Physical characteristics of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a strong and robust dog, very heavy. The head must be in proportion to the dimensions of the body, well shaped, dry, with not very fleshy cheeks. The skull is broad, with a well defined stop. The eyes are of brown or dark hazelnut colour, of medium size, with a good and intelligent expression. The ears should not be large or heavy, they are carried hanging close to the head and set a little back. The chest is ample and deep, the ribs well sprung (barrel-shaped). The dorsal line should be straight from withers to croup. The tail is a characteristic of the breed: very thick at the base, tapering towards the tip. It has no fringe, but is covered with short, thick, dense hair that gives it the appearance of an otter’s tail. The limbs must have good bone structure and be straight.
Hair : Short, dense, without feathering, rather rough. The undercoat is dense and weather resistant.
Colour: Only three colours are allowed, the chocolate labrador (brown), the sand labrador and the black labrador.
Size: maximum 57 cm for the male and 55 cm for the female.
Weight: approx. 30 kg
Origins and history
The origin of Labrador has much in common with that of Newfoundland and it is quite difficult to distinguish between the two original forms. In many nineteenth-century texts, the terms “Newfoundland” and “Labrador” are used indiscriminately to refer to the water dogs of Canada’s coasts. The ancestor of the Labrador appears to be the “Dog of St. John,” a smaller version of the Newfoundland that developed in Canada at about the same time. The Cão de Castro Laboreiro probably also contributed to the formation of the Labrador. The breed then spread to Great Britain, where it was given its name.
Character and Abilities
He’s a particularly gentle dog who’s affectionate towards, of course, members of his social group, but not only that. Indeed, very sociable, he befriends quite easily. As long as he receives caresses and attention, he considers everyone (or almost everyone) to be on the side of the good guys.
He is one of the most friendly, cheerful and playful dogs in the world. Although he is a great worker, he really only thinks about having fun… and being happy. He’s even said to be a great natural antidepressant.
This dog adapts and relies on the moods of his owners. In fact, his temperament will often be set according to the training he receives.
For example, if his master is rather calm, confident, just in the introduction of the training and that he answers with respect to his needs, then this Retriever knows how to be calm when it is necessary.
Like all Retrievers, he is a tireless worker, very gentle and very easy to train. Even if he has been very successful as a companion dog for some time, he is also a perfect helper for hunters and especially a first-rate service dog.
Particularly gifted in retrieving game, this dog can both accompany his master on hunting trips and participate in Retriever training courses/competitions that are in line with his natural instincts. In all cases, retrieving activities are to be proposed to him.
Fearful / distrustful of strangers:
Never aggressive, this dog is very sociable, even with strangers. He welcomes them with great pleasure which, sometimes, can cause problems (with certain intruders for example).
The Labrador Retriever, as it can also be called, is a dog that is made to please his master. He has only that in mind and in that sense, he is particularly dependent on his master.
Close to the members of his social group, being alone is not the preferred situation for this dog, but he can tolerate it if he is accustomed from an early age to the short absences of his masters and if he benefits from occupying activities during these periods.
Easy to train / obedient :
Although the Labrador puppy is particularly difficult to channel, once adult, it is a dog with whom it is very pleasant to work.
The educational basics must of course be started early, but it remains relatively easy. Indeed, he is made to “do a favour”, after all, it is not for nothing that he is chosen to be a guide dog for the blind.
Educational methods, if they are to be truly beneficial, must be based mainly on play in order to achieve results.
This dog barks, but never excessively… Unless he is left in the garden all the time and never comes out.
A runaway, he is if his spending needs are not sufficiently met or if he’s attracted to a very interesting lead. Indeed, one should never forget that this dog is an outstanding game retriever.
He can quickly become a home tornado if left alone too long or not given the attention he deserves.
Greedy / gluttonous :
This dog is a real stomach on legs. He could eat all day long. It is therefore important to monitor his diet to avoid overweight.
Watchdog : This dog is a watchdog:
Very friendly, even with strangers, this is not the best guardian of its kind. However, he is so close to his social group that he can, if he senses danger, be dissuasive, but never so aggressive as to attack.
When a first dog is adopted for the first time, it’s often this breed that is chosen. Indeed, it is particularly represented within families who wish to enlarge the social group with a dog that is at the same time playful for children, kind to guests and sporty enough to go running.
Labrador in apartment :
Theoretically, he can live in an apartment, but when he’s young… we must see if the apartment can resist him! Once adult, he becomes “a little” quieter, but his unbridled joie de vivre tends to tilt the balance in favour of an installation in the garden.
Be careful, however, whether he lives indoors or outdoors, he needs daily walks to exercise himself and develop to his full potential.
Need for exercise / sport :
It should never be forgotten that the Retriever is initially a working dog. It is indeed a very good auxiliary for hunters. And even if it is used more as a companion dog today, it should never be seen as a simple couch dog.
He needs to expend himself both physically and mentally, socially and olfactory to be fully developed on a daily basis.
Moreover, with a dog of this breed, it is possible to do a lot of canine activities, more or less sportive: cani-cross, cani-rando, agility, obedience, learning tricks, hunting, tracking, etc.
Travel / Ease of transport :
Very sociable, it is only its large size that can possibly slow down the smooth running of a trip. Otherwise, it is true that the Labrador is known to adapt to many situations without any problems as long as it is well educated and socialized from a young age.
Labrador and the Cats:
Although the predation instinct is quite strong in some, it is still “easy” to control. In fact, cohabitation with a cat does not generally pose any concern, all the more so if the Labrador puppy has been accustomed to a feline presence from an early age.
The Labrador and the Other dogs :
There is nothing like a good socialization, early and of good quality, to confirm the great natural friendliness of this dog who loves to play with his fellow dogs. He will be very happy to share his home with another dog if the introductions are done in due form.
The Labrador and children :
This dog is absolutely safe for older children, but he can be a little too abrupt for smaller children because of his great strength, which he is not even aware of. It will be necessary to take care to educate the children to the description of the canine world so that the two live in perfect harmony.
The Labrador and the Elderly :
Although he knows how to adapt to many situations, a sedentary daily life would not be at all suitable for this active and playful dog who needs a lot of attention and exercise to feel good in his paws.
Resistant / robust :
This breed is quite robust after all, but often suffers from obesity, which sometimes leads to serious health problems.
In the summer, we must avoid putting too much physical strain on this dog, which could then suffer from heat. A place of shade and water at will are necessary to guarantee him a certain comfort.
Withstands the cold:
Its dense undercoat allows him a good resistance to bad weather but also a good impermeability (and fortunately since the Labrador loves water).
Tendency to put on weight:
Beware it is a very greedy dog who has a tendency to be overweight! It will be necessary to take care to propose him a balanced diet and enough physical exercises.
Dysplasia of the hip and the elbow
Congenital patellar dislocation
Progressive atrophy of the retina
Parakeratotic hyperkeratosis of the nose or HNPK (skin condition)
Exercise-induced collapse (disease of the neuromuscular system)
Grooming and maintenance
Maintaining this dog is anything but difficult. Its short, dense coat does not require any special care, except a few regular brushing to keep the coat clean and beautiful.
Since this dog loves water, it should be dried well after each swim. Its slightly drooping ears should also be closely monitored and cleaned regularly.
Hair loss :
This Retriever sheds a lot of hair, so it should be brushed at least once a week to prevent it from becoming unmanageable. In addition, during the annual moulting periods, brushing should be daily. Price
The price of a Labrador varies according to its origin, age and sex. It is necessary to count on average 950 € for a dog registered in the LOF. The highest lines can be sold up to 2590 €.
Concerning the average budget to provide for a dog of this size, it is necessary to count approximately 50€/month.
Average life expectancy: about 13 years
Remarks and advice
All the undeniable qualities of this dog do not mean that it is suitable for everyone. Before buying a puppy, it is therefore necessary to have as much information as possible about the breed to know in particular if it is in agreement with the living environment that we can offer him.
It should be noted that according to several breeders and/or owners and/or canine educators, the chocolate Labrador is more restless than black or sandy subjects.
In addition, many people think that Miniature Labradors exist but they are absolutely not a particular type, they are simply subjects sometimes smaller than the average or a Labrador crossed with a smaller breed.