Breed of the Month - Labradors

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If worldwide pet registrations are anything to go by, this month's breed is the most popular across the globe.

A breed that's big of build and big of heart – though also prone to being big of body without enough exercise and a strict eye on their diet, the Labrador is popular for their intelligence, and outgoing, trusting, and gentle personalities.

Their kind nature and train-ability makes them well suited to most homes. That said, they do need more exercise than the average dog; around 30-40 minutes per day is ideal. They also love companionship, so they suit a home with plenty of people about, or a well-chosen doggie companion to keep them comfortable.

Active and agile dogs, they enjoy a wide range of activities and have the build and strength to carry them off, so they're a great breed for adventurous families. They'll happily join you for a hike or a day at the beach – they adore water and are very competent swimmers.  They also require mental stimulation, being one of the smarter breeds, so a good range of dog toys and chews will keep them mentally agile and well mannered.

What to watch out for

The Labrador Retriever is a bigger breed, famed for their delighted, energetic approach to life. Weighing in an average of 29-36 kilograms by adulthood for males, and 25-32 kilograms for females, Labs will throw their enthusiastic nature at food as well, so they are prone to obesity (in other words, don’t leave them and a bag of food in the same room if you’re hoping for an outcome other than an empty bag.)

Health wise, Labradors are usually robust with few major health issues. Elbow and hip dysplasia, other joint problems and eye diseases are the more common issues. If you're buying a puppy, choose a reputable breeder and check the medical history of their parents to ensure they are clear of the genetic markers for these diseases. Once you’ve taken your labrador puppy home, your vet can also do other tests to assess for congenital joint problems for early intervention measures.  Also be aware many of these issues are exacerbated by obesity, as it puts undue strain on joints, so a healthy diet and adequate exercise is key to their continued good health.

Read more: Get yourself fighting fit with your best friend in tow with our 4 week Action plan - Getting fitter with your dog

Their short, thick coats that come in three colours - black, chocolate, and yellow require very little grooming – a regular brush will keep the baths to a minimum, but are certainly not required to keep them looking good. They are not prone to behavioural issues and rub along well with the family, minding their manners.

Breed snapshot:

  • Height: Male: 57–62 cm, Female: 55–60 cm
  • Weight: Male: 29–36 kg, Female: 25–32 kg
  • Lifespan: 10 – 14 years

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