Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

A yellow Labrador puppy.

Labradors are one of the most popular breeds, and they come in 3 colours, yellow, black and chocolate. They have webbed paws designed for swimming and as a result of this, were initially bred to retrieve fishing nets. Today they are commonly used as assistance dogs for police work, search and rescue, detection work and therapy.

Labs are even tempered, good family dog's as they get on great with kids. They do need good firm training as puppies as they are a very intelligent breed. They have a great sense of smell and enjoy holding things in their mouths, which is why they love to retrieve. They have a reputation for their love of food, and can be very persistent and persuasive in requesting what they want!

Furry Facts

Breed Name:
Labrador Retriever
Coat type:
Short, thick, dense
Male: 29–41kg, Female: 25-32 kg
Average Lifespan:
10–13 years
Playful, Curious, Very Active, Chilled, Good with kids, Kind, Outgoing
Favourite Pastimes:
Swimming, Running, Long Walks, Playing, Snoozing, Mischief Making, Hide & Seek, Eating, Socializing
Did you know?
A Lab can carry an egg in its mouth without breaking it!
Easy to train?
Moderate / Hard
Marley & Me

Actor Owen Wilson alongside one of the 18 yellow Labradors from the Marley & Me movie.

Walkies of Fame

Walkies of Fame star

Marley, the American Labrador, featured in the film and book, Marley and Me, by John Grogan.


The most common cross is the Labradoodle which is a Lab crossed with a Poodle. This cross originated in Australia, to try and create a service dog suitable for an allergy sufferer. Another common cross is the Golden Retriever and Labrador used for assistance dogs as they are seen to have fantastic temperaments.

Common Conditions

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
    Labs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, this can be minimised in breeding by hip and elbow scores being carried out by vets. This can be done for both of the potential breeding parents and will ensure the pups are less at risk if the scores are good. Hip dysplasia occurs when the femur does not connect properly into the hip socket and so the joint then becomes worn and painful. It is the most common orthopaedic issue in Labs, some will require no treatment but others may need medication, a change in diet/exercise routine or possibly surgery.Knee problems are also common in labs, a luxating patella is the most common injury where the knee dislocates out of its normal position. This is normally a congenital defect rather than from trauma or accident and can be corrected through surgery.
  • Hereditary Myopathy
    This disease is only seen in Labs and is a hereditary muscle disorder where there is a deficiency in a specific type of muscle fibre (type II), that results in a decrease of skeletal muscle mass. Other breeds have similar disorders but not this particular one. The disease is present when both parents carry at least one copy of the disease gene onto the pups. The disease is shown usually in puppies around 3-4 months old and they suffer from muscle weakness, abnormal gait, abnormal posture and problems when exercising.
  • Gastric Torsion/Bloat
    This condition is a concern in all large (especially deep chested) breeds and happens when the stomach twists and traps the stomach contents and gases. This then leads to rapid swelling of the abdomen. It occurs normally when a dog eats too quickly and gulps down air with the food or if the dog exercises straight after food without resting. With the Labs love of food and energetic nature both of these are potential issues at meal times! If not treated this condition can result in death, so immediate veterinary attention is required. Symptoms of bloat include pacing, whining, panting, pain, distress, agitated, vomiting, retching and a large swollen abdomen.
  • Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
    This is a congenital condition in the tricuspid valve of the heart and is becoming more common in Labs. The tricuspid valve allows blood to flow in one direction from the right atrium to the right ventricle, but when it has a defect it is unable to do so properly. In this condition the valve is unable to shut efficiently and so blood is able to escape back through it. In mild cases the dog will have a normal lifespan and the small leakage will not affect the hearts function, in severe cases however it can prove fatal.
  • Epilepsy
    In Labs idiopathic epilepsy is a common genetic condition and normally inherited. Labs suffering with idiopathic epilepsy usually have their first seizure between 1-5 years old. The condition is shown by repeat seizures where the muscle reacts to an abnormal nerve signal from the brain.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
    This disease affects Labs more than other breeds due to the fact they have a deficiency of the hormone insulin or sometimes have an insensitivity to it. In a diabetic Lab they have insufficient insulin to stop glucose being produced by the liver or to be able to store excess glucose from food. Signs of diabetes to look out for include excessive thirst, excessive urine production and weight loss. Treatment for diabetes is normally insulin injections which can be given by owners once the correct dose has been achieved through tests.
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
    This is most commonly seen in older dogs, especially Labs and the first sign is a change in the bark and a more harsh sound when they breathe. It occurs when one or sometimes both sides of the larynx are unable to open and close properly. In extreme cases they will struggle to breathe and collapse and veterinary attention should be immediately sought, though this type of case is rare.
  • Eye diseases in Labs
    1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy - This is a slow deterioration of the retina where they are unable to see as well in low lighting. This can occur at any time in a Labs life but normally once they are in adulthood. If they live in the same house as the condition deteriorates they adapt quite well to their surroundings.
    2. Retinal Dysplasia - This is when the retina does not develop properly and can sometimes only be seen under eye examination. In the Labrador it is inherited so regular eye checks are important.
  • Ear Infections
    Due to Labs having long floppy ears and the fact they love to be in water a lot, ear infections can be more likely with them than other breeds. If ears are cleaned regularly this should minimise problems.
  • Obesity
    As mentioned earlier, Labs love food and so this is a main concern when trying to control and maintain their weight. To avoid obesity (which is considered over 45kg) it is extremely important that they get enough exercise daily to be stimulated and keep them slim. Obesity will also worsen other potential conditions such as hip dysplasia, joint problems and diabetes. The average exercise for a Lab should be walking them twice a day for at least half hour.