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The Labrador Retriever

For many years now (since 1991), the Labrador Retriever has ranked as the most popular breed of dog in the United States. So what makes the Labrador so popular? This blog post takes a look at the characteristics of Labs.


The Labrador Retriever breed has its origins in the early 1800s. The first lab-like dogs were known as “St. John’s dogs” as they were in the city of St. John, Canada. In the 1920s the St. John’s dog was brought to England for selective breeding. Since they retrieved in the Labrador Sea, they were became known as “Labrador Retrievers.”


Labs are large dogs (55 to 90 pounds) that come in 3 main colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. Originally, labs were only black, but over the years yellow and chocolate colors have become acceptable. Labs have a short, dense coat covering a muscular, strong body. This characteristic coat is present on the tail as well and is said to look like an “otter tail.” They have medium length muzzle and a broad head. According to the breed standards, they should have “kind and expressive eyes.”


Just as much as the appearance, the disposition of labs is a trademark of the breed. Labs are supposed to be kind, outgoing, and eager to please. They should not be aggressive toward humans or other animals. In the right home, Labradors can make wonderful family pets. As with any dog, appropriate training is a must.

Labrador Retrievers as working dogs

Labradors are considered a working breed. As such they can be found hunting, tracking, retrieving, and detecting bombs/chemicals. They also can be found as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and even as canine lifeguards.

Health issues

Labradors tend to be healthy, robust dogs, but they can have some health issues. Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are 2 orthopedic issues that can be an inherited health problem for this breed. Selecting a puppy from a breeder who screens for these issues can help minimize risk for orthopedic issues. Keeping your Labrador a healthy weight by feeding an appropriate, balanced dog food is very important. Labradors are known for being discriminant eaters and “getting into everything.”

One issue with Labradors that isn’t necessarily related to their health is their popularity can make them a target for thieves. We can place a small microchip in your pet to help facilitate reunification if your pet accidentally escapes or was stolen. While not a tracking device, these microchips are scanned for by veterinarians and shelters and can helps get your pet back to you!

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