One of the most popular dog breeds in America, Canada and the UK is the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador makes a wonderful pet as the breed is generally considered friendly and well-balanced. With regular exercise, a healthy diet and lots of love, the Labrador can live to be 10-12 years old, although some are fortunate enough to reach 13 or 14.
A common belief that 1 human year is equal to 7 dog years is not accurate, since dogs reach adulthood within the first two years of their life. The equation is 10.5 dog years for each human year for the first 2 years, then 4 dog years per human year for each year after.
The Labrador is a highly athletic dog, and enjoys lots of exercise. They love to run, fetch and swim. Excellent swimmers, their paws are webbed and most breeds have a coat that can actually repel water. Swimming comes naturally for them, which also makes them superior water-fowl hunters. Because this breed enjoys so much activity, they have a well-known reputation for a never-ending appetite.
Larger dogs can occasionally become high risk of obesity and even though the Lab is exuberant and full of energy, the breed can become overweight quite easily if steps are not taken to ensure a healthy diet. Their beguiling charm and big brown eyes can wear down the strongest of defenses in most owners. Studies have shown that owners who maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise for their pet, even as the pet gets older, can increase their pet’s lifespan by as many as three years. Excessive weight is the leading factor that contributes to later development of hip, joint and knee problems for the Lab. Diabetes has been found in especially overweight Labradors and osteoarthritis is also common. The importance of not over-feeding your Labrador is paramount in establishing a long and happy life for your pet.
There are a number of conditions that may arise during the Labrador’s lifespan. The larger dogs can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, and joint supplements are often recommended. Because Labs love to run and fetch, knee problems can also become common. Labs that spend quite a bit of time in the water can also be prone to ear infections as their ears tend to trap warm moist air inside. Regular checking will ensure that this problem can be easily controlled. In some cases, medication may be needed if the infection is severe. A health syndrome that is often associated with Labradors is called Exercise Induced Collapse, which often occurs in Labs eight years or older. This condition can cause weakness, disorientation and even collapsing.
There are generally three types of registered retrievers. Black labs which are solid black in color, yellow labs which are light in color with some even having a slight reddish color, and then the Chocolate lab which is medium to dark brown in color. Interestingly, chocolate and black Lab’s noses usually match the color of their coats.