Today the Labrador Retriever is one of the best-known breed dogs in the world. Among its characteristics, we have its physical beauty that joins its great skills for work and its sociable character. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the labrador retriever.
Characteristics of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador is the most popular retriever in the world, and it stands as the number 1 breed in countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States.
Its extraordinary character contributes to its fame, which has made them a priority choice for those looking for a hunting, utility or companion dog. In fact, it loves family life and makes an ideal companion for both children and the elderly.
Regarding its body, it has a general appearance of a strong dog with powerful hind legs. The back is wide and short, covered with a coat of short, smooth and hard hair especially resistant to water and inclement weather.
Let’s see in more detail its physical characteristics and what the character of the Labrador is like.
Physical characteristics of the Labrador Retriever
- General appearance: with a strong constitution and good musculature, it is a very active animal that has a wide skull, as well as chest and ribs, which also have a good width. The limbs are broad and strong, and the back has a short and strong lumbar region.
- Size: Medium / large.
- Height at the withers: between 56 and 57 cm for males and between 54 and 56 cm for females.
- Weight: between 28 and 30 kg for males and between 25 and 27 kg for females.
- Origin: United Kingdom.
- Body: The Labrador Retriever is a medium to large-sized dog with a strong build and good musculature. It has a square or slightly rectangular body structure, since its length is equal to or slightly greater than the height at the withers. The body is covered by a layer of short, hard and smooth hair that is highly resistant to inclement weather.
- Head: well shaped, lean and with slightly fleshy cheeks, it has a wide skull and a pronounced stop. The muzzle is powerful and ends in a broad nose.
- Skull: It is broad, without being coarse, and does not present fleshy cheekbones.
- Muzzle: Powerful, it is wide and deep, without being sharp.
- Nose: It is broad and with well developed nostrils. It is dark or black, except in the chocolate-colored specimens, where it harmonizes with the brown coat.
- Eyes: They are of medium size, well set and express great intelligence and a good-natured temperament. They are brown or hazelnut in color.
- Ears: Set well back, the Labrador Retriever’s ears are medium in size, V-shaped, not very thick, and hang close to the head.
- Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is well defined.
- Jaws: They are powerful and armed with strong teeth. The bite is perfect, regular and complete scissors.
- Neck: of medium size, well profiled, robust and powerful.
- Chest: broad and deep, with well sprung ribs.
- Back: It is well leveled.
- Forelimbs: they are endowed with strong bones and are very straight. The shoulders and shoulder blades are long and sloping. Its forearms and arms are powerful and straight.
- Hind limbs: well developed. The legs are strong and muscular. On your knees, the joint between the femur, patella, and tibia is well angulated. The hocks are low and well angulated, seen from behind they are parallel.
- Feet: they have a rounded shape, they are called “cat’s” feet, and they are provided with well-arched, well-spaced toes, and highly developed pads.
- Tail: it is very thick at the base, gradually thinning as it approaches the tip. It is medium in size and, despite being well covered with short, thick and dense hair, it does not have fringes. It has the appearance of being round, traditionally called “otter.” It usually carries it up with a cheerful demeanor, but without actually screwing it over its back.
- Skin: it is flexible and moist.
- Hair: double-layered, it has a dense undercoat very resistant to water. Quite dense, the outer coat is short and smooth, without undulations or fringes.
- Color: there are three possible coats depending on the color black , chocolate and yellow , and the latter presents variations that go from light cream to fox red . Many specimens have a small white spot on the chest.
- Movement: the labrador retriever moves with ease and covers a lot of ground in its advance. The front and rear extremities move in parallel planes with respect to the axis of the body.
- Classification: FCI No. 122 – FCI CLASSIFICATION GROUP 8 – Retriever Hunting Dogs, Lifting Hunting Dogs and Water Dogs. Section 1 Hunting retriever dogs.
Character of the Labrador Retriever
It is a friendly, cheerful and charming dog, with a very good temperament and easy to train. It is always devoted to its family and adorned with a quality typical of all retrievers, its desire to please, also known as will to please .
This is an ideal family dog, since it adapts very well to any circumstance and also gets along well with other dogs and almost any other animal. It is not uncommon to see some specimen sharing their time with cats and even hamsters, the only secret is to introduce the dog in the relationship with these pets from a very young age.
This breed is characterized by behaving for much of its life as if it were an eternal puppy, which makes it a fun and friendly companion with whom you want to share any activity.
During the first months of life it is curious and reckless, so it is easy for them to get into more than one problem if it does not have it well controlled. It adores people and does not care if it knows them or not, because it considers everyone to be its friend and it shows it impulsively.
For that reason, it is advisable to be careful when a young specimen is approached with children and the elderly, since in its eagerness to welcome and receive them with affection it can cause a scare or even unnecessary damage and, of course, never intended. .
- Energy: high level. Very active, it needs to run freely to expend all its energy and develop its muscles with various and varied exercises. it loves water.
- Temperament: it has an excellent character and is affectionate, dedicated and very active. An intelligent and devoted companion, it possesses a strong will to please. It has a behaviour that adapts easily to any circumstance and is a loyal and faithful companion. Intelligent, lively and docile, at work it shows an excellent nose and a strong will to please its master. Cobra delicately, is agile and shows no signs of aggressiveness or shyness.
- Adaptability: very high. You can adapt to city life, as long as you have a garden or can go for a run in the open air. It loves family life.
- Sociability: very high. Very affectionate and affectionate with the family, it is cordial and good-natured with strangers. It gets along well with other animals, whether or not they are dogs.
- Health: good. You can develop some dysplasia.
- Longevity: high. Live between 12 and 15 years.
- Utility: very versatile. Companion and hunting dog but also useful: guide dog, guide dog, therapy, rescue, drug detection, etc.
- Use: Hunting retriever.
- Other names: Retriever du Labrador.
There are still many farmers who are dedicated to hunting; in fact, in the countries where they are most popular, such as the United Kingdom, the United States or France, it can be said that half of the specimens of the breed are destined for their original purposes.
And although over the years there has been a diversification in the type depending on the function for which the animal is intended (working dogs are lighter and faster, while companion and beauty dogs have more substance, more bone and a larger), there are some breeders who have kept some dogs that are halfway between the two types. And, thus maintaining both temperamental virtues and beauty.
In recent years, a current of concern has been generated among fans of the breed, which has led to the conviction that it is necessary to converge all the characteristics (work, beauty, company, utility …) to return to a unified type. And, to avoid that the race is divided definitively.
Despite all this, there are still many more specimens that spend their lives as simple companion animals or developing other very different functions, since their ductility and learning capacity make them ideal for any need, except for those sports or jobs. in which a dose of aggressiveness is required, as this is totally alien to them.
Thus, although isolated individuals are seen carrying out guardianship and protection, it is more anecdotal than of the breed’s own functions.
It is very easy to see them performing at the highest level as utility dogs in the tracking of explosives, the detection of narcotics or the search for the wounded and dead among the rubble in disasters.
They are also not bad at agility and flyball, although some dogs can be a bit slow to participate in competition.
One of its most traditional functions, however, is that of a guide dog for the blind, since, together with the German shepherd, it was the first breed to be used for this purpose.
In Spain, for example, this is the breed that the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation has used preferentially in its education programs for many years with spectacular results.
However, at present it has lost some prominence against the golden retriever and, especially, against the crossing of it with the labrador themselves. Since the golden is calmer and more reserved, an important quality because the last thing a guide dog should do is get the person they guide into some trouble.
The Labrador is a friend of all and can be misled by the caresses of a stranger or by the incitement of another dog to play, but in its favour, it is not shy or fearful, circumstances that occur more frequently in the Golden.
Perhaps that is why, in Rochester, United States, home of the oldest guide dog school in the world, work began years ago with the crossing of both breeds, having achieved exceptional results. So nowadays this selection is imitated in other parts of the world.
Another work in which this breed stands out is as a help dog for people with a disability; works perfectly with deaf, paraplegic and other handicapped people.
Once attached to its person of reference, the binomial between them and the dog becomes almost perfect. There are very few cases of dogs that have to stop doing their job due to problems in the execution or lack of understanding with the person assisted.
In Italy and other European countries it is used with magnificent results as a truffle dog, as it is one of the most gluttonous breeds that exist and if something is easy with these dogs it is to teach them to look for food.
In fact, in general it can be used for anything, but surely its star role has it as another member of the family, as it is the perfect choice for couples who have children, for those who live alone, for older people … definitive, for all.
Labrador Retriever Puppy
If you are thinking of buying a Labrador puppy or, better yet, if you are thinking of taking it up for adoption, you should know that Labrador Retriever puppies are very curious and playful, as well as cuddly and affectionate, and they retain that character throughout their life, thus becoming ideal “toys” for children.
The Labrador Retriever loves to interact with other animals. Any new friend is another opportunity for them to have fun and play.
In addition, the adult individuals of this breed are loving and very delicate with their puppies, whom they take care of with extraordinary care and tenderness.
This same exquisite treatment is what they offer to the members of their “human family”, which is why it constitutes an exceptional companion dog, especially if you have children at home.
But owners of a Labrador retriever should be aware of their dog’s high energy level.
They must therefore commit to providing you with the doses of exercise necessary to keep you agile, strong and healthy. Thus, outings to the field or outdoors are, without a doubt, the ideal option.
Education and training Labrador Retriever
The education in the early stages of life is essential to ensure that adult be a dog balanced , sociable and to which you can take everywhere.
Learn hygienic routines with great ease. In fact, some puppies no longer relieve themselves indoors when they leave the litter, and it is also easy to teach them where to sleep or spend the hours when they have to be alone.
It is very important to set some habits from the first day the puppy comes home and not change them or give in to the dog’s requirements at the first change.
In this way, in a few days the dog assumes its place and has no problem spending the night or a few hours a day there.
This learning by repetition is the educational method most similar to that used by mothers. You have to be constant and consistent, and not give your arm to twist easily.
The Labrador is a very intelligent dog that, in addition, loves to be accompanied by its family, so it is very likely that it will try any trick to bend the will of its master.
But this is not a very serious impediment, since as soon as the animal realizes that its masters are the bosses and that, in addition, they exercise this role, it assumes its place in the herd without posing major problems.
On the contrary, if it perceives signs of weakness, it immediately detects what are the weak points of its superiors, how to attack them and how to get its way, and consequently, as soon as it can, it makes use of it.
And despite its high value as a utility dog, its docility and its great capacity for learning, as it can be a very stubborn animal, a poorly educated dog will become a constant source of problems.
In terms of exercise, it is important to start the dog on long walks on a leash since it is very young , since it is a fiery, cheerful and very sociable dog, as well as extraordinarily strong.
For that reason, it must be educated to walk on a leash without pulling it, so that it does not become an uncontrollable animal, especially for people with less physical strength.
It is also advisable, when the dog has settled its head a little and is obedient , to facilitate the possibility of exercising outdoors, in large spaces to move around. As generally the Labrador does not leave the proximity of its master even if it is loose, to make them run it is good to throw toys, balls, etc.
It is not necessary to be obsessed with intense and regulated exercises, such as running with a bike or on a special treadmill, the muscular physiology of the dog is different from that of the man and does not respond in the same way to the same stimuli.
Thus, the best way to achieve a harmonious and toned muscle development is to make it display its full range of movements through play, with races, jumps, changes of direction, etc. Thus, in addition to exercising them physically, it will also be stimulated on a psychological level, increasing its capacities and training possibilities.
If the Labrador is not dedicated to hunting, they can be trained in many other alternative activities in which to enroll him, because with the specimens of this breed you must always act as a pairing and try to find entertainment for them, which will increase the devotion that the dog feels for its master.
In this way, the Labrador becomes a happy, active, obedient, affectionate and very happy animal, characteristics that have made them one of the most famous and beloved breeds in the world.
Labrador Retriever feeding
As for the feeding of the Labrador retriever, it is one of the fundamental points, since this is probably one of the most gluttonous canine breeds.
Their fondness for food, of whatever type, is so legendary that large commercial houses cannot use it in the palatability tests of their products, since they eat a low-end feed with equal relish as the most exquisite of delicacies. .
There may be specific cases of inappetent dogs, but almost all show a great reaction to food, an excellent clue to know if the dog is healthy and happy.
This fondness for food, however, makes this one of the breeds with the most obesity cases , a problem that can be very serious in a heavy, strong and fast growing breed like this one.
The way to control voracity is to divide the daily ration into more meals than would be normal for other breeds.
Thus, during the first four months, it should be given to eat up to four times a day, then going to three until seven or eight months And, once this time has passed, it can be subjected to a regimen of two meals up to eighteen months or even for a lifetime. Although there are specimens that can eat only once a day when they are adults.
In this way, dividing the ration is achieved, on the one hand, to reduce fasting periods and therefore avoid attacks of voracity, and on the other, to get the dog to eat more pause, which has an impact on better digestion and in a decrease in the incidence of the fearsome stomach twists.
The Labrador’s diet must have the right composition for its needs . It must provide you with the energy and protein necessary to maintain your high level of activity. Also, have quality fats that protect your skin, eyes and hair, but do not cause an increase in weight.
Some specific diets for the breed incorporate a part of fish in their composition, which guarantees clean proteins and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are very beneficial for the animal.
Labrador Retriever health and diseases
Simple breed to handle, the Labrador Retriever is basically healthy , and can live up to 15 years without major problems and keeping its jovial attitude almost intact.
Like other large dogs, it is prone to some joint diseases such as hip or elbow dysplasia , but these conditions can be prevented with good genetic selection and a balanced diet during its growth stage.
In this sense, it is also essential to establish exercise guidelines conditioned to their age and their development since they are a puppy.
The veterinarian must become a counselor and help throughout the life of the Labrador. It is convenient to visit it regularly to follow a series of pertinent controls. And, to guide a follow-up of the development and general condition of the dog, controlling its weight during growth to avoid joint and skin problems in the future.
An internal and external deworming program must also be strictly followed . In this way, the animal is protected from the action of certain parasites that cause many diseases. Some can be very serious, such as filaría or “heartworm.”
Likewise, it is necessary to comply with the vaccination program established by law and by the veterinarian himself. Vaccines help build a stronger immune system, while protecting against some viral diseases whose presence can vary from one area to another.
In general, everyone is vaccinated against the most common diseases, but then there are others of local incidence that require the same care.
There are also some legal vaccines, such as rabies, a disease that despite being practically eradicated still requires mandatory vaccination.
Proof of this is that almost all European countries require that dogs traveling within their geography do so with a standard canine passport in which the rabies vaccination is collected.
Sometimes, there are other specific requirements of each country that must be known before starting a trip with the dog.
Another aspect that must be monitored is the health of the hair and skin , since, due to its natural constitution, this breed is usually prone to excessive production of fat , especially within the ear canal, so it is necessary insist on cleaning the dog’s ears .
If the dog goes out a lot in the field, it is also necessary to ensure that no spike is inserted into the ears or nose, as they can cause very traumatic infections . But a positive advantage of this sebaceous contribution is that it increases the protection and impermeability of the hair, which must always be shiny and flexible.
The coat is rather hard to the touch, tight, and with a very dense and soft undercoat. The skin is supple and moist, so any dryness, flaking, dullness, or dull, brittle appearance of the coat should be checked by your vet. This way, you can determine if it is a skin and hair problem or if it reflects a more serious internal condition.
Specific care of the Labrador Retriever
Regarding hygiene, this breed does not need any cosmetic adjustments and its hair is very easy to care for. It is never knotted, but it is still advisable to brush it periodically using a card or a metal bristle brush to reach the undercoat well.
During the shedding season (which can be very abundant), the undercoat is worked with a rake or a king coat type tool in order to speed up the process and facilitate the change of hair.
It can be finished with a leather chamois or a soft horsehair brush . Thus, get all the shine to the hair and leave it shiny.
The bathroom is reserved for when the dog is really dirty. Special care must be taken when rinsing so as not to leave any trace of soap. The dense undercoat of the Labrador Retriever tends to retain a lot of water and therefore soap as well.During the bath routine, it is used to control the state of the nails , cutting them if necessary. It is necessary to try not to reach the fleshy part, a rather difficult task in the case of the specimens with black nails.