Spotlight On The Lab

January 8th is Lab Day! These sweet, lovable pups definitely deserve to be celebrated. Fido is one of the world’s most popular dogs, and it isn’t hard to see why. With their exuberant personalities, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty, there’s lots to love about these guys. In fact, the Lab may very well be the perfect dog. A local Watertown, WI vet puts these Very Good Boys in the spotlight in this article.

Lab Breed Basics

Fidorador is a medium-large dog. They usually get to be between 21.5 to 24.5 inches high, and should weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. The Lab can sport one of three pretty colors: yellow, black, or chocolate. The Lab Retriever typically lives between about 10 to 12 years. 

What Is The History Of The Lab?

Fido first bounded into our hearts over in the UK. Technically, The Lab is classed as a British retriever gun dog. The breed’s ancestors were first developed in the 1500s in Newfoundland and was named after the local region of Labrador. Local water dogs were mixed with the bigger Newfoundland dogs, resulting in dogs known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. The Lab’s thick, water-repellent coat and webbed paws made him an excellent swimmer. These Very Good Boys were particularly skilled at retrieving nets and fish from the North Atlantic’s frigid waters. Fido also helped his humans out by towing dories and pulling ropes from one boat to another.

The modern Lab Retriever was first developed back in the 1830s, when the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews brought dogs from Newfoundland to Europe, likely aboard trade ships. Those dogs were bred with British hunting dogs. Then, in the 1880’s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury took an interest in the Lab, because of his skill at retrieving waterfowl. He eventually mated his pups with descendants of the dogs the Earl had imported, thus creating what is undoubtedly one of the cutest and most beloved dogs ever.

Fido’s amazing character, adorable looks, and intelligence helped him become very popular very quickly. The Lab was charming American farmers and hunters by the early 1900s and happily bounded into the ranks of the AKC in 1917. 

Why Are Lab Retrievers So Popular? 

Fido really has every quality you could want in a dog. Labs are just great dogs overall. They’re cute, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart. They make wonderful family pets, but excel in many lines of work. The Lab is such a great dog that he was America’s most popular dog for 30 years. He lost the top spot just last year, when the stout and plucky French Bulldog stole the spotlight. 

What Kind Of Personality Do Labs Have? 

Labs are not only absolutely adorable, but they are also typically very amicable, lovable, and friendly. This is the pooch that wants to be everyone’s best friend. These guys are also very, very energetic, and need a lot of activity and playtime. The Lab does love to chew, so he’ll need plenty of toys. (You may notice your pooch enjoys carrying his toys around, which will always be cute.) It’s also worth noting that the Lab has a longer ‘puppyhood’ than many dogs. Your canine buddy will act like a rambunctious teen long after he’s officially fully grown. Training is required here: Fido can be clumsy and over-enthusiastic. However, he really strives to please his humans. 

What Does The Lab Excel At?

Fido loves swimming! In fact, he has slightly webbed toes, which come in very handy when he wants to jump off a dock after his favorite ball. He also does well in many doggy sports, such as flyball, agility, freestyle, or Frisbee.

Because of his good nature, intelligence, and trainability, Lab Retrievers can be found working in various fields, such as search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs. They also make terrific therapy dogs. 

What Health Issues Do Labs Have? 

For the most part, Labs tend to be healthy. However, they are prone to a few specific issues. Hip dysplasia is not uncommon with these guys. Other issues that we see in Lab Retrievers include heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), and eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy. Labs are also sometimes prone to ruptures in their ligaments.

Another common issue is bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests. Talk to your Watertown, WI vet about your dog’s diet and feeding practices. You’ll also want to watch for symptoms, which include:

  • Drooling
  • Hard, swollen tummy
  • Dry heaving (retching without vomit) 
  • Panting
  • Signs of pain/discomfort

Bloat can be life-threatening, so contact your vet immediately if you spot any of these. 

In general, a good diet, a suitable exercise plan, and proper veterinary care should keep your canine bestie happy and healthy. However, you may want to look into getting some specific health tests. The National Breed Club recommends the following tests:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hip and Elbow Evaluations
  • Centronuclear Myopathy
  • Eye Evaluation

Ask your Watertown, WI vet for specific advice on caring for your Labrador Retriever.

What Are The Lab’s Grooming Needs?

Fido has thick, water-resistant fur. There is some confusion around coat colors. For instance, you may see dogs called white or red Labs. These are technically yellow Labs, just in different shades. Then there is the silver Lab Retriever, which is both adorable and controversial. They are not officially accepted by the AKC, and many breeders insist that they are not true purebreds. (We’ll leave that particular debate to others.)

The Lab actually has two coats: a coarse, thick overcoat, and a soft undercoat. These guys aren’t the heaviest shedders, but they do need to be brushed a few times a week. You’ll need to give Fido occasional baths. Your canine buddy’s nails should also be trimmed regularly. Dental care is essential as well. 

It’s worth noting that many Labs love playing in mud puddles. This, of course, will necessitate some extra baths or hose-downs. 

What Kind Of Personality Does A Lab Have?

Labs are known as generally wonderful dogs, and their lovable personalities have a lot to do with that. The Lab is the dog who loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and accompanying his humans everywhere. These guys can be mischievous, so you will need to make sure to burn off those zoomies.

What Are The Pros And Cons To Choosing A Lab?

There really aren’t many downsides to having a Lab Retriever: you just need to pick the right pup for your household. As mentioned above, these guys are sweet, friendly, and super lovable. However, they can also be stubborn and are sometimes prone to doggy shenanigans, such as rolling around in puddles or taking off after every squirrel they see. Proper training and lots of exercise are crucial here.

Famous Labs

Several of these charming dogs have made it into the spotlight. There’s Clifford The Big Red Dog; Brian Griffen from Family Guy; Luath, from The Incredible Journey; and Little Boo, a therapy dog assigned to Big Boo in Orange Is the New Black. Then there’s Spike, who played “Old Yeller” from the movie Old Yeller. That’s not even counting all of the Labs who have become social media stars. Just google ‘Cute Lab’ videos. You won’t be disappointed! 

Do you have questions about caring for a Lab? Contact us, your local Watertown, WI pet hospital, today!


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