The Labrador Retriever is a gun dog which specializes in retrieving. It is considered the most popular breed in the world according to its registered ownership. The breed originated in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It was developed using the St. John’s Water Dog, which is also a predecessor of the Newfoundland breed. The breed was originally used for retrieval as well as pulling in offshore fishing nets.
The breed is fairly large; a Labrador typically weighs 55 to 80 pounds and stands 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall. The build of the Labrador is proportionate and compact. The coat of the breed is smooth and short as well as water resistant. It can be chocolate, black, or yellow. The tail is otter-like and powerful, and its toes are slightly webbed, giving the breed its swimming ability. The head of the Labrador Retriever is broad and its brown-to-hazel eyes are expressive. It has a powerful jaw and a muscular body.
The breed makes an excellent pet; it is very adaptable as well as mellow. It does not tend to have excessive or over-the-top traits. A Labrador bred for field work may be slightly more boisterous than a show dog, and both types are very athletic. The breed needs to be properly trained by an experienced handler. It is somewhat slow to mature, so some tend to think the breed is incredibly hyperactive, when in fact it is simply still a puppy. Leash training is strongly recommended while the puppy is young. The breed can play fetch for hours as it loves anything having to do with fun and/or food. Most Labs also love to swim. The breed is not excessively territorial but will bark when it is alarmed.
Due to its steady disposition and learning ability, the Labrador Retriever is ideal for therapy work, hunting, detection, disabled-assistance, and search and rescue. Nearly 60 to 70% of all guide dogs in the United States are Labradors.
The Labrador Retriever typically lives 12 to 13 years. The breed may suffer from genetic health issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, cataracts, corneal dystrophy, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia, myopathy, ear infections, and excessive weight.