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What You Should Know About Labradors Before Getting One

Is it really a surprise that Labrador Retrievers were the most popular family dogs in America for 31 years straight? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean these dogs are a “walk in the park” or you can simply just let them raise themselves.

If you’re not ready for a Labrador Retriever, then things can quickly get out of hand. So in this article, I’m. going over the 10 things that no one really tells you about owning a Labrador. Make sure you stick around for the last one…because it’s important!

1. Labradors are more energetic than you think.

Alright folks, buckle up…because owning a Labrador is like having a furry, four-legged energy bomb in your home! You might think they’re all about those soulful eyes and cozy cuddles, but in reality, they’ve got enough energy to outlast even the most enthusiastic jogger.

Labradors are descendants of fishing and retrieving dogs, meaning they’re hardwired to be on the move. Imagine trying to tire out a battery that just won’t quit—that’s your daily mission with a Lab, especially during the first year to 18 months of their life.

And here’s the kicker: If you’re not ready to provide them with enough physical exercise, they’ll find their own entertainment. Ever seen a Lab ‘redecorate’ a living room? Spoiler alert: it’s fluffier and far more destructive than you’d expect. 

The typical Labrador needs roughly 1 to 2 hours of physical activity each day, such as walks or a few games of fetch. But what’s so bad about under-exercising a Lab? Well, that leads me to my next point.

2. Labradors are prone to obesity.

Did you know that nearly 60% of all Labradors are overweight or obese? Why is that the case? Well, there’s three main reasons for this. And trust me, this last reason is something you would likely have never guessed.

First, these dogs have appetites that could rival a sumo wrestler. And the thing that makes it worse is…they don’t know when to stop eating. Another reason is because most owners often underestimate how much exercise the breed needs, which certainly doesn’t help.

However, the most interesting reason is a gene mutation that’s linked to weight and food motivation. A recent study found that the mutation has been exclusively found in Labradors and other flat coated retrievers, though it’s much more common in Labs.

On the bright side, at least they’ll be easy to train, since most Labs will be food driven. In fact, this unique gene mutation is found in almost all service Labradors. Because service dogs are usually the most food driven and easiest to train, it makes a lot of sense.

3. Consider using a soft muzzle for your Labrador.

When we say Labradors can and will eat everything – that’s not an exaggeration! Whether it’s trash on the floor, food from the bin, or flowers on your walks, you Labrador will probably try to eat it. But, it could potentially put them in a dangerous situation.

One Lab owner on Reddit said,

“Seriously, my childhood Lab once ate most of a tin can. We never saw the can again, and the dog lived for many years after that. Meanwhile, my mom’s Lab loves to eat literal trash off the street.”

So with that said, it’s probably a good idea to get your puppy Lab a soft muzzle during this stage. It’ll work well in keeping them from eating something strange and giving you a panic attack during your neighborhood walks.

And, you’ll need to be extremely careful about what you put around the house. When picking out a muzzle, choose a soft, breathable material that allows for panting and drinking. You’ll also want to introduce it to your Lab with plenty of treats and praise. 

With the right approach, your Lab won’t mind their new accessory, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re safe and sound.

4. Never buy a Labrador from a “backyard breeder.”

For 30 years straight, the Labrador Retriever has been the single most popular dog breed in America. Needless to say, they’re extremely popular dogs – and for good reason! But here’s a golden rule: always buy from a reputable breeder.

Because of the Lab’s popularity over the years, a countless number of backyard breeders and puppy mills have emerged to meet this demand. The problem?

Backyard breeders often skip the essential health screenings that professional breeders uphold, meaning your furry friend could come with hidden health issues, turning your wonderful adventure with your furry friend into a heartache.

They tend to prioritize quantity and physical traits, such as a special coat color, over good health. Plus, if you support backyard breeders, it doesn’t just risk your pup’s health. It also misses a chance to advocate for responsible breeding practices that ensure the well-being of these lovable dogs. 

When you can, try to opt for a reputable breeder or just adopt a Labrador. But if you decide NOT to go to a reputable breeder…well, your Lab may experience these next issues.

5. They’re so energetic that it sometimes leads to joint or hip issues.

The energetic Labrador, known for its boundless enthusiasm and love for life, unfortunately, pays a price for all that leaping and bounding. Due to their vigor, especially with all the jumping and running they’re prone to, Labradors are at a higher risk for hip and joint problems

It’s a bit of a catch-22. Their zest or enthusiasm for life is one of their most endearing traits, yet it can lead to health issues like hip dysplasia, a condition that’s as uncomfortable as it sounds. In the later years of the dog, hip dysplasia will affect their mobility and quality of life. 

This underscores the importance of monitoring their activity, ensuring they get plenty of safe exercises, and maybe easing up on those high-flying frisbee games. And of course, overfeeding your Lab or buying a dog from backyard breeders may make this much worse for your pup.

Regular vet check-ups are also key to catching and managing any hip or joint concerns early, keeping your lively Lab as healthy and happy as possible.

6. Labradors love water and mud…a little too much sometimes.

Ever heard the saying, “a wet Lab is a happy Lab?” Well, it’s completely true. These dogs love water way more than any other breed i’ve seen. Thanks to their heritage as water retrievers, your Lab will take any opportunity they get to go for a quick swim.

There isn’t a big enough body of water? That’s not a problem. If there’s a puddle, mud pit, or even a hint of dirt with a drop of water on it, you can trust a Lab to find it and dive in with the enthusiasm of a little kid at a candy store.

Labradors and mud…is a love story for the ages. But let’s be real, the aftermath of these muddy yet fun escapades and surprise swims mean more than just a happy dog. It translates to baths, towel rubs, and maybe even a blow-dry session, turning your bathroom into a makeshift mudroom. 

Trust me, it can get pretty annoying for owners. So, while your Labrador might emerge from the nearest pond of water looking like a swamp monster, remember, it’s all in good fun. 

7. The Labrador’s teething stage will hurt – literally.

Brace yourselves, future Labrador parents. The teething or mouthing stage is quite the adventure. Those tiny, needle-like teeth aren’t just for show – when your Lab puppy starts teething, everything becomes a chew toy. From your favorite sneakers to the corner of your sofa, nothing is safe. 

In fact, one Lab owner says:

“They’re gonna bite you and it’s gonna hurt. Like, upsetting amounts of biting and pain. They’re not trying to, and you gotta keep your cool because getting mad at them will just ramp them up more. They think you’re playing.”

It’s like living with a fluffy little shark. But here’s one solution that worked for me. When a puppy bites you, you should overreact by saying “ouch!” – even if it doesn’t really hurt. Immediately stop the play and ignore them.

If you can stay consistent with this, it’ll teach your young Labrador that humans are fragile and we can’t tolerate this type of play.

The good news? This phase isn’t forever. In the meantime, stock up on chew toys and maybe invest in a good pair of gloves! Oh, we’re just kidding about that last part (kind of).

8. Labrador Retrievers are shedding machines.

Oh, the shedding! If you’re dreaming of adding a Labrador to your family, prepare for a flurry of fur. Calling Labradors ‘shedding machines‘ isn’t an exaggeration—it’s a fact of life. These adorable furballs shed year-round, with a couple of major blowouts in spring and fall. 

Your vacuum cleaner is about to become your new best friend, working overtime to keep up with the endless supply of Labrador fur. So, make sure to invest in a good one. But don’t worry, there are ways to manage the furry onslaught. 

Regular brushing certainly helps, but let’s not forget the magic of lint rollers and furniture covers. So yes, the shedding might test your patience (and your allergy medication), but those loving Labrador eyes make every fur-covered moment worth it. 

9. Labradors are far smarter than they act.

Most Labradors raised in a loving family will be silly, funny and a bit derpy. But don’t let that fool you. A Labrador is actually way more intelligent than he seem. In fact, Labs are one of the most trainable and responsive dog breeds, especially if you have delicious treats to bribe them with.

Labs are SO smart that they might just outwit you on occasion. Ever hidden a treat only to find your Lab grinning at you with the ‘hidden’ treat in mouth? That’s Lab intelligence at work for you. Be prepared to be on your toes because Labs learn fast. 

This means they pick up on commands quickly, but it also means they’re quick to learn behaviors you might not appreciate—like opening doors or raiding the pantry. The key is to keep their minds engaged in a positive way.

Puzzle toys, advanced training, and regular mental challenges are the way to go. Remember, a bored Lab is a mischievous Lab, so keep that brilliant mind busy!

10. Labradors are not good guard dogs.

Standing 23 inches tall and weighing 70 pounds, Labradors are relatively big dogs with an unwavering loyalty to the family. So it’s easy to see why some people think they make great guard dogs. But if that’s you…well, you might want to reconsider. 

Labradors, with their friendly and loving nature, are about as intimidating as a teddy bear. They’re more likely to welcome an intruder with a wagging tail and licks than a menacing growl. 

It’s not uncommon for a Lab to greet a burglar with the same enthusiasm as a long-lost friend, perhaps even showing them where the good stuff is hidden. On the bright side, they can make great alarm dogs.

If someone steps onto the property, you can count on the friendly Labrador saying “hello” with its deep, loud barks. Just remember, a Labrador’s idea of guarding likely means guarding the food bowl or their favorite spot on the couch.

Is your Labrador just like this? And did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section below!

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