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Labrador Retriever
Characteristics, History, and Health

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever, also known as Labrador or simply Lab, is one of the most popular breeds in the world. Labrador Retrievers trace their origins back to the 19th century in Newfoundland, which is now part of Canada. They were originally referred to as St. John's dogs or Lesser Newfoundland dogs. They were used as working dogs by local fishermen to help retrieve fishing nets and escaped fish due to their excellent swimming capabilities and hardworking nature. In the early 19th century, English nobles visiting Canada noticed these dogs' abilities and brought some back to England, where they were further developed into the breed we know today.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Lab, Labrador
Life Expectancy
11-13 years
Average Male Height
22.5-24.5 inches
Average Female Height
21.5-23.5 inches
Average Male Weight
65-80 pounds
Average Female Weight
55-70 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Black, Chocolate, Yellow
Coat Pattern
White Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Labrador Retrievers can suffer from hip, elbow, and shoulder dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, patellar luxation, osteochondritis dissecans, exercise-induced collapse, distichiasis, tricuspid valve dysplasia, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and hot spots. Labs may be affected by centronuclear myopathy, congenital myasthenic syndrome, hereditary nasal parakeratosis, oculoskeletal dysplasia 1, skeletal dysplasia 2, Stargardt Disease, cystinuria, elliptocytosis, hyperuricosuria, ichthyosis, myotubular myopathy 1, narcolepsy, pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, chondrodystrophy with or without chondrodysplasia, copper toxicosis, achromatopsia, and Alexander Disease. They can also be prone to eye disorders including macular corneal dystrophy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, retinal dysplasia, entropion, cataracts, and central progressive retinal atrophy. Genetic testing for hereditary conditions can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Labradors are known for their kind nature, intelligence, and adaptability. They are very sociable dogs that get along well with people and other animals. They are excellent with children, making them a popular choice for family pets. Labs are also intelligent and eager to please, making them highly trainable for roles such as service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and other working tasks. They love swimming and water.

Fun Facts

The Labrador's thick, tapering tail is called an "otter tail". When they're swimming in the water, their tail serves as a rudder to steer and turn.

The name "Labrador" is a bit misleading since the breed did not originate from Labrador in Canada, but rather from Newfoundland.

Labs have webbed feet which makes them excellent swimmers. This feature helped them in their original work of retrieving fishing nets.

Labradors are often employed as guide dogs for the visually impaired due to their intelligence, trainability, and gentle nature. According to the Guide Dogs of America, about 70% of their guide dogs are Labs.

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for over two decades, according to the AKC's annual rankings.