Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Guide | Gundog Journal
Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Main sporting role:
Over 10 years
2 or more hours a day
Coat length:
Vulnerable status:

The Labrador Retriever is the world’s top gundog today, having risen from relative obscurity following its initial arrival in Britain. In the early 1800s, a select group of aristocrats bought these dogs from fishermen returning from Newfoundland and developed the breed as a shooting companion on their own estates.

Labrador Retriever Key Characteristics

This gundog breed is characterised by its typical head, dense waterproof coat, and otter tail. Combined with its size, these features make this dog suited for different tasks than smaller gundogs and its training should reflect this.

Active and easygoing with a strong work ethic, Labrador Retrievers are known for their reliable and friendly temperament. They’re generally good with children and friendly with strangers and other pets, which is why they’re a popular choice for dog lovers across the world.

Working strains should be placed in shooting or active homes with plenty of stimulation. It's important to spend a lot of time with your dog to develop the right habits and make sure it receives the exercise it needs.

When properly trained, these retrievers are an ideal choice for driven shooting, steady at the peg, and make tireless workers in the picking-up team. They’re also ideal for wildfowling and walking behind pointers on grouse moors. Labrador Retrievers are also highly sought-after in multiple service and military roles.

Owning A Labrador Retriever: Pros And Cons

Pros Of Owning This Retriever

  • Generally has a relaxed manner
  • Highly intelligent
  • A generally healthy breed
  • Eager to please
  • A versatile working dog
  • Large, soft mouth makes this breed well suited to picking-up
  • Their temperament means they make a good family dog
  • Lives for 10-12 years on average

Cons Of Owning This Retriever

  • Very energetic - requires a lot of exercise
  • Large size means they need a lot of space, so they’re not best suited to apartment living
  • Sheds a lot
  • Can be prone to obesity, and may be at risk of hip and elbow dysplasia

Grooming Advice

Labrador Retrievers shed a lot, so they require regular brushing - brush their coats once or twice a week to help keep them in the best possible condition. During periods of heavy shedding, you may need to comb their coats daily, and always before bathing. 

It’s also recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week to help prevent the likelihood of tooth decay. 

When it comes to ear care, check your lab’s ears at least once a week to make sure there are no foreign bodies in there, as this breed can be prone to ear problems.

Find out more about the Labrador Retriever here, and get acquainted with different types of retriever in our gundog breed hub.

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