The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador's origins are not exactly clear, but the breed is known to have come from the Newfoundland and St. Johns area in Canada and been brought back to English shores by fisherman.
Labradors come in various colours - black, yellow and chocolate. In the yellow Labrador, colour can vary from light cream to a fox red. It is quite possible to view a litter where puppies of all three colours are available.
Labradors make brilliant family pets due to their wonderful temperament. The Labrador's reputation goes before him as a friendly, happy and well-mannered dog. They are easy to train, eager to please and make devoted companions.
The Labrador is a gundog, whose natural instinct is to retrieve anything and everything, whether in the home or out on a walk.
There are a number of diseases seen in the breed such as central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA), hip dysplasia (HD) and osteochondrosis (OCD). Selected breeding is helping to eradicate these problems and in recent years the situation has improved, thanks to responsible breeders and the BVA/KC schemes.
Buying a Puppy
If after a lot of thought you have decided that the Labrador is the breed for you, the next step is to find a reputable breeder. Contact breed clubs or go along to a Championship Show in your area, where you can assess breed type and talk to breeders. Remember that a lot of good breeders have no need to advertise, they have waiting lists of two years or more.
Once you have chosen your breeder, ensure that both sire and dam have hip and eye certificates, to ensure that they are free of hereditary problems. Ask about temperament, as this is essential in the Labrador. Make sure you see the dam with her pups and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Dog or Bitch
This is personal preference. Bitches are quieter, very sweet, loving and generally more gentle, but they do have seasons approximately every six months. For about three weeks your bitch will need to be kept safe from dogs.
Dogs grow larger and are stronger. Dogs generally are more loving and faithful than bitches.
A Labrador puppy should not be over exercised, in fact when you first acquire your pup the exercise he gets from playing with you and his visits to the garden for toileting will be adequate. From six months your puppy can have twenty minutes free running and half an hour walking on the lead daily. When your dog gets to eighteen months old, he will be able to endure as much exercise as you are able to give him.
The mature dog
Dogs will grow to 22-22.5 inches at the withers (top of shoulders).
Bitches will grow to 21.5-22 inches at the withers.
Dogs will also be heavier than bitches.
The Labrador as a family pet
Labradors make brilliant family pets due to their wonderful temperament. They are good with children and other family pets. A Labrador likes to be with the family and will follow you from room to room, if allowed.
A Labrador requires socialisation and basic obedience training. This will make your dog more acceptable to people outside of your home. The training should be started from the time that you first take your puppy home. There are Training Classes available in most areas to help with training ideas.
Labradors are used by Guide Dogs for the Blind and can be trained as Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs.
Main points to remember
- Buy from a reputable breeder
- Ensure the dam and sire have current hip and eye certificates
- Follow the breeders feeding instructions
- Keep in touch with the breeder, they can always offer you help and advice
- Locate a good vet
- Ensure your dog is trained