LOVABLE, INTELLIGENT, FRISKY
History & Origin
The Labrador is one of the most popular dog breeds out there. When you see the name, you might think that it comes from Labrador, Canada, but this is not so. It has its origins in Newfoundland and got that name by default.
Although the breed is officially a Sporting dog, it is so much more! They were originally used to help hunters flush out game birds while fetching ones that had been shot, and were also a handy help when fishing. They would often accompany fishermen who went out in their small boats, jumping over the side to get a fish that might have slipped off the hook. Because of its, size, this amazing dog was very easy to haul back into the boat! Besides these abilities as a sporting dog, it had a wonderful temperament, and once back from a day’s hard work, would quite happily play with the family’s children. It was an all-rounder.
As to the dog’s breeding history, there is much left to speculation. It is believed that the forerunners of today’s Labrador were a mixture of breeds, most notably European pointer breeds, water dogs from Portugal, the French St. Hubert hound, with possibly a good dose of native Canadian dogs added into the mix. This is quite possible, as Newfoundland was a melting pot of different cultures, with many visiting the area for trade.
Whatever the ancestral combination, however, the end result is an amazing all-rounder.
Labradors have been called by different names, e.g. St. John’s dog, Newfoundland Dog, Black Water Dog, English Retriever, and many more. The first one to coin the name ‘Labrador’ for this breed was the Earl of Malmesbury. This was back in 1887 but it seems to be the name that has stuck for life.
This wonderful family pet and working dog has its origin in Newfoundland, Canada. From there, it was imported to Britain and other parts of the world. Although it was first used as a hunting companion, its affable personality has resulted in it becoming one of the most sought after family pets around.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
A Labrador loves being active and activities should cater to this inherent need. They love throwing games, where they need to retrieve a ball, as well as swimming. This is a dog that needs an active lifestyle – they tend to get into trouble when subject to too long periods of inactivity, and may end up chewing up your favorite pair of shoes (keeping a box of chewable toys handy is a good idea)!
An incredibly intelligent breed, the Labrador’s willingness to learn, please and work makes it imminently suitable for different tasks, and they excel as working dogs with regards to those with special needs (you often see them as companions to the blind) and in the armed forces. They tend to be friendly with everyone but tend to think about whom they are affectionate with. Their family always comes first!
They can be stubborn at times, and need a firm, yet gentle hand. They do not take well to any form of harsh discipline, as they are gentle souls at heart.
The get along extremely well with children of all ages, being very kind, and take new situations in their stride. They do, however, tend to age slowly, so be prepared to have a ‘doggy teenager’ around for quite some time.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
Labradors are, generally speaking, an easy breed to care for. Their physical needs are few and quite easily accomplished.
A Labrador can thrive on much the same type of diet as a human. This means that besides meat, fish and poultry, your new puppy can be fed vegetables and fruit as well. Adding carrots, beans, peas and brown rice to his diet, is therefore recommended. It is not, however, recommended that you feed your dog raw onion and garlic, avocado, or chocolate, as they can make him very ill indeed!
When it comes to commercial dog food, please make sure you have acquainted yourself with your puppy’s nutritional needs at all stages of his growth. A puppy’s needs are not the same as, for example, a more mature, older dog. Make sure as well that you feed your dog a high-quality dog food, as the filler found in the cheaper, more popular varieties add no nutritional value to your puppy’s diet whatsoever. They only leave him feeling ‘full’.
A puppy would, typically, eat three to four smaller meals per day. By the time he is six months old, however, he should be eating two larger meals a day, morning and evening.
Because of their thick undercoats, and the fact they need lots of exercising (they are prone to obesity otherwise), they can quite easily dehydrate. A plentiful supply of fresh water is thus essential!
The amount of food you feed your adult dog depends on his lifestyle. Where they lead an active lifestyle, they would, obviously, need more food than for example an older dog that leads a more sedentary lifestyle.
COAT AND GROOMING
A medium-sized breed, the Labrador makes the perfect pet for those with young families or who live in smaller homes. Just so long as they get their exercise time in, they are happy. Males, at their withers, are between 22.5 and 24.5 inches and weigh in at between 65 to 80 pounds. Females are smaller, standing at 21.5 to 23.5 inches while weighing in at 55 to 70 pounds.
Their coat is thick and dense, a testament to their place of origin. They have, in fact, a double coat, with the top coat that is short, straight and thick, while the undercoat tends to be soft and resistant to the weather. While it serves to insulate them against the cold, it also prevents them from getting too wet while frolicking in icy water.
Most commonly, Labradors are black, although chocolate and golden coats are often seen. In an effort to rid the breed of its golden and chocolate genes, puppies were often culled, but these days, all three colors are acceptable. Some people to this day, though, still prefer black Labradors.
Due to the thickness of the coat and its ability to shrug off the water, the dog can easily overheat in warm weather. To keep your pup happy, it would be up to you as his human to see to it that he gets plenty of rest and water during the heat of the day.
Because they have short coats, you don’t need to do much to make them feel or look better. In summer, however, it is advisable to brush them once or twice a week as they tend to shed. Bathing is not advised more than two to three times a year (your nose will tell you when it is necessary) as too much washing will strip their coats of the natural oils needed to protect the dog against the cold and rain.
Clipping their nails is fine, and they have no problem being subjected to an occasional pedicure! Dogs that go for long walks on concrete pavements, though, tend to have their nails filed down quite naturally, so more often than not do not need this kind of treatment.
It is a good idea to check the insides of their ears frequently. As is the case with all dogs that tend to have floppy ears, they tend to become the breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. They take quite well to having their teeth brushed.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Labradors have a solid yet athletic build. Their broad head with wider muzzled and medium-sized ears is topped off by a pair of extremely friendly eyes. They are large-chested, adding to their strength, with straight, solid legs. The fact they have webbed toes attests to their love of water, so expect to find them playing in the pool or sea with their favorite people, their human ‘siblings’.
As these are dogs that enjoy being active, walks are encouraged as well as ball-fetching games and swimming. This will use up the pent-up energy while keeping him happy. It is not uncommon for them to run to the door when the doorbell rings, wagging their tail, slipping and sliding all over the floor, and knocking things down in order to greet the newcomer. It is their nature to be friendly and rambunctious, especially while young.
Remember, these dogs were bred to be working dogs. Activity No matter how old a Labrador is, it needs exercise in order to stay healthy. What varies, though, is how much activity the dog needs. A young puppy, for instance, will try and keep up with young children, if you have them. You need to keep an eye on the dog, though, because too much exercise at such a young age can over-tire them and could cause damage to their joints.
Up to the age of three months, though, a good guide to follow, as set out by the UK Kennel Club, is five minutes of exercise twice daily per month of age. Once your pet is fully grown, of course, they can have much more exercise.
Because Labradors are such an incredible, high-energy breed, and were initially bred for physical labor, they crave physical activity. In order to have a happy dog, these needs must be met. Some great activities for these dogs are hiking, swimming and running. If you do not find some way whereby they can get rid all their energy, they may end up finding their own way to do so, often with devastating consequences.
Training your Labrador pup is extremely important. They are frisky dogs, take long to mature, and are extremely independent.
Just like human babies, pups are not born knowing the rules, and it is your responsibility, as the owner and pack leader, to teach your pup the rules and ensure he follows them.
A dog that knows the rules knows that no begging is allowed at the table, where he should do his business, and what is and is not allowed inside the home. Rules give him confidence, as he knows what his boundaries are, and as they love pleasing people, he will follow them.
The trick is in teaching the rules!
The first point of rule is usually housetraining your puppy. There are different ways in which this is done, a popular method being crate training. Whichever method you choose, though, rewarding a dog for good behavior is important.It is a great idea to get your puppy started on training as quickly as possible, and there are many puppy training schools that give excellent guidance. Once the basics are mastered, they could go on to more advanced training classes.
Nobody likes a dog that is ill-behaved, jumps all over people, pulls on his leash, chews on everything, or is generally seen as being a nuisance.
Luckily, these intelligent creatures are quick learners, and with a little perseverance, they soon became a well-adjusted member of the family.
Unless you like sharing your bed with a substantial canine companion, it is a good idea to get your dog its own bed. As Labradors enjoy chewing, getting a large sleeping pillow that is extra-durable is a good idea.They like a relatively peaceful area they can call their own, so somewhere less-traversed by everyone in the family is a great option.
Like humans, they seem to like their private time too, and giving them this when considering their sleeping arrangements is an excellent choice.
Possible Health Problems
Just like other breeds, there are a few health problems that could possibly arise with your pet. By keeping an eye on his health, and taking action as soon as you spot something, you can make sure your dog has a long and healthy life.
Here are a few health problems you dog could possibly encounter:
Because they have floppy ears that cover their ear canal, their ears tend to be the perfect breeding ground for infections. The best way to clean them is by using a cotton ball and water. Doggy ear wash can also be bought from most veterinarians. If you get a bad smell from your dog’s ear(s), get him to a vet as soon as possible.
This is a condition that is predominantly found in older dogs. It is an illness that paralysis their voice box and often results in labored breathing or continuous tiredness. As it could be life-threatening, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian if this occurs.
Unfortunately, these dogs like eating almost as much as they like exercising, and will often scavenge on their walks. This could lead to all kinds of stomach problems, so keeping an eye on his eating habits is important.
Labradors are natural swimmers and love nothing more than being in the water. They use their tails like rubbers and in order to stabilize themselves, but overuse can cause it to become sore and swollen. This is not a life-threatening situation, however, and can soon be fixed with some rest, although some veterinarians might prescribe medication for the inflammation.
Labradors, much like other medium or larger breeds, can get hip dysplasia. It is a genetic condition, but can be treated by means of medication or even an operation, these being highly successful. Dogs that are overweight and that have this condition should lose weight, as being overweight compounds the problem.
Labradors, on the whole, are lovable, intelligent, frisky dogs that are an excellent addition to any family. With the proper care and attention, they can live long, healthy lives as part of their family.
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