Labrador dog breed information and advice
If you’re looking for a playful, loyal, loving dog to join your family, then look no further. It’s easy to see why Labradors are one of the most popular dog breeds - they’re caring, intelligent, easy to train, and they’re always ready for playtime.
This handy guide will give you everything you need to know about caring for Labrador retrievers. From their temperament and personality, to their eating habits and the best insurance for this specific breed.
10 - 14 years
£650 - £1850
21.5 - 57 cm
27 - 34 kg
black, yellow, chocolate, light cream and fox red
once a week
loving, obedient and patient
60-90 minutes daily
Labrador retrievers can be prone to developing certain health conditions, such as:
It’s advisable to choose a reputable breeder and make sure that your Labrador puppy has had all the necessary vet checks before bringing them home. Regular check-ups with your vet help to keep your lab fit and healthy.
Pet insurance gives you peace of mind when caring for your dog. You can relax knowing that your dog is covered for any unexpected illness or injury. Labrador insurance could help you to cover the cost of vet bills, including treatment, medication and even surgery.
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance for Labradors
We offer a range of dog insurance options, from time limited insurance to lifetime and maximum benefit. Each dog insurance option could help to protect you financially if your Labrador needs vet treatment. Plus, we have a range of cover levels to suit your needs and budget.
Sainsbury’s Bank can provide new dog insurance cover for your Labrador from eight weeks and up to eight years of age. Once you have cover in place with us, you can insure your Labrador up to any age as long as you keep renewing the policy without a break. As with all insurances, policy limits, excesses and exclusions will apply.
How to care for a Labrador
Food and nutrition, grooming, exercise and health care are all important parts of looking after your Labrador. It’s important to make sure you know about the needs of this breed, before buying your new pet.
Feeding and nutrition
The ideal weight for a full-grown Labrador is between 27 and 34kg. They’re known for their big appetites and can easily become overweight. To keep your dog at an ideal weight, you need to measure their food. How much to feed a Labrador will be dependent on their age and size. You’ll be able to find a food amount guide on the back of their food packaging.
As puppies, a Labrador will need to be fed 3-4 times a day. As they get bigger, adult dogs will only need to be fed once or twice a day. If you do get your Lab as a puppy, it’s recommended to continue feeding it the same food as the breeder. If you want to change the food, you’ll need to do this gradually, mixing their current food with the new food to get them used to it. Sudden changes in a puppy’s diet can cause give them a stomach upset.
Labradors have a reputation for being greedy, so you should make sure their food is out of reach or locked away. If they can reach the food, they’re more than likely to eat it. This also goes for any human food left unattended.
Labradors have a short coat that is easy to groom. Brushing once a week will help keep your dog’s coat clean and shiny.
Labradors do shed throughout the year, but as the seasons change you should expect heavy shedding. This is when you’ll need to keep up with their grooming. The more you brush out, the less there is to fall out. Add grooming to your puppy training so that they get used to it. Professional groomers will be able to provide you with more grooming advice.
The good news is you won’t need to bathe your Labrador regularly. Thanks to the natural oil in their coat, a bath every few months will be fine.
Labrador puppies have lots of energy and will need daily exercise. Adult dogs will need a couple of hours of exercise every day. You can split this time between walking and playing games outside. Labradors are very good at playing fetch, which is a great way to burn off extra energy.
Exercising will stop your dog from becoming overweight and decrease the chances of health problems later in life. A Labrador’s energy levels don’t seem to change much as they get older. Even an elderly dog will still want to fetch a ball and go for a walk.
Labradors are also natural swimmers and will gravitate towards water. Playing fetch in a lake, pond or slow-flowing river is a great way to burn off excess energy and get them clean after a muddy walk.
Labradors are obedient and easy to train, they’re quick to learn and eager to please. Reward-based training with their favourite treats is effective as Labradors are extremely food-motivated. The more you practice, the quicker your dog will learn.
House training is an important step, and you should start puppy toilet training as soon as you take your pet home. Getting your puppy into a good toileting routine will help them get used to the idea of going outside. Take them out first thing in the morning, at regular intervals throughout the day, after naps, after meals and before bedtime. If you take them to the same spot every time, the scent will help prompt them to do their business.
Every time they go, give them a reward and lots of praise and soon indoor accidents will be a thing of the past.
Temperament and behaviour
Labradors are affectionate and love human interaction. Their patience makes them perfect family pets, an ideal furry friend for your children.
Because they’re energetic and intelligent, they’ll need plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Playing with them and teaching them tricks will help keep them entertained. Make sure there are plenty of toys for your dog to play with. It will give them something to do, make them happy and keep them out of mischief.
Common health problems
There are a few common health problems linked to Labradors, which are listed below. Making sure you have Labrador insurance can help cover the cost of vet bills for these conditions.
Hip dysplasia is a common disorder where the ball-and-socket joint of the hip doesn’t fit together properly. This affects the stability of the hip joint and causes pain and lameness. Arthritis can also develop later in life.
Your vet will give your Labrador anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and inflammation. To treat the problem, hip replacement surgery may be needed.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a group of inherited eye diseases that lead to blindness. Early signs of PRA include poor vision at night or in low lighting. They’ll bump into things, struggle to find toys and bowls, and won’t want to go outside at night. While there’s no treatment for PRA, they will adapt to the condition.
Cruciate ligament rupture
Cruciate ligament rupture refers to torn knee ligaments. This is caused by a twist while running or jumping. The dog will not be able to put any weight on the affected leg.
Rest may be enough to repair the damage. But surgery may be recommended to prevent the problem from happening again.
Epilepsy causes fits or convulsions due to abnormal brain activity. Because it’s not a single disease, it’s separated into different groups. If you think your Labrador has had a fit, your vet will be able to do some tests. There’s no cure for epilepsy, but it can be controlled by medication.
So, is a Labrador right for you?
Labradors are one of the most popular breeds of dogs. With their fun personality and gentle temperament, they make great pets for any home. Just make sure you have the time to keep them well exercised and don’t forget plenty of dog toys to keep them entertained.
Frequently asked questions
Is a Lab a good house dog?
Labradors can make excellent companions around the house thanks to their intelligence and keenness to please. They can be trained not to jump on furniture, to stay in certain parts of the house, and to go to the toilet outside. However, they do require a lot of exercise to burn off excess energy, and if they don’t get enough they may become destructive out of frustration.
Is a Labrador a low-maintenance dog?
In terms of grooming, Labradors are relatively low maintenance. Weekly brushing and monthly baths are enough to keep their coats healthy, but they will shed around the house so you might find more regular vacuuming is required.
How much walking do Labradors need?
Labradors are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise. At least an hour of walking is needed every day, as well as training and games to keep their brains occupied. A Labrador that hasn’t has sufficient exercise may be prone to weight gain and destructive behaviour.
Is a Labrador a beginner dog?
Labradors are often referred to as beginner dogs as they are easy to train compared to a lot of other breeds. Their intelligence, willingness to please, gentle loving natures and high food-motivation means they learn quickly. However, any dog is a big commitment and Labradors need regular exercise, committed training and lots of love and attention to keep them content and well-behaved family members.
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