Featured Pet of the Week: The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever, often known as just a “lab” is an extremely popular dog breed as a companion pet (the most popular, in fact!). They have great personalities – they are very affectionate and gentle with their owners and get along well with just about everyone. They are classified as sporting dogs, but can be trained to do a number of things in a variety of areas.
My family had one lab while I was growing up – his name was William or “Billy” for short. He was a black lab and was one of the best pets we ever had! Right from the start he wanted to desperately be a part of the family and went with us everywhere. I remember the first night he came home with us we left him with a dog bed in the living room and he cried the whole night until one of us went to sleep with him. He had the best personality and was extremely smart; he was able to perform a number of tricks and knew how to sneak around without getting caught if he wanted to go somewhere he wasn’t supposed to!
Some history associated with Labrador Retrievers. It originated in Newfoundland from the St. Hubert’s Hound and other European pointer breeds. It was primarily used to retrieve fishing nets from the water for fishermen. In the 1800’s it was introduced to England where it had it’s retrieving abilities worked on even further. Now they can do a myriad of things including hunting, guarding, acting as service dogs, drug-sniffing for the police, and competitive obedience training. They also have many color variations! These include black, yellow, and chocolate.
If you are considering getting a Labrador Retriever, either a puppy or an adult, these are some of the things you may want to think about. First, they can be prone to eye problems, joint problems, and hereditary myopathy. They also love to exercise, so you will want to make sure they have plenty of outside room to run and play in, or that you have the time and commitment to take them out on walks or swims regularly. They make good house dogs in general and love to spend time with their families. They are also fairly large dogs – with males reaching up to 75 pounds, which is something to keep in mind if you live in an apartment or a small house.
As far as their diet is concerned, they need lots of protein and fat, with few carbohydrates. You can always pick up commercially prepared dog food which generally provides the correct balance of what they need, otherwise a diet that consists of lamb, poultry, fish and green vegetables is recommended. Obesity can be a problem because they are prone too eating too much if offered too much food, or the wrong kinds of food. This can lead to other problems, so take care to feed your lab properly!
Labs have fairly short hair and so do not need detailed grooming. Simply brushing their hair and giving an occasional bath should suffice. They do shed somewhat and so if kept indoors you will want to vacuum regularly.
A common health problem for Labradors is ear infections. These can be prevented somewhat by simply clipping the hair under and around their ears. Check their ears regularly for signs of infection as well.
Labradors can make great pet dogs and if you would like to learn more about them check out the Labrador Retriever page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.