Though the name suggests an origin in Labrador Canada, the Labrador Retriever was developed in Newfoundland as early as 1500. Bred to assist hunters in retrieving downed waterfowl, Labrador Retrievers gained massive popularity in North America, where their friendly disposition and superiority as hunting companions made them the talk of the town.
The Labrador Retriever was recognized by The Kennel Club in England in 1903 and later registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1917. Since then the Labrador Retriever’s popularity has only grown. Today the breed remains the most popular breed in the United States and among the most popular breeds in the world.
One day with a Labrador Retriever puppy is all you need to see why these lovable pups are the most popular breed in the United States. Labrador Retrievers are famously kind and adore playing with children.
Labrador Retriever puppies are also incredibly adaptable and well-suited to a range of living environments. Though Labrador Retriever puppies are known to be calm when inside, they have a tendency to “cut loose” when outside.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to ensure your Labrador Retriever puppy is fenced in or on a leash when outside. Labrador Retriever puppy owners should also begin house training early and take steps to puppy-proof their home to the best of their ability.
How to Puppy-Proof Your Home?
Like all puppies, Labrador Retriever puppies are very likely to sniff out food and anything they think is food and chew on it to see if they can eat it. That’s why it’s incredibly important that new Labrador Retriever puppy owners take the necessary steps to puppy-proof their home.
- Keep toilet lids closed
- Remove any choking hazards
- Move all poisonous houseplants out of reach
- Fence in yard, if possible
- Install cabinet locks
- Install puppy gates
- Keep all entrances to home closed
- Labrador Retriever Puppy Supplies
One of the biggest mistakes new puppy parents make is picking up their new puppy before making a trip to the pet store. Below is a list of supplies you’ll need to purchase before your scheduled puppy pick-up appointment:
- Nail Clippers
- Crate (large enough for puppy to comfortably sit, stand and lie down)
- Chew Toys (puppy-safe)
- Food Dish (Non-Plastic)
- Water Dish (Non-Plastic)
- Puppy Pads
- Puppy Food
- Puppy Treats
AKC registered breeds are categorized into one of seven breed groups based on their characteristics and the role the breed was originally developed to fulfill, such as herding, hunting and guarding. Labrador Retrievers belong to the Sporting Group, characterized by their relationship to hunters and ability to locate and/or retrieve quarry.
Renowned for their remarkable instincts and superiority in the field, Sporting dogs often possess water repellent coats, webbed feet and other characteristics that make them resilient to the outdoors. Other breeds that belong to the Sporting Breed Group include:
A breed standard is a set of guidelines used to ensure dogs produced by breeders always conform to the specifics of the standardized breed. The Labrador Retriever was officially recognized as an official breed by the AKC in 1917 and is therefore subject to a strict breed standard.
PuppySpot has a zero-tolerance policy for puppy mills or substandard breeding of any kind – so you can be sure that your puppy will be happy and healthy whether they have a breed standard or not.
The Labrador Retriever is medium-sized, well-balanced and possessing an athletic, short-coupled conformation that enables it to function as a retriever; gundog; athlete and family companion.
The Labrador Retriever’s most distinguishing characteristics are its otter tail, short, thick, water-repellent coat, webbed feet and kind, friendly eyes that denote a keen intelligence, a sweet disposition and an eagerness to please.
The Labrador Retriever’s head is clean-cut and free from fleshy cheeks. Its skull is wide and well developed. Jaws are powerful and straight. The muzzle is neither long and narrow nor short and stubby.
Nose is wide, well developed and black on black or yellow dogs and brown on chocolate labs. Ears are set far back and hang moderately close to the head. Eyes are kind, friendly and suggest a sweet temperament and high intelligence.
The Labrador Retriever’s body is short-coupled with a moderately wide chest that tappers between the front legs to enable unrestricted forelimb movement. The topline is strong and level from the withers to the croup when standing. Forequarters are muscular, well-coordinated and balanced.
Legs and Feet
When viewed from the front, the Labrador Retrievers front legs should be straight with strong bone structure. Elbows should be directly under the withers when viewed from the side and close to the ribs without looseness. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads.
Tail and Hindquarters
The Labrador Retriever’s tail is described as an “otter” tail, alluding to its very thick base; gradual taper toward the tip and medium length. The tail is also entirely free of feathering and encapsulated in a short, dense coat.
Hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock and, when combined with the tail, complete the balance of the dog and give it a flowing line from the top of the head to the tip of the tail.
Coat and Colors
Another distinguishing feature of the Labrador Retriever is its short, straight, dense, and water-repellent coat and undercoat that provide protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. Coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate.
Height and Weight
Labrador Retrievers stand between 22 and 25 inches tall, Males should weigh between 65 and 80 pounds, whereas females should weigh between 55 and 75 pounds.
Like its “otter” tail and dense coat, the Labrador Retriever’s world-famous personality is a distinguishing characteristic of the breed. They are uniformly kind, outgoing and eager-to-please. Known to adore children, Labrador Retrievers are very rarely aggressive and get along well with other pets, dogs and strangers.
Labrador Retrievers are generally considered to be healthy dogs with little preventing them from living a long and happy life. Though, like all dogs, Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to a number of health issues of which owners should be aware, such as Luxating Patella, Hip Dysplasia, Hereditary Myopathy and a number of heart and eye conditions.
The life expectancy of the Labrador Retriever is between 10 and 12 years. The best way to ensure a long, healthy and happy life for your Labrador Retriever is to feed it a nutritious diet and provide it with lots of exercise, activity and mental stimulation.
As a new puppy, your Labrador Retriever will require specific care to keep them healthy, happy and feeling great. Though not particularly challenging, caring for a Labrador Retriever does require some level of precaution and patience. They require lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation, as well as a large space where they can run around, explore and play.
Training a Labrador Retriever also calls for a broad range of activities to avoid boredom and optimize the learning process. Labrador Retriever puppies also need frequent mental stimulation to stay sharp and ward of boredom induced destructive behavior.
If you like your slippers intact, then it’s a good idea to take your Labrador Retriever on regular walks and play with them often. Labradors Retrievers are also instinctually attracted to the water – owners with swimming pools should fence them out or get used to coaxing them out of the pool and drying them off.
Like all dogs, your Labrador Retriever puppy will likely beg for food and eagerly chomp down any food you give them. That’s why it’s very important that you feed your Labrador Retriever puppy a nutritious diet and discourage others from feeding your puppy human food.
It’s best to start your Labrador Retriever puppy on moistened dry puppy food 3 to 5 times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per feeding. Remove their food after 10 minutes even if they haven’t finished to help them learn that food will not be provided unless you provide it.
It’s also very important that you monitor your puppy’s health and wellness in the early stages – if they appear skinny and eagerly finish every meal, then you may need to increase the amount of food in their diet and vice versa.
What Should I Feed My Labrador Retriever Puppy?
Stay away from dog food brands that use artificial ingredients, preservatives and fillers like grain, wheat and brewers rice. When given the choice, your [breed] will most certainly choose wet food over dry food.
However, due to the high occurrence of dental disease in the breed, we recommend feeding your Labrador Retriever a blend of wet and dry kibble, which is better for their teeth. There are some foods you should never feed any dog, like:
- Pitted Fruit
All of the above are considered poisonous to dogs and should be kept well out of their reach. Dogs who ingest these foods should be taken to the vet immediately.
Labrador Retrievers are sporting dogs. – they spend hours outside in the fields kicking up mud and splashing through the water, which means they are going to need regular grooming to look and feel their best.
The Labrador Retriever has a sleek, dense coat that does shed but not as much as might think. It can easily be managed with weekly brushing, which also promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to keep it healthy and shiny.
Labrador Retrievers also need a bath once every month, unless they get dirty from being outside. Though, it’s important not to over bathe your Lab, as it can remove those important skin oils. You’ll also need to ensure you trim its nails, as overly long nails can cause the dog pain when walking or running on hard surfaces.
Labrador Retriever puppies need a fair amount of daily exercise to stay fit, happy and healthy. As large, energetic dogs, they need more exercise than a quick stroll around the block. – they need long, sustained bouts of exercise to burn off their excess energy and minimize boredom.
Daily exercise also improves circulation, and provides opportunities for your puppy to socialize and explore its environment, which is critical to proper socialization. However, it can be easy to over-exercise a Labrador Retriever puppy. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion.
As a general rule, Labrador Retriever puppies need approximately 5 minutes of exercise for each month in age – twice per day. At 3 months, your Labrador Retriever puppy needs about 15 minutes 2x per day. At 6 months your Labrador Retriever puppy will need 30 minutes of exercise 2x per day and so on.
Labrador Retrievers are remarkably versatile and take to training as easily as they take to water. They have an innate ability to follow commands and a strong desire to please, which makes training a breeze.
Like all dogs, the early you begin training your Labrador Retriever puppy, the easier the training process will be. The key to achieving amazing training results is to be confident, consistent and positive throughout each training session. And don’t forget that food is always a great motivator.
Housebreaking begins the moment you bring your new Labrador Retriever puppy home and introduce it to its new environment. Your puppy will be very excited to explore its surroundings and learn about its new home.
Puppies learn by putting things in their mouths. As retrievers, Labrador Retriever puppies are especially inclined to pick things up in their mouth and carry it around. Therefore, it’s very important that new Labrador Retriever owners keep a close eye on their puppy for the first few months until it learns what it should and shouldn’t do.
We recommend confining your puppy to one room of the house for the first couple of days with their bed, water, food and toys. Once they have become used to that room, you can begin to introduce your Labrador Retriever puppy to the rest of the family.
We find it’s best to create a schedule that is both convenient for you and helps you provide meals on a predictable schedule; establish a bedtime; take your puppy outside to “go potty” at regular intervals and exercise/play with your puppy frequently and at regular intervals.
How to Potty Train a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
Potty training a Labrador Retriever is a fairly straightforward process. Remember to use the same words and phrases to indicate when, where and how you want your puppy to do its business.
Watch for signs that your Labrador Retriever needs to go potty like pacing, sniffing, and squatting. When you notice these behaviors calmly and quickly hustle your puppy outside and to the spot you’ve chosen.
Then say a phrase similar to “go potty” and praise them when they get it right. With practice your Labrador Retriever will learn where to “go potty. It can take up to 6 months to fully housebreak a Labrador Retriever puppy.
How to Crate Train a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
Crate training a Labrador Retriever puppy is important, as it provides your puppy with a place where it can feel safe and comfortable when you’re not at home. Start with a crate that is big enough for an adult Labrador Retriever to stand, turn around and sit or lie down in without issue.
It’s best to place your puppy’s crate in your bedroom for the first few weeks so they associate the crate with the comfort of your presence. Introduce your puppy to their crate with a few treats inside.
Then feed your puppy once they move inside the crate so they begin to associate food with the crate. Remember to place your Labrador Retriever puppy in their crate and give them a treat when it’s time for bed. Repeat this process every day until your puppy sleeps in its crate without instruction.
Labrador Retrievers are an incredibly kind and friendly breed but all dogs need frequent socialization so they can learn how to behave in public. As with housebreaking, the early you begin socializing your Labrador Retriever puppy, the easier it will be for it to adapt to new situations and environments.
A great way to socialize your Labrador Retriever is to sign up for a puppy training class with other puppies the same age, or set a play date with a well behaved adult dog that you know is friendly, so your pup can learn how to behave from an experienced pooch.
Tug-of-war and supervised trips to the dog park are also great ways for a Labrador Retriever puppy to explore their environment, meet other people and play with other dogs while feeling secure in your presence.
Born with high intelligence and innate ability to grasp training at a young age, few dogs can match the Labrador Retriever’s ability to grasp training and respond to commands. Though training a Labrador Retriever is not particularly challenging, there are things you can do to make the process easier for you and the dog.
The best thing you can do to ensure the success of obedience training is to begin early and practice positive reinforcement techniques with consistency and patience. Like all dogs, Labrador Retrievers thrive on positive-reinforcement training.
Rather than punish your puppy for unwanted behavior, motivate them to complete the desired behavior by praising them when they get it right. Offer them treats and food when they correctly execute the command. Then reinforce the behavior by practicing the command until they get it right every time.
Can a Labrador Retriever be aggressive? Any dog can be aggressive. Just like any person can become angry, so can a dog. You should never strike a dog; approach an agitated dog or provoke your dog should it become agitated.
Is a Labrador Retriever a good family dog? Yes. In fact, many owners would say that the Labrador Retriever is one of the best breeds in the world. They are incredibly sweet, eager to please and people-oriented. They simply love their family and to make them happy.
Can Labradors be left alone? Labrador Retrievers can be left alone for brief periods of time but should never be left alone for more than a few hours. They need lots of exercise and human attention to ward off separation anxiety.
Are Labs good indoor dogs? Yes. Though they are bred to hunt and work in the outdoors, Labrador Retrievers make terrific indoor dogs and are well-suited for a range of different indoor living environments.
What Color Lab is the smartest? There is no correlation between a Labrador Retriever’s intelligence and the color of its coat.
Why do Labrador Retrievers smell? Your Labrador Retriever probably smells because it needs a bath. Follow these steps to bathe your Labrador Retriever:
- Wash your Labrador Retriever with dog shampoo – be careful not to get any shampoo in your Lab’s eyes, ears or mouth. It is very important that you work the shampoo into your Labrador Retriever’s top coat and undercoat to remove dirt and debris.
- Rinse your puppy with warm water – Be sure to remove all shampoo to prevent irritation and dryness. Apply dog conditioner if your puppy has dry skin.
- Brush their coat with a pin brush – A pin brush is gentle enough to prevent hair breakage but also removes knots and untangles their dense undercoat.
- Brush your puppy’s thicker areas of fur – Use a slicker brush to groom harder-to-reach areas, such as behind the ears and elbows.
- Trim your Labrador Retriever with thinning shears – Labrador Retrievers should have a short, but neatly trimmed coat. Trim the feet, feathers on the legs and excess fur on the hocks if desired.
Are Labrador Retrievers good for first time dog owners? Yes. Labrador Retrievers are friendly, gentle and affectionate dogs who are a good choice for first time dog owners. Though, we recommend that all prospective dog owners do their research before accepting the responsibility of dog ownership.
Are Labrador Retrievers stubborn? Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent. Inherent with a high level of intelligence is a sense of canine pride, which is often misinterpreted as stubbornness. The key to alleviating the “stubbornness” is to demonstrate to your Lab that you are its leader through consistent, positive reward-based training.
Do Labrador Retrievers bark? Yes. Like most dogs, Labrador Retrievers are likely to bark at things that encroach on their territory or anything they perceive as a threat to their family, be it an intruder or a squirrel.
Are Labrador Retrievers protective of their owners? Labrador Retrievers are loyal, courageous and intelligent. They are protective of their owners but should never be overly protective or aggressive.
Are Labrador Retrievers good for first time dog owners? Yes. Labrador Retriever are friendly, gentle and affectionate dogs who are a good choice for first time dog owners. Though, we recommend that all prospective dog owners do their research before accepting the responsibility of dog ownership.
Are Labrador Retrievers good with kids? Yes. Labrador Retrievers adore children. However, as with all dogs, we recommend that you socialize your puppy from an early age and that children never be left unsupervised around the dog.
Are Labrador Retrievers clingy? Labrador Retrievers are very people-oriented, so they may follow you around the house for attention. If your Lab is clingy, then it’s probably bored. You can. Tire your puppy out with lots of playtime, exercise and attention and they’ll be too happily exhausted to follow you around. Just be careful not to overwork them or allow them to overheat.