Labrador Retriever

  • Overview

    The Lab is one of America's most popular family dogs for a reason. These large dogs, who stand about 2 feet tall and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, absolutely love to please and will do their best to make their owners happy and proud. They are patient and enthusiastic playmates for children, and they love to participate in games and family activities.

    Your Lab will quickly become an integral part of your family's daily life. Their happy, abiding expressions and enthusiastic temperament make them willing family companions. They are quick, eager learners, so firm, consistent training will yield satisfying results. Labs make excellent companions for active families who are looking forward to incorporating a large, cheerful dog into their families' lives.

  • Personality

    Labradors make such lovable family pets because they are affectionate, social dogs who are friendly and patient with everyone, including strangers and children. They adapt well to different situations and living environments. Even though they need plenty of exercise and active play to stay happy, healthy and occupied, they also love to stretch out on the couch or nap at their owner's feet. Labs are naturally athletic dogs, so they should not be allowed to give into any of their couch potato tendencies. Labs should never be aggressive with dogs or humans. Instead, their demeanor should be friendly, outgoing and gentle.

    Labradors are relaxed, easygoing and well behaved as adults, but as puppies they are mouthy and exuberant bundles of energy. Training should emphasize positive behaviors and help your dog form good habits. You don't have to be the best trainer in the world to own a well-behaved Lab. Labs are extremely eager to please, so your dog will at least make a good effort to do what you ask of him.

  • Coat Care

    The Labrador's short, dense weather resistant coat distinguishes him from Golden Retrievers and other longer-coated retrievers. The coat is weather-resistant and should be slightly oily to the touch. It fits close and smooth against the body. The short, thick outer coat is straight and firm. The soft, dense under coat helps the Lab's coat stay waterproof. The coat comes in three colors, and puppies of each color are born in the same litter. Some labs are a yellow to golden color, some are chocolate and some are black. Their recognizable otter tail and webbed feet help them power through icy water.

Brushing

Labs should be brushed at least once or twice a week, more than other short-haired dogs, because they shed so consistently.

Labs shed quite a bit. Although this means you won't have to clip his coat or even trim it very often, you will have to stay on top of some heavy-duty brushing to keep your home hair-free. Brush your dog daily to reduce periodic shedding and help the coat stay healthy and waterproof.

Bathing

Labs can develop an odor, but if they are bathed regularly, their coats will stay healthy and fresh

Hair Clipping

If the hair between your Lab's foot pads grows too long, or if he seems to exhibit pain and discomfort in the snow, you can trim the excess hair around his feet.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Some short-coated dogs, like hounds and mastiffs, have large, sensitive ears that should be checked  weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If you have a small dog, like an Pug, take special care to  clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes to make sure they are comfortable. Dogs with facial wrinkles, like Pugs and Dogues de Bordeaux, be wiped down at least weekly to prevent infection.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.