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Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever–or Lab for short–is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Intelligent, active, and friendly with other animals and children, it’s no wonder these canines are so beloved. These playful, high-energy pooches come in golden, black, or chocolate hues and are just as good at being working dogs as they are family companions. Originally bred to retrieve fish and nets for fishermen in the Labrador Sea, Labs are now used as hunting dogs and service animals.


Retrieving fish and fishnets for fisherman


Newfoundland, Early 1800s

About Labrador Retrievers

Labradors are playful, energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise and playtime throughout the day. They are hunters by nature and love to explore their surroundings, but can be trained to be obedient and follow just about any command. Labs are highly intelligent and are often used as service, rescue, and hunting dogs. Today, over 70 percent of guide dogs are Labs. 

Labs were originally bred to retrieve fish and fishnets, so they are strong swimmers and love the water. Their dense, oily coats keep them warm and their “otter-like” tails propel them through the water. Labs don’t require much grooming–a simple brushing once a week will do. But ensuring they get enough exercise is essential, as the breed is highly prone to obesity. A swim in the lake, a walk down the block, or a romp in the yard will ensure a Lab stays physically and mentally fit. 

Though they do well outside in the elements, these lovable pups are happiest when they are indoors with their families. Labs are great with children and other dogs and their playful nature makes them perfect family companions. Just don’t count on them to be guard dogs–they’re more likely to lick an intruder than attack!  

Labrador Retriever Health

Labradors are generally healthy but, like all pure-bred dogs, are prone to certain breed-specific ailments. Common health issues include various types of dysplasia and joint problems, obesity, and eye problems. The average lifespan for a labrador is 12 years, but some have lived as long as 19 years. According to a study by the Royal Veterinary College, Chocolate Labs tend to have slightly shorter lifespans and are more likely to develop health issues. Labs are more likely to be obese than any other dog breed, so it’s especially important to monitor their food intake and ensure they get plenty of daily exercise.

Major Lab Health Concerns

  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow and shoulder dysplasia

Minor Lab Health Concerns

  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Central progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hypothyroidism


  1. Females: 21.5 -23.5 inches
  2. Males: 22.5 -24.5 inches


  1. Females: 55 – 70 pounds
  2. Males: 65 – 80 pounds


  1. Approximately 4 cups of food per day

Activity Level

  1. Highly active

Pet Insurance for Labrador Retrievers

A Lab’s lifespan is usually between 10 and 12 years. Though Labs have fewer major health issues than other breeds they are still prone to certain types of dysplasia and joint issues, obesity, and eye problems. Pet insurance for Labs is generally slightly more expensive than pet insurance for mixed breed dogs.

Since Labs, like all purebred dogs, are likely to eventually have hereditary issues, it is important to get pet insurance for Labs within the first one to two years.

Labrador Retriever Breeders

Looking to bring home a Lab? Here are some of the top Lab breeders in the country:

Labrador Retriever Rescues

Looking to rescue a Lab? Here are some of the top Lab rescues in the country:

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Famous Labrador Retrievers

Old Yeller, from the movie Old Yeller

Marley, from the book and movie Marley and Me

Buddy & Seamus, President Bill Clinton’s two Labs

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