Breed Spotlight: Labrador Retriever
The sweet-faced, lovable Labrador Retriever is America's most popular dog breed. Labs are friendly, outgoing, and high-spirited companions who have more than enough affection to go around for a family looking for a medium-to-large dog. The sturdy, well-balanced Labrador Retriever can, depending on the sex, stand from 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 pounds.
The dense, hard coat comes in yellow, black, and a luscious chocolate. The head is wide, the eyes glimmer with kindliness, and the thick, tapering 'otter tail' seems to be forever signaling the breed's innate eagerness. Labs are famously friendly. They are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family, and they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike. But don't mistake his easygoing personality for low energy: The Lab is an enthusiastic athlete that requires lots of exercise, like swimming and marathon games of fetch, to keep physically and mentally fit.
The Lab has a thick, water-repellant double coat that sheds. Give occasional baths to keep them clean. As with all breeds, the Lab's nails should be trimmed regularly and his teeth brushed frequently.
The Labrador Retriever should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian's supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Labrador Retriever is an exuberant, very energetic breed that needs lots of exercise every day. A Lab that doesn't get enough exercise is likely to engage in hyperactive and/or destructive behavior to release pent-up energy. The breed's favorite activities are retrieving and swimming. Labs also love to burn up energy on hunting trips or at field trials, as well as by participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, and dock diving. Many Labs also work hard in important roles such as search-and-rescue, drug, and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs.