That Labrador retriever puppy is so cute, you just can't resist him. One of America's perennial favorite breeds, Labs make great, loyal companions. They are smart and easy to train. They are also energetic and need space. Remember, that active, adorable puppy soon will be a very active, medium-to-large dog.
Labrador Retriever Size
The American Kennel Club standard for Labrador retrievers says an adult male Lab's height at the withers must be between 22.5 and 24.5 inches. A female Lab will stand between 21.5 and 23.5 inches. Dogs varying more than a half-inch above or below the standard are disqualified from showing. An adult male Labrador retriever weighs between 65 and 80 pounds, with the female weighing between 55 and 70 pounds. As hunting dogs, labs needed a strong build with good muscling. "The dog should never appear low and long or tall and leggy in outline," according to the AKC breed standard.
Effect of Early Spaying or Neutering
If you spay or neuter your Lab considerably before the puppy reaches puberty at about 7 or 8 months, rather than after puberty and the development that accompanies it, the dog probably will grow taller than the standard, with lighter bone structure and narrower skull and chest. That's because the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen play important roles in development of the adult dog. A dog's growth plates close later if the dog is spayed or neutered early, so the dog stops growing later. Only intact males and females can show in AKC breed shows, and the standard is written and judged to assure perpetuation of the breed's desired characteristics.
Your Lab's Exercise Needs
Labrador retrievers are energetic, highly active dogs, requiring plenty of exercise. If you can't provide a Lab with good training, long daily walks, and opportunities to run in a large field or secure yard or a dog park, maybe this isn't the breed for you. If you have the space and want a dog to train for work, sport or active companionship, it likely is. These dogs are intelligent and willing to work, which is why they are so often the breed of choice for the blind and disabled as well as for scent detection work of various kinds and, of course, for hunting and trials. An untrained Lab can be a doggie disaster. He's big, high-spirited and needs to know his limits.
Although the coat is short, Labs shed a lot -- as in, you'll have Lab hair all over everything in your house. He's such a friendly, lovable goofball you won't mind a little extra vacuuming for the next 15 years, right? A Lab probably isn't the best choice if you live in a small space. If you live in a small apartment and really want a Lab, consider adopting an adult from the shelter. Labs calm down considerably in middle age, and you can see the adult dog and determine in advance whether he really is a fit for your household and lifestyle.
- American Kennel Club: Meet the Breeds -- Labrador Retriever
- American Kennel Club: Labrador Retriever History
- Dog Owner's Guide: Labrador Retriever
- Tealwood Kennel: Getting Started with a New Lab Puppy
- The Labrador Site: Labrador Puppy Growth FAQ
- Canine Sports Productions: Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.