Labrador Retriever: Spotlight On A Very Good Boy

2024 may already have gone to the dogs. Several pups have celebration days this month, including one of America’s favorite pooches, the Labrador Retriever. Fido’s special day is January 8th, but these sweet, lovable dogs deserve to be celebrated every day. The Lab is among the world’s most popular dogs, and it’s definitely not hard to see why. This charming, lovable pooch may be the perfect pet! Fido’s exuberant personality, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty helped him claim the special honor of being America’s favorite dog for over 30 years! A local Shawnee, KS vet puts these Very Good Boys in the spotlight in this article from Perimeter Veterinary Center.


Why Are Labs So Popular?


The fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Lab really has every quality you could wish for in a dog. They’re charming, loyal, affectionate, and smart. Last year, the French Bulldog snatched the top spot from Fido, but 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 has made it official so far.


Labrador Retriever History


Technically a British retriever gun dog, the Lab can trace his ancestry back to the 1500s in Newfoundland. They were actually named after the Labrador region of Newfoundland, where breeders mixed local water dogs and larger Newfoundland dogs, creating the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. This new pooch was a skilled swimmer, whose thick, water-repellent coat and webbed paws made him the perfect dog for retrieving nets and fish from icy North Atlantic waters. The pups also happily assisted their humans by towing dories and pulling ropes between boats.


Fast forward to the nineteenth century. The 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, brought some of these dogs over to Europe. The pups were then crossbred with British hunting dogs. By the late 1800s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury had taken note of their superb waterfowl retrieving abilities. He went on to breed his own pooches with descendants of the imported dogs. The result? One of the most adored and endearing dog breeds ever: the modern Labrador.  Fido became a member of the English Kennel Club in 1903, and was welcomed into the American Kennel Club in 1917. Unsurprisingly, he was becoming very popular as a pet by then.


What Health Problems Do Labrador Retrievers Have?


Labradors are generally pretty healthy: a good diet, proper exercise, and regular veterinary care should keep Fido happy and healthy. However, these guys are prone to a few specific issues. These include hip dysplasia,  heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), eye problems, and ligament ruptures. You may want to consider some specific health tests, such as eye, hip, and elbow evaluations. Bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests, is another common issue. It’s important to know of and watch for symptoms.


These include:


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


Bloat is very serious, and can be life threatening. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your Shawnee, KS veterinarian immediately.


What Is The Personality Of The Labrador Retrievers?


Labs are known for their amiable and affectionate nature. 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.


Another thing to know  about the Lab? Their love for chewing is legendary, so it’s essential to provide your canine buddy with plenty of toys. (Be warned: you may melt at how lovable your pooch looks when he carries his toys around.)


Fido’s terrible twos may last longer than they would with most dogs.  Labrador Retrievers tend to maintain a youthful puppy-like demeanor long after reaching adulthood. Training is essential! However, while your pooch may be a bit mischievous and overly enthusiastic at times, he has a heart of gold and truly wants to please his human companions.


What Is The Labrador Retriever Good At?


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


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.


How Do I Groom A Labrador Retriever? 


The Labrador Retriever has thick, water-resistant fur. They actually have two coats: a top coat, which is coarse and thick, and a soft undercoat. They don’t shed heavily but do require regular brushing and bathing. (Word to the wise: Some Labrador Retrievers enjoy playing in mud puddles. Fido may require some extra baths or hose-downs in wet conditions.) Nail trims and dental care are also important. Ask your Shawnee, KS vet for care tips. 


What Color Is The Labrador Retriever?


Labradors can technically wear three colors: yellow, brown, or black. However, there is a bit  of confusion here. You may hear dogs called white or red Labs. Those dogs are technically yellow Labs … they just happen to be sporting different shades of yellow. That brings us to the silver Labrador retriever. This Very Good Boy is definitely very charming, but unfortunately, has not officially been accepted by the AKC. In fact, many breeders insist they aren’t purebreds. (We’ll leave that debate up to others.)


What Is The Personality Of A Labrador Retriever?


Labradors are truly wonderful dogs. Their lovable personalities definitely play a huge role in their popularity. Fido loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and making friends. He also enjoys accompanying his humans wherever they go. (The Lab’s other favorite things include car rides, belly rubs, bacon, toys, and ear scritches.)


Is The Lab A Good Pet?


There really are no good or bad dog breeds. Different types of dogs were bred to perform specific roles, so the traits required for that are often hardwired into them. The most important thing is for people to choose the pooch that is right for them. Labs are lovable, sweet, and lots of fun, but they are also high-energy dogs, and can be prone to shenanigans, like rolling around in puddles or taking off after squirrels. They’re also fairly large, which may be a drawback for those who rent and/or live in apartments. Do lots of research, and look before you leap.


 Labrador Retriever Celebrities


Several of these lovable, happy pups have gained public recognition. Clifford The Big Red Dog is a Labrador. Other celebrepups include 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 Old Yeller. That’s not even mentioning the ooodles 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!


Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Please feel free to contact us at any time. As your Shawnee, KS pet clinic, we are here to help! 


Comments are closed.