The Labrador Retriever
Trademark: Labs were originally used as fishing dogs for the villagers of Newfoundland and developed webbed paws for swimming and two distinct layers of hair - inner short, fuzzy hair for insulation, and longer guard hair for water shedding. The modern breed is still very much a water dog and is one of the most popular dogs in the US.
Personality: Very friendly, energetic, and outgoing, these dogs have an even temperament that makes them great family dogs. They usually love to meet people and other dogs. They are very food motivated, as well as in tune with their family, so they are fairly easy to train. They love to retrieve and to swim and are not typically very barky or territorial. They like to hold things in their mouth and are generally very soft-mouthed; a Labrador can actually carry an egg in its mouths without breaking it.
Preferences: Labradors want to be active and to know expectations because they live to please their people. They need room to run, but could work in a smaller living space with enough exercise. They excel with enthusiasm at hunting, retrieving, and service work.
Size: This breed really varies, and averages from 60- 80 lbs.
Life expectancy: 10-14 years.
Common Health Problems: Overall fairly hardy dogs, but like most of the larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, so breeders should have x-rays done on pups. And for general hip and joint health keep them to a healthy weight and use ramps or stairs to prevent them from jumping too much.
Best Match: A person who likes to spend time exercising and training their dog. A beach or lake go-er who likes to play fetch and does not mind a little drool will be this pup’s best friend. This breed is one of the longest to retain a puppy-like demeanor so a pet parent who likes to play and does not mind a sometimes short attention span is a must.
Lab Tip: If you see a lab pacing or barking in a kennel at a shelter don’t assume he/she is an obnoxious dog. Dogs often get bored in this environment and labs are so energetic that a run is hard for them to handle. In a home environment with enough exercise and love many dogs will become more balanced and fit right in with the family.
Adoptable Pup: Project Pooch in Woodburn, Oregon has available labs including Callie. Callie is one, fun and full of energy. She enjoys playing in the water, going on long walks, and cuddling. Callie is also a Canine Good Citizen, spayed, micro-chipped, and up to date on all of her vaccinations. Call 503-982-4492 or send them an email for more information.
Megan Mahan lives with visiting foster animals, quite a few fish, and her boyfriend in Eugene, Oregon. She has a 'day job' in an office, but devotes much of her free time to fostering pets and creative writing. From her high school gig as Dog Bather to her more recent years working at the Santa Cruz SPCA, where she was contributing editor of the newsletter, Megan has always lived, loved and worked with animals.