Your Lab is always there for you. He's happy to see you, even if you only went out for a minute. He's easily trained, and wants to play and go on walks. Yes, he sheds a lot. But doesn't all that love make up for all the dog hair?
There's no getting around it. One of America's favorite breeds sheds like crazy. If life with dog hair doesn't thrill you, consider a poodle or other non-shedding breed. If you want the love of a Lab, invest in good brushes and a vacuum cleaner with a strong warranty. Lab coats don't need shaping or clipping like many breeds, or the need for a professional groomer. They do require old-fashioned elbow grease to keep Lab hair from invading every aspect of your home and personal wardrobe.
Minimum grooming for your Lab consists of a good brushing twice a week. Slack off, and you'll live in Dog Hair City. Obtain better results with daily or every other day grooming. Basic Lab grooming equipment consists of a bristle brush, wire slicker, shedding blade, narrow-toothed and wide-toothed combs, and a short-haired rake. Unless it's the dead of winter, you're probably better off grooming your dog outside for obvious reasons.
Begin by raking out the dead hairs with the short-haired rake. Instead of the rake, you can use a metal shedding blade, running the side with teeth in the direction the hair grows. After removing dog hair from your mouth and eyes, proceed with the wire slicker to get rid of any hair missed by the rake or shedding blade. Use the wide-toothed comb to stop any mats in their tracks, then comb out the entire coat with the narrow-toothed comb. Resist any urge to get out the clippers and shave the dog. It simply isn't done.
Labs are water dogs, so you shouldn't have problems getting them into the tub. However, your drain may never recover, so you might want to wash your dog outdoors or spring for a groomer. Thorough baths help get rid of dead hair, especially in spring and fall when Labs blow their coats.
While nothing stops the Lab's natural shedding process, a healthy diet maintains the quality of the coat. You already feed your dog a high-quality food, but ask your vet about supplementation with fatty acids, which might reduce shedding somewhat. Every little bit helps.
If you really don't like to groom your Lab, there are ways of disguising the dog hair problem. Redecorate your entire home in the color of your particular Lab. Black is always chic, yellow so inviting, and chocolate so ... brown. Do the same with your personal wardrobe. If you have a yellow and black Lab, go with the basic bee look.
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.