Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, Canada. Small water dogs were used to retrieve birds and fish; they even pulled small boats through the water. Their strong desire to work, versatility, and waterproof coats impressed fishermen, one of whom brought a dog back to England with him. Lord Malmsbury saw this dog, then called a St. John’s Dog, and imported several from Newfoundland. Lord Malmsbury is credited with having started to call the dogs Labradors, although the reason is lost to history. Eventually, the English quarantine stopped additional imports from coming into the country, and the Labradors already in England were cross-bred to other retrievers. However, breed fanciers soon put a stop to that, and the breed as we know it today was born.

Labrador Retriever is probably the most popular dog breed in the world.

Labrador Retriever is a medium-sized, strongly built dog breed that retains its hunting and working instincts. Standing between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall and weighing between 55 and 80 pounds, with females smaller than males, the breed is compact and well-balanced. Labrador Retrievers have short, weather-resistant coats that can be yellow, black, or chocolate. The head is broad, the eyes are friendly, and the tail is otterlike. Grooming a Labrador Retriever is not difficult, although it is amazing how much the coat can shed at times. Shedding is worst in spring and fall when the short, dense undercoat and coarser outer coat lose all the dead hair. Brushing daily during these times will lessen the amount of hair in the house.

Labrador Retriever Colors

Photo: Labrador Retriever puppies – Brown, Black and Yellow.

Labrador Retrievers do everything with vigor. When it’s time to play, they play hard. When it’s time to take a nap, they do that with enthusiasm, too. But this desire to play and instinct to work means that Labs need vigorous exercise every day and a job to do. They need to bring in the newspaper every morning, learn to pick up their toys, and train in obedience. Labrador Retrievers do very well in many canine activities, including agility, flyball, field tests and trials, tracking, search-and-rescue work, and therapy dog work. Labrador Retrievers still enjoy swimming, and if water is available, a swim is a great way to burn off excess energy.

Early socialization and training can teach a Labrador Retriever puppy household rules and social manners. Training should continue throughout puppyhood and into adulthood so that the Labrador Retriever’s mind is kept busy. The Labrador Retriever can learn advanced obedience, tricks, or anything else her owner wishes to teach her.

Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs. They will bark when people approach the house but are not watchdogs or protective. Labrador Retriever puppies are boisterous and rambunctious and need to be taught to be gentle with young children. Older kids will enjoy the Lab’s willingness to play. Most Labrador Retrievers are also good with other dogs and can learn to live with small pets, although interactions should be supervised. Health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, knee problems, eye problems, and allergies.

The Labrador Retriever loves to swim. However, as unlikely as it may seem, Labs do not come “out of the box” knowing how to swim. Furthermore, some Labs become truly nervous around water. That having been said, most Labs can be taught to swim quickly and easily, and a few simple lessons can lead to hours of enjoyment for both you and your dog. There are a number of reasons to teach your Lab to swim while he’s still a pup. For one thing, it’s easier on the dog. A large dog has a lot of body weight to manage in the water, and for a dog new to swimming, this can increase the slope of the learning curve. Puppies, because of their small size, have an easier time.

See 7.5 week old Labrador pups go to the water for the first time

Even before you teach your Lab to swim, you can start off on the right foot by building his confidence around water. Take your dog for a walk around the local pond or lake. Encourage any interest that your dog shows in the water with verbal praise. If he is willing to get his feet wet, encourage him to do so and praise him when he does. Simple preliminaries like this lay a strong foundation for you because you teach the dog that there is no reason to fear water. Remember that the primary goal here is to provide positive experiences for your Lab around and in the water. Making sure that the aquatic site you’ve chosen is safe goes a long way towards ensuring such experiences.

Labrador Retriever Videos

 






Training Labrador Retrievers: Training Labrador puppies is best started around 2 months of age; the same time as the Labrador puppy is weaned from his mother. This life-long commitment is the beginning of a wonderful relationship between owner and dog. Here are some videos from dog training expert Melanie McLeroy to help you get started.

Teach your Labrador to learn and respond to their name.

Teach your Labrador to sit on command.

Teach your Labrador to stay on command.

Teach your Labrador to lie down on command.

Teach your Labrador to heel.

Teach your Labrador to come on command.

Before your Labrador training starts, you have to consider the training method you intend to use. This method needs to be consistent, so making the decision is one that requires some research. Many professional animal trainers use what’s called positive reinforcement (believes that animals are much better behaved and easier to train when they’re earning rewards and praise than if they’re being punished).

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  1. The Unforgettable Story of an Adopted Labrador Retriever says:

    They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

    I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

    But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.

    The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

    But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.

    See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.

    For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls — he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.

    I guess I didn’t really think he’d need all his old stuff, that I’d get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn’t going to.

    I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like “sit” and “stay” and “come” and “heel,” and he’d follow them – when he felt like it.

    He never really seemed to listen when I called his name — sure, he’d look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he’d just go back to doing whatever. When I’d ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey. This just wasn’t going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

    The friction got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff.

    I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the “damn dog probably hid it on me.”

    Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter’s number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter…I tossed the pad in Reggie’s direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I’d seen since bringing him home.

    But then I called, “Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I’ll give you a treat.” Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction — maybe “glared” is more accurate — and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down …. with his back to me.

    Well, that’s not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.

    But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope.

    I had completely forgotten about that, too.

    “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”

    To: Whoever Gets My Dog

    Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner.

    I’m not even happy writing it.

    If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.

    He knew something was different.

    I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time… it’s like he knew something was wrong.

    And something is wrong…which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

    So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

    First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hordes them.

    He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet.

    Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful – really don’t do it by any roads.

    I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

    Next, commands.

    Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again:

    Reggie knows the obvious ones — “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”

    He knows hand signals: “back” to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and “over” if you put your hand out right or left. “Shake” for shaking water off, and “paw” for a high-five. He does “down” when he feels like lying down — I bet you could work on that with him some more.

    He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.

    I trained Reggie with small food treats.

    Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

    Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening.

    Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

    He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due.

    Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.

    Good luck getting him in the car.

    I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

    Finally, give him some time.

    I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.

    He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

    Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

    And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you….

    His name’s not Reggie.

    I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie.

    He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt.

    But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.

    For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine. But if someone else is reading it, well … well it means that his new owner should know his real name.

    It’ll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems.

    His real name is “Tank”.

    Because that is what I drive.

    Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news.

    I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.

    See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.

    Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed.

    He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

    Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog.

    I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family … but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

    And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

    That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things … and to keep those terrible people from coming over here.

    If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so.

    He is my example of service and of love.

    I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

    All right, that’s enough.

    I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter.

    I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time.

    Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

    Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

    Thank you,

    Paul Mallory

    I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.

    Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me.

    Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

    I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

    “Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

    The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

    “C’mere boy.”

    He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.

    He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.

    “Tank,” I whispered.

    His tail swished.

    I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.

    I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

    “It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.”

    Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

    “So whatdaya say we play some ball?”

    His ears perked again.

    “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”

    Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.

    And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

  2. Charlize Theron with her Labrador Retriever says:

    Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron loves nothing more than a run along malibu beach with her two dogs, Delilah and Denver.

  3. Orlando Bloom with his Labrador retriever says:

    Gorgeous actor Orlando Bloom rescued his constant companion Sidi when the black Labrador was just three weeks old. The actor, who was filming epic blockbuster Kingdom of Heaven in Morocco at the time, revealed: “I picked him up, and I said, ‘Let’s get him cleaned up and see what happens.’ And then I ended up wanting him forever.” AW!

  4. Banana Joe on Labrador Retrievers says:

    The Labrador possesses numerous endearing traits — intelligence, easy to train and being an excellent family companion. They require moderate exercise, but if not provided, or if left alone, Labs can be destructive.

    Labrador retrievers are sturdy, solid dogs. They are almost square in appearance, with a strong body and sturdy legs. The maximum height for a male is 24 inches, which puts them in the medium-size dog category, but their sturdy build can make them seem much larger. Weights range from 85 pounds for a large male to 55 pounds for a smaller female. Field line bred dogs are often taller and somewhat thinner in build.

    Labrador retrievers are easily recognized by their broad head, drop ears and large, expressive eyes. Two trademarks of the Lab are the thick but fairly short double coat, which is very water repellent, and the well known “otter tail.” The tail is thick and sturdy and comes off the topline almost straight. The feet are described as “webbed,” with longer skin between the toes to aid in swimming. Color can range from black through chocolate to a red/yellow or even almost white.

    The Labrador retriever is a moderately fast maturing breed, reaching adult height from six to 12 months, but possibly still filling out up to 2 years of age. Many Labs reach 12 to 14 years of age.
    Personality:

    In general, Labrador retrievers are excellent family dogs, as long as you keep in mind their need for exercise and training. These are dogs bred to work and work hard and they love to have jobs to do, particularly retrieving.

    Labs are usually good with other dogs, other pets, and children as long as training has toned down their natural exuberance. They are strong dogs and need some obedience training at an early age or they can be seen dragging their owners down the street at will.

    Owing to their energetic nature, Labradors who are left alone or not well exercised can become destructive — chewing, digging and barking to excess.

    The field line dogs are especially high-energy dogs, while some of the show line dogs become perfect couch potatoes at an early age. Chewing can be a problem because the strong retrieve urge gives them an oral fixation. Sturdy chew toys, exercise and training all help with this.
    Living With:

    Obviously, Labradors have a number of endearing traits or they would not be so popular. They are intelligent and fairly easy to train, partly from their desire to work with people. They are “easy keepers” and can become overweight if they are not exercised and food portions adjusted as needed. Labs are excellent family dogs because they do want to be with people and many do not do well as kennel dogs.

    Labradors do tend to be protective of their families and homes but are usually happy to greet company, too. With the strong retrieving instinct, they can develop into destructive chewers if not given appropriate toys and guidance. Labs may tend to “mouth” people and the solution is often simply to give them a toy to carry around, so their mouths are already full! These are very strong dogs and early training is necessary to have a dog that walks nicely on lead.

    The wonderful double coat that keeps the Labrador warm while retrieving in icy water also gives this breed top billing as shedders. Normally, their coats do fine with a quick weekly grooming, but at shedding time daily grooming is needed. The amount of exercise they need varies with the different lines: field line dogs can run all day, whereas show line dogs only need moderate exercise.
    History:

    Early in the 1800s, some of the multipurpose dogs used in North America (mostly Canada) by hunters were shipped back to England. Many of these “water dogs” were of the Newfoundland type, but the smaller ones were often designated “St John’s” dogs. In England, the breed was developed and refined (probably with some flat-coated retriever input) into the breed we recognize today.

    As is evidenced by their name, Labrador retrievers were bred and selected for their outstanding retrieving abilities, particularly in water. They have worked as partners with duck hunters in all kinds of weather and conditions. Their intelligence and desire to work as a partner with man has led to many other jobs, and to their current status as popular pets. Today, Labradors excel as service and guide dogs, family pets, scenting dogs for the military, customs and arson task force dogs, search and rescue dogs as well as hunting companions and performance dogs.

    The breed’s good nature has propelled it to the number one ranking in popularity in America, a position it intends to keep. Despite their fame as indoor pets, they are even more at home outdoors. It should always be remembered that Labradors are water retrievers at heart and from early on, puppies show a strong desire to carry things around with them and a strong attraction to water, even puddles!

  5. Mario Costello says:

    fun…loving..loyal…friendly…lovely. Very easy to train…and very fun to be with at anytime of the day or night.powerhouse of chewing.my best frnd in the world. this is max.

  6. Black, Yellow and Chocolate Labrador Retriever says:

    Scoodie, Buzz and Leon, a chocolate Lab, black Lab and a yellow Lab enjoying a nice swim; most Labs love the water.

  7. Silver Labrador Retriever says:

    Ripley is the kind of dog that anyone would just love, the kind of dog people think about when they think about maybe getting a dog. He is just happy go lucky, friendly to dogs and humans and causes no problems.

  8. Lucky says:

    We rescued this black Lab from our local shelter last November. He has been so wonderful. He is smart, very energetic and loves to swim. We think he was about a year old. His name is Lucky, which fits because he would have been put down on Friday if we had not rescued him. I just can’t believe someone gave this dog up. He is a wonderful dog. He is loving, devoted and loves to sleep on the bed.

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