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AuthorsLiza Lee Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Tittle Moore, email@example.com
PO Box 4188, Irvine, CA 92616
Originally written: August 1992
Continually revised and updated.
Copyright © 1992-1997 by Liza Lee Miller and Cindy Tittle Moore. All rights reserved. You may download and print a copy of this file for your personal use. Further distribution must be with the explict permission of the authors, except as noted below.
NOTE: Labrador Rescue organizations may freely give a copy with each dog they place. The only restriction is that the article must be complete and retain our names & copyright. Please let us know if you use this material for rescue adoptors and please give us any feedback you think would improve this article for this purpose.
Their best feature is their temperament. Labs are loving, people oriented dogs. They are happiest when they are with you. Labs are retrievers and will bring you things they find laying about your house or yard. They tend to be quite patient with children and wonderful family dogs. They are not guard dogs. They may bark protectively, but will generally not act more aggressively. Labs are wonderful people dogs, more likely to lick someone to death than hurt them. They tend to be stable, not easily upset by strange things or occurrences. They will take many things in stride.
In the U.S., there are two distinct "lines" of Labradors: field lines and show lines. Field line Labradors have been bred with an emphasis on field or hunting ability, and show line Labradors have been bred with an emphasis on conformation and temperament. There is some dissension between the two groups, with field people claiming that show lines have lost much of their hunting and retrieving abilities, and show people claiming that field lines do not much look like Labradors any more and lack correct temperament. The truth is likely somewhere in between. Dogs from field lines will generally have a lot of drive, and will often exhibit more energy. Dogs from show lines might not be as fast, but most are capable hunters, though not necessarily field trial material. Either type can make a pleasant companion for a day out of doors.
Labrador Retrievers are people- and action- oriented dogs, and can become bored if left to their own devices. They can be destructive when bored or frustrated. They require attention and love as much as food and water. Labradors are easy to train which makes obedience work a fun way to interact with your dog. Labradors also require plenty of exercise -- this is especially true since most Labs love to eat! Ensuring they get proper exercise, training, and attention will give you a happy, healthy Labrador.
Retrievers are a type of dog. They are, literally, dogs that retrieve and were originally bred to retrieve game for hunters both on land and in the water. There are six breeds recognized as Retrievers by the AKC. They are: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Curly Coated Retrievers and Irish Water Spaniels. There are other breeds of Retrievers not currently recognized by the AKC, for example CKC's Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.Labradors don't shed, do they?
Actually, they do. Labradors have what is called a double coat. This means that they have a soft, downy undercoat and a harder guard coat. These two types of coat help keep the dog warm and dry while swimming in cold waters when retrieving ducks. Generally Labradors will shed their coat twice a year. This is called "blowing" their coat. They are moderate shedders, not enthusiastic ones such as Alaskan Malamutes or German ShepherdDogs. There will be a certain amount of hair loss throughout the year, especially in more temperate climates. This varies individually; some Labradors shed less than others, especially if they happen to have an incorrect coat.How much grooming do they need?
Labs need to be brushed on a regular basis (about once a week) to keep them clean. This will also help keep the shedding under control. A "slicker" type brush, which you can buy at any pet store, works nicely. Labs, like all dogs, need to have their toenails clipped regularly. You can get a canine nail clipper at any pet store and your vet can demonstrate to you the best way to clip their nails. Labs do not need to be bathed frequently. The Labrador coat does not need constant attention. A true bath, which includes shampooing the coat, is only necessary if the dog smells bad. Generally, if a dog is merely dusty or muddy, you can rinse them off with plain water or wait until they are dry and brush the dirt out to restore them to cleanliness. Shampooing them too often is not a good idea as shampoo tends to strip the natural oils out of their coats. A properly oily coat repels dirt and sheds water easily.Are Labradors hyper?
A Labrador with correct temperament is never hyperactive. Individual dogs can be. With the steady increase of popularity of the breed in recent years, more and more Labradors are being bred by people who have less regard for temperament than established breeders. Some people claim that field line Labradors are hyper and show lines are mellow. Others claim that field line Labradors are mellow and show lines are hyper! In reality, it appears that "backyard bred" Labradors have by far the worst temperaments. If you don't breed for good temperaments, you won't get them except by accident. ("Backyard breeders" refers to people with little or no knowledge of breeding dogs doing so mostly for the money or because it seems the thing to do, or even by accident. A better term is "disreputable breeders." There are plenty of small-scale, or hobby, breeders with wonderful reputations for producing sound, good tempered, well-balanced dogs.)What is "butt-tucking"?
"Butt-tucking" (not limited to Labs) is when your pup suddenly starts running in circles at top speed with his rear tucked under him. Most Labradors do this. It does not indicate a problem with your Lab, either with its temperament or its joints. However, you will want to keep a sharp eye out that you are not injured during this free-for-all!Labradors are popular, aren't they?
Yes. Since 1991, they have been the top registered dog with the AKC. This mean that there are a lot of people out there breeding Labradors. You need to be very careful about where you get your Labrador. Disreputable breeders are the primary source for hyper, ill-behaved and ill-favored Labradors. With a bit of research and care, you can find good puppies. The average price for a properly bred Labrador puppy is about 400-600 dollars, more for a show- or field trial- quality puppy. If you are asked to pay substantially more or less for a puppy without good reason given, be wary.I'm confused -- which kind of Labrador will make a better hunter, a show-line or field-line Labrador?
Most Labradors, show and field bred, make great hunters. Your own level of expertise in picking out likely puppies and training them is probably as important as the pedigree of the dog. You should consider what kind of hunting you do, how much experience you have, and discuss all of this with the breeders you consult.Do they make good guard dogs?
Labradors are not reliable guards. Some can be protective and most will probably bark if they hear or see something they don't like -- particularly if it is near their yard. If your main purpose in getting a dog is to have a guard dog, a Labrador is not a good choice, but if you want an "alarm" barker, most Labradors are fine.
Are you a burgler?
What kind of work can Labradors do?
Besides hunting, doing field trials, and being terrific pets? Quite a bit. Many Labradors are used as Service and Therapy dogs, for example. Still others do very well in Search and Rescue work, as well as making excellent Bomb, Narcotic, and Arson dogs. Their nose, disposition, and trainability make them particularly suitable for these types of activities and the breed has a distinguished history in these endeavors.How are they with children?
As a breed, Labradors tend to be good with children. However, as with any dog, it is not a good idea to let puppies and children play unattended. Both puppies and children tend to be unaware of their own size and strength and could accidentally injure one another. Labradors aren't likely to intentionally hurt anyone, but could knock a child over when they thought they were playing. By the same measure, children can inadvertently hurt a puppy if they aren't supervised. As a parent of a young child and the owner of a young Lab puppy, realize that you will have to spend time teaching both the child and the puppy how to behave around one another.Do Labradors like to swim?
Labradors love to swim. In general, they take to swimming quite naturally. But don't be alarmed if your little pup is unsure about swimming the first time--they have to learn about swimming just like anything else. Never throw a young puppy into the water! If you have an adult dog around that enjoys swimming, the pup will probably follow it in happily. You could also wade in yourself and have the pup follow. Be aware though that pups have sharp nails which can be painful if they try to climb up on you in the water. The pup's first introduction to the water should be at a spot where there is a gradual entry, rather than a sharp drop off, and there should be no current at all. Let the pup explore the water at his own pace; if he just wants to splash and wade for now, let him. As he gains confidence, he will go in deeper.Are there golden Labs? What is the difference between golden and yellow Labs?
Labradors come in three colors: black, chocolate, and yellow. Yellow Labradors are often mistakenly called "golden Labradors." The term yellow refers to a range of color from nearly white to gold to fox-red. The Golden Retriever is a separate breed from the Labrador, although there are similarities. Sometimes the term is used informally to refer to a Labrador / Golden Retriever mix.Are there any other colors of Labradors?
No. Black, chocolate, and yellow are the only correct colors. While mis-marked purebred Labradors are possible, be wary of those selling "rare" Labradors of other colors at exorbitant prices. There are yellow Labradors that are so pale they appear white, but they are still considered "yellow" and will usually have some color, even if it is only on the ear tips. "White" (very light yellow) Labradors are not unusual nor rare and should not command a significant price hike. The same goes for "fox red" (very dark yellow) Labradors. "Silver" Labradors are purely a scam and are either crosses with Weimaraners or very light chocolates. An actual silver Labrador (a dilute chocolate) would be treated as a mismarked dog and not command a high price. Variations in the color of yellow Labradors, however, are not penalized, but treated the same as any other yellow Labrador.Can you get yellow Labradors from black ones? And vice versa? What about chocolates?
Yes, you can get yellows from blacks and blacks from yellows. Similarly, you can get chocolates from blacks or yellows and vice-versa. It all depends on what color genes the parents carry. The only absolutes are that if both parents are yellow, the resulting puppies are always yellow, never black or chocolate; if both parents are chocolate, you can get yellow or chocolate puppies but never black ones.Are there differences between Labs of different colors?
Aside from the color itself, there are no differences. Many people feel that black Labs are better hunters, yellow dogs are lazier, and chocolate dogs are hardheaded and stubborn. None of this is true. The reason is pure genetics. Coat color in normally colored Labs is determined by two genes unrelated to anything else about the dog. It is perfectly possible to get all three colors in the same litter, therefore the notion that there is a color based difference in temperament and/or ability is absurd.Alright, so what is the nitty gritty on coat color inheritance?
Two sets of genes, not one, control a Lab's coloration. One set of genes controls whether the Lab will be dark (either black or chocolate) or light (yellow). Dark is dominant over light. Thus a Lab whose genotype is EE (homozygous dominant) or Ee (heterozygous) will be dark; only Labs that are ee (homozygous recessive) can be light.What is a Dudley?
This is a yellow Labrador with chocolate pigmentation (eebb). It can also refer to a Lab with absolutely no pigmentation on the nose or eyerims (all pink in color), but in actuality, this is extremely rare, and probably a genetic abnormality.But I see some Labradors with a pinkish nose.
Yes, this happens with many breeds, actually. It is called "winter nose" or "snow nose." Many yellow Labs will have dark noses in the summer that fade somewhat in the winter and repeat the cycle the next year. It is not understood why this happens. You can see it in many northern breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes as well. This is not considered a fault in any of these breeds and is not penalized. To differentiate between Labs with faded noses and Dudleys, check the eyerims and gum tissue of the dogs. A Dudley will have only light pink or tan skin; the other dogs will have black pigment in these areas.Do they jump fences? Are they good escape artists?
They are not renowned for this as a breed, although individual Labradors can be clever at escaping. Some can be good at opening doors and latches. A six-foot fence properly grounded will keep a Labrador from jumping, although many Labradors will never jump a four-foot fence perimeter. Because they can chew a lot, take care that your enclosure cannot be chewed through. They can also be good climbers, so check for possible footholds the dog could use to haul himself up (for example, check if a doghouse provides a platform from which to jump a fence).Do they bark a lot?
Bored Labradors can, but excessive barking is not generally typical of the breed. Labradors often give a warning bark in response to an unusual event that they feel needs your attention, such as "Hey, a car pulled into the driveway!"Will a male or female Labrador make a better pet?
Both sexes make good pets. In general, male Labradors are more dependent and females are somewhat independent. For example, if you are at home working on your computer, your male Labrador will probably sleep right under your feet while your female will probably sleep in the other room and just come in and check on you periodically.Where should I get my dog?
You have to first decide if you are getting a puppy or an adult Lab. If you choose to get an adult dog, you could get one from the pound, from a Labrador Rescue organization, or from a breeder who is looking for a home for an adult Labrador. There is more about Rescue organizations at the end of this file. If you decide to get a puppy, you should do some research and find a reputable breeder you trust.How do I choose a puppy?
You need to do some homework before you start talking to breeders and certainly before you look at any puppies. You need to make some decisions about what sex and color you'd like. What you plan to do with the dog. What kind of temperament you'd like. Once you have some answers to those questions, you should discuss your concerns and ideas with breeders. After you have found a breeder you like, then allow the breeder to help you select your puppy. Most breeders have a pretty good idea of what the puppies' personalities are like and will guide you to a good choice.What health problems are Labradors prone to?
Hip dysplasia can be a problem, so be sure to look for breeders that certify their dogs through OFA or Wind-Morgan. PRA, a disease causing blindness, is also present in the breed, so dogs must be examined yearly by an veterinary ophthalmologist. Labradors are prone to mild skin allergies in some regions of the US, notably Southern California. Ear infections are always a potential problem with hanging ears. You can minimize the potential for health problems by choosing the breeder of your puppy carefully.What is this I hear about the lawsuit with the AKC?
Over the past five years or so, the national breed club for Labrador Retrievers (the LRC) has been trying to revise the standard for the breed. Many bench, or show, people objected to the revisions being made. The AKC took the unprecedented step, because of the amount of controversy on the subject, of returning the first submitted revision in 1993. The LRC resubmitted the revised standard, still over the objections of the bench community, and the standard took effect April 1, 1994. As the new standard included disqualifications for height, some breeders are now unable to show their dogs, and six of them put together a lawsuit based on the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, claiming that the LRC rewrote the standard to admit their dogs to the ring while excluding the objecting breeders' dogs.Return to Table of Contents
Early ancestorsIt's fairly clear that there were no indigenous dogs in Newfoundland when the first fishing companies arrived. If the native Americans of the time had any, the explorers never observed them. Thus it's quite likely that the St. Johns dogs themselves come from old English Water Dogge breeds, insofar as fishermen were the primary people on Newfoundland for centuries. There is also some speculation that the old St. Hubert's dog might have been brought over as well -- illustrations of the breed show a black, drop-eared dog with a certain resemblance to the Labrador. But it is unknown if the fishermen going to Newfoundland would have had hound dogs used for game rather than water dogs.
We can only speculate what happened, but we do know that the cod fishermen sent out from Britain practiced "shore fishing." Small dories were used for the actual fishing, and teams of four -- two in the boat and two on the shore to prepare and cure the fish. They would have needed a small dog to get in and out of the boat, with a short water repellent coat so as not to bring all the water into to the boats with them. They would have bred for a strong retrieving instinct to help retrieve fish and swimming lines, and a high degree of endurance to work long hours. If the runs were heavy, the fishermen were reputed to go for as long as twenty hours to haul the fish in.
The dog developed for this early work could be found in several varieties: a smaller one for the fishing boats, and a larger one with a heavier coat for drafting. The smaller dog has been called, variously, the Lesser St. John's dog, the Lesser Newfoundland, or even the Labrador. These dogs came from Newfoundland; it is unknown why the name "Labrador" was chosen except possibly through geographical confusion. Charles Eley, in History of Retrievers at the end of the 19th century comments:
The story [...] was that the first Labrador to reach England swam ashore from vessels which brought cod from Newfoundland [...] It was claimed for them that their maritime existence [...] had resulted in webbed feet, a coat impervious to water like that of an otter, and a short, thick 'swordlike' tail, with which to steer safely their stoutly made frames amid the breakers of the ocean.Part of the confusion over the names is that "St. John's dog" and "Newfoundland dog" were used interchangeably for both the greater (larger) and lesser (smaller) varieties. And the term Labrador has also been used to refer to the lesser St. John's dog, especially in the latter half of the 19th century. The greater is commonly held to be the direct ancestor of today's Newfoundland, while the lesser was used to develop many of the retrieving breeds, including today's Labrador.
The exact relationship between the two varieties of the St. Johns dog (and some 19th century writers listed up to four varieties) is also unclear; we don't know which came first, or to what degree they were related. Certainly the greater St. Johns dog was first imported to England nearly a hundred years earlier, and many contemporary and modern day writers assume that the lesser was developed from the greater but we have no real evidence one way or another. Newfoundland has been used for fishing and other activities since approximately 1450 so there has been plenty of time for the development of the St. Johns dog and its varieties.
Development in EnglandFrom the time these dogs were first imported back to England in the early 1800s to 1885 when the combined effects of Newfoundland's Sheep Act and Britain's Quarantine Act shut down further importation, a handful of kennels regularly imported lesser St. Johns dogs and carefully bred them for gun dog work on their estates. These kennels include those of Buccleugh and Malmesbury, each of which imported lesser St. John's dogs throughout the 19th century for their private lines.
The second Earl of Malmesbury (1778-1841) and his son the third Earl (1807-1889) imported the dogs and kept their lines going until the third Earl's death. In a letter he wrote in about 1887 he noted:
"We always called mine Labrador dogs and I have kept the breed as pure as I could from the first I had from Poole, at that time carrying on a brisk trade with Newfoundland. The real breed may be known by their having a close coat which turns the water off like oil, above all, a tail like an otter."At about the same time, the fifth Duke of Buccleugh (1806-1884), his brother Lord John Scott (1809-1860) and the tenth Earl of Home (1769-1841) embarked on a similar but independent program. They lived within a 30 mile radius and developed the Buccleugh line. The eleventh Lord of Home (1799-1881) continued his dogs, but the line was nearly extinct about the time of his death.
However, a chance meeting between the third Earl of Malmesbury and the sixth Duke of Buccleugh and the twelfth Earl of Home resulted in the older Malmesbury giving the two young Lords some of the dogs from his lines. From these dogs, given in 1882, the Buccleugh line was revitalized and the breed carried into the 20th century. Buccleugh's Ned and Buccleugh's Avon are generally agreed upon as being the ancestors of all Labradors.
That two different kennels, breeding independently for at least 50 years, had such similar dogs argues that the Labrador was kept very close to the original St. John's breed. Thus it is probable that today's Labrador, of all the modern retrievers, is the most closely related to the original St. John's dog and by extension, as closely related to the modern Newfoundland as to the other retriever breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Flat Coat Retrievers, etc.
The Twentieth CenturyBy the turn of the century, these retrievers were appearing in the British Kennel Club's events. At this point, retrievers from the same litter could wind up being registered as different retrievers. The initial category of "Retrievers" included curly coats, flat coats, liver-colored retrievers and the Norfolk retriever (now extinct). As types became fixed, separate breeds were created for each and the Labrador Retriever finally gained its separate registration under the Kennel Club in 1903.
While there have been strains of Labradors bred pure up to this time, it is unknown how many of these cross-bred dogs were folded into "Labradors" or into other breeds as the registrations began to separate. Many breeders feel that crossbreeding at this time accounts for much of the poor type that can appear today; however claims about the use of Pointers or Rottweilers can probably be safely discounted.
25th Field Trials of the Labrador Retriever Club at Idsworth, the estate of Lady Howe
Labradors were first
imported to the United States during World War I. At this point, the AKC
still classified them as "Retrievers;" it was not until the late 1920's
that the retrievers were split up into the breeds we know today in the
AKC. The Labrador Retriever has been used heavily in the US as a gundog;
the American Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. (LRC, Inc), is to this day primarily
a field trial organization, and it was instrumental in forming the AKC
Two of King George V's Sandringham dogs, at Crufts, 1932
This return trip to the Americas resulted in the widely expanded use of the Labrador as a gun dog. In Britain, the Labrador was, and still is, used primarily for upland game hunting, often organized as a driven bird shoot. Typically, separate breeds were used for different tasks; and the Labrador was strictly for marking the fall, tracking and retrieving the game. But in the United States and Canada, the breed's excellence at waterfowl work and game finding became apparent and the Labrador soon proved himself adaptable to the wider and rougher range of hunting conditions available. The differences between British and American field trials are particularly illustrative.
YellowsMany old treatises and articles on gun dogs make it clear that yellows and livers were evident and even common before any recorded breeding was the rule. Spaniels, Poodles, Setters, Retrievers, and even pointers occasionally displayed yellow and liver coloring. In fact, calling a dog "liver" one or two hundred years ago could mean any color from yellow to red to liver or brown.
In the earliest years of the Labrador, yellows were simply culled. The first registered yellow was Ben of Hyde, out of two black dogs, themselves from import stock. Ben produced many yellows when bred to black bitches; if the genetics were the same then as now, this indicates that many blacks were actually heterozygous for black. Oddly, his yellow littermate Juno produced few if any yellows when she was bred to blacks. However, bitches produce few puppies compared to dogs so chance probably stepped in with homozygous dominant black mates for Juno.
The anti-yellow sentiment was so strong that in the 1920's experienced breeders reported being directed to the Golden Retriever ring! At this point, dogs of this color did suffer a wide variation of incorrect type -- it's easy to find pictures of old yellow Labradors with very houndy features. A separate standard was briefly drawn up to address this problem, but eventually it was felt that yellows should simply adhere to the same standard as blacks. Today, you will find as many, if not more, yellows as blacks of the same quality. Only in some hunting circles will you still find the erroneous opinion that "blacks make better hunters."
ChocolatesChocolates, like yellows, have also been present all along in the breed. In fact, the well known story of the origins of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever refers to an 1807 shipwreck involving two St. John's dogs probably destined for Poole and hence to Malmesbury or Buccleugh: one black and one liver. Some believe that the chocolate color was introduced into Labradors around the turn of the century by crossing with Pointers. This is unlikely for several reasons:
Chocolates are by far the rarest color in the ring, whether show or field. They are increasing in popularity steadily, though, and in another 10 years may equal the other colors in numbers, acceptance, and quality. Prejudice against chocolates in both show and field arenas is still widely present today. They are either "too ugly" for the show ring or "too stupid/stubborn" for the field.
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the Standard.
American Kennel Club
Australian National Kennel Club
Canadian Kennel Club
Kennel Club of Great Britain
United Kennel Club
(this list is incomplete)
Hip DysplasiaLabradors are susceptible to hip dysplasia as well as other joint problems. All breeding stock should be x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and/or by the Wind-Morgan program (see below) and/or by the PennHip methods. Most breeders will use OFA and may optionally use Wind Morgan or PennHip as an adjunct. The breeder should be able to provide you with copies of certifications done on both sire and dam.
Eye ProblemsLabradors are also at risk for several eye problems including: PRA ( Progressive Retinal Atrophy), cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. All breeding stock should be examined annually by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Most responsible breeders will turn that evaluation in to CERF for tracking of various eye problems in the breed and thus have a CERF number for their dog, good for one year. You shoudl ask to see a copy of the paperwork that is turned in to CERF, though. Because PRA often does not appear until the dog is older (as late as 8 years or more), this disease has been difficult to eradicate. Please, if your dog appears to be losing his sight, have him checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and if he is diagnosed with PRA, contact his breeder and send his pedigree, if known, to the PRA Data books (see Resources below).
Dr. Gus Aguirre has been working on identifying the genes responsible for PRA in Labradors (and other breeds; the markers for Irish Setters have already been identified) for several years now. It appears from his reports that a DNA test may be available within a few years.
You can also contact Michele Feitler of VetGen at 800-4-VETGEN FAX 313/669-8441; their research team is trying to locate the gene that causes PRA and need DNA samples from affected dogs and their families. Only with complete information can we begin to remove this problem from the breed.
Joint ProblemsLabradors are also prone to other joint problems such as OCD and arthritis. Look for breeders who not only OFA hips but also elbows or who use the Wind Morgan program in addition to OFA.
Tricuspid Valve DysplasiaBreeders are beginning to recognize a new problem in the Labrador breed, a defect of the heart termed Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia. After a stud dog on the west coast produced a number of young puppies dying of this disease, he was tested and found with a very mild case, detectable only through an echocardiogram, an auscultation (stethescope) exam was not adequate. It is NOT known at present what the mode of inheritance of this disease is, or how widespread it is in the breed. Ask the breeders whether their dogs have been cleared by an echocardiogram. At the moment, very few dogs are so cleared as we know very little about this problem.
Cold TailAlso called "wash tail" and "limber tail", "cold tail" occurs when your dog's tail goes limp and he bites at it as if it were a foreign body attached to him. This condition is not serious and should go away in two or three days. It seems to be associated with swimming in cold water (hence the name). It's thought to be a reaction on the part of one of the glands at the base of the tail, or perhaps a sort of muscle spasm. M. Christine Zink covers the condition in Peak Performance; it is not typically listed in veterinary handbooks.
Ear InfectionsBecause of their drop ears and their love of swimming, Labradors can be prone to ear infections. Not all Labs get them, but many that do can be chronic about it unless you take regular preventive steps.
It's a good idea to check your dog's ears regularly. You are looking for two things. First the ear's appearance: should be light pink or flesh-toned (yellow Labs will have pinker skin) and clean. Second, the ear's general odor: should not smell anything from the ear or the canal.
If the ear is dirty, use a tissue or cotton ball and wipe the ear out. Because of the shape of the dog's ear canal, you will not injure him by swabbing down there, but use only your fingers, never a Q-tip or something similar. If your dog seems to generate a lot of waxy material, you may want to put him on regular cleaning program. You should not have to wipe out the ear very often, perhaps once a month or less, unless he's been out swimming.
If the ear smells bad, you should take your dog into the vet to be treated for it. There are a variety of types of ear infections. Thereafter, you should clean your dog's ears regularly to prevent further infections.
Many Lab owners commonly use a solution like the following:
2 tablespoons Boric
Common InjuriesFor whatever reason, Labradors appear to be especially prone to ruptured cruciate ligaments. This injury is usually sustained during some type of activity involving twisting the legs -- jumping to catch an object in mid-air, for example. Treatment involves any of a number of surgical options and extremely restricted activity for at least 6 weeks after surgery. It can take up to 6 months for performance dogs to fully rehabilitate.
Miscellaneous ProblemsOther issues to discuss with breeders are epilepsy, skin allergies and thyroid function.
Genetic Disease Control program, is the Wind-Morgan program, an orthopedic evaluation and registry specifically for Labrador Retrievers. Many breeders are including Wind-Morgan evaluations on their breeding stock. Unlike OFA, a Wind-Morgan certification is for hips, elbows AND all four hocks. A dog may be certified after it is one year old. The registry is OPEN which means you may ask about any dog, or peruse the database yourself, again, unlike the OFA registry, which is closed.
To learn more about the Wind-Morgan program, give the GDC a call at 916-756-6773 or write to them at GDC, PO Box 222, Davis, CA 95617.
Breed booksBarlow, Lady Jacqueline. Labrador Characters. Hoflin Publications. December 1996.
A compilation of wonderful short stories about Labradors by the Lady Barlow, a longtime fancier of the breed.Berndt, Robert J. and Richard L. Myers. The Labrador Retriever. William W. Denlinger, 1983, 127 p.
Large sized book, lots of b/w pictures. Good general information about Labrador Retrievers. A little dated but a good read.Churchill, Janet I. The New Labrador Retriever. Howell Book House, 1995.
This latest addition to the suite of Labrador books is well organized, informative, and opinionated! It is unfortunately weakened by many editorial errors such as mislabelled pictures and by an uneven style of writing at times targeted toward the novice and at others toward those with a PhD in medical research.Coode, Carole. The Labrador Retriever Today. Howell Book House, 1993.
This book is an excellent update on the last ten years or so of Labradors in the show ring plus field kennels. Info on kennels in different countries included. Photos, b/w and color. Some discussion on choosing a puppy, managing a breeding kennel, and the standard (in different countries) included. Author is British.Howe, Dorothy. The Labrador Retriever. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Ltd., 1984, 352 p. With additional chapters by Anna Katherine Nicholas.
Lots of information on Labradors. B/W pictures, illustrations. Short collection of pedigrees in the back. Geared more toward the less experienced Labrador owner; does not go into as much depth or detail on the breed itself as other books do. Good general care information.Howe, Lorna and Geoffrey Waring. The Labrador Retriever. Popular Dogs Publishing Co., Ltd., 1975, 207 p. (this is a revised version of The Popular Labrador Retriever by Countess Howe).
Somewhat dated, this book nonetheless offers a fascinating look at the breed by one of its most influential patrons. Countess Howe was instrumental in the Labrador breed the first half of this century (via the Banchory kennels) and she showed many dogs to their breed and field championships in Britain. Some illustrations.Martin, Nancy. The Versatile Labrador Retriever. DORAL Publishing, Wilsonville, Oregon. Ed. MariAnne Foote. 1994, 320p.
A worthy addition to the library of Labrador books. Chapters include History, Definition of a Standard, The Versatile Labrador (with sections on field dogs, show dogs, obedience and tracking, and service (including detection work)), Breeders and Kennels (in England and the US), Labradors in Other Countries., the Basis of Heredity, Becoming a Breeder, Outstanding Winners and Top Producers. Profusely illustrated with b/w photos. The history section is an excellent, exhaustive listing of what all is known about the breed, including at times contradictory information, all of which gives the reader a good idea of why it's hard to say exactly how the Labrador came about.Nicholas, Anna Katherine. The Book of the Labrador Retriever. TFH Publications, Inc., Ltd., 1983, 478 p.
Chock full of pictures both b/w and color; this is the largest of the books on the Labrador Retriever. Somewhat concentrated on show Labradors and becoming a little dated, it nonetheless offers information on all aspects of the breed. If you buy only one book, this is probably the best because of the photographs included.Smith, Steve. Just Labs. Photos by Dale C. Spartas. Willow Creek Press, Minocqua, WI. ISBN 1-57223-029-0.
Beautiful photographs.Warwick, Helen. The New Complete Labrador Retriever, 3rd Edition. Howell Book House, Inc., 1989, 322 p.
This probably has the best overview on the history of the Labrador from 1810 onwards. Good general discussion of Labradors (upbringing, training, etc). Old pedigrees included at back. Illustrations.Williams, Mary Roslin. Advanced Labrador Breeding. H.F. & G. Witherby, Ltd., 1988, 151 p.
This book offers an overall philosphy for those thinking about breeding Labradors. It gives the reader much food for thought particularly as the author does not shy away from controversy. Besides the advice, a number of interesting stories about old-time Labrador breeders are included and makes good reading for those interested in the breed's history as well. She includes a description of how she trained her dogs for gundog work.Wolters, Richard A. The Labrador Retriever: The history . . . the people. Petersen Prints, 1981, 200 p. (New edition, 1992.)
A large book like the Berndt/Myer book, this one has a lot of photographs (b/w and color) and illustrations and artwork. This book contains a relatively controversial theory of the history of the Labrador, some fascinating exploration of the "original" Labrador in Newfoundland, and much discussion on the Labrador as a hunting retriever and a show dog, quoting people on all sides. Don't bother with the first edition if you don't already have it, the second is much better.Zeissow, Bernard. The Labrador Retriever. TFH Publications, 1995.
This is the "official" book sanctioned by the National breed club, the LRC. It contains a number of good photographs and details the history of the breed and the LRC in the United States. Unfortunately some of the pictures are mislabelled; it is hoped that this is fixed in a reprint. The best (cheapest) source for this book is through Cherrybrook.
Articles of interestR. D. Kealy, S. E. Olsson, K. L. Monti, et al. Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 1992;857-63.
Hunting dog training booksBailey, Joan. How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves. Swan Valley Press 2401 NE Cornell Rd., # 140 Hillsboro, OR 97124 (1-800-356-9315).
Good coverage of the first year in the life of versatile and pointing dogs.Free, James Lamb. Training Retrievers.
A classic. It outlines the long-standing training methods for field dogs. A good book even if some of it is outdated. An excellent description of training a dog to handle.Rutherford,, Clarice and Cherylon Loveland. Retriever Puppy Training: The Right Start for Hunting, Alpine Publications, 1992?.
Good step-by-step training methods, explained and illustrated clearly.Rutherford, Clarice, Barbara Brandstad, and Sandra Whicker. Retriever Working Certificate Training. Alpine Publications, 1994?.
An excellently written book on how to get your dog ready for the WC test. While they have written it for the one put on by the Golden Retriever Club, it is equally applicable for the LRC one. Informative and illustrated with b/w photos.Spencer, James B. Training Retrievers for the Marshes and Meadows. Denlinger Publications in Fairfax, VA.
It starts with puppy selection and goes on up to advanced marks and blinds. It is oriented toward the amateur gundog trainer and is well written and comprehensive.Spencer, James B. Retriever Training Tests. Prentice Hall Press.
Helps you to set up training situations and teaches you how the dog should react to things like hills, cover, land-water-land retrieves, how the wind affects them, etc. Lots of good problem solving material.
By PetVisions Inc.
1010 Calle Negocio
San Clemente, CA 92673
This is a well done video, aimed at the person novice to Labs. It contains good information and tips, though the section on health is skimpier than one would like. The direction and pacing of the material is very smoothly and professionally done.Total Retriever Training
By Mike Lardy, Whistle Lake Productions
2635 Thornbrier Ct.
Lake Orion, Michigan 48360
A set of several tapes, and an excellent overview of how to train up the hunting retriever.
International Labrador Newsletter, contact Wendi Huttner at Lab324@aol.com for information on ordering this. Biannual, $10 per issue. Back issues available.
International Labrador Digest, Waterdog Publishing, Box 17158, Fayetteville, NC 28314. Fax 910-487-9625. By Lisa Tynan, firstname.lastname@example.org and David Vollette. $65 annual subscription domestic ($75 foreign), 6 issues per year.
The Labrador Quarterly, 4401 Zephyr Street, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033-2499. A show oriented publication. Dog ads plus informative articles. $40/domestic, $44/foreign (4 issues). Also quarterly, Top Labrador Retrievers: top labs both systems, top 20 labs regionally in the US; listings of what each judge puts up in BOB along with entry at show. $30/year ($34 foreign).
Retriever Field Trial News, 4213 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207. 414-481-2760. $35/year (10 issues).
The Shooting Sportsman, Circulation Department P. O. Box 5024 Brentwood, TN 37204. 1-800-331-8947
PRA Data, Inc. 1309 S. Shamrock Street, Veradale, WA 99037. This is a list of Labradors known to be affected with PRA, plus their pedigrees, when known. This booklet is useful in trying to determine which dogs may be carriers. The 1994 comprehensive book contains all the pedigrees previously published. If you have a PRA-affected Labrador that is not in the book, you are invited to send the dog's pedigree and copy of medical diagnosis to the above address.
PRA Book, published by Isabella Krafts. Contains information on PRA in european Labradors. Write to Krafts at Am Wispelt 12, 46499 Hamminkeln-Brunen, GERMANY, or fax to her at Int + 281 27285 (you will need to add the appropriate prefixes to dial into Germany from your country).
Yearly Julie Brown's Directories. Photographs and pedigrees of 200+ Labradors in every edition. Show oriented. Write to Julie Sturman, 7315 Granite Road, Melrose Park, PA 19027. She is also online at email@example.com.
Finnish Breeder's Directory. Published in 1995 by the Finnish LRC. 350+ pages. Mail to Anneli Grondahl, Kierretie 41, F-01650 Vantaa, Finland. Enclose 170 Finnish Marks (approx $30 USD) in cash or International Postal Order for the book plus shipping and handling. Next Directory will be published in 2000.
Labrador Retriever Champions. Index of all breed Champions earned from 1952-1988. A new edition is due out soon to bring the list up to 1994. Published by Camino Book Co., PO Box 729, Kings Beach, CA 95719, 702-831-5553.
Labrador Quarterly's The Best of the First 10 Years of the Labrador Quarterly. Compendium of all the articles in the last 10 years of the LQ. Many pictures, many interviews of influential persons in the breed, and much more. $55 softcover, $80 hardcover from Hoflin Publishers.
The Labrador Retriever Annual, Hoflin Publications. 200+ pages, color photographs, contributed articles. Limited and numbered editions. $40 ($47 foreign).
Mailing ListsThere are several email lists for the Labrador owner who has email access.
We run Labrador-L for the interested Labrador owner, currently our subscription rate is over 1200. It is a busy and active list, and you're welcome to drop in and meet us. To join, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put subscribe LABRADOR-L yourfirstname yourlastname in the body of the message. You will get an introductory Welcome file describing the general guidelines for the mailing list.
Hoflin Publications also runs Labrador-H, moderated by Bud Cravener. This is a quieter list and also welcomes all those interested in Labradors. To join, send email to email@example.com and put subscribe in the subject line.
Keep in mind that the people-oriented temperament of the Labrador means that they are quite easily adopted -- they adjust quickly to their new homes and form new bonds with their adoptive families.
The national coordinator for the Labrador Rescue program is Luanne Lindsey of Texas. Her number is 512-259-3645. Fax is 512-259-5227. She coordinates a database of all Labrador Rescue programs. Both calls for assistance and calls giving further information on such programs are welcomed.
Their dogs will be clean and healthy and properly housed. The breeder will be happy to discuss all aspects of Labradors, including their breeding programs, goals, information about Labradors in general, and information for new owners. You should be comfortable with them and agree with their overall objectives in breeding.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with any inquiry to expedite replies. If you call, consider reversing charges, or leaving a message that the person can call you back collect. This list is periodically updated but as contacts continually change, try to make it as easy as possible for the person to return your calls or mail.
Tlf 63 80 36 57; Tlf 63 80 36 58; Fax: 63 80 36 59
Email contact: Nick Mickleson: NickMickelson@msn.com
Christopher Wincek: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the AKC Parent Club for the breed.
Doris Engbertson at email@example.com.
Also a rescue program.
Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Harvey Sanderson)
Email contact: email@example.com (Barbara Ironside)
Labrador Retriever FAQ
Liza Lee Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Tittle Moore, email@example.com
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