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Labrador Retriever: Spotlight On A Very Good Boy
January 1, 2024

It looks like 2024 has already gone to the dogs: Labrador Retriever Day is January 8th! These sweet, lovable dogs deserve to be celebrated. Fido is among the world’s most popular dogs, and it’s not hard to see why. The Lab may be the perfect pooch with its exuberant personality, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty! A local vet puts these Very Good Boys in the spotlight in this article from Ashton Animal Hospital, your Downey, CA animal clinic.

What Makes Labs So Popular?

Fido really has every quality you could wish for in a dog. Labs are charming, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart. In fact, they were America’s number one pooch for 30 years. Last year, however, a French Bulldog snatched the top spot from him. We wouldn’t be surprised if he reclaims his title next year. In fact, the Lab has been nominated to be the state mascot of both Maine and Ohio, though neither state made it official. (Sorry, buddy: maybe next year.) 

The Labrador Retriever: Breed History

The Lab is technically a British retriever gun dog. Fido’s ancestors date back to the 1500s in Newfoundland and were named after the Labrador region. Breeders mixed local water dogs and larger Newfoundland dogs, creating what was known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. The new pooch was an exceptional swimmer with a thick, water-repellent coat and webbed paws … a perfect dog for retrieving nets and fish from the frigid North Atlantic waters. Fido also happily assisted his humans by towing dories and pulling ropes between boats.

In the nineteenth century, the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, introduced dogs from Newfoundland to Europe. They were then crossbred with British hunting dogs. By the late 1800s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury noticed Fido’s superb waterfowl retrieving abilities, and went on to breed his own pooches with descendants of the imported dogs, resulting in one of the most adored and endearing dog breeds today – the modern Labrador.  In 1903, Fido became a member of the English Kennel Club. He was introduced to the American Kennel Club in 1917. By then, the breed was becoming very popular as a pet.

Do Labrador Retrievers Have Any Health Issues?

Labradors are generally hardy dogs. Generally, a good diet, proper exercise, and proper veterinary care should keep your pooch happy and healthy. However, there are a few specific issues they are susceptible to, including hip dysplasia,  heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), eye problems, and ligament ruptures. You may want to consider some specific health tests, such as Evaluations of the eyes, hips, and elbows. Consult your Downey, CA veterinarian for specific advice.

Bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests, is another common issue. Talk to your Downey, CA vet about your pooch’s feeding practices. You should also watch for symptoms. 

These include:

  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Hard and/or distended belly
  • Retching without vomiting (dry heaving)
  • Pain/discomfort signs

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Kind Of Temperament Do Labrador Retrievers Have?

Fido truly excels in this particular area. Incredibly charming, Labs are known for their amiable and affectionate nature. They make great family pets and usually get along well with other animals.

These guys are all about playing, exploring, scoring treats and belly rubs, making new friends, and just generally being loved by everyone. However, potential adopters should be advised that they have very high energy levels, and require lots of physical activity and playtime.

Fido’s love for chewing is legendary, so it’s essential to provide your canine buddy with plenty of toys. (You may melt at how lovable your pooch looks when he carries his toys around.)

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Labrador Retrievers tend to maintain a youthful puppy-like demeanor long after reaching adulthood. Training is essential! And don’t be surprised if you find that your four-legged buddy can be a bit clumsy and overly enthusiastic at times. However, he always has the best intentions and truly wants to please his human companions.

What Is The Labrador Retriever Good At?

Labs are skilled and versatile, and they excel in many areas. Swimming is one of their main talents. Fido’s slightly webbed toes come in very handy when he wants to jump off a dock after his favorite ball. The Lab is also an excellent flyball player, agility dog, freestyle dog, and Frisbee player.

As a result of their good nature, intelligence, and trainability, Labrador Retrievers are also often found working in search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and service and assistance work. They make wonderful therapy dogs as well.

What Are The Lab’s Grooming Needs?

The Labrador Retriever has thick, water-resistant fur. In fact, Fido has two coats: the top coat, which is coarse and thick, and the undercoat, which is soft. They don’t shed heavily but do require regular brushing and bathing. (Word to the wise: Some Labrador Retrievers enjoy playing in mud puddles, which will require a few extra baths or hose-downs.) Nail trimming and dental care are also important. Ask your Downey, CA vet for specific care tips.

What Color Is The Labrador Retriever?

Labrador coat colors are confusing. For instance, you may hear dogs called white or red Labs. Those dogs are technically yellow Labs … just in different shades of yellow. Then there’s the silver Labrador retriever, which is both lovable and controversial. They’re definitely very charming, but unfortunately, they are not officially accepted by the AKC. Many breeders insist they aren’t purebreds. (We’ll leave that debate up to others.)

What Kind Of Personality Does Labrador Retriever Have?

Labradors are usually wonderful dogs, and their lovable personalities play a huge role in their popularity. Fido loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and accompanying his humans wherever they go. (He’s also very fond of car rides, belly rubs, bacon, toys, and ear scritches.)

Choosing a Labrador Retriever: What Are The Pros And Cons?

There really are no good or bad dog breeds; the important thing is for people to choose the pooch that is right for them. As mentioned above, These guys are lovable, sweet, and lots of fun. They are also high-energy dogs, and can be prone to shenanigans, like rolling around in puddles or taking off after squirrels. Do lots of research, and look before you leap.

 Labrador Retriever Celebrities

Several Labs have gained public recognition. Clifford The Big Red Dog is a Labrador. Then there’s also Brian Griffen from Family Guy; Luath from The Incredible Journey; Little Boo, the therapy dog assigned to Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black; and Spike, who played the character Old Yeller. That’s not even mentioning the Labs that are charming viewers on social media every day. Just do a quick video search for ‘Adorable Lab’. It’s probably safe to say that you won’t be disappointed at the results!

We want to wish all of you a wonderful new year. Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Please feel free to contact us at any time. We’re here to help! 

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