Saturday, July 9th, 2011

What is a Lab ??

Ash 2010


 “A moment later the stevedore appeared on deck leading by a leash one of the most handsome dogs ever seen in Maryland.   He was jet-black, sturdy in his front quarters, sleek and powerful in his hind, with a face so intelligent that it seemed he might speak at any moment.  His movements were quick, his dark eyes following every development nearby, yet his disposition appeared so equable he seemed always about to smile.


‘He’s called a Labrador – finest huntin’ dog ever developed’ Lightfoot said.”

Care and Training

Although the Lab is the epitome of family dogs, he needs a fairly active household to satisfy his need for exercise and work.  Daily walks, romps in a fenced yard and games of fetch keep his  mind and body in shape.  Unless these needs are satisfied, the Lab may become a wanderer, a digger or a chewer.  First off, the new Lab puppy should be leash trained and taught to sit on command to prevent him jumping on people in his desire to say hello.  The pup can also be taught early to shake paws and to fetch;  his soft mouth and innate desire to retrieve can provide hours of play.  Later on, the pup can learn to put his nose to use and find things that have been hidden from him.

A fast-growing Lab pup reaches almost adult weight within six or seven months and can be a handful to train if left to his own devices ’til then.  He is exuberant, a trait that can get him into trouble with other dogs and with the neighbours who do not appreciate his antics.  Therefore, early training is essential; if you wait too long, his rambunctious character and strong body will be difficult to manage, especially for those who have not previously had the pleasure of owning such a dog.  To avoid training problems and grease the skids of your relationship, take your Lab pup to puppy and basic obedience classes to teach manners, and keep up this good citizen training for the life of the dog.   (NZKC and EUKANUBA offer a Canine Good Citizen certificate for those who are interested.)

All members of the family should participate in the training at home.  If Mum or Dad allows the dog on the sofa when Mum’s not around, the dog is going to be either confused or sneaky, so consistency between family members is necessary.  Discipline should be gentle – no screaming at the pup or smacking with a newspaper, as these reactions to misbehaviour are counterproductive.  Labs are generally eager to learn, so firm but gentle guidance and discipline pay off in a strong bond with family members.

Feeding a Lab pup is more difficult than buying a premium food and letting him eat his fill.  As a fast-growing breed subject to hip dysplasia, the Lab puppy should be fed a diet prepared for large-breed puppies or regular adult dog food of less than 25 percent protein to help avoid joint problems that can occur when puppies grow too fast.  Offer him food two or three times a day and take away what he doesn’t eat in 10 minutes.  Teach him to sit before putting the food bowl on the floor to avoid his jumping at the dish and spilling the food.  Some Labs are taller or heavier than the preferred standard size.  Most labs have a tendency to become obese, so their diets must be closely controlled.  Owners who use treats to train must be careful to cut back on regular meals to avoid unhealthy weight gain.  Older Labs enjoy the couch and the fire;  if fed too much, or not given enough exercise, they will fatten up rather quickly.


Labs are prone to hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint that ranges from mild to severe and can cause such disability or pain that major surgery is necessary.

Dysplastic dogs usually become arthritic.  With so many Lab puppies produced each year, it is important to buy from a breeder who x-rays breeding stock for hip dysplasia and only uses those animals with an OFA or PennHP clearance for breeding.  Screening tests on breeding dogs cannot prevent the development of disease in offspring, but it lessens the odds that hip dysplasia will be a problem.

Labs are also prone to several eye disorders, including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, and epilepsy.  All Lab breeding stock should have an eye test each year and be registered free of eye disease by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.  Purchasing a healthy Lab pup can be a bit difficult, but the research to find just the right breeder and puppy is well worth the trouble.  The well-bred Labrador Retriever is one of a handful of wonderful family dogs for a broad spectrum of lifestyles and living situations.

A Lab can do field work (for real or in trials and tests), obedience and agility competition, or therapy dog work at local hospitals or nursing homes with owners who are looking for just a bit more than a companion dog.  All in all, the well-bred Lab can be the perfect family dog.



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