What to know if you're buying a... Labrador Retriever

Each breed of dog has their own unique personalities and health care needs that need to be taken into consideration.

Petplan takes a look at the things any potential owner should be aware of when considering a Labrador Retriever


Labrador Retriever

Original use of breed:

In the 17th century, the Duke of Buccleuch and the Earl of Home brought the first Labrador Retrievers to England from Newfoundland for use as gun dogs.

Later the Earl of Malmesbury bred them to retrieve downed birds in waterfowl hunting.

Today they make great pets, and fantastic guide dogs, police and military dogs, due to their intelligent demeanour and eagerness to please.


The life expectancy of a healthy Labrador Retriever is between ten and twelve years. However, one Retriever who died in 1963 is thought to have lived until the age of 27 years!


Labrador Retrievers are generally energetic, playful, intelligent, and usually get on well with humans and other dogs.

They make good family companions and are very good with kids, as they are submissive, loyal, loving and enjoy pleasing their owners.

However, as adults they are very strong. Therefore it’s best to ensure that they are well trained to heel and obey other basic commands when they are still puppies.

How much exercise do Labrador Retrievers need?

This particular breed of dog is high-spirited and need lots of exercise. This means that if your idea of a strenuous work-out is a leisurely walk around the block, then it would probably be a good idea to steer clear.

They relish brisk walks and running alongside you as you cycle. They particularly enjoy swimming and fetching games.


Labrador Retrievers gain weight very easily, so it’s important to not over-feed them. Ensure you follow the pet food’s recommended daily allowance by measuring out their food.

They also tend to eat quickly without chewing their food! Many pet food manufacturers offer dry diets that are formulated to specific shapes that help to encourage chewing and slow ingestion.

It’s best to feed grown Labrador Retrievers twice a day. However, this varies with age – while puppies are growing they may need feeding up to four times a day.

Petplan vet Brian Faulkner has produced this short video about body scoring your dog to ensure your pet always remains at their optimum weight regardless of their breed.

Potential Labrador health problems

All breeds of dog can have health problems – things like cancer and heart disease affect them just as they do humans. However, there are also issues that are particular to certain breeds. Labrador Retrievers can be prone to the following conditions:

Hip Dysplasia:

like most large dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers can be prone to Hip Dysplasia. This is an inherited illness that causes abnormal formation of the hip joint. This often leads to instability and arthritis, and eventually to pain and lameness.

Ear infections:

As Labrador Retrievers have long floppy ears, bacteria and infection can breed in the warm, moist space underneath. It’s a good idea to clean your dog’s ears frequently.

Laryngeal Paralysis:

this throat condition can affect middle-aged and elderly Labrador Retrievers. This partly freezes the voice box, and can result in muffled barks, loud or belaboured breathing, and less stamina for physical activities. This can be fatal and often requires surgical treatment.

Do you have a Labrador Retriever? Let Petplan know what you’ve learned from your time with these great dogs…