MY FIRST LAB
I got my girl Honey in Alaska from the shelter. She had given birth, and to this day I don’t know how someone could give up such a sweet girl. She was hit by a car a few months later when she slid down an ice embankment on a walk; I knew she was hurt when I went to her and she snapped at me.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE LABRADOR
A male lab will grow to 65-80 pounds and a female to 55-70 pounds, according to the American Kennel Club. They will live about 12 years and are considered to be a sporting breed. One reason for this label is for a variety of reasons. Labradors are often used as disability dogs for the blind, deaf, and other folks needing therapy due to the breed’s intelligence. They are used by hunters for retrieving ducks, rabbits, and other animals by gently bringing them to their master without damage (hence the name Labrador Retriever). Originally from Newfoundland, labs were bred from the St. John’s Water Dog. The “Labrador” part of the name was connected to retrieving in the Labrador Sea. The breed is also the dog to beat in agility and obedience trial competitions.
MIXING THE LAB WITH OTHER BREEDS
Because of their superior temperament and intelligence, the Labrador can be seen in a number of mix breeds. Their hair is usually short and straight, so they don’t need much grooming. They like to be active and are very playful, so maybe not the best for apartment dwelling owners. They may sometimes bark and noise, but are generally not a barking problem. They may be rovers or be so attractive they may be snatched, so be sure to microchip your pooch. I watched a YouTube video once with a lab mix opening the front door of his home (with a knob), roaming the neighborhood, then letting himself back in!
The Labrador earns his classification as a “working dog”. The typical Lab has a strong jaw and a broad head. His eyes are full of intelligence and expression. Even in mixed breeds, the Lab body comes through a strong and square. The coat is straight, short, and dense so they don’t need lots of grooming. The rough outer coat and the soft inner coat means water shakes right off, good for Labs who retrieve ducks for their hunting masters.
Search and Rescue dog "Jake"
HEALTH ISSUES WITH LABS
According to Canna-Pet, Labrador Retrievers may suffer from hip dysplasia like other larger breeds of dogs, but not as badly as in some other types. The joint is abnormally formed so that a canine arthritis may develop. The joint may simply stop working. This is usually seen in older Labs, but it can occur at any age. Elbow dysplasia may also occur and is usually spotted when the animal is still a puppy. Treatment involves surgery to remove bone fragments followed by weeks of rehab.
Labradors may develop eye problems that lead to blindness. Dogs as young as one year may show the signs, but older dogs can, too. Watch for one or both of the eyes becoming cloudy, like a white film covering it. The eye may not behave normally, either. This is passed down from parents, so if your puppy is purebred, check with the breeder for all history of health problems.
The Lab has the sort of ear structure that lends itself to ear infections. My Lady is a lab mix and really suffers from this problem. Before I got her, they got out of hand and she shook her head so much her ears are deformed. Be sure the ears of your Lab dry after bathing or swimming and check them often for redness, smell, or a discharge. My vet gave me a bottle of drops and as soon as she sees it, she tries to slink out the door. Poor baby. I also wash her ears out twice a week with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol, per my vet’s instructions.
RECOMMENDED MOVIES FOR LAB LOVERS
Check out Marley and Me, but I have to warn you, when I saw people coming out of the theatre, even big tough guys were wiping their eyes. Old Yeller, Far From Home, and The Incredible Journey are other films with Labrador stars. If you see one, give us a review. And please share your comments and photos! I’ll be writing posts in the category of TRAINING for puppy problems and hunting dogs, so check back soon!