You’ve found a black Labrador puppy who has won your heart and you’ve decided to keep her. You can use several different parameters to work out how old she is for the purpose of exercise, feeding and inoculations.
A quick examination of your black Lab puppy’s mouth will give you the best clues to her age. Puppies commonly cut their first teeth at around one month, by which time their eyes have only been open for about a week. Within two weeks, the six-week-old Lab puppy has sharp enough teeth that her mother will begin restricting her breastfeeding to get some relief. At around four months, your Lab puppy is likely to start getting her central incisors, which are the two front teeth, as well as her first and fourth premolars. Although these teeth can erupt at any time between two and five months, it’s common for them to arrive at around four months.
As members of a large dog breed, black Labradors have a sturdy frame even in puppyhood. Young puppies have short legs, which are perfect for gamboling around in play. As the puppy begins to mature, her legs will start to grow longer in proportion to her body and she may look somewhat “gangly,” like a teenager. If your black Lab puppy looks tall on her long legs but her body is still that of a puppy, she is most likely between two and four months old. After four months, she begins to grow into the normal shape of a black Labrador, although she is still generally smaller than an adult dog would be.
Black Labs and other large-breed dogs generally reach their full adult weight at 12 to 18 months. The average weight of a healthy adult black Labrador retriever is between 65 and 80 pounds for males, and between 55 and 70 pounds for females. At four months, most black Lab puppies have reached approximately 30 percent of their potential adult weight. Bear in mind that if your puppy was neglected or malnourished before coming to you, she may be underweight and could remain small all her life.
Although large breeds like the black Lab will still be light in weight at four months, they will have reached about 60 percent of their potential height at this age. Two months later, the average six-month-old Lab puppy will be at 75 percent of her full height. This is one reason for the stage of awkward development and long legs, as the puppy grows into her body. By measuring the height of your black Lab puppy and comparing it to her projected height as an adult, you should be able to get an idea of her age.
After considering the results of all these measurements, you can evaluate your black Lab puppy’s age. If she is smaIl, with short legs and puppy teeth, and weighs less than 15 pounds but runs around confidently, she is between eight and 14 weeks old. A puppy that weighs around 20 pounds, has long gangly legs and is just cutting her permanent teeth is probably between four and five months. If she appears to be fully grown but smaller and less muscular than an adult, she is most likely six months or older. If she is almost fully formed and shows signs of coming into heat, however, she is seven months old or more.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.