Breed Type: Retriever
Country of Origin: England
Popular Names: Lab
Size: Low end of Large
Height: (At the withers) Males 56-57cm, Females 54-56cm
Weight: Average 30 Kilograms
Best suited as: Family Pet to active family
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Popularity: Australia’s most popular dog

It is not by chance that the Labrador retriever is Australia’s most popular dog more it is a result of their fun loving and friendly temperaments, their loyalty to their family, their high intelligence and trainability and their generally unflappable natures. Apart from being used as family pets they are also very popular as guide dogs and companion dogs.

Appearance
the Labrador retriever is and muscular dog with a compact build.  The coat is dense rather than long, typical of retrievers they have an outer water resistant coat is was a thick undercoat.  Coat colours include black, yellow on the rare but very popular chocolate brown. Males and females are similar in height with males only a couple of centimetres tall averaging 57 cm to the females 55. Average weight is around 3 kg though many will weigh greatly more especially if they allowed to over eat.

History
Their name is a bit of a misnomer as they were not developed in Labrador but rather in Newfoundland. They were used as working dogs by fishermen to help pull heavy nets, firewood and bags and barrels of fish  along the frozen shores. They accompanied their masters on the fishing boats and were expected to leap into the water to retrieve fish that were spilled overboard.  Their short but dense fur protected them from the near freezing water and their debts compact muscular bodies gate in the required power to perform these tasks.

It is unlikely that their diet was particularly savoury consisting of the refuse fish that could not be taken to market, fish guts and dried meat and this may well explain that even now they are not particularly fussy eaters and given the opportunity to have a tendency to over eat.

At the end of the 19th century a group of landowners began breeding them in the North of England. The Newfoundland dog breed already in existence though this other Newfoundland breed was well-known as a Newfoundland dog a new name was needed and thus the name Labrador was chosen. The breed quickly became established in England due to its high work ethics, unflappable and unbreakable natures and kind temperaments.

Initially only black labradors existed but just before the start of the 20th century a yellow labrador called Hyde Ben was born to a litter up your black parents. Further yellows appeared in other letters in the colour was initially seen as fatal flaw resulting in the unnecessary early deaths of many puppies until at some point a number of readers realised there was nothing to be feared from the creation of the yellow labrador in the colour was then accepted into the breed. From such inglorious beginnings the yellow labrador is now the most popular colour of the labradors. Surprisingly, the chocolate Labrador remains the rarest with fans of the colour agreeing they are the most beautiful both in nature and appearance.

The Labrador club of England was formed in 1916 to set a standard the breed and to ensure its purity. The standard captured the spirit of Labrador in determining conformation that focused on the breed’s soundness strengths and build, as well is correct shape and length of the head coat and tail.

The yellow labrador goods own club in 1924 with fans of the colour seeking their own club to protect not only the breed of this colour version of it.

Temperament
when the breed was first being developed as a working dog, the day most dogs in most willing to please their owners were preferred in this desire to please and bravery is evident in the breed still today. They are very much people dogs and will seek to be in your company wherever possible whether that involves activity or just lying around near you.  They are retrievers at heart especially when bored so expect them to retrieve all manner of things in an attempt to win your pleasure. Shoes, children’s toys, pretty much anything they think you might need.

They are very calm and generally patient and unflappable. They are considered excellent family dogs and a very rarely aggressive. They may become vocal to warn of an intruder is unlikely they would seek to attack one unless you consider jumping up and licking the intruders face an act of aggression.

Unfortunately as with any job high popularity there has been an element of puppy milling and irresponsible breeding. Its most important if you are looking to purchase a Labrador that you seek out a reputable, registered breeder. I crossbred Labrador costing a relatively small amount of money may look like good buy at the time but often this is not the case. The excellent temperament and attributes of the Labrador quickly diluted when crossed with other dogs especially German shepherd dogs in your friendly Labrador looking puppy may grow up to be an overly aggressive and suspicious bite and ask questions later kind of dog.

Beware anyone offering to sell you a silver Labrador. This dog is not a Labrador rather it is a cross breed with unknown health and temperament. Labradors only come in black yellow and chocolate brown.

Care and Grooming

Their short coat requires little brushing and you’ll never need to brush it to ensure prevention of tangles.  As its water resistant more likely you’ll find a self brushing them simply to remove dirt that will stick to their fur after they have been swimming. As with all cold weather bred retrievers they go a thick winter coat and they shed heavily in spring so during this time they will require a great deal of brushing to remove dead hair which would otherwise find its way word is not desired.

Health
Hip and elbow dysplasia are sometimes seen as well is a number of genetic eye diseases. Its important when choosing a puppy to discuss the health issues that have been seen in their breeding animals in order to reduce your chances of receiving an unhealthy puppy but do note even healthy dogs can will puppies that will go on to have physical problems later in life.

There are various tests you can get including hit the elbow scoring as well is a test for PRA(progressive retinal atrophy) and it is highly recommended that you do all these tests before purchasing a puppy though the latter won’t be needed if your breeder can prove the parents a clear of the disease.

As with all large breeds is important not to buy the exercise a Labrador retriever when it is young at skeletal system is growing rapidly as damaging it at this time can lead to permanent problems into adult hood.

Labradors have a tendency to over eat if allowed so don’t leave bowls of dried food out them to snack on all day or you’ll end up with one fat dog,

Exercise Requirements
Labradors require lots of exercise though this should be kept low impact whilst they are still growing. They love to retrieve and will fetch a ball or frisbee over and over. They love the water so if you have access to a river lake or even the ocean you’ll have one happy Labrador.  Remember that they are cold weather dogs so a swim in very cold water will probably be just fine for them.

Their short coat is deceptive in is very thick and very insulating so it is not a good idea to let them engage in heavy exercise during the heat of the Australian summer. Because they are so willing to please they will go and go until they drop of heat exhaustion.

They are generally excellent dogs to exercise off lead as they are very easy to train and lacking aggression are unlikely to get into fights with other dogs.
All in all they make wonderful pets and their mantle as Australia is most popular dog breed is likely to go unchallenged to many years to come.