A hugely popular, intelligent breed, the Labrador makes a perfect family pet or working dog. They were originally bred as Fishermen’s assistants from the St John’s Water Dog, imported from the north of America and Canada. Breeding in the UK has refined the Labrador to create the hard-working and adaptable gun dog we see today, retaining and improving upon the fantastic abilities of the St John’s Water Dog.

They are the most popular breed to be trained as guide and therapy dogs to support people with a whole range of different needs. With their responsible, dependable and caring natures they make perfect support dogs for adults and children. They are highly adaptable; easy to train, with a keen intelligence and desire to please, and easy to care for.  However, as an intelligent working breed, they need lots of mental and physical exercise daily, and can tend to be bouncy and boisterous, particularly as puppies! 

They are the favourite dog breed in the UK, loved for their positive attitudes and friendly natures. A Labrador will feel at home almost anywhere, enjoying a reputation as brilliant pets for both families and single owners looking for a companion dog.

Pet profile

A versatile, easy to train, and loving companion for families or single owners.

  • Size: 56-61cm at the withers
  • Weight: 25-35kg
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years


Exercise and nutrition

Labrador Retrievers will need about 2 hours of exercise a day, but don’t worry about giving them more exercise than that as they love to be active, so suit busy, active families with a lot going on. Outside of exercise times they need plenty of mental stimulation and like to be kept busy. If they get bored Labradors can get depressed and will put on weight as they love their food!

As retriever dogs, fetch is their favourite game and they will happily play it endlessly. Throwing sticks are useful so your arm doesn’t get too tired, and lots of playtime strengthens the bonds between you and you dog, keeping everyone happy.  They love swimming and are perfectly at home in safe water as they love to play and splash. As a particularly social dog, it is a good idea to socialise your dog with others regularly, from a young age.

They are a breed known for enjoying their meals so Labradors can be at risk of putting on weight if fed incorrectly. Keep a careful watch on the amount they are eating and the exercise they get and follow your vet’s guidelines on the correct weight for your dog as they grow. While not fussy eaters, you should give them a good quality diet rich in the nutrients a healthy Labrador will need to live an active and healthy life.

Common health problems and illnesses 

Labrador Retrievers do have their share of health issues, which is why it’s a good idea to take out insurance for your Labrador Retriever while they’re still a puppy.

PRA is an inherited condition that affects the retina of the eye. The rod cells within the retina progressively fail and die as the condition progresses, causing a severe degeneration of your dog’s sight, particularly in the dark.
Symptoms to watch out for will initially be night-blindness and dilated pupils. Increased glow of the eyes in the dark can also be indicative of this condition.
As the condition progresses the sight of the affected dog will worsen, with blindness often occurring within a year of diagnosis.
While the condition cannot be “cured”, there is the possibility of prevention by supplying anti-oxidants to the sufferer which can effectively halt or slow the degenerative process, leading to a better quality of life.
Please consult your vet for a diagnosis and treatment options if you believe your dog suffers from this condition.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally early on, with the soft-tissues that stabilise the joint becoming loose within the first few weeks of life. As a result, the ball of the femur will then become deformed, flattening as the socket becomes rounder and flatter. Affected dogs will usually have dysplasia of both hips.

While the condition is primarily caused by genetics, it is not a congenital disorder, and environmental factors will often decide whether or not the condition develops.

Owners on the watch for this condition should look for, among other symptoms, stiffness, a dislike for exercise, limping in the hind legs, problems with stairs, and difficulty standing and lying down. They may also appear to be in pain as the condition causes the cartilage in the joint to deteriorate, causing osteoarthritis.

There are a variety of treatment options for this condition depending on the severity of it. Rehabilitation and physical therapy help and supplemented by medication and exercise restrictions a suffering dog’s quality of life can be improved. For more advanced cases, there are a variety of surgical options available.
Please consult your vet for a diagnosis and treatment options if you believe your dog suffers from this condition.

Patellar Luxation is when the Patella (the kneecap) does not stay in the groove it usually sits in, causing strain on the bones of the joint. In some cases, the kneecap may slip out from side to side. Dogs with this condition limp or stumble without apparent cause. The main treatment for this condition is a plan designed to help manage the condition, involving physical therapy and lifestyle changes. Consult your vet for advice and a management plan if you believe your dog suffers from this condition.

Fun facts 

  • The Labrador’s watery origins are given away by the fact most of them boast webbed feet!
  • The Labrador’s ancestors were actually imported from Newfoundland, but the breed was named the Labrador to differentiate it from the dogs already called Newfoundlands!
  • The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the world loved by Politicians (Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin) actors (Drew Barrymore, Tom Hardy and Kevin Costner) and tv personalities alike (Ben Fogle).
  • Labrador Retrievers are the most commonly used breed for assistance dogs due to their strong desire to please.
  • Endal, the worlds most decorated dog was a Labrador. He was a service dog trained by the charity ‘Canine Partners for Independence’ who, despite suffering from osteochondrosis qualified to support a disabled ex Petty Officer. He was an ambassador for his fellow service animals who was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty.   

Labrador Retriever