Labrador Retriever – Breed Profile

The Labrador Retriever is a very popular large breed of dog, that originates from Canada. To find out more about the breed and if it is a good fit for your family, read on below.

Labrador Retriever Penny

Labrador Retriever


The Labrador is a large retriever gun dog, with females between 25-32kg and males 29-36kg. They have a broad head, with pronounced, characterful eyebrows. Their expressive eyes are brown or hazel in colouring and their ears hang close to the head. Labradors should have a muscular build. Their coats are short, dense and waterproof. Shedding amounts are variable, but can be quite heavy. Coats come in three colours, yellow (from almost white, to fox red), chocolate and Black.


Labradors are a kind, gentle and fun loving breed. They are well known for being an excellent dog for families of all ages, and are good with other pets. They are intelligent and trainable, with the breed used in a variety of working roles, from guide dogs to detection work. An inquisitive breed, Labradors have scent tracking instincts, so early lead and recall training is a must. Labradors are well suited to sports, such as flyball and agility. They are usually food focused, so we advise strict diet control, to avoid health issues.


Labradors have an average lifespan of around 12 years. They are prone to both hip and elbow dysplasia, with hip scoring recommended prior to breeding. They can also suffer from luxating patellas. Eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, are seen in the breed. As mentioned above, Labradors can be greedy, resulting in large incidences of obesity. Obesity can result in further health complications, such as diabetes. It can also worsen joint problems, such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.


Labradors were developed from an older breed, the St John’s water dog. Despite being named after the Labrador region of Canada, they actually originate from Newfoundland. The Labrador name came into use to differentiate them from the Newfoundland breed. They were first brought to England in around 1820. The first recognised yellow lab was born in 1899, with chocolate colouring emerging in the 1930s. Today, they are the most popular pedigree in the UK, with over 32,000 pups registered with the KC in 2015.

Famous Examples

Due to their popularity, there are many examples of famous Labradors. In popular culture, Marley from Marley and Me, Bouncer from Neighbours and Brian from Family Guy are all Labradors. There are three Labradors in Downton Abbey and the Andrex puppy has appeared in adverts since 1972. A Labrador called Endal became a well known assistance dog, receiving many awards. He was also the first dog to use a chip and pin machine! Both Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin are also Labrador owners.

The Labrador in the attached photo is Penny. Penny belongs to Becky, one of our vets who works primarily at our Shadwell surgery.

If you have a Labrador, why not show it off in the comments!

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