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Meet The Labrador Retriever: A Very Good Boy
January 1, 2024

The Labrador Retriever in the spotlight this month. This cute, wonderful dog celebrates his special day every year on January 8th! The Lab is one of the world’s most popular dogs, and with good reason. This adorable, lovable pooch is known for his exuberant personality, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty. A local Wake Forest, NC vet discusses the Lab in this article. 

Are There Any Specific Medical Problems Associated With Labrador Retrievers?

Fido is usually pretty hardy. A good diet, proper exercise, and regular veterinary care should keep him happy and healthy, and keep that tail going. However, Labradors are susceptible to some specific issues that owners should be aware of, such as hip dysplasia. Other common issues include heart problems; hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness); eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy; and ligament ruptures. We would recommend following the breed guidelines and getting your pooch some specific health tests, such as eye, hip, and elbow evaluations.

What Do You Feed A Lab?

If it were up to him, Fido would eat bacon all day, every day. However, these dogs can be prone to obesity, so you have to be careful not to go overboard on treats. It’s also important to talk to your vet about your canine companion’s menu and feeding protocols. Like other large dogs, Labs can be susceptible to bloat, which can be fatal. Some symptoms to watch for include a swollen and/or hard belly, dry heaving (retching without vomiting), panting, drooling, and general signs of discomfort and pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your Wake Forest, NC veterinarian immediately. 

Labrador Retriever Temperament: What Is Fido’s Personality? 

Incredibly charming and happy-go-lucky, Labs are renowned for their friendly, affectionate natures.  They’re really cute, incredibly loyal, affectionate, fun, smart, and obedient (most of the time.) In fact, Fido was America’s favorite pooch for three decades! The French Bulldog knocked him out of the top spot ust last year. (We wouldn’t be surprised if Fido reclaimed his title next year.) Speaking of titles, the Lab was nominated as the state dog in Maine and Ohio, though he has yet to get that official title. 

The Lab may very well be everything you could wish for in a dog … and more. Fido’s favorite things include making new pals, getting treats and belly rubs, and playing with his buddies. He’s also fond of car rides, dog parks, learning tricks, and taking naps. Actually, this is the dog that loves everything and everyone. He’s also fond of mud puddles, squirrel chasing, and chewing anything and everything in sight.  Potential adopters should be aware that Labs have very high energy levels and require lots of activity and playtime. 

Of course, every pooch is unique. Fido’s history will also factor in. Socialization is crucial to all dogs’ mental and emotional development. 

What Are Labs Good At?

The Lab’s most notable skill is swimming. Fido’s slightly webbed toes make him a natural in the water. He loves jumping off docks after his favorite ball. Unsurprisingly, Labs are naturals at dock diving. They are also good at flyball, agility, freestyle, and frisbee. 

Due to their good nature, intelligence, and trainability, Labs make wonderful working dogs. They can often be found working in drug and bomb detection, search-and-rescue, and therapy work.

Labrador Retriever Breed History

Fido’s history goes back to the 1500s in Newfoundland, where breeders combined local water dogs with larger pups. The new breed, known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland, quickly became renowned for their remarkable swimming prowess. Their thick, water-resistant fur and webbed feet made them naturals in the water. Fido’s first jobs were retrieving fishing nets, hauling fish, towing boats, transporting ropes between vessels.

In the 1830s, some of those dogs were introduced to Europe by the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott. The pups were then bred with British hunting dogs. In the late 1800s, they caught the attention of the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury, who bred them with his own puppies. 

Fido eventually crossed the Atlantic again, becoming popular with American farmers and hunters in the early 1900s. He became a member of the English Kennel Club in 1903, and joined the American Kennel Club in 1917.

What Are The Ups And Downs Of Owning A Labrador Retriever?

Like most of our canine pals, Labs were bred to perform specific roles: in this case, retrieving things from water. Fido’s composition and temperament definitely reflect this, and can be seen in his thick coat, webbed paws, and desire to please. When choosing a dog, the most important thing is choosing the right puppy for you and your family. In addition to being loving, sweet, and fun, these dogs are also high-energy and capable of shenanigans. They sometimes get into mischief, whether that’s by rolling around in puddles, chewing shoes, or chasing squirrels. Fido can be a great pet, but may be a bit much for an apartment dweller or a laid-back indoor type who prefers reading over playing Frisbee. 

While Fido will calm down as he ages, don’t expect him to slow down very quickly. Labs tend to have long puppyhoods, and often don’t lose their youthful exuberance until well into adulthood. (They’re also super cute as seniors, but that’s a different topic.) 

Our advice? Just be sure to do plenty of research before choosing a canine companion. It’s very important to find the right dog for you. After all, adoption is forever! 

What Are Some Famous Labrador Retrievers?

Several Labs have risen to stardom. These include Luath,  from The Incredible Journey; Spike, who played Old Yeller on Family Guy; Little Boo, the therapy dog assigned to Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black; and Clifford the Big Red Dog. That’s not even counting the dozens of Labs who have gone viral on social media. 

How Much Grooming Do Labs Need? 

There is good and bad news here. Labrador Retrievers have two coats: a coarse, thick top coat and a soft undercoat. They don’t shed a lot, but do require regular brushing and baths. (Note: Labrador Retrievers often love playing in mud puddles, which is both adorable and frustrating to watch. If Fido comes across a few puddles, he may need a few additional baths or hose-downs.) Nail trims and dental care are also important. Ask your Wake Forest, NC  veterinarian for more information.

What Colors Are The Lab?

Fido can sport one of three outfits: yellow, black, or chocolate. There is some controversy regarding this. For instance, you may hear dogs referred to as red Labs or white Labs. These pups are actually yellow Labs that just chose different shades of yellow. Then there’s the adorable Silver Lab. The AKC does not recognize them, and many breeders insist they aren’t purebreds. However, they are still very good boys and make great pets.

Happy New Year from all of us here at Tuscan Ridge Animal Hospital, your Wake Forest, NC animal clinic. Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Contact us today! We look forward to providing excellent veterinary care in 2024 and for years to come! 

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