We’ve profiled the Bichon Frise and the Yorkie as ‘dog of the month’ so far; it’s about time for a big dog breed and what better to start with than the most popular dog of all time – the Labrador Retriever.

The Labrador retriever is number one on the American Kennel Club (AKC) list for the 24th year in a row! It’s top dog in the UK Kennel Club listing as well. And the Labrador deserves no less; it’s hard to find fault with this adorable dog – intelligent, loyal, friendly, and athletic. It truly is an all-rounder. The UK Kennel Club describes the Labrador as ‘Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness’. (For more information on the Labrador breed: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/standard.aspx?id=2048).

History

The Labrador retriever originated in Newfoundland, not in neighbouring Labrador! It was used as a fishing dog in the 1700’s – it’s the perfect water dog, with a water-resistant double coat and webbed toes (making them speedy swimmers). Fishermen used them to bring in nets, pull ropes between boats and capture escaped fish. The Lab became a popular hunting dog in the UK in the 1800’s; and today the Labrador retriever is our favourite pet and the most common breed of guide dog.

Labrador selling points

Well, everything really!

Easy to train: Labradors are intelligent but look for a leader. They have been bred to follow human cues, and if they receive the proper training and attention, they make very well-behaved pets that can perform many more commands than the average dog.

Good with kids: Labs are a very gentle, patient breed, and with the right socialisation and training, get along famously with children. They share a similar excitement and love of playing outdoors.

Good with other pets: Labs generally get along well with other dogs, especially if introduced as puppies. As with any changes to your family/pack, it’s important to watch for signs of aggression early on.

Things to consider before buying a Lab

They need (and love) a lot of exercise: Don’t buy a Lab if you’re a couch potato and don’t intend to change your ways. They are high-energy dogs that keep going all day. Actually, it’s important to watch your lab for overheating or exhaustion as they don’t know when to stop.

Grooming: They’re short-haired and easy enough to groom. Just give them a good brush every now and again. But they do shed, some more than others, so if you don’t like hair all over the place and you’re not fond of the vacuum cleaner a Lab might not be for you (some Labs can be a bit drooly as well!).

Health: Generally labs are a healthy breed. Typical problems include hip and knee dysplasia, and eye problems – common in most breeds as they age; but of course joint problems are more debilitating in bigger than in smaller dogs. Their average lifespan is 10-12 years.

Interesting facts about the Labrador

Can detect cancer:
the Labrador retriever has been trained to sniff out and detect early stages of cancer. Through work with cancer cell samples, dogs can learn to smell the disease. They can make a diagnosis by smelling a patient’s breath, blood, or stool. So far, the only known way to screen for easy stages of ovarian cancer is by letting a lab sniff the patient—they have very high success rates.

The Labs ability to sniff anything out is also what makes them a great customs dog, where they’re used to sniff out contraband.

You can get all three colours (black, yellow, chocolate) in the one litter: Regardless of the colours of the parents, it’s as common as different hair colours in human families.