Although I have never owned a Labrador Retriever, many of my friends and family have Labs.  So, I am very familiar with this very popular breed.  These gentle dogs may be the best family pet you will ever have.

If you want a family dog that is sweet, affectionate, friendly, and seldom aggressive toward other dogs or people, you have no better choice than the trusty Labrador Retriever.  There is a reason the Lab is the most popular purebred dog breed in the United States and Canada.  Around the world, the Lab is consistently at the very top of the most popular dog breeds.

The Labrador Retriever, Labrador, or Lab, is a medium-large breed weighing between 65 to 80 pounds.  They do like to eat, however, and they can become obese without proper exercise.  This may be their (and mine, especially that exercise part) main health problem.

The Lab has a thick coat of short water-resistant hair that it sheds throughout the year. They come in three colors, black, chocolate, and yellow. Some Labs will also have white markings. According to The Labrador Retriever Club, some people are trying to sell “silver” Labrador puppies as purebred dogs. The quote on their website is:

It is the opinion of the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., the American Kennel Club Parent Club for the breed, that a “silver” Labrador is not a purebred Labrador retriever. The pet-owning public is being duped into believing that animals with this dilute coat color are desirable, purebred, and rare and, therefore, warrant special notoriety or a premium purchase price.

Grooming a Lab requires only an occasional bath and trimming its nails. Grooming doesn’t get much easier than that for any dog.

cute brown labrador dog on frosted meadow
Chocolate Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever
Yellow Labrador Retriever
Black Labrador Retriever
Black Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are relatively healthy dogs and live about 10 to 12 years on average. They are large-chested dogs, which can make them possible victims of bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus). There are a few genetic problems that Labs should be screened for, including elbow and hip dysplasia, heart disorders, muscle weakness, and eye problems.

Perhaps their greatest health risk is the tendency to become overweight. They like to eat, and they never pass up a good meal. As we all know, the more you eat, the more you must exercise. Otherwise, big bellies, hips, and thighs.

The short, best answer is no. The Labrador Retriever is so friendly that it may be the least effective guard dog you will ever own. It may occasionally bark at strange or unusual noises so that it can be a watchdog of sorts. However, there are always exceptions, so once in a while, you may encounter a Lab that behaves badly.

A Lab is so friendly it may follow a stranger just to say hello. Make sure you have proper identification on your Labs collar in case it wanders off and can’t find its way back home.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists the Labrador Retriever as part of the sporting group.  They are capable of many jobs besides hunting.  They have a keen sense of smell and do well in detection and tracking.  They are intelligent and easily trained to work with the disabled and as therapy dogs.  Over half of all guide dogs in Canada are Labrador Retrievers.

Despite its name, the Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador make up the most easterly province of Canada.  For the benefit of Yankees, Newfoundland is the island part of the province.

The Labs were great dogs for Newfoundland’s fisherman because they would jump into the icy cold waters to retrieve fish that came unhooked. That may have been great fun for the dogs, but I’m guessing today Labrador Retrievers are happy they don’t have to do that job anymore.  Curling up beside a nice warm fire with their human companions will be just fine for them. That’s not saying they are lazy dogs. They also enjoy vigorous activities, including hunting, running, and playing.

Today’s Labrador Retriever breed is a descendant of the early Newfoundland water dogs. In the United Kingdom, breeders crossbred the Labs with hunting dogs and developed an all-around retriever and gun dog and retriever. So Labs no longer have to jump into icy water, although it seems they still like to.  

Labs have been the pets of many famous people. Just to name a few:

  • President Bill Clinton’s Labradors Buddy and Seamus.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Labrador ‘Konni’.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney – Jackson (Yellow Labrador) & Dave (Black Labrador)
  • Minnie Driver – Bubba (Black Labrador)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Rex (Black Labrador)
  • Kevin Costner – Yellow Labrador
  • Gwyneth Paltrow – Holden (Black Labrador)
  • Steve Martin – Roger (Yellow Labrador)
  • Anne Hathaway – Esmerelda (Chocolate Labrador)
  • Prince Charles – Harvey (Yellow Labrador)
  • and many, many more…

President Bill Clinton and his chocolate Labrador Retriever, Buddy (August 7, 1997 – January 2, 2002).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Labrador ‘Konni (Jan 3, 1999 – Feb 22, 2014)

Labradors, like Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, have their share of success in movies. Some of their more famous roles include:

  • Old Yeller (1957)
  • Marley and Me (2008)
  • Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995)
  • Police Dog Dream (2010)
  • The Incredible Journey (1963)

Old Yeller” may be the most famous and saddest of all dog movies. It was based on a novel of the same name by Fred Gipson. In the book, Old Yeller was a stray cur dog. In the movie, the actor dog was a Mastiff and Labrador Retriever mix named “Spike (dog).”

BreedHeight (inches)Weight (Pounds)Life Expectancy (Years)Popularity (AKC)Origin
Labrador Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck
Tolling Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
21-2655-8010-1345United States
Golden Retriever
21-2455-7510-123Scotland, United Kingdom
Curly-Coated Retriever
23-2760-9510-12162United Kingdom
Flat-Coated Retriever
22-2560-708-1091United Kingdom


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