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Labrador Retriever

Key Traits: Affectionate, Trainable, Sociable

Group: Sporting

Labrador retrievers or Labradors are one of the most sturdy and amicable dog breeds. With their adorable features, friendly nature and compelling energy, a Labrador retriever puppy wins over the hearts of people.

From a young age the Labrador puppy is very sociable. They are also very intelligent dogs and are easy to train, making it almost effortless for first time owners to handle a lab puppy.

Table of Contents

Breed Overview

Labrador Retrievers have been studied by reputable veterinarian organisations such as the American Kennel Club and British Kennel Club, and based on their findings on the breed’s physical and behavioural characteristics, we have rated Labradors on various physical and temperamental criteria.

Family Life - An Ideal Companion

Labrador behaviour towards family


Labrador retrievers make for great family pets. They enjoy being around people and a Labrador’s aggression level is very low, yet they tend to be very protective towards their family members. 

Labrador behaviour towards kids


Labrador Retrievers tend to be very gentle with children. It is an onus to a labrador’s intelligence level, that they understand not to roughhouse with kids.

Labrador behaviour towards other dogs


A Labrador’s behaviour towards other dogs is playful. Labrador aggression is not something to worry about if you already have other dogs as pets. 

Labrador behaviour towards cats


Labrador Retrievers tend to be very gentle with children. It is an onus to a labrador’s intelligence level, that they understand not to roughhouse with kids.

Labrador behaviour towards strangers


Labrador Retrievers are always happy to meet and interact with new people, although they might be reserved in the beginning. If you are planning to invite friends over, you do not need to worry about your Labrador’s aggression. 

Behavioral Traits - What to Expect?

Barking level


Labradors generally have a low tendency to bark. However, if they are left alone too frequently and for long periods of time, and/or if they are not well exercised, they tend to become destructive and bark excessively.



Labrador retrievers are generally easy to train as they are not very strong willed, are eager to please their pet parents, and are intelligent.

Mental stimulation needs


Without mental stimulation, a Labrador can become restless and even destructive. Interactive toys, puppy puzzles and flip boards can be used to provide Labrador Retrievers with the right brain exercises. 



Labrador’s intelligence ranking comes to be seventh amongst all dog breeds. The fact that Labradors are used in search and rescue missions as well as for drug detection, speaks volumes about a Labrador’s intelligence ranking. 



A Labrador retriever is a trusting dog, and not traditionally bred for ‘guarding’ roles. However, if the Labrador is given the right dog training, they can be vigilant dogs. 



Labrador’s aggression is not something that they are known for, yet Labradors display strong protective aggression towards their pet parents. 

Prey drive


Since Labrador retrievers were historically bred for helping hunters in retrieving prey, a Labrador puppy will have a pretty high prey drive, with a tendency to chase moving objects (cars/bikes) or animals, and to vigorously shake objects in their mouth.

Biting Tendencies/Aggressiveness


Biting is a natural instinct in Labrador retrievers, considering the fact that they were bred to retrieve prey. Biting is an issue in Labrador puppies, however, with the right training these tendencies can be subverted. 

Personality Traits - Labrador's Quirks



One of the most defining traits of Labrador retrievers is their sociability. They get along well with human beings as well as other pets.



Labrador Retrievers are very easy-going dogs who adapt well to change. This makes it easy to take them out in public. However, you need to eventually socialise your Labrador since puppyhood.. 



Labrador retrievers are emotional dogs who tend to be sensitive to the emotions of other people around them. This is also a reason why they make great service dogs and support animals. 



Labrador retrievers require a lot of play and exercise. They are enthusiastic to play even well past their puppyhood years. Pet parents need to be mindful of this. 



Labrador retrievers are very inquisitive, especially during the first three years of their lives. You need to provide a safe environment for your Lab to explore so as to not curb their inquisitive nature. 



Labrador’s energy level is very high. They are action oriented and are always looking for opportunities to run, jump and play around. Since they were originally bred to help hunters, a Labrador’s energy level is off the charts. 



Labrador retrievers are very adventurous. A Labrador is a great companion to take on a trek. They also love to swim and have a natural affinity to water. 

Physical Attributes of Lab Dogs

  • Breed Size: Medium
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years
  • Ideal Environment/Temperature: 10° to 26°C
  • Colours: Black, Yellow and Chocolate
  • Coat: Short & Thick (2 Layers)
  • Drooling: Low
  • Snoring: Low
  • Exercise Needs: Medium
  • Shedding: High
  • Grooming Needs: Low
Labrador Retriever

Average Labrador Height

For a male Labrador dog, height averages between 22.5-24.5 inches (57.1-62.2 cm).

The female Labrador dog height averages between 21.5-23.5 inches (54.6-59.6 cm).

We have prepared a labra dog height chart for according to their age. You can refer to this chart to keep a track of your Labrador’s development. 

labra dog height
Labrador Age Labrador Height (Female) Labrador Height (Male)
8 weeks
7-10” (17.78-25.4 cm)
8-12” (20.3-30.48 cm)
10 weeks
8-12” (20.3-30.48 cm)
10-12” (25.4-30.4 cm)
3 months
10-14” (25.4-35.5 cm)
12-15” (30.4-38.1 cm)
6 months
12-15” (30.4-38.1 cm)
15-18” (38.1-45.7 cm)
8 months
17-20” (43.1-50.8 cm)
18-20” (45.7-50.8 cm)
1 year
21-23” (53.3-58.4 cm)
22-25” (55.8-63.5 cm)

Average Labrador Weight

A healthy Labrador’s weight ranges between 24 kg to 36 Kg. Maintaining the ideal Labrador weight would mean taking care of the dietary requirements of the dog and including appropriate amounts of exercise in their routine. 

Labrador Age Female Labrador Dog weight range (kg) Male Labrador dog weight range (kg)
8 weeks
10 weeks
5.5- 7.5
5.5- 8
3 months
6 months
8 months
1 year

How to identify a Pure Labrador Retriever?

It is very easy to recognise a pure Labrador Retriever owing to its distinctive features:-

  • A Labrador has a broad head and medium-sized eyes set relatively far apart.
  • Black and yellow Labrador Retrievers have Brown eyes with black eye rims while chocolate
    Labrador Retrievers generally have brown or hazel eyes with brown eye rims.
  • The Labradors have drop ears which hang close to their heads.
  • They have an ‘otter tail’
    which is thick at the bottom and gradually thinning towards the tip.
  • Labrador Retrievers also have webbed feet.
Labrador Retriever

Labrador Health Problems - What Symptoms to Look Out For?

Some of the most common diseases among Labrador Retrievers are: 

1) Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia might not shorten a Labrador’s lifespan but can make your dog’s life very painful.  It is a hereditary condition which prevents the thigh bone from fitting into the hip joint.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Favouring one hind leg, or limping
  • A froggy sit
  • Bunny hopping walk or a loose gait
  • Difficulty walking up or down the stairs
  • Lameness in the hind legs
  • is not completely preventable but can be managed with proper care
  • Feed your lab a high quality, nutrient rich diet
  • Low impact exercise (like swimming)
  • Consult a vet for supplements for joint problems in dogs

2) Elbow Dysplasia

Also referred to as arthritis of the elbow joints, elbow dysplasia affects the forelegs and can also cause lameness in the forelegs. If your Labrador retriever has the following symptoms, you should consider getting their elbow examined.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Lameness in the forelegs
  • Reluctance to play or walk
  • Its feet are rotated outwardly
  • Abnormal gait
  • Shows signs of pain when the elbow joints are manipulated
  • Elbow Dysplasia in dogs is hereditary
  • It can be avoided through selective breeding to reduce the chances of getting affected
  • Weight reduction to reduce the stress on elbows
  • Limited & light exercise
  • Joint supplements
  • Physical therapy

3) Mast Cell Tumour

Mast cell tumors are a type of cancer that affect dogs. They are caused by the uncontrolled growth of a type of white blood cell called a mast cell. These tumors can appear anywhere on a dog’s body, but are most commonly found on the skin.

This tumour can look like a simple pimple, bump or a cyst on the skin or even inside the mouth. If the protrusion shows an unusual rate of growth, it is advisable to visit the vet and get a biopsy.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Skin lumps or bumps
  • Sores that don't heal
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Since the cause of tumours and/or cancers
    in Lab dogs is not known, there are no specific
    measures to prevent these
  • Avoiding environmental risks like cigarette smoke,
    toxic chemicals, and excessive sunlight can help
    reduce risk
  • Avoiding exposure to toxins, pesticides, and other
    potentially harmful chemicals
  • Consult a vet immediately
Other Malignant diseases in Labradors are:
  • Liposarcoma: a tumour that causes malignant lumps on the skin
  • Hemangiosarcoma: a tumour caused by cells that line blood vessels. The cells pop up in the dog’s spleen, heart, and on the skin
  • Osteosarcoma: a cancer that arises from the bone cells and can cause lameness, bone fracture, limb swelling and lameness in Labrador Retrievers

4) Obesity

According to a research conducted by scientists at the Royal Veterinary College, Labrador Retrievers are 1.6x more vulnerable to obesity as compared to other breeds. Obesity is a comorbid condition which can lead to a lot of other more fatal health issues in turn adversely affecting a Labrador Retriever’s lifespan.
Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Noticeable increase in body weight
  • Lack of muscle definition
  • Increased panting
  • Decreased stamina
  • Unusual food cravings
  • Do not overfeed
  • Monitor food portions
  • Regular exercises
  • Do not let your dog snack between meals
  • Avoid feeding table scraps
  • Prepare an appropriate feeding
    and exercising plan for your pet
  • Go easy on the treats

5) Myopathy

This disease causes muscular degeneration in Labrador retrievers and also affects the nervous system. The symptoms of Myopathy can be noticed in a Labrador retriever puppy as early as six weeks.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Tiredness
  • Stiffness when he walks
  • Trotting
  • Collapsing after exercise
  • Genetic testing to detect any
    predisposition to myopathy
  • Well balanced nutrition
  • Regular & light exercises
  • Consult a vet as soon as possible for
    proper diagnosis and treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • Dietary changes, medications, or
    supplements as directed by the vet

6) Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus AKA Bloats

Bloats is a life threatening condition that affects Labrador retrievers and other deep chested dogs.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Restlessness
  • Attempts to vomit with little or no result
  • Drooling excessively
  • Feed your Lab dog small portions of food through the day rather than one or two large meals
  • Do not let your dog overeat or eat too quickly
  • Do not exercise your dog right after eating food
  • Do not let your dog consume a large amount of water in one go
  • If you suspect your Lab dog of having bloats
    you need to immediately take it to the vet.
  • Bloats is a fatal condition in Labradors and needs immediate medical attention

The stomach of the Labrador becomes distended with gas and then twists rendering the dog unable to vomit to get rid of the excessive air inside their stomach. This impedes the blood flow to the heart, the dog’s blood pressure decreases, and the dog goes into a state of shock. If not tended to immediately, the dog may even die.

7) Ear Infections

Labrador retrievers instinctively love to be in water. And because they have drop ears, it makes it easier for water to get retained inside their ears. This makes Labrador Retrievers vulnerable to getting an ear infection. This is why pet parents need to check their dog’s ears at least once a week for any odours or redness, as part of the Labrador grooming routine.

Symptoms Preventive Methods What to do if Affected
  • Ear Itching or scratching
  • Head shaking or tilting
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap or ear canal
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Odor
  • Ensure your Lab dog’s ears are clean and dry
  • As a part of your Labrador’s grooming, remove excessive hair from their ear
  • Check your dog’s ears regularly for any sign of redness or infection
  • You can use apple cider vinegar to clean the visible part of the ear
  • However, you should take your dog to a vet for closer inspection and treatment
  • Your vet might prescribe ear cleaner and/or antibiotic medication to treat the infection

5 Labrador Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Here are a few Labrador Facts that we bet you would not have known.
  1. Labrador Retrievers have great memory: Since they were responsible for fetching prey for hunters, they had to keep track of and remember where each of them fell.
  2. Chocolate Labradors’ life span is shorter than other Labrador colours: According to a study published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, Labradors with coat colour yellow or black live about 10 percent longer than chocolate labs.
  3. All Labradors are born with blue eyes: This is because the eyes do not develop the pigment until the Labradors are a month old. That is when the actual eye colour is visible.
  4. A Lab dog inspired Led Zepplin to write a song: It is a rare Labrador fact that the inspiration for the song ‘Black Dog’ comes from a black Labrador that roamed around the Headley Grange studio where the band was recording the song.
  5. Labrador retrievers and Vampire have one thing in common: Garlic is fatal for both of them! On a more serious note, Labradors, in fact, cannot eat garlic as it contains thiosulfate which damages the red blood cells.
  6. The Labrador retriever belongs to the sporting dog group: As defined by the American Kennel Club, Labs belong  to the sporting group. Fishermen would use Labrador retrievers to haul nets, fetch ropes, and retrieve fish. However, in present times companion dogs, therapy dogs and guide dogs are also roles that this breed is trained for.

Common Labrador Behaviour Problems Faced by Pet Parents

Labrador behaviour problems are mostly behavioural patterns that the Labrador outgrows or can be trained to subvert, or they may stem out of lack of adequate exercise and training, or may indicate some underlying medical issue.

Some of the Labrador behaviour problems are:

  • Destructive chewing, Mouthing or biting – Chewing on cords, cables and couch corners is one of the biggest behaviour problems in Labradors. Labradors also exhibit this behaviour problem when they are not allowed to channel their urge to retrieve with the help of games.
  • Separation anxiety – Labradors are social dogs who do not like being alone. Showing separation anxiety can be a behaviour problem in Labradors. They might become anxious when they see their pet parents leaving the house. You have to eventually train your Labrador to be okay with you leaving.
  • Hyperactivity – Hyperactivity is a Labrador behaviour problem faced by a lot of pet parents. Labrador have a high energy level but they become hyperactive only if they are not allowed to exercise for enough duration of time.
  • Pulling on leash – This Labrador behaviour problem is faced by pet parents who did not engage their Labradors in dog training at a young age. Young Labradors need to be trained to obey the parent otherwise they will become too excited and might even pull at the leash.

How to Take Care of Labrador Dogs?

Grooming Needs of Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Grooming is not a very high maintenance task. You just need to keep in mind a few pointers:

  • Brush the Labrador’s coat. This will save your house from a carpet of Labrador sheddings
  • Bathe them every other month to keep them clean
  • Brush their teeth 2-3 times a week to maintain oral hygiene
  • Trimming their nails once or twice a month
  • Regularly check your dog’s ears for odours and/or redness to prevent ear infections.
Labrador Dog Grooming

Exercises for Labrador Retrievers

Exercise for a Labrador depends upon their age. According to the UK Kennel Club, a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day), is a good thumb rule to follow for Pet parents who are confused.

Here is a list of exercises for Labradors. You can pick and choose the ones that both you and your lab dog might enjoy.

  • Taking your Labrador for a walk

A simple walk can be a good and effective way to exercise your dog, especially when they are older. A walk is an exercise for Labradors which keeps the older lab dogs active while at the same time not straining their joints too much.

  • Retrieving games

Playing fetch with a ball, a stick or a frisbee can be a great exercise for Labradors. After all they are retrievers to begin with. As a variation, instead of playing fetch in a park, you can play fetch in a pool with your Labrador retriever.

  • Toys and games

Another great game that works as an exercise for Labradors is tug with a rope. Games with a flirt pole which has a toy at the end are also a good way to work out your lab dog. Creating an obstacle course and training your dog to go through it is also a great exercise for your Labrador.

  • Exercising with playmates

Thirty minutes of play between two dogs will be enough exercise for Labradors. When around other dogs, Labradors pounce, wrestle and jump around happily, working out plentily.

Nutritional Requirements

A big part of how to take care of your Labrador puppy is their diet. A lot of new pet parents get confused about the diet for Labradors. As important it is to give a nutrient rich diet to your Labrador it is also important not to overfeed it cause bloats or obesity.

To make your life easier as a pet parent, here is a diet chart for Labradors. With the help of this diet chart, Labradors can be kept healthy without any confusion.

Age Quantity of Food Meals per Day
Up to 45 days
100 ml milk through a feeding bottle (mother’s milk is the best option)
2 months
200-250 g
3 months
250-300 g
4 months
300-350 g
5-6 months
350-400 g
7-8 months
300-400 g
9-10 months
350-450 g
10-12 months
350-450 g

The Diet for a Labrador should include food that provides a balanced mix of nutrients to your Lab. Here is a diet chart for Labradors that will help you with food options for your Lab:

Nutrient Veg Food Options Non Veg Food Options
Yoghourt, buttermilk, chickpeas, green peas, soybeans, lentils, beans, and quinoa
Chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish, and cooked eggs
Oats, brown rice, potatoes, and whole wheat, green beans, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower, apples (make sure to remove all seeds), and pears.
safflower and sunflower oils, as well as corn and soybean oils
Boiled or scrambled egg, chicken, fish, mutton, beef, pork, fish oils (salmon, herring etc.)
Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, beans, kale, sweet potatoes
bone meal, fish, beans, molasses, Chicken, turkey muscle and organ meats,
carrots, broccoli, cucumbers and spinach, Sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin, bottle gourd, peas, tomatoes (compulsorily ripe)

As your Labrador Retriever grows older, you will have to make changes in its diet according to its needs.

  • A senior Labrador might not like to eat dry foods. Adding yoghurt or milk to the food will help.
  • You need to make their diet more fibre-heavy and lower on calorie count.
  • If your Lab dog suffers from joint pains or arthritis, which is common in senior Labrador Retrievers, you might want to consider supplements to incorporate into the diet for your Labrador.
  • Antioxidants and foods rich in vitamin A, C, E are very important for your Senior Labrador. Some good options are foods with rich, dark colours that are often a source of antioxidants; apples, berries, carrots and broccoli.

How to Cater to a Labrador's Exercise Demands

According to their age, duration of Exercise for Labrador can be stretched as following:

Age of the Labrador (in months) Duration of exercise (In minutes)

Labrador Dog Training 101: Training Schedule From Puppy to Adulthood

The process of Labrador dog training should start as early as two months, or you might have some obedience problems. 

The first step is establishing yourself as an authority. Doing this while your Labrador is a puppy helps avoid any disobedience, and makes the dog training process smoother. You need to give incentives to your dog for following you or listening to you. This can be done by setting initial anchors. 

Labradors learn by association. Initial anchors are stimuli linked to a wanted behaviour. For example, you could clap or enthusiastically praise your Labrador puppy or give them a treat when they do something you want. 

Once these two things are done, you can proceed with Labrador dog training with the following training schedule: 

Age of the Labrador (in months) Labrador Dog Training Schedule
2 Months
  • Establishing authority & setting anchors
  • Socialisation (making them meet friends and other dogs
  • Potty training: create a separate area, and designate specific time schedules
  • Instilling patience, by delaying gratification (beginning of teaching them to ‘stay’)
3 months
  • Teach them to respond to ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stand’ commands
  • Teaching Labrador puppy the heel position using a whistle or clicker
  • Recall training: teach your dog to respond to certain sounds or actions
  • Socialisation: by taking them to more crowded locations
  • Target training: teach your dog to touch a target with a specific body part (nose, paw etc.)
4 months
  • Teach them to Sit and Stay
  • Play fetch with your Lab
  • Continue Potty Training to make it more precise
  • Make your dog comfortable with walking on a leash
5 months
  • Reinforcing previous training with increased delay in gratification
  • Work on containing its energy: this will work best if the obedience training is done successfully
6 months
  • Increase exercise (duration and intensity)
  • Advanced command training (leave it, wait etc.)
  • Conclude potty training
7-18 months
  • Continue advanced command training (spin, roll over, crawl, wave etc)

Labrador Retriever Origin

Labrador retrievers’ origin can be traced to the Canadian region of Newfoundland. Spaniard, Frechmen, Portuguese, and English fishermen were present in the Atlantic coast and the dogs they brought along with them, commingled to give birth to St. John’s Dog (named after the capital of Newfoundland) St. John’s Dogs were of varying sizes. The larger ones are now extinct. Labrador retrievers are, in fact, the smaller versions of St John’s.

Breeds Similar to Labrador Retrievers


Labrador retrievers are excellent at hunting. Since they were bred for the purpose of assisting hunters at waterfowl, they have a high prey drive and make for great hunting dogs.

The Labrador retriever’s origin can be traced back to the 1500s in Newfoundland. The Labradors were brought to England in the 1800s.

A Labrador’s intelligence ranking is in no way dependent on the Labrador’s colour. All three are equally intelligent.

Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are not the same. The major differences between the two are:
Factors Golden Retriever Labrador Retriever
Muzzle shape narrow muzzle and a lean jaw more jowly broader muzzle
Tail Fan-like fluffy tail Otter-like pointy tail
Behaviour Softer, gentler and calmer More excitable and energetic
Intelligence Intelligence ranking at 4th Intelligence ranking at 7th

Labrador retrievers are very protective of their pet parents. When they perceive a threat, they can become aggressive.