The Labrador retriever (aka “Labs”) is a popular working dog which has become the most registered breed in the United States over the past 20 years by pet owners. Labradors are intelligent, loyal dogs whom are not only playful and friendly, but also can be easily trained to perform functional tasks, making them excellent candidates for service dog careers. Labradors gained the title “Retriever” to their breed name due to their skill of being able to seek and return specific objects. They love playing fetch, hide and go seek, and other group based games where they can have equally mentally stimulating and physical exercise. They have high energy and incredible agility. This makes them great hiking partners as they can usually climb and hold their balance well.
Labradors do very well in large families and those with multiple dogs. These medium sized dogs have a very strong “pack” instinct and thrive by staying near to their humans or other animals. If your Lab has separation anxiety when you leave the house, consider adding another dog to your home to give your Lab a partner to keep him company while you are away. Labs like to work in teams.
Labs love to travel in cars too. Always learning, Labradors are very observant and explorative. You must keep a strong eye on your Labrador when outside playing because any distraction which seems small to you (squirrels) can become a new interest to your dog. They are strong enough to break away from a leash to chase, but if you work with your Lab, they will learn to heel to your side.
Labradors are very recognizable dogs. If a Lab is a mixed breed, colors of fur may vary, however Labradors come in three colors, Black, Yellow and Chocolate (brown). It is very rare to see a pure white furred Labrador, as they are usually just considered a very pale yellow. Their coats are medium to long haired, and shed heavily in warmer weather.
Similar to a Collie (think of Lassie), Labradors are very good communicators. They use barks, whines, aggressive body language and actions to get their messages understood. Everything your Labrador does that is considered “puppy behavior”, or even “bad” behavior, is their unique way of telling you something important. Some tricks Labs use to get their human’s attention are leaning against them, whining while staring at what they want, scratching at doors or moving objects. Labs with depression or anxiety tend to destroy items (just about anything they can fit in their mouths) to get attention, or out of boredom. Labradors are also smart enough to play guessing games. If you speak to your Labrador like a human and ask him what he wants, he will bark or react louder when you say the correct answer. They are very interactive dogs and hold meaningful conversation.
Affectionate and protective Labrador Retrievers are a good representation of how a dog is truly a “Man’s best friend”.