practice flea and tick prevention throughout the year.
Fleas can be caught from other animals, long grass, people or items brought into the home. Vet Neerja says that during the winter, central heating provides a good breeding environment for them, and that a "common misconception is that fleas are a warm weather problem".
Ticks can be caught through long grass and woodland.
If you find your Labrador has fleas, you’ll need to de-flea it carefully, and be sure to clean your home thoroughly.
It’s a very good idea to administer regular flea treatment throughout the year.
If you find your Labrador has ticks, you’ll need to remove these. You should remove the tick carefully using tweezers, or a tick removal tool. Be sure you don’t leave its head embedded in your dog's skin as this could cause further problems.
It's important to maintain tick prevention, as according to Neerja tick bourne diseases that have crossed over from Europe are becoming increasingly common. Your vet will be able to give advice on this.
Mites: These are tiny parasites that can bury themselves into your dogs’ skin. As your dog scratches at the area, the skin becomes irritated and inflamed.
There are several different types of mites that your Labrador could become infected with. You can use a treatment such as Advocate to treat ear mites, biting lice, sarcoptes (also known as Scabies) and demodex.
With their double coat, Labradors will need regular grooming. Particularly around spring and autumn, when both layers shed.
How often you groom depends on you, however, its generally recommended that you groom weekly during summer and winter. And everyday, when a Labradors double coat shed occurs.
Grooming your dogs coat will enable new hair to grow through more easily. Particularly during the spring and autumn moults.
You can also bathe your dog, but don’t overdo it. Too much bathing can remove the natural oils from your Labs skin, resulting in dry, irritated skin.
Use a dog specific shampoo when bathing him, to reduce the likelihood of this.
Dog brushes for Labradors
Here are three types of brushes you can use for grooming your Labrador:
- A wire slicker brush
- A short haired rake brush
- Deshedding tool and brush
How to brush your Labradors coat
Brush down and away from the direction the coat grows.
Matt spray: If your Labrador likes to roll around in the mud or play in the water, you may find its hair has become a little matted. Don’t try to brush this out vigorously, as it could hurt your Lab. Instead, you can use a matt spray, which will help to soften and detangle the knots.
How to clean a Labrador's teeth
Just like humans, dogs too can get a build up of plaque on their teeth. Therefore it's important you introduce dental care as early as possible.
Start by introducing your dog to dog toothpaste, letting it lick it from your finger.
You can then progress to rubbing its teeth with a soft cloth. This helps your dog get used to something in its mouth.
If your dog seems happy, you can then progress to using a toothbrush, with dog toothpaste applied.
It's important you use dog toothpaste, as human toothpaste can be harmful for your pet.
You can brush using circular motions, focusing on the canines and the molars.
If your dog's teeth are a brown or yellow colour it could mean he has a tartar build up. This is when plaque mineralises on the teeth. Your Labrador will need to pay a visit to your vet to get this removed, as you won’t be able to do it yourself.
It’s really important that you look after your dog's teeth, as plaque can lead to gingivitis which is inflammation of the gums, and gum disease.
If left untreated your Lab could develop periodontitis, where the gums will recede and tooth loss will occur.
You should brush your dog's teeth once a day according to the PDSA.
If your dog is too nervous to let you near its mouth to brush its teeth, try giving it a specific dental chew. According to Neerja "These have zinc salts in them that help prevent plaque build-up".
You can also use additives in its food and water, that help prevent the formation of plaque, and try specially formulated diets, developed to help prevent tooth decay. You’ll need to speak to your vet for this option.
Its also a good idea to learn how to spot the signs and how to treat gum disease in your Labrador. Just in case it does happen.
How to cut Labrador's nails
To cut your Labrador's nails you’ll need a suitable pair of dog nail clippers. The main thing to remember is to try to avoid the ‘quick’. This is the area that feeds blood to the nail, and it can hurt and bleed a lot if accidentally cut.
If you take your Labrador for long walks regularly you may find it doesn’t need to have its nails cut too often. This is because hard surfaces wear them down.
However, bare in mind that your Labrador's Dew claws don't touch the ground. According to vet Neerja, "this means they can grow long, and get caught in undergrowth and get ripped out".
If long walks aren’t possible, you may need to cut your Labrador's nails every 2-3 weeks. You'll also need to monitor your Labrador's Dev claws.
Ear infections in Labradors
Ear infections are one of the most common health conditions seen in Labradors, so it's important you keep your dogs’ ears clean.
Causes of ear problems can include:
- Excessive moisture being trapped in the ear – if your Lab loves to swim, you should be aware of this
- Disease or health disorders such as thyroid disease or autoimmune conditions
- Over cleaning
Speak to your vet about how to clean your dogs’ ears, and how often.
Labradors can be black, yellow, chocolate and red fox. In fact red fox is actually within the yellow colour range, which begins with cream, ending with red fox.
Silver Labradors are also becoming popular. They were initially bred in the 1950’s but have only just begun to gain more popularity in the UK. In the US they are slightly more popular.
The Kennel Club UK will only accept black, yellow and liver/chocolate Labrador registrations.
Brown Labradors are actually thought to have a slightly shorter lifespan than their black or yellow counterparts.
A study published in The Journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology that analysed disorder and mortality data from a random sample of 2,074 dogs found that the chocolate Labrador's life span is approximately 10% shorter than that of black or brown labs.
Labradors usually live for around 12 years.
In addition chocolate Labradors are more likely to develop ear and skin infections which could be down to genetics.
The hair colour gene is recessive, meaning it will only transfer to a puppy if both parents carry it. So therefore both parents need to be chocolate Labs.
This means that any conditions that chocolate Labradors suffer with are less likely to be diluted, as the condition will pass from offspring to offspring, if the genes allow.
Best age to neuter a Labrador
The best age to neuter a Labrador is between 6-18 months, depending on the size and gender of the dog.
Speak to your vet to decide on what's best for your pet.