Americans absolutely love Labrador Retrievers — this dog is ranked as the most popular breed by the American Kennel Club. I mean, can you blame us? These dogs are happy, easy-going, and friendly. We love them so much, the Lab was the first dog on the cover of Life magazine and the first canine face to grace a U.S. stamp.
Okay, to be fair, Americans aren't alone in their adoration of Labrador Retrievers. They're also the top favorite breed in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Apparently the Brits and many of their former colonies just can't get enough of these smart, attractive, and fun-loving dogs.
Labrador Retrievers are also the breed of choice for search and rescue work, guide dogs, assisted living dogs, and contraband detection work.
Don't let the name fool you though: this dog is from Newfoundland, not Labrador in Canada. This medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 55-80 pounds and lives an average of 10-12 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Retrieving
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 10-12 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 1
FAMILY gundog, retriever
AREA OF ORIGIN Canada
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION water retrieving
TODAY'S FUNCTION water retrieving, assistance, obedience competition, retriever field trials
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 22.5-24.5 Weight: 65-80
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 21.5-23.5 Weight: 55-70
OTHER NAME none
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Hard to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A LABRADOR RETRIEVER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
There's a reason Labrador Retrievers are so popular: they usually like everybody. Kids, dogs, cats, strangers: you name it, and the Lab will wag her tail in their direction. These versatile pups are calm in the house, silly and playful in the back yard, and no-nonsense while they're in the field.
WHAT IS LABRADOR RETRIEVER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
That name is no lie: your Labrador Retriever wants nothing more than to bring back whatever you'll throw for as long as you'll throw it. This is a very active breed who will need a lot of activity to keep them happy and healthy. They are avid swimmers.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A LABRADOR RETRIEVER?
These dogs want nothing more than to make you happy and are a dream to train. Their enthusiasm makes them likely to pull while they're on the leash, though. Labrador Retrievers respond well to food and—you guessed it—retrieving rewards.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO LABRADOR RETRIEVERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Labrador Retrievers have short, water-resistant double coats. They are somewhat heavy, seasonal shedders, but Labrador Retrievers don't need much in the way of professional grooming. Plan to brush them about once a week and bathe them as needed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO LABRADOR RETRIEVERS HAVE?
Labrador Retrievers are a robust, healthy breed. Some may suffer orthopedic issues like elbow or hip dysplasia, or eye disease.
Feeding your baby Labrador Retriever a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature which may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia. They tend toward obesity in adulthood, so be mindful of meals and snacks.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE LABRADOR RETRIEVERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Labrador Retrievers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Labrador Retriever! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A LABRADOR RETRIEVER'S BEST DAY?
Here is your Labrador Retriever's inner monologue on her absolute best day: Throw something. Throw it again. Throw it again. Can you throw it into the water? Do you want to play in the water? Let's play in the water. Where are the snacks? Oh man, I need a nap.
Let's face it — your Lab's best day looks a lot like your best day, too.
SHOULD I ADOPT A LABRADOR RETRIEVER?
Seriously, what's not to like? Okay, if you want a laid-back lapdog, the Labrador Retriever's not for you. But a person or family with an active lifestyle would be lucky to invite a Lab into their home.
Have you decided that a Labrador Retriever is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.