By Kathleen Knowles
Introduction: The fifth in the series of Dogs as Pets
Choosing a dog to become a family member is a big decision. You must determine whether you want a mix-breed dog or a pedigreed one. A mix-breed dog is exactly what it implies, more than one breed of a dog mixed together. A pedigreed dog is one breed only with nothing but that breed in the pedigree going back for generations. What size is right for you? Should you buy a long-haired dog or a short-coated one? A big dog or a small dog? In this series, we will examine pure-bred breeds only. So far, we have looked at the Chihuahua, Saint Bernard, the French Bulldog, and the German Shepherd. In the following article, we will examine the Labrador Retriever as a pet.
The Labrador Retriever
When it comes to discussing the different breeds and what kind of pets they make, one breed comes immediately to mind. The Labrador Retriever is most definitely the king of the dog world. Today the “Lab” ranks as the most popular breed of dog in the United States (according to the American Kennel Club registrations) of the 193 breeds recognized. They are a member of the Sporting Group. (Group 1)
The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, Canada where he was used as a duck retriever. English noblemen took some specimens to England where the breed was standardized. In 1917, the first Labrador was registered with the American Kennel Club. Since that time, Labs have only continued to increase in popularity across America.
There are many reasons why this particular breed has become such a favorite. A medium size dog standing 22.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulders. (Females 21.5 to 23.5 inches), and weighing from 65 to 80 pounds (females 55 to 70 pounds). The Lab is a short-coupled, balanced dog with a broad head, expressive eyes, a drop ear, and a strong jaw. He has an “otter” tail and the coat is short, dense, and water resistant to provide him with protection while in water. The breed comes in three colors: black, yellow and chocolate. (Description wrote with the help of the AKC breed standard)
To understand the popularity of this breed, one has to look no further than the dog’s temperament. The Lab is well-known for his friendly, outgoing, and spirited demeanor. The breed is extroverted and cheerful. Labradors are docile, more so than most other breeds. They are sociable and welcoming to almost everyone they meet. One of their most enduring qualities is that they love children. They are affectionate and gentle with kids and love to romp with them. Another plus if you are a family who likes to have more than one dog, they do well and are not aggressive with other canines. Most of all, Labs are loyal to their humans.
They do require exercise due to being a high energy breed. However, they will do whatever their people love to do. If you like to hike, so will your Lab. Do you jog? Labradors will love to run alongside you. If you go swimming, just try to keep your dog out of the water. They love it!
The Labrador is highly trainable. He is intelligent and learns quickly. They are perfect for dog sports such as rally, tracking, field trials, obedience, and agility. If you are not an active individual but have a medium-sized yard, your dog will be able to get plenty of exercise. Labs also adapt well to apartments, although you will need to walk your canine for daily exercise.
Labradors are not picky eaters but can be prone to obesity because they love to eat. Feeding a balanced diet will also help to keep your canine in good weight. They are generally a very healthy breed with proper food and enough exercise. Labs can tolerate most kinds of weather, but should not be left out for extended periods of time in cold or hot weather. Like any breed, discretion in extreme weather is advised.
Unlike the longer coated breeds, Labs do not require a lot of grooming. They should be brushed to remove dead coat when shedding. An occasional bath will be necessary and nails will require trimming. Teeth should be brushed regularly and ears checked. All of this can be done by the owner. No trips to the groomer will be needed; another plus of owning a Labrador Retriever!
Labs make excellent pets, yet they are also used extensively as working dogs. They are probably the number one breed when it comes to therapy dogs. Due to their intelligence and trainability, they are a favorite candidate for Leader Dogs for the Blind. They, of course, make excellent hunting dogs. There is no hesitation about entering the water to retrieve downed fowl for their hunter.
Have you decided a Labrador Retriever is right for you and your family? If so, don’t look to puppy mills for your new family member. Go on the internet and check out the only national breed club recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever Club (thelabradorclub.com). They can direct you to a reputable breeder in your area.
So, if you are looking for a loyal, fun-loving, intelligent dog to become a member of your family, look no further than the Labrador Retriever, and join the thousands of people around the country who have already discovered the joys of a Lab.
Blue Water Healthy Living Contributing writer
Kathleen Knowles is a life-long resident of Port Huron and a 1973 graduate of Port Huron High School. After attending St. Clair County Community College, she has worked for credit unions all of her life as well as a professional dog show handler, known for handling Pekingese. Kathleen has been writing fiction for years as a hobby, having posted many stories online.
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