Labrador Retriever Overview

Dog Breed:
Labrador Retriever
Breed Group:
Sporting Group
Active, friendly, intelligent, athletic, loving
21.5-24.5 inches
55-80 pounds
Life Span:
10-12 years
Coat Colors:
Black, chocolate, yellow; white markings are acceptable
Area of Origin:
Newfoundland, Canada
Best For:
Active families with some previous dog experience
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Labrador Retrievers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Labrador Retrievers
Mixed Breeds:
Labrabull, Labrottie, Plott Hound Lab Mix, Goldador, Bluetick Coonhound Lab, Labloodhound & German Sheprador

Labrador Retriever Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Labrador Retriever

  • Ranked America’s #1 breed

  • Not a breed for the novice dog owner

  • A high energy dog that needs daily exercise

  • Originated in Newfoundland, Canada


The Labrador Retriever enjoys its place as America’s #1 breed. A dog known equally for its brains and beauty, the Labrador Retriever, affectionately called the “Lab,” is a gentle and loving family companion that exudes warmth. 

A dog breed intended for sport, the Labrador’s physique is strong and muscular. Labrador Retrievers are known for their athletic prowess, making them excellent at many different performance sports and outdoor activities. The breed has very low grooming requirements though its coat does shed quite a bit. 

Labrador Retrievers are a high energy dog, requiring regular daily exercise. The breed is renowned for its immense loyalty and its love of people. This dog is most content when in the presence of its beloved family and does not enjoy time spent alone. 

Labrador Retrievers hail from Newfoundland, an island located off the eastern coast of Canada in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean. This popular dog breed was first named the St. John’s Dog after the capital city on the island. Labs were developed to assist the area fishermen with such tasks as retrieving items from the cold Atlantic waters and hauling heavy equipment. But at the end of the day, the Labrador Retriever’s most important job was that of a cherished family pet. 

Though few dogs are employed as working dogs in Newfoundland today, they remain a breed that is most content when given a job to do. Many find fulfilment in dog performance sports or work as therapy dogs. 

The Lab’s amiable nature makes him ill-suited to work as a guard dog. This breed is so sweet of nature that they have never met a stranger; every person or dog they meet is instantly a beloved family friend. 

Though not a dog breed for the novice dog owner, Labs make wonderful family companions and are gentle, patient, loving, and kind with children. They are not a breed that excels in an apartment, preferring more land on which to roam and play. A high energy breed, Labs require daily vigorous exercise to remain content and in good physical condition. 

Labrador Retriever Breed History

  • Developed to assist fishermen with retrieving heavy items from the ocean

  • The breed was further refined in England

  • The otter tail is an important hallmark of the breed

  • The Lab’s thick double coat is water repellent

 The lovable Labrador Retriever traces its roots to the Atlantic island of Newfoundland, located off the coast of Canada. This beloved dog breed was originally developed as a working dog to assist area fisherman with hauling and retrieving equipment and errant fish that had escaped the nets. The Lab also excels at retrieving ducks on hunts. 

The Labrador Retriever first gained popularity in the 1800’s when Englishmen visiting Canada first caught sight of the impressive sporting breed at work. When these gentlemen returned to their home country, they brought Lab puppies with them to further develop the breed to refine it. 

One of the hallmarks of the breed is its short, thick coat which consists of a topcoat and undercoat to provide water protection. This type of coat was preferred as a short coat was unlikely to trap water and cause ice crystals to form when the North Atlantic temperatures dramatically dropped. 

Another characteristic unique to the Labrador Retriever is its tail which is thick at the base and gradually tapers to a thinner point at the end. This is often referred to as an “otter tail” and assists the dog with both swimming and turning. The ideal Lab has a friendly, gentle nature that makes it well-suited to its roles as a family companion and fisherman’s loyal friend. A

The breed first achieved recognition in 1903 in the Kennel Club (England) with the American Kennel Club following suit in 1917. 

Labrador Retriever Size & Weight

  • Males stand 22.5”-24.5” and weigh between 65 and 80 pounds.

  • Females are 21.5”-23.5” at full maturity and weigh from 55 to 70 pounds

  • Considered a medium to large breed dog

  • Owners should expect higher costs to house and care for a dog of this size.


The average Labrador Retriever male stands between 22.5” and 24.5” at the shoulder when adulthood is reached. Its weight ranges from 65 to 80 pounds. Adult females reach a height of between 21.5” to 23.5” with their weights falling between 55 to 70 pounds when fully mature. 

The Labrador Retriever is considered a medium to large dog. Dogs of this size are more costly to own since the items they require must be purchased in larger sizes such as collars, dog beds, and crates. In addition to this, keeping a Labrador Retriever well fed is an expensive prospect. Though a high-quality dog food does cost more, the dog will need to eat less of it to feel satisfied, thus increasing its value for owners. 

Labrador Retriever Personality & Temperament

  • Exceptionally friendly with people and other animals

  • Eager to learn

  • Requires training to remain mentally and physically satisfied

  • Not suited to apartment living


The Labrador Retriever is a friendly, loving dog breed with a sweet demeanour. A breed that delights in pleasing its family, the Lab is eager to learn new things and is easy to train. This sociable dog enjoys the company of both people and other animals, making it a pleasure to take in public.  

Labrador Retrievers are world-class charmers, winning people over with their high intellect and desire to please. A breed that is willing participant in training exercises, the Lab does require training to help positively direct its energy and natural enthusiasm for life. A highly active breed, the Lab needs lots of activity to remain content. 

The amiable Lab enjoys the company of children and views time spent with them as an opportunity for adventure and fun. Good-natured to its core, the Lab is patient and kind with kids, even allowing them to dress it up in silly costumes. However, all interactions between children and dogs should be carefully supervised to err on the side of caution. 

Labs typically get along well with other pets. Early socialization can help ensure the breed enjoys the company of other dogs and cats. To integrate a new puppy into a home with multiple pets, it is best to take the resident pets and the pup to a neutral location where greetings can occur in a setting that is non-confrontational. 

Labrador Retrievers are not suited to apartment living, preferring to live in a home with a spacious fenced yard. A social breed, the Lab is not a dog that enjoys being left alone for lengthy periods of time. 

The Lab’s thick double coat provides excellent protection against inclement weather and is water repellent. However, this breed does not love extreme temperatures and favours a more moderate climate if given the choice. 

Labrador Retriever Health & Grooming

  • Enjoy good health

  • Low grooming requirements

  • Bath on an as needed basis

  • Drool a moderate amount


Labrador Retrievers typically enjoy good health. However, they can be prone to certain genetic conditions. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis dissecans, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, tricuspid valve dysplasia, myopathy, bloat, acute moist dermatitis, cold tail, and ear infections. 

A dog that has a double coat that provides water protection, the Labrador Retriever sheds frequently. However, the Lab’s coat, which is comprised of a topcoat and undercoat, requires very little grooming. Baths can be given on an as needed basis. Daily brushing will help to cut down on shedding. 

Nails should be trimmed as often as is necessary to promote good foot health. Regular ear cleaning and dental care will help keep the Labrador Retriever in tip top shape. 

Labrador Retrievers love to eat and will eat well beyond the point of satiation. For this reason, this dog’s meals and treats should be carefully measured and controlled to prevent weight gain, a common problem in the breed. 

The Lab is a moderate drooler, so families will need to be prepared for this. 

Labrador Retriever Training

  • Puppy socialization and obedience classes are recommended

  • A breed that learns new things quickly and with enthusiasm

  • Can be prone to barking

  • Not prey driven


Since Labrador Retrievers are very strong and have energy to spare, puppy socialization classes and obedience training are highly recommended. These types of training opportunities will help the dog to learn appropriate behaviours and will channel its natural exuberance in a positive manner. 

Labs excel at training, eagerly seeking opportunities to learn new things. A dog of high intelligence, the average Labrador Retriever can easily learn the entire slew of basic obedience commands in as little time as a few weeks. 

As with most puppies, Labrador Retrievers can be mouthy, particularly when they are teething. This behaviour is easy to curtail by redirecting the dog’s attention to something else such as a toy, treat, or bone. 

The Lab is not a dog that is prey-driven, and most typically is not drawn to roam from its home. However, the Lab has a powerful voice and loves to use it, so care must be taken to teach the dog a “no bark” command to prevent complaints from angry neighbours. 

Labrador Retriever Exercise Requirements

  • Puppy socialization and obedience classes are recommended

  • A breed that learns new things quickly and with enthusiasm

  • Can be prone to barking

  • Not prey driven


A high energy breed, the Labrador Retriever must be exercised on a daily basis to maintain optimal health. Labs whose activity needs are not met can fall into destructive behaviours or become hyperactive. 

Among the activities Labs excel at are swimming, retrieving, hiking, and running. However, dog sports are also an excellent way to channel a Lab’s energy. Some of the most popular sports Labs enjoy are agility, field trials, competitive obedience, and tracking. 

It is recommended that the Labrador Retriever engage in vigorous activity for a period of 30 to 60 minutes each day. The breed is known for its puppy-like behaviour well into its senior years.

Labrador Retriever Diet & Feeding

  • Choose a high-quality, well-balanced food

  • Puppies should eat puppy food; adults should eat adult food

  • Portion size is important

  • Labs can easily become obese


To ensure the Labrador Retriever receives a diet that is appropriate to its needs, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with a veterinarian. A high-quality food that is well-balanced and specifically formulated to support the dog’s stage of life is important to maintaining optimal health. 

Puppies have unique nutritional needs, and thus, should only be fed a puppy food of exceptional quality. Their developing minds and bodies require a different balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support proper growth. Likewise, adult dogs should only receive a food that has been designed with their specific needs in mind

Recommended serving sizes can be found on the label on the package of food selected for the dog. This is simply a guideline and must be adjusted to reflect the amount of activity the Lab engages in daily. The dog’s appetite and weight will serve as an excellent guide. 

The Labrador Retriever will welcome the opportunity to overeat, so it is important the dog’s food be carefully measured. Obesity can occur very rapidly in this breed. Free feeding is strongly discouraged. 

You may also be interested in:

Labrador Retriever Rescue Groups

LABRADOR-RETRIEVER-FEEDING-PUPPIESThe Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. has a comprehensive website which can assist potential adopters with finding a Labrador Retriever for adoption in their state or country. 

Find out more information about Labs available for adoption near you here:


The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.