The Labrador Retriever as a PetThe Lab was originally bred to be a versatile dog, and was developed from hard¬working dogs who performed many jobs, including retrieving both birds and fish. Most Labs, to varying degrees and depending upon their individual blood¬lines, retain some of these working instincts. This has a definite effect on the dog’s ability to be happy as a family companion and pet.
A dog from American show lines is usually a good choice as a pet, while field dogs may be too intense and driven to relax as a family pet. However, if a family member wants to participate in dog sports that require an intense, energetic dog—such as agility, flyball, dock diving, or search and rescue work—or if you plan to hunt with your dog, then a dog from field lines might be just right. Let’s take a look at the breed as a whole, though, because all Labrador Retrievers have many traits in common.

Labs Are Not Small

The Labrador Retriever is considered a medium to large dog, averaging from 60 to 80 pounds when fully grown—although many are bigger. That means a 60- to 100-pound dog stretched out across the living room floor or curled up on the sofa. A dog this large does not go unnoticed in a household, and many times adjustments must be made.
With this size comes strength. The Lab is a powerful dog and without train¬ing could easily jump on and knock down a child, a senior citizen, or even an unprepared adult. Older puppies and young adults are unaware of their size and strength and can easily hurt people even though they have no intention of doing so. However, with training, the dog can learn to restrain that power.

Labs Are High-Energy Dogs

The Lab is a fairly high-energy dog who requires daily exercise—daily strenuous exercise. A two- or three-mile walk around the neighborhood would be good exercise for an older dog or a puppy, but cannot be considered adequate exercise for a healthy adult dog. A good run, a fast session of throwing the ball, or a jog alongside a bicycle is more appropriate.Labs-Are-High-Energy-Dogs
Many Labs will bark, especially when they’re playing, and it’s important to make sure your neighbors won’t be bothered by this. Lab puppies and adolescents are known to chew destructively on just about anything, from toys to your furni¬ture, so you will need to be able to spend time training the puppy and making sure you can prevent bad behavior. Labs also love food, any food, and have been known to raid trash cans for tidbits. They will also, when they get a chance, steal food from the kitchen counter; so again, training and pre¬vention are important. When bored, Labs will also try to escape from the yard when they don’t get enough exercise. They don’t do this mali¬ciously; they’re just looking for some¬thing to do. However, you’ll find that when your Labrador Retriever has been exercised daily and practices his training skills, he will be healthier, happier, and more relaxed, and destructiveness around the house and yard will be minimal.

Labs Need a Job

Because the breed was developed from dogs who assisted their owners in many ways, Labs today need an occupation, something to keep the mind challenged and the body busy. There are quite a few different jobs you can give your Lab. Use the dog’s obedience training to give him some structure in his life and to teach him to work for you and listen to your commands. Teach him to bring you your newspaper and find your slippers or keys. Teach him to find your kids by name. Find a dog training club in your area and try something new, like agility, scent hurdle races, or dock diving. Teach your dog to play Frisbee. All of these things will keep your Lab busy, focused, and happy.

Do You Have a Problem with Hair?

Labs shed. There is no way to get around it. Yes, that hair looks short, but the undercoat is thicker than you might think, and those short hairs stick in every¬thing. Although the breed doesn’t shed as much as many other breeds—Collies and German Shepherds, for example—that wonderful, weather-resistant coat does shed. If dog hair in the house bothers you, don’t get a Lab. Living with a Lab requires a few compromises, and understanding that the dog sheds is one of them. The worst shedding times are spring and fall, depending upon the climate, but some shedding takes place all year round. The easiest way to keep it under control is to brush the dog thoroughly every day.

Labs Are Slow to Mature

By the age of 2 years, many dogs are grown up—mentally and physically. Labs, however, are puppies for a long time. Physically, most Labs do not reach maturity until 3 or 4 years old. They are still filling out, getting that Lab chest, and their coat is maturing.
The aspect of this that bothers most pet owners is the breed’s slow mental maturity. Labs are puppies a long time, and often are not mentally mature until 3 or 4 years of age. That means while some breeds can be trusted in the house not to get into trouble by 2 years of age, Labs may need to be 4. A 3-year-old Lab may still want to raid the trash can or get into the cat food. This is not a problem if you are aware of it. But many unsuspecting pet owners, especially those who have previously had puppies of other breeds, may assume that Labs grow up at the same rate and may be disappointed when their Lab doesn’t.

2 Responses to “The Labrador Retriever as a Pet”
  1. Romeo says:

    Obedience training for dogs is a task all your family can get involved with and do yourselves, alternatively you can pay someone else to do this for you however it’s important that you do something if you want your dog to listen to and obey your every command.

  2. Pam says:

    I need help!!! I have a 6 year old chocolate lab. He runs off with our stuff, when I go out with the goats he runs around the fence, barks, and tries to bite her. When he gets something from the van that we need he prances around and he won’t listen. PLEASE HELP!!!

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