Labrador Retrievers (often called just Labradors, or "Labs"), have been ranked as the No. 1 most popular dog breed in America. An all-around favorite, Labrador Retrievers were bred to be compatible with most climates, and able to train and function both on land and in the water. They were once called the St. John's Dog, native to Newfoundland where the breed would team with fisherman to retrieve lost catches in the cold water. When several of the dogs were brought to England during the 19th century, the pets were cross bred with spaniel breeds and setter breeds. The result was a dog that is reliable, highly trainable, able to hunt, retrieve, track, work as a guide dog and service dog, do search and rescue missions, cart-pulling, police work, and obey spoken commands.
Labrador full-breeds are a solid color, ranging from yellow, chocolate, or black. These shades can appear almost white, tan or gray in some case, and shades may vary.
Labrador Retrieves are relentlessly loyal, cheerful and playful comrades. They become emotionally attached to their owners, and will verbally "mourn" being separated from them for long periods of time. The hard working animals have been known to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to rescue and help return their owners to safety. They have consistent temperaments, are natural protectors who will bark at intruders, and keep pesky rodents away. They love romping, playing swimming, cuddling and wrestling with their owners. Labs are patient and playful with children, but need to be properly socialized with other humans and dogs since their curiosity and playfulness might result in an accident. They need to be taught to stay within their limits, or these trackers might bolt through the front door the moment it is opened.
The eagerness of Labs can result in unruliness if not checked by a firm leader. They will need to be taught to wait, sit, heel, and obey their master from a young age, as they can grow up to be very strong and sometimes willful. They will need balanced outlets for "fun" and exercise so that the training sessions can be focused without distraction. The human will have to maintain very consistent boundaries, as bending rules will cause Labrador Retrievers to become confused and prone to disobedience. They work well with positive reinforcement and verbal encouragement while learning to respect their master.
For the most part, Labs tend to have fewer health complications than most breeds. However, some dogs still struggle with elbow or hip dysplasia, eye troubles, and tumors.
Labrador Retrievers are energetic dogs bred to work, think and track for long periods of time. This will necessitate strenuous exercise such as long walks, running, bicycling trips, coupled with fetching, catching and playing. They are most happy when they have large areas to explore or squirrels and groundhogs to chase.
Because of their energy and desire for adventure and fun, Labrador Retrievers are best suited for a property with a sizable yard. While they can adapt to apartment life, Labs need play time, chew toys, and frequent rigorous exercise to maintain a healthy indoor life.
Labrador Retrievers have relatively short hair, but they do tend to shed. Regular brushing and combing combined with baths will usually suffice for this breed.