Labrador Retriever dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Labrador Retriever breed characteristics

  • Size: Large
  • Traits: Friendly. Lovable. Clever.
  • Maintenance: Low maintenance, weekly brush, no/minimal hair clipping required
  • Best Suited To: Everyone.

Affable. Amiable. Intelligent. Labradors are the Mr. Popular of the dog kingdom and one of the most sought after canine breeds in the world. Loved by families, singles, older couples and anyone that enjoys the happy-go-lucky charm of the lovable Labrador. If you are seeking an affectionate and outgoing pup that will become an additional member of the family, a Labrador might be the right dog for you.

Where I'm From

Labradors originate from native dogs found on the island of Newfoundland off the east coast of Canada. Originally called St. John's dogs, the breed may have been crossed with the Newfoundland dog and other local breeds. During the 1700s, fisherman and settlers across the region, including in the area of Labrador, put the breed to work retrieving fish and helping tow in fishing lines.

The dogs subsequently made their way to the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century where they were crossed with sturdy local breeds resulting in the dynamic Labrador Retriever we still see today.

The breed was officially recognised in 1903.

What I Look Like

Labradors are thick set, large dogs with a strong body and big head. They have a shorthaired coat that comes in three colours - yellow, brown or black. Some breeders claim to have Labs with a silver coat but this is not an official Labrador colour and thought to be the result of cross-breeding. With imploring dark eyes, floppy ears and a long tail, Labradors are endearing and attractive dogs.

How I Act

Labradors are loyal, loving and affectionate dogs that thrive in close family life. Good with children and other household pets, Labradors also love to socialise with other dogs and human friends. They are most suited to life as an inside dog that is an integral part of the family and their social life. Labradors are also renowned as smart seeing-eye dogs for the blind as well as savvy search and rescue dogs.

The Labrador's trainability along with their friendly, laid-back attitude make them excellent and attentive students. Though socialisation and training needs to begin from a young age to ensure a well-rounded and well-behaved pet. Labs also require a master with a strong sense of authority so they will behave and listen to commands.

Even though Labradors have an easygoing demeanour, they still require a decent amount of daily exercise of 30-40 minutes to stay in good shape physically and mentally. This is especially important given their propensity to overeat.

Labradors are also very intelligent and need to be challenged with games and playing fetch, which satisfies their excellent retrieval skills. They need active owners that will include them in family activities so that they don't become bored and/or destructive.

Looking After Me

Labradors are a robust dog breed with few major health issues. However, some things to look out for include elbow and hip dysplasia, other joint problems and eye diseases.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Labradors are a little on the hefty side and can be greedy overeaters. Their diet needs to be tightly controlled and they need a decent amount of daily exercise to stay in shape. Just like their human friends, weight control issues can cause or exacerbate any underlying health problems.

Labradors generally have a life expectancy of 12-14 years.

They love their food, so care must be taken to limit their intake to two healthy meals per day of high quality dog food as per packaging instructions that are mixed with some vegetables and proteins. Leftover food should be removed until the next feeding time to reduce overeating. An occasional liver treat is also permitted.

Labradors are low-maintenance dogs with short coats that only require brushing a few times a week along with the occasional bath to stay in top condition.

Given their backgrounds, Labs love a good swim, so the occasional trip to the beach, lake or riverside banks could be a worthwhile journey. It is also important to provide your Lab with a range of toys that can be carried around in their mouth. Toys are a good way to keep household destruction or chewing personal items such as shoes and couches to a minimum.

Am I the pet for you?

Labradors are suited to many owners including families with kids, singles, seniors and anything in-between. They are not couch potato dogs and need inclusive owners with active lifestyles. Labs suit a home with a yard or an apartment if they get plenty of outdoor exercise.


  • Labradors are sweet natured, playful and clever. They make good pets for a diverse range of owners including active families with children, singles, couples and older people. Like with all dogs, Labradors still need to be supervised when around children.
  • Labradors have an easy care coat that doesn't need too much attention.
  • Labradors are smart and easy to train given the right leadership.


  • Labradors may just be “big-boned" but they also can become unhealthily overweight if their calorie intake is not carefully managed.
  • Labradors can be disobedient and destructive if not given enough exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Labradors can be clumsy, knocking into things without much awareness or care. So put away your breakables!
  • Don't rely on a Labrador for any sort of protection as they make terrible guard dogs. They are more likely to greet an intruder with a happy tail wag rather than any sort of protective growl!

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