Like every pet, Labradors are prone to specific health problems – most notably hip dysplasia. This disorder causes the hip joint to malform and can range from mild cases to very severe. The worst cases require treatment and often surgery. Many dogs from this breed also suffer from one or two eye disorders, and epilepsy can be a problem for many.
This problem is further compounded by the number of dysplastic animals that develop arthritis. These problems are so prevalent that many industry leaders believe that anyone purchasing a puppy from a breeder must carefully research their options. It is critical that Labradors puppies are only bred from stock which has been x-rayed and examined for the disorders and that only dogs with PennHIP or OFA breeding clearings. While these requirements will, by no means, guarantee that a puppy will never develop this often painful disease, they do significantly reduce the risks.
Eye health is critically important for a happy dog. Unfortunately, many labs suffer from cataracts or retinal atrophy. Again, it is critically important that breeding stock by tested each year for these disorders to lessen the risk of future vision problems. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation maintains a registry for this purpose.
Anyone interested in purchasing a lab for their family should spend a good deal of time research available breeders. The best carefully screen all breeding stock animals for all of the ‘at risk’ diseases and disorders. Remember that purchasing a Labrador from an above par breeder means purchasing a dog that can fit into a wide range of living situations. They are extremely intelligent, obedient and agile. Labs make ideal ‘helper’ dogs. Make sure that you and your family have the perfect pet pal by carefully researchig the breeder before falling in love with a new, adorable pup.