The Labrador retriever, generally just referred to as the Labrador or “Lab,” is one of the most popular dog breeds within the UK, and one that even the most inexperienced of dog lovers can usually instantly recognise!
While the breed was first developed as a working retrieving dog, their intelligence, friendly, open natures and amenability to training soon saw them making the transition to domestic pets, which their versatility enabled them to do with ease. While the Lab is today most widely owned as a pet, they can also be seen doing a wide variety of other things too, such as canine sports, working as sniffer dogs with the police and military, working as assistance dogs, and still working within their traditional role as a retrieving gun dog too.
The Labrador retriever is a medium to large breed of dog, which can be seen in chocolate, yellow or black coat colours. Also possible is a fox red colour and a cream colour, although these are much less common.
Due to the prevalence and popularity of the Labrador retriever within the UK, the breed is one that many dog lovers consider owning, and is also one for which a great deal of information is available on the main traits and requirements of the breed’s lifestyle. Finding out about the general health and any health tests recommended for the breed is an important part of researching ownership, and we will look into these things in more detail within this article.
The average lifespan of the Labrador retriever is 12-13 years of age, which places the Lab roundly in the middle of the normal range across the board for all dog breeds of a similar size and build.
The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Labrador retriever is 6.5%, which is just a touch higher than the 6.25% or lower that is considered to be the ideal. However, some breed lines of Labradors have been calculated to have a coefficient of inbreeding statistic of above 10%, which is rather high. Labrador breeders are advised to reduce the coefficient of inbreeding statistic within their own breed lines where possible.
As a popular and common breed of dog, a lot of information is available on the general health and propensity to any hereditary health conditions across the breed as a whole, and as a result of this, The Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association recommend testing of potential parent dogs for certain known hereditary health conditions. These are:
A range of DNA tests are also available for the breed, and are recommended for breed lines that have produced dogs affected with any of these conditions. DNA testing is available for:
There is also a relatively long list of other hereditary conditions that can potentially affect the Labrador, but for which no standard testing schemes are currently available. While the sheer range of potential conditions can be rather daunting, it is important to remember that the sheer number of dogs of the breed means that health issues of all types are likely to be more widely recognised than they might be in other breeds, and it is unlikely that any given dog will suffer from a wide range of such problems, providing that their parents were in generally good health.
Known conditions across the Labrador retriever breed pool include: