VCA Animal Hospitals

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Basic Labrador Retriever Information

  • Lifespan: 10 - 12 years
  • Height: 22 - 25 inches
  • Weight: 55 - 80 pounds

Medical Conditions Seen in Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retriever Traits

  • Joggin Partner
  • Lap Dog
  • Good with Children
  • Warm Weather
  • Cold Weather
  • Grooming Requirements
  • Shedding
  • Barking
  • Ease of Training

Labrador Retriever History

  • Despite their name, they originated in Newfoundland, not Labrador.
  • Developed from the "Lesser" Newfoundland-a medium-sized black dog that retrieved game and fish from cold waters, and even pulled small boats.
  • Although they died out in Newfoundland, the Labs we see today are descended from those that were taken to England in the early 1800s.
  • In England, they gained favor as upland game retrievers; by 1870, the name Labrador Retriever was common in England.
  • Two Labs of the 1880s, Buccleuch Avon and Ned, are widely considered to be the ancestors of all modern Labs.
  • In 1892, the first liver Labs were officially recorded, and in 1899, the first yellow Lab. However, yellow and chocolate dogs did exist before then.
  • Labs came to America as Scottish-style shooting and gamekeeping became prestigious among upper class sportsmen.
  • The breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903, and the AKC in 1917.
  • In 1938, a Lab became the first dog to appear on the cover of Life magazine, bringing the breed national attention. The Lab was also the first dog to be featured on a U.S. stamp, in 1959.
  • Labs gradually replaced other breeds as the most popular guide dogs. They are also popular search and rescue dogs, assistance dogs and contraband detection dogs.
  • Since 1991, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed in America. It is also the most popular breed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • U.S. President Bill Clinton owned a Labrador named Buddy, and Russian President Vladimir Putin owned a Labrador named Koni.

Labrador Retriever Behavior Concerns

  • Makes a playful and trustworthy child's companion.
  • Eager to please, but can be oblivious to corrections.
  • A happy dog, with a good old boy attitude; not easily bothered.
  • Outgoing toward strangers.
  • Gets along well with other pets and dogs.
  • Loves to retrieve, to the point of seeming compulsive.
  • Loves to swim.
  • Quick to learn, but tends to pull when on leash.
  • Does best with reward-based training involving food or retrieving.

Labrador Retriever Suggested Exercises

  • Can be a calm housedog if given adequate exercise.
  • Needs daily walks, jogs, hikes or play sessions.
  • Swimming and retrieving are favored methods of exercise.
  • Also needs mental exercise in the form of training or games.
  • Field-bred Labs are lighter built and more active than show-bred Labs, and will usually require more exercise.
  • Labs enjoy hunting, and many owners compete in field events with them.

Labrador Retriever Grooming

  • Coat is straight and thick, but fairly short.
  • Colors are black, yellow and chocolate. No other colors are considered acceptable.
  • Brushing once a week is adequate; more during shedding seasons.
  • Shedding is average to above average.

Suggested Labrador Retriever Nutritional Needs

  • Labradors have a tendency to become obese.
  • Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet that does not allow them to become overweight.
  • Puppies should be fed a large-breed growth food, which slows their growing rate but not final size. This has been shown to decrease the incidence or severity of hip dysplasia in adults.

Did you know?

  • Grapes and raisins are harmful to dogs.
  • Some dog parasites are transferable to humans.
  • Many common pet ailments may be detected early and prevented by visiting your veterinarian twice yearly - saving both time, money, and most importantly, ensuring the best quality of life for your dog.

Have More Questions on Labrador Retrievers?

We are here to help! Input your zip code and search to locate a hospital nearest you.

See all VCA Animal Hospitals

Ask the Vet

Have unanswered pet health questions? Dr.Donna Spector, with 10+ years of hands-on Internal Medicine experience, is here with your answers every Friday.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.