Black lab in the forest fall leavesSource: Everita Pane  


The American Kennel Club has granted the Labrador Retriever the title of number one dog for nearly three decades.  So what does it take to be top dog? We compiled a list of information on the Labrador Retriever to explain their popularity. People everywhere are in love with the dog's eager to please temperament, athleticism, and loyal confidence...and that way their entire body shakes when they wag their tails!  


History of the Labrador Retriever 


Labrador Retrievers are actually not from the Canadian region of Labrador at all.  They were bred in Newfoundland in the early 1800s from the large Newfoundland dog.  Fishermen desired a smaller version of the Newfoundland that was an excellent swimmer to retrieve fishing nets and fish.  This smaller version of the Newfoundland had a strong drive to retrieve, excellent endurance, a sleek coat and webbed paws for swimming, and powerful haunches to jump through the thick weeds and grasses and into the water.  The new dog could not be named "Newfoundland" since that dog was already in existence, so they named the new dog "Labrador" after the body of water where the fisherman and dogs worked.  The new Labrador was sent to England, and where the dog that we know and love today was further developed in England's rivers, lakes, and streams.  Today, there are two types of Labrador Retrievers:  field and show.  A field Labrador is athletic, long-legged, and lean, while the show Labrador is short and stocky.  


Size and Appearance 


Labrador Retrievers are medium to large sized dogs.  Males average 21.5-24.5 inches high, with females coming in a little bit shorters.  They can weigh between 55 and 80 pounds.  A double coat protects them from cool and cold weather and is perfect for swimming.  They have a short and dense outercoat with a short undercoat.  Labradors come in black, yellow, and chocolate colors.  A litter can include puppies of all three colors, with black being the most common and chocolate being the rarest.  


Temperament


A well-trained Labrador Retriever has a wonderful temperament.  Labs are always willing to please you, so you do not have to be an amazing trainer to take care of a Lab.  Labs will do their best to please you and try their hardest to make you happy. They are very loving and affectionate towards all members of the family, and will always be happy to see you at the end of a long day.  Labradors will be eternally grateful to you and happy by endlessly retrieving a tennis ball back and forth.  It is important that Labs have this exercise in their day.  If a Lab does not have a place to relieve all of their happiness and energy, they may become bored and full of unspent energy.  Just imagine how an active five year old feels when cooped inside on a rainy day!  A Lab might feel similarly if kept inside with no chance to interact with others or time to play.


Recent Popularity


Labradors have been listed as the most popular dog by the AKC for the past 26 years.  This can be attributed to the dog's easy-going temperament,  not-too-big size, and fun spirit.  The Labrador also has minimal grooming requirements, and only sheds short hair.  "The Labrador Retriever has a stronghold on the top spot, and it doesn't show any signs of giving it up anytime soon," said AKC Vice-President Gina DiNardo. "The Lab is such a versatile dog that it's no wonder it makes a strong companion for a variety of lifestyles."  A Labrador would indeed be happy with a family and a yard or settle into apartment life.  Labrador's are known to be wonderful with little children and can patiently withstand a curious toddler. Since the Labrador is so adaptive and willing to learn, this dog can adapt with the right tools and opportunities to exercise.


Little boy in snow with his labradorSource: Jaromir Chalabala


Lifespan


Labrador Retrievers have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years.  


Health Issues 


Labrador retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia.  Hip dysplasia is caused by an abnormal formation of the hip joint and can cause severe pain.  They may also develop retinal dysplasia, an eye defect that causes blind spots.  Knees and elbows also begin to ache, especially as the dog grows older.  This is due to their high activity level and large frame.  An option for older dogs with these health issues is to provide them with a grass dog potty, such as DoggieLawn, if climbing stairs or going on walks becomes difficult. However, as a breed, they are overall very healthy dogs. 


Is a Labrador Retriever the Right Dog for Me? 


Since Labrador Retrievers are such versatile dogs, this dog is good for many people.  They are willing to learn and willing to please.  With all responsible dog ownership, they need an owner that will train them.  Labs will meet the owner halfway and will not be difficult students in their education.  This is especially important when they are puppies.  A well-trained Labrador may be a wonderful companion as an adult but can be a mouthy and energetic puppy.  Labrador puppies need a lot of care and time in their training.  Consider using teething products to help the mouthiness, dog grass pads or indoor grass for dogs to help with housebreaking, and puppy classes for socialization and training.  A Labrador's exercise needs are important, but they will be happy to chase a ball in the park over and over again, so a Labrador can even adjust to apartment living with enough dedication.  


Are Labrador Retrievers Difficult to Train? 


According to Animal Planet's "Dog's 101," Labrador Retrievers are the easiest dog to train!  They have a delightful combination of intelligence and eagerness to please their owner. Although the Labrador is "easy" to train, it should not be neglected. Training and exercise are essential components for raising a Labrador.  Apartment dwellers can raise a Labrador puppy with the use of products such as DoggieLawn, a special indoor grass pad for dogs.  This will help the puppy learn to housetrain without mad dashes (and unfortunate accidents!) down an elevator and out the door!  Please remember that even if you get your pooch a pet grass pad to use indoors, Labradors need plenty of exercise and will need to find a way to run--whether it is inside your apartment or outside in a  wide open park.  


Labradors are a popular, versatile dog with a unique history.  With their willingness to learn and love for their family, it is easy to see why this breed has been number one for almost three decades.  


 


Sources: 


"Dogs 101: Labrador Retriever" http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/dogs-101/videos/labrador-retriever/


Upmails, Jordan. "Breaking News: The Labrador Retriever Winds Tops Breed for 26th Year in a Row" March 21, 2017. http://www.akc.org/content/news/articles/the-labrador-retriever-wins-top-breed-for-the-26th-year-in-a-row/


World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Ed. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc.