Understanding the basic mental and physiological makeup of the breed of dog you own can be greatly beneficial to meeting their needs and developing a happy and healthy dog. Here are the top 5 things to remember about the basic nature of a Labrador Retriever pup.
1. Energizer Bunnies
Labrador Retrievers are very high energy dogs that require frequent exercise to stay healthy and happy. Labs require more than a simple evening stroll around the block to meet their needs. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation usually provided by owner directed activities as Labs are less likely than other breeds to engage in self-directed play. If Labs are not given enough exercise they are at higher risk for gaining weight, developing health problems, and seeking attention through destructive behaviors such as barking, chewing, and digging.
2. Love of Food
Labrador Retrievers can be classified as having a hearty appetite, which may be a bit of an understatement, and can always find room for a snack. Because of this love of food, Labs are prone to gaining weight easily. As in humans, dogs who are overweight are more likely to develop heath problems throughout their life. Make sure to limit the amount of treats your Lab gets, portion out their daily meal, and ensure that they get enough exercise.
Despite being a short-haired breed Labrador Retrievers shed much more than their other short-haired counterparts. Labs will shed throughout the year, however, the they will shed most heavily in the Spring and Fall as the seasons change. The reason why Labs shed so much is due to their double coat which consists of a waterproof outer layer to keep the dog dry and a fluffy inner layer which keeps the dog warm. To prevent a layer of dog hair covering everything in your home, make sure to brush and groom your Lab regularly, particularly in the Spring and Fall.
No, this doesn’t mean that labs are more likely to talk back to you like a teenager to their parents, “Ugh mom you like don’t even understand!”. While mouthiness (nipping, chewing, play-biting) is common in most breeds during puppyhood, this can continue in Labrador Retrievers of all ages. If not addressed properly during the puppy stage this trait can become annoying and potentially dangerous, particularly with children, when it is found in a 60 or 70-pound dog. Teach your Lab that chew toys and a game of fetch are the best outlets for their mouthiness rather than people.
5. Health Issues
Different breeds of dogs can be more susceptible to various health issues and Labrador Retrievers are no different. There are two genetic health issues which are common in Labs throughout their lifespan. The first is hip dysplasia which is a failure of the hip joint to develop properly and can cause discomfort and pain to the dog depending on the severity. The second is retinal dysplasia which is folds or flaps that are found in the retina and cause blind spots of varying severity. Make sure to find a reputable breeder when looking for a Lab as this will reduce the potential for health problems, also regular vet checks along with hip and eye checks will help you to stay on top of any potential health issues your Lab may have.