Dog Breed of the Month - Labrador
Labrador Retrievers are short haired gun dogs (although they can moult a lot) and they are usually around 22 inches tall. Their coat colours are black, yellow, chocolate and red fox. Their life span is usually between 12-14 years. They generally have an easy going temperament and make good family dogs.
However, they do have a number of inherited disorders, the most common of which is hip and elbow dysplasia. If you are getting a puppy from a breeder, make sure both parents have been hip scored. They can also suffer with luxating patella (where the knee dislocates and then goes back into place). They are also prone to obesity, partly because they are usually very greedy dogs and partly because they can be quite lazy! If you end up with a pup with joint issues, it can be a vicious circle trying to keep the weight down on limited exercise. However, controlled diet and plenty of exercise for a healthy labrador should easily keep obesity at bay.
There are 2 types of Labrador Retriever in the UK, trial-bred (usually working dogs that have more energy and natural instinct to work), and show-bred (bred for conformation purposes, these are usually calmer and therefore easier to have as a family pet). If you have a very active lifestyle then the trial-bred Labrador could be your preference.
One of the instincts hardwired into most Labradors is retrieving. So, if you want a breed that is happy to spend his or her exercise time chasing a ball then this is an easy way to exercise your dog. Because they are highly motivated by food, they are usually a pretty easy breed to train as they will do almost anything for a titbit. Remember, not too many titbits though, think of your labrador’s waistline!
Labradors also love the water, so if you live near a pond, river, stream, expect that your dog will want to go swimming and also be happy to just wallow in a muddy puddle! These dogs were bred originally as working dogs, they are tough dogs and love the outdoors. They are easily hosed down because of their short hair but be prepared for the muddy winters ahead.