LABRADOR! Everything You Need To Know
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Where does the Labrador come from? First of all, the Labrador does not originate in the Canadian province of Labrador, but in Newfoundland. In the 1500’s, local Fishermen crossed their large, shaggy Newfoundland dogs with smaller local water dogs. The breed resulting from this mix was given the not very glorious name “Lesser Newfoundland”. However, when it came to their capabilities, there was nothing “lesser” about them: For their fishermen owners, these dogs jumped into the icy waters off the coast of Newfoundland to pull in fishing nets filled and to retrieve fish that had dropped off the hooks. Equipped with thick, water repellent coats and webbed paws, this new breed was perfectly suited for the job. In the early 1800s, these intrepid Retrievers were brought to Poole, England, where the Earl of Malmesbury took a liking to them. He soon discovered their immense talent as Retrievers and used them in shooting sports. It was him who named them “Labrador Dogs”. The Earl’s son refined the breed until it was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903. In the early 1900s, American hunters and farmers started utilising the Labradors as working dogs and family companions. And in 1917, they were recognised by the American Kennel Club. What is their temperament like? Labradors are one of the most easy-going dog breeds in existence: Happy-go-lucky, they are born with a cheerful and enthusiastic nature. Their zest for life is quite contagious, which may explain why they are perhaps THE most popular large dog breed around. The even-tempered Labrador is a great breed for inexperienced owners and makes a superb family companion. Very mellow and friendly, this dog gets along easily with children and other pets in the household. Their kind-hearted nature has only one downside: As Labradors are not very territorial, they cannot always be trusted to chase potential burglars away. However, as I can attest from personal experience with my own yellow Labrador Sully, they can absolutely be taught to sound an alarm in the case of anyone approaching the house. When exercised enough and properly educated in house-manners as puppies, Labradors are fairly settled and calm in the home. And they absolutely love spending time in the house, together with their family. How intelligent and trainable are Labrador Retrievers? Labradors are not only immensely social and adaptable - they are also superbly intelligent and trainable. Not stubborn in the slightest, Labs seem to come out of their mothers’ womb eager to please humans. When it comes to learning how to be your dog’s calm, consistent leader, starting with a Labrador is a great idea: Contrary to many of the larger dog breeds, these gentle gun dogs are not prone to engage in battles of will with their owners, or to display aggressive behaviour. Apart from being super high achievers in their original discipline – retrieving fowl or anything else from water – Labradors make excellent sniffer dogs, search and rescue dogs and therapy dogs. Some of them even compete in the very demanding French Ring competitions. Of course, being waterdogs by nature, Labs love the wet element and will not hesitate to jump into lakes, rivers and pools whenever they get the chance. Therefore, they are amongst the best breeds for the sport of dock diving, and many of them even dive down meters below the water surface to retrieve toys. Suffice it to say – Labradors are wonderful, amazing working dogs and a sheer joy to train. Are Labrador healthy dogs? Whilst the Labrador is generally a robust and healthy breed, there are some health issues that can arise, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and osteochondritis. Labs also can suffer from bloat, distichiasis, exercise-induced collapse and diabetes. Minor health concerns include cataracts, retinal dysplasia and central progressive retinal atrophy. Therefore, choosing a breeder who performs testing of the knee, elbow, hip and eye on their breeding stock is key. Ideally, your breeder will provide you with documentation that your puppy’s parents have been cleared of all these health issues known to affect the Labrador. The life-expectancy of the breed usually ranges from 10 and 12 years. How much exercise does the Labrador Retriever need? Labradors require a huge amount of daily exercise, for example vigorous walks, games of fetch, runs next to a bicycle or swims in a pool, river, or lake. They should be given at least one good long run off leash per day, combined with a few other walks and play sessions throughout the day. As gun dogs, Labradors have a high prey drive and will be very happy to retrieve any kind of retrieval dummy or dog toy. As they get along with just about everything, Labradors are an ideal breed to take to the dog park. Which of course is fantastic, as this will provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. These active dogs are ideal companions for owners who love spending time in the great outdoors – be it walking, hiking, cycling, swimming or enjoying camping trips. As they learn so quickly, letting them run off leash on such outings is usually quite unproblematic - compared to most other dog breeds. What are their grooming requirements? Despite their short coats, Labradors are quite heavy shedders all year round. Which is why daily grooming is recommended. During shedding season in spring and autumn, more frequent brushing might be required to keep those short hairs from getting onto the floor. The best tools for their beautiful yellow, black or chocolate coats are grooming mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. When it comes to effectively removing lose hairs from their undercoat, I have found the Furminator the best tool. Overview The marvellous Labrador Retriever is perhaps THE most friendly, social and trainable breed in existence today. These versatile working dogs make absolutely excellent family companions who are a joy to live with. At the same time, their extraordinary intelligence and trainability makes them a great choice for dog enthusiasts and trainers who want a breed they can educate to high levels of performance.