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Is a Labrador the Right Dog for You?

Updated on January 10, 2017
Luna: My Labrador Retriever Puppy.
Luna: My Labrador Retriever Puppy. | Source

My family recently decided that we were ready to open our hearts and adopt a puppy. We spent many hours researching different breeds. Before bringing a new dog home, you should always do research on the specific breed. Every breed is so unique and each come with their own set of perks and challenges. My family fell in love with the idea of owning a black lab, and not too much later we found a female lab waiting for a forever family at our local pound. We named her Luna. I love Luna with all of my heart, but owning a Labrador retriever is not a good idea for just anyone! Read on to find out what things you should consider before bringing home a lab.

Did you know...?

Labs rank #1 on the list of the most popular dog breeds in America. In fact,the breed is so popular that Providence, Rhode Island is the only US city where Labradors do not appear in the top 5 most popular breeds in the city.

Where will you be in 10-12 years?

It is important that you only bring a dog home if you fully intend to provide a forever home for the rest of the dog's life. It is very hard on a dog to be ripped away from their owners and home, and to be expected to adjust and be happy in unfamiliar surroundings. The average lifespan for Labrador Retrievers is 10-12 years. Think about how your life might be different a few years down the road. Is there any chance that you may need to move? Finding pet approved places to live is not always easy, and moving with a pet makes things harder. Are you planning on having children soon? Will this effect your desire and availability to be a pet owner? Will you have the same job? Will you still have as much money and time to properly care for your lab a few years down the road? Just remember that by adopting a pet, you are making a commitment to care for your new friend for the rest of their life.

Can you afford a large breed dog?

The average weight for Labrador Retrievers is anywhere from 50-90 pounds! Expect your lab to grow as tall as 24 inches or taller. Bigger dogs obviously are going to have a much bigger appetite than miniatures. Even lab puppies tend to have fairly large appetites for their size, and most adult labs require feeding at least 2-3 times per day. Will you be able to afford the food? Will you be able to afford toys, treats, and bones to keep your lab happy?

Many veterinarians,dog trainers and pet groomers also charge more money to work with large breed dogs.Call your local dog services for more information, because large breed policies vary by location.

Puppy Play Time!
Puppy Play Time! | Source

Did you know....?

Most labs are great swimmers. Their webbed feet help them swim fast, and their otter-like tails help them steer in the water.

Can you keep up with a lab?

Labrador Retrievers were originally bred to be work dogs. Their purpose was to retrieve fish or birds or whatever their owner needed them to do (hence the name). This type of work required that the breed be full of energy. Labrador Retrievers are very high energy dogs, and require a lot of exercise. They need to be taken on long walks or jogs daily. Most labs love water, and are very good swimmers. A large backyard is ideal for lab owners, so that the dog will have plenty of room to run and play outdoors. A lab with owners that will play games (such as fetch or hide and seek) will be a very happy dog! Make sure that you not only have the energy, but also the time to devote to making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. If a Labrador Retriever does not get the proper amount of exercise it can lead to problems such as obesity and other health problems. It can also cause the dog to start acting out with hyper activity such as barking, jumping on others, and chewing on furniture. A properly exercised lab will be a better behaved dog.

Will a lab's temperament work with your lifestyle?

Labs are very excitable, hyper dogs. Another notable personality trait for Labrador retrievers is that they are generally very friendly dogs. This makes them great for family dogs. Labs are usually great with children, but should still never be left unattended with a child. If you are looking for a guard dog, than chances are you will be disappointed by a Labrador's non aggressive personality.

Are you willing to make training a priority?

One of the last things you want is to be stuck with a 60 pound lab that won't listen to you! Training should begin as soon as you bring your lab home, the sooner the better. Make sure you break certain habits like jumping up on people and counter tops, and biting and chewing before your lab grows too old. The older the dog is, the harder it will be to train them. Teaching your lab tricks will help you bond with your pet and will help keep them mentally stimulated (which also will help eliminate unwanted behaviors). Labrador Retrievers love to learn and please, and are very intelligent. This is why the breed is often used for service or rescue dogs. Make sure you will have enough time to work with your lab, and take advantage of their full mental capabilities.

Labs make awesome pets!
Labs make awesome pets! | Source

Think, Don't Rush.

I absolutely love my black Labrador Retriever puppy. She has stolen my heart, and I wouldn't trade her for the world, However, I will be the first to admit that she is a lot of work and costs my family a good bit of money. Before adopting or buying a labrador (or any breed, for that matter) please consider the questions asked above and continue to do research and prepare yourself. Owning a dog is a big responsibility and a long-time commitment.

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    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 3 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      You make the perfect case for adopting older dogs. Many lab and lab mixes are in rescues specifically made for labs. My sister lab was about 2 when she got him,and he would be voted best all around dog by the whole family. He is 13 now. He never played much, but he goes everywhere the office, houseboat, trips,etc.. We jokingly call him stupid pet cause he just never got that retriever down.. but he is the best dog ever, even over the many I have had over the years..My mom is 80 and has a rescue lab and a dog run... She does not have to walk her a lot and she is a nice dog for an older couple.. Young labs are hyper but older labs are great companion dogs.. but they do need exercise.. Nice piece.

    • Clucy profile image

      Kristin Tamke 4 years ago from Frederick, MD

      Good hub on the basics of labs. Im very very happy that you went to a shelter for a puppy! shelters just dont have mixed breeds, many pure breeds are there.

      Thanks for pointing out they need training and exercise. Many people think the perfect family dog just happens....