Country of Origin: Greenland /Newfoundland
Weight: 30-40 kilograms
Dogs 56 – 57 cms at withers
Bitches 55 – 56 cms at withers
Grooming Requirements: Low
Exercise Requirements: High
Popularity in Australia: – Australia’s seventh most popular dog
Dog Type: Gundog
Most suited As: Family Pet.
Also known as: Labrador, Lab, Labs
Expected Life Span: 12 years but much older is not uncommon
The Labrador Retriever though the world’s most popular dog, and until recently, Australia’s most popular dog, came in at 7 on the most popular dog list in Australia in 2010 based on registrations. Likely this is an anomaly and the friendly yet intelligent temperaments, their soft mouths and their low grooming requirements are sure to have them back at the top of the list in the not too distant future.
Labradors have a double coat made up of a soft downy undercoat that keeps them warm them in cold water, and a hard outer coat that helps them repel water. their coat is short but dense, expect them to drop a lot of fur when they shed. Their head is broad by clean cut in shape with hanging but not overlong ears ears. Tail is otterlike, thick at the base tapering to a narrower point. Chest is well sprung and barrel like.
Their attractive appearance is matched by their demeanor which is one of alertness, intelligence and friendliness.
Labradors come in black, chocolate and yellow, the yellow Labrador being a totally separate breed to the golden Retriever though to the untrained observer the two breeds share similarities of appearance, especially height, colour and body structure ratios.
The breed can be traced back to Newfoundland where they were used by local fishermen as both assistants and companions. the cold and wet conditions led to the development of their water resistant coats – likely the spent a considerable amount of time retrieving not birds, but fish that fell over the side of the boat. A soft mouth was required so as not to damage the fish and Labrador Retriever are known as very soft mouthed dogs.
Boat work would have required dexterity and balance, thus their relatively evenly proportioned height/length ratio compared with say, the longer German Shepherd Dog. Their strong deep chest would have assisted in maintaining balance on a moving deck.
Development of the breed as a Gundog rather than a fish dog commenced in England in the late 19th century, where they soon excelled as a sporting and working dog ensuring the development of the breed. Early in the 20th century, a breeding program was started in Australia.
Lovable and fun loving, they are energetic without lacking the ability to stay still. They are retrievers by nature and will retrieve anything, often their own instigation. Shoes. Sticks. Balls. Pure bred Labradors are patient and friendly, especially with children. They are not guard dogs, and will likely lick a stranger who approaches their domain. They are slow to anger, and will bark a warning rather than growl aggressively or threateningly.
This even, unflappable temperament has led them to being used as guide dogs and companion dogs.
As with many large breeds, they are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. There is no genetic test possible for this condition in Labradors, and as it may not show in an adult dog till old age, it is difficult to guarantee any puppy is going to be free from the condition over its life time. Adults can have their hips and elbows xrayed and scored, which helps predict if, when and how severe onset of hip or elbow dysplasia is going to be in the dog, and whether they are suitable as breed stock. Only animals with exceptional hip and elbow scores should be used in breed stock
The breed is also susceptible to a genetic condition called PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) however there is now a genetic test for this condition, and reputable breeders would never use dogs with this faulty gene in their breed stock.
The Labrador Retriever is just one of many breeds where it is essential to source a puppy from a registered breeder. Ensure that you view the hip/elbow scores and PRA testing of the parents of your puppy before buying. Labradors and Labrador cross puppies are commonly sold in pet shops, and its unlikely these puppies have been bred from genetically suitable parents. Further, the lack of aggression that is a feature of this breed quickly diminishes when bred with other breeds such as the Australian cattle Dog and German Shepherd.
Labradors typically live long and healthy lives, though they will slow down as they age. 12 years is an average life span, though expect some to live as long as 18 years.
Labrador Retriever Organisations in Australia
National Labrador Retriever Breed Council
Labrador Retriever Organisations in the UK
The Labrador Retriever Club
Labrador Retriever Organisations in the US
American Kennel Club – Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever Club of Victoria Inc – Australia
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