Of all the dog breeds registered by the AKC (American Kennel Club), none has enjoyed more popularity than the Labrador Retriever. Labrador Retrievers are sometimes referred to as Labs or Labradors, though they may also be described by their color traits (most commonly Yellow, Chocolate and Black). Labrador Retrievers are loved by many dog owners, due to their agreeable temperament and loyal personality. However, in order to get the most out of your relationship with your Labrador, it is important that you understand some of the breed-specific needs of this popular dog.
Labrador Retrievers are known for being an active breed, sometimes even becoming prone to hyperactivity. In addition to this, Labradors are also extremely intelligent, listed in the “Intelligence of Dogs” as being the 7th most intelligent breed. However, with this combination of understanding and high energy, it is recommended that a Labrador be given constant entertainment.
Labrador Retrievers may display destructive behavior when bored, which is one of the most notable effects of their intelligence. Destructive behavior may include digging, chewing or destroying furniture. To avoid this, engage your Labrador Retriever in a designated period of activity each day. Labrador Retrievers have what is called an “oral fixation”, which was actually one of the traits that was selectively bred into their genetic line. Chew toys, bones, interactive toys and long-lasting treats are all great ways to keep your Labrador Retriever’s attention.
Since Labradors are an energetic breed, they do require a good deal of exercise to remain healthy. Labradors are also very affectionate, and will respond eagerly to any opportunity to earn treats. However, due to this behavior, they may also be prone to becoming overweight. It’s recommended that you take your Labrador Retriever outdoors for a 30 minute period of moderate activity each day.
Caring for a Labrador Retriever also involves regular grooming. Understanding how to take care of a dog means that you need to pay attention to your dog’s hygienic needs as well. Labrador Retrievers are classified as being in the “moderate” shedding category, though they do completely replace their coat of fur twice per year (also called “blowing the coat”). However, if you groom your Labrador Retriever at least three times per week, you can greatly reduce the amount of hair they shed onto clothes and furniture.
Proper Labrador Retriever care does also require that you schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian. Labrador Retrievers are prone to a number of breed-based genetic defects, which can cause serious health problems if not treated while in their early stages. Many dog owners underestimate the importance of veterinary care, seeing it instead as an unnecessary financial expense. However, taking your Labrador Retriever for monthly checkups is actually an essential part of proper dog care. Conditions such as hip dysplasia, a luxating patella and progressive retinal atrophy are only a few of the genetic conditions that may have been inherited by a Labrador Retriever. By comparison, a bit of preventive care can go a long way towards saving you the expense of treating an advanced-stage genetic disorder.