Adding a Labrador Retriever to Your Family

Most of us know a thing or two about Labrador Retrievers.  After all, they’ve been the most popular breed of dog in America for over 26 years.  But, if you’re thinking about adding one of these pups to your family, here’s what you need to know.

A Little History

While their name suggests they are from Labrador, they’re in fact from Newfoundland, Canada.  Small water dogs were bred with Newfoundland Terriers, eventually yielding the “St. John’s Water Dog”, later known as the Labrador Retriever.  They were cultivated for sport, and brought to the U.S. in the 19th century as excellent hunting dogs, but it wasn’t until after World War II that they gained popularity with American families.

What Are Labs Like?

We all know that Labs love to swim and, well, retrieve, but that’s partly because of their natural intelligence and athleticism.  There is even a common condition among Labs called “swimmer’s tail”, where the tail becomes sprained. Among the most intelligent of canines, Labs are excellent workers, and make great service, therapy, and guide dogs. Though they work hard, Labs can play hard too! Labs excel in many sports, from agility courses to fly ball, and even dock diving!

Labradors are the ultimate people-pleasers.  While their energy and stamina make trips to the park a dream-come-true, they’re perfectly content enjoying a quiet evening in the den with you.  In fact, they’re among the most kid-friendly of all dog breeds, in part because of their friendly, calm demeanor.

Cosmetically speaking, there are three color variants: Yellow, Chocolate, and Black.  On average, Labs are 21-24 inches tall, weighing between 50 and 80 pounds.  In addition to their webbed feet and their sleek waterproof coats, their otter-like tails make them natural water dogs.  But this special coat comes at a price – be prepared to vacuum!

Caring for Labs

It’s best to groom Labs weekly.  Their nails grow quickly, and if they get too long, they’ll begin to split and crack. Brushing their coats, along with an occasional bath, makes for a healthy and beautiful pup!  When it comes to nutrition, consult with your vet to determine the best diet and schedule; however, the average Lab eats 3.5 cups of food each day.

A healthy Labrador Retriever has a lifespan of about 12 to 14 years.  It’s important to visit your vet regularly to monitor for potential health concerns.  The following conditions are prevalent in Labs: patellar luxation, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and osteochondritis dissecans1. Unfortunately, they also have a high risk for developing cancer.

The Cost

The Labrador Retriever’s average annual cost of ownership is around $900. On average, a breeder will charge $750.00 to adopt a Labrador puppy, and to bring a new puppy home, you’ll need a crate, collar, leash, toys and food. Pet parents should also be prepared to incur veterinary (exams, vaccines, spay/neuter, etc.) and insurance expenses. It comes as no surprise that Labs are the breed most likely to require medical attention for swallowing objects that can cause an obstruction (rocks, socks, and door locks – nothing’s off limits), so having a 4Paws Pet Insurance policy can go a long way to offset your veterinary expenses!

Sandy Says
Comments from our Chief Pet Officer

Labrador Retrievers make great companions for many reasons.  For people who love to be active with their pets outdoors, a Labradors’ high energy and active personality makes them a great exercise buddy.  They’re good for families of all sizes, including single households looking for companions.  With a moderate lifespan, and such a loving personality, these pups make a wonderful addition to any home.  Don’t wait until it’s too late; insure your pets early to ensure they’re covered.