Labrador Retriever Breed Information: The Doggie Matchmaker
With his reliable good nature and eager-to-please smile, it is no wonder the labrador retriever ("lab" for short) is an American family favorite. In 2011, it was ranked the most popular dog breed in the United States for the 21st consecutive year, according to AKC Dog Registration Statistics, and for good reason.
Standing at 21.5 to 24.5 inches (a half inch more or less is disqualified by AKC standard), the labrador is a sturdy breed, weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. His short, water-resistant coat comes in black, chocolate, and yellow; and despite various myths, no difference in temperament between the colors has been proven. The dense labrador fur sheds an average amount and needs minimal grooming.
An active yet easy-going companion, the labrador wins accolades as a family pet. He is friendly with other animals and children, outgoing, and non-aggressive in temperament. This breed is playful and needs room to run, enjoying a good swim or a romp in the park. Intelligent and willing, the labrador is easily trained and dependable. These traits make him a wonderful service dog, frequently used for police work and seeing eye (guide dog) purposes.
The Origin of the Labrador Retriever
Despite the deceiving labrador name, however, this breed came out of Newfoundland. When small water dogs of the region were crossed with the Newfoundland breed, a new dog was born—then called the St. John’s Water Dog. He was used as the fisherman’s helper, pulling in nets and carrying ropes. The discovery of his skills in fowling, retrieving, and hunting soon followed.
The Duke of Malmesbury is credited with giving this dog the name we know him by today: the labrador retriever.
Training a Labrador Retriever
While naturally even-tempered, the labrador retriever still needs proper training and socialization to make him a pleasant companion. His enthusiastic affection and exuberant personality can become problematic if boundaries are not set (think 70-pound dog hugs). Here is what you will want to focus on in training:
- Obedience Training: The labrador retriever is an energetic, smart breed, which means he needs physical and mental stimulation. Labs can become rambunctious, especially when young, if sufficient leadership and exercise are not provided. A mixture of obedience training and times of pure outdoor play will help to make your dog respectful while also meeting his needs.
- Chewing: Part of what makes the lab a good retriever is his tendency to want to put his everything in his mouth. The labrador owner must fight this “mouthy” tendency to save their hands, pant legs, and home. Provide sufficient toys for chewing and teach your pup that only his toys are allowed between his gums.
- Heel: Because the lab is strong and sturdy with a thick neck, he has been known to ignore the pull of the leash. Train your pup to heel while you still have the upper hand, or be prepared to get dragged around later.
- Four-on-the-Floor: There is nothing worse than having your muddy-pawed canine body slam visitors in an attempt to share his love. Your little buddy will grow up to be quite a large lover, so teach your pup to keep all four paws on the floor while he’s still young. Your friends, neighbors, parents, and children will thank you later.
Labrador Retriever Health Problems
The labrador is a relatively healthy breed, typically living to 10–12 years of age. They can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, so overexertion should be avoided in young puppies that are still developing strong bones and joints.
Eye problems are also seen in this breed, including progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and corneal dystrophy.
As with many other breeds, obesity is common. So ensure that your dog receives plenty of exercise and regulate his eating.
The Labrador Retriever in Fashion
A dog is a long-term commitment and should never be picked based on trend, popularity, or appearance alone. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the labrador retriever in fashion.
With longstanding popularity, this breed exudes timeless, classic dignity. His sporty Ivy League persona makes him the Ralph Lauren of dog breeds. Pair him with riding boots and a blazer and radiate iconic American style.
Famous in American entertainment as well, the labrador has stolen our hearts as Superman’s dog, Krypto; Old Yeller, in the 1957 Disney classic; and Marley in the heart-warming Marley and Me.
A Compatibility Questionnaire for Potential Labrador Retriever Owners
Do you want . . .
Are you OK with . . .
A sporty companion for outdoor adventures?
Dealing with rambunctious behavior if adequate exercise is not provided?
A retrieving partner for hunting, fetch, or frisbee?
A puppy with a strong drive to chew?
A strong and sturdy build with classic style?
A dog that will drag you around if not properly trained?
An affectionate family member that is reliable with kids?
An exuberant 70 lb-lover that needs to be taught respectful boundaries?
A playful, faithful friend?
Providing the toys, training, and playtime this breed needs?
Perfect Labrador Retriever Names
If you have come to the conclusion that the labrador retriever is your perfect match: congratulations! It is a devoted, enjoyable breed. I offer you these suggestions as inspiration in your search for the perfect name:
- If you want something timeless to match the ;ab’s withstanding popularity, consider Grant, Myles, or Calvin for a boy and Hannah, Molly, or Cora for a girl.
- If you think something preppy would be a fun play on his classic style, perhaps Keating, Sumner, or Graham will do for a boy and Kennedy, Norah, or Bryn for a girl.