Labrador Retriever Breed Information

The Labrador Retriever is a wonderful family dog or retrieving companion -- its breed standards, as set forth by the American Kennel Club can be viewed at their website at AKC.org   The second largest canine registry, the United Kennel Club, lists their Labrador breed standard at UKCdogs.com

The Labrador Retriever's excellent temperament makes it one of the primary breeds chosen to be guide and rescue dogs.  The Labrador Retriever's gentle and loving disposition makes it impractical to use as a guard dog, but adult Labradors can and will bark to announce new visitors which makes them excellent automatic doorbells! 

Labrador Retriever's are an endless bundle of love and offer devoted, patient companionship and loyalty. There's no real prevailing reason to choose either a male or a female over the other as a pet or a companion, although I am of the opinion that males tend to put their own personal comfort aside more often than females to stay faithfully by your side.

There's a bit more to the makeup of the Labrador Retriever, underlying reasons that were purposely bred into the Labrador Retriever that may have led you to select the Labrador Retriever as your dog choice. 

Labrador Retrievers are a member of the AKC Sporting Group, but unlike other sporting dogs (for example: Hounds, who put their noses to the ground and bark incessantly to locate their objective) Labrador Retrievers were bred to work quietly -- to intelligently and to gently retrieve objects.     

Intelligence is a mandatory attribute in order for the Labrador Retriever to fully understand and obey a variety of commands issued by its human partner. A working Labrador is required to sit patiently and memorize where many objectives are located before he given to okay to retrieve them.
 
The Labrador Retriever's "soft mouth" is an innate characteristic of the breed that adds tremendously to the Labrador's appeal and excellent reputation.  

In general, Labrador Retrievers are gentle, intelligent, easy to train and are obedient.  They require just a moderate amount of exercise and make excellent web surfing companions, I've never had one yet ask me when I was going to get off of the computer!   

Labrador Retrievers come in three coat colors, black, chocolate and yellow. 

Black coat colored Labradors are completely black with brown eyes.  

Chocolate coat colored Labradors vary in shade from dark chocolate to light chocolate and include silver, they may have brown or hazel eyes that must be rimmed or outlined in black, like eyeliner.    

There are several informative pages worthy of reading on the controversial silver coloration which is registerable as a chocolate Labrador with the American Kennel Club.  The first page can be found here.

A brief genetic discussion of the dilute gene believed responsible for the silver mutation can be found here.

A thorough, comprehensive genetic examination of Labrador coat colors from the basic black Labrador to a discussion of the silver-hued chocolate Labrador Retriever and includes an excellent detailed explanation of the genetic compositional differences  between the light cream hues of yellow coated Labradors is here.

Yellow coat colored Labradors may range in color from a deep fox-red color to light cream  with permissible variations permitted in the shading on the ears, the back or upon the under-parts of the body of the yellow coat Labrador.  Yellow Labradors must have brown eyes rimmed or outlined in black. 

The first yellow coated Labradors born in England were immediately drowned by their owners when they were born.  It wasn't until latter that the yellow coat variation was accepted and propagated. 

Coat variations permitted on a Labrador but not mentioned above is the occasional white spot that can occur on the chest which is allowable, but not desirable.

White hairs on an elderly Labrador are also permitted; also accepted are white hairs that are the result of scarring that should not be misinterpeted as brindling.

New hair re-growth over a traumatized or injured area may have a slightly different shade of coat hair over the injured area and could take a year or more to even out and be no longer discernable.

Disqualifying traits in the appearance in a Labrador for the show ring and for those Labradors that should not be bred are those whose eye rims are without pigmentation.

The complete lack of any eye rim pigmentation is also accompanied by the lack of any
pigmentation on the nose, another disqualifying trait, resulting in a pink colored nose which may be called a "Dudley" or a "Liver Nose." Genetic links have been discovered linking the "Liver" nose to a chromosome confirming previous assumptions that it was of genetic origin.   

Do not confuse the Dudley nose detailed above with a common, permissable "winter nose" or "snow nose" which happens to many dogs of different breeds in cold weather. A winter nose is a normally black nose that lightens up either entirely, or partially in inclement weather -- a good comparable description would be that it  resembles what a printer would produce if it was printing a photo of a large black box and the inktank was runing out of black ink.  (Scarring or trauma to the nose will also result in temporary discoloration where the injury occured.)

The "winter nose" will blacken back up with the onset of warmer weather.  This is not considered a fault in the Labrador Retriever, or in any breed -- nor is it penalized. 

To discern between a nose discolored by cold weather and a Dudley or a Liver nosed Labrador, check the eye rims -- a Dudley or Liver nosed Labrador will also be devoid of any pigment at all around the eye rims.
   
The approximate weight of Labrador Retrievers in working condition is 55 to 70 pounds
for females and 65 to 80 pounds for male Labrador Retrievers. Height at the withers is 22 1/2" to 24 1/2" for males and 21 1/2" to 23 1/2" for females with a permitted variance of one-half inch tolerated for Labradors intended for the show ring.

Finding and Choosing a Labrador Retriever
To make your next family member a Labrador Retriever, you may wish to contact your local Labrador Retriever Rescue Club, or start with the National Rescue Network located here.

Calling your local Animal Shelter may be yet another option.

A referral to a Labrador Retriever breeder near you can be obtained from the National Labrador Retirever Club, Inc. or you could search for a Labrador Retriever breeder in your area at any one of the numerous online breeder resources.

When choosing a breeder, be sure that their dogs being bred have been genetically tested and certified to be clear of CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia)  through certification with the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of Animals).  Some breeders may have chosen to go obtain hip certification with PennHIP (University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program) or with the Wind-Morgan Program whose registry was merged with the OFA database in the fall of 2002.

An additional OFA Cardiac clearance preformed perferrably by a board certified Cardiologist should be done clearing all dogs being bred as being normal.

Dogs being bred must also have their eyes annually certified to be clear of inheritable eye diseases by an ACVO Board certified dog Opthalmologist and have issued to them a current CERF certificate.

Breeders of Labrador Retrievers should both adhere to the AKC Labrador Retriever Breed Standards and should be interested in the improvement of the Labrador Retriever breed.  No Labrador should be bred without the above health clearances.

Contacting and Choosing a Breeder

If you have decided to purchase a Labrador Retriever puppy -- contact Breeders of your choosing and take the oportunity to ask them any questions that you may have as a new puppy owner. 

Ask if all the proper genetic testing has been done on the parents and how much information is known about the lineage of each the breeding parents and/or siblings.  Ask if the breeder offers an insight to the temperment of each pup and if they permit temperment testing.

Ask about the socialization the pups will receive; if the puppies will be checked by a veterinarian,  which puppy shots will be given to the pups, if deworming will be done; and about the breeder's deposit and/or purchase requirements as well as sales contracts. 

Ask about photos of the parents to view before scheduling an appointment and if it is possible to meet both the sire and the dam.  Meeting the sire isn't possible if the dam was bred to a stud dog owned by another breeder, in which case, ask for photos and copies of the genetic certificatations for the stud instead.

Be sure to pick-up your puppy on the scheduled date set by the breeder.  If you have any other questions about owning a new Labrador puppy, be sure to ask!  

Sometimes there may not be a puppy available when you start your search for your new family member.  If you locate a breeder that you are comfortable with, ask to be contacted or to be placed on their waiting list so that they will touch base with you when their next litter is due.

For suggestions and thoughts on: "Before Bringing Home Your first Puppy" or for crate tips


updated: April 2003, by Sandra Underhill, LabsToLove
reference:  www.akc.org