There are three main types of Labrador, chocolate, black, and yellow labs. All of them are beautiful dogs with similar characteristics. In fact, the recent list created by the American Kennel Club displays them as the most popular dog breed for the 29th year in a row!
Whether you live in the United States or somewhere else in the world. If you are looking for a new pet then you need to take a closer look at a lab puppy. Of all the breed dogs available, they definitely deserve their place at the top of the most popular dog list
Labrador Retriever History Lesson
You may be surprised to discover that this dog originally started life as a sporting hound.
Many years ago, in Newfoundland, Canada, you would have seen an abundance of the classic yellow Labrador retriever working alongside fishermen. Their role was the collection of fish and bringing them back onboard. Labs are endowed with a tendency to be strong swimmers. Their double coat keeps them insulated and dry, even in the worst of weather.
The lab was actually bred with a Newfoundland dog to create the St. John’s Water do. This was excellent at fetching fish in icy waters. They could even drag fish-filled nets to the boat or onto the shore.
In fact, the Golden Labrador was bred to carry captured prey and not exclusively for fishermen. Hunters utilized these in the location of prey after they had killed it. The lab would carry it surprisingly gently back to the hunter.
The Canadian Labrador arrived in England in the early 1800s courtesy of the Earl of Malmesbury. He described the dogs as “the best for any kind of shooting.”It was the Earl that referred to the dog as the Labrador and effectively established the name.
The United States realized the benefits of these dogs in the early 1900s. They became an integral part of the daily lives of most farmers and hunters throughout the land. Ultimately they are recognized as one of the premier family pets you could ask for.
At this juncture, it is worth establishing that yellow labs, (or any color lab), are uniquely different to golden retrievers. The golden retriever is a product of the Wavy coated retriever and the water spaniel. It was originally bred in the 1800s.
It concurs to the simultaneous period that the Labrador arrived in England. They both work alongside hunters, but they are radically different dogs.
Fortuitously, either would make a fantastic family pet.
Differences Between Chocolate, Black, & Yellow Labs
The Labrador is gentle, intelligent, sensitive, and, incredibly active. There are actually two types of Labrador retrievers, the American and the British; both are eager to please their owners.
The British version is generally regarded as more of a show dog and is generally a little larger than its American counterpart. It is usually calmer and considered less energetic, although it has the potential to be sillier.
Labradors are established as extremely sociable, easy-going, playful, and ultimately fun to be around. Of course, they also have an adoration of food which is both a blessing and a curse!
This love of food is beneficial when you are training them, but it does increase the likelihood of them scavenging. You will need to be vigilant regarding what they are eating to provide prevention measures, effectively stopping them from becoming overweight.
The Fox Red Lab
Before looking at the differences between chocolate, black, and yellow labs it is reasonable to note that there is a fox red lab. It’s sometimes referred to as the Ruby Labrador. The reason this is not a fourth type of lab is that the fox red lab is technically a deep shade of the yellow labs, hence its inclusion with yellow labs.
Traditionally the three-color labs have different roles. Yellow labs are great as service dogs, especially as guide dogs. Black labs lean toward gundog status, working alongside hunters, and chocolate labs are known as family pets. Naturally, any color lab can complete the above roles perfectly.
The truth is that the characteristics of these wonderful dogs remain the same, regardless of the color. Black labs are frequently overlooked because they are established as the most popular & common variety, this is simply genetics.
Chocolate labs are generally seen as the most stunning, explaining the frequency of their occurrence as show dogs. There is a division regarding the chocolate lab, in the UK it’s regarded as a show dog while in the USA it’s commonly associated as a hunting dog.
In short, owning any color lab is a fantastic choice, whether you are chasing a service dog, family pet, show hound, or a hunting companion. With attentive training, they will become your perfect companion.
The Role Of The Labrador
The Labrador is undoubtedly the best all-rounder available. They are affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and surprisingly easy to train, making them an excellent family dog.
However, they also excel as a working dog, roles encompass search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, retrieving fish, water dogs, and even, on occasion, guard dogs. Excellence in the role of show dog appears standard!
The amazing thing is that, in all these roles, these dogs can simultaneously be great family pets.
Why Labradors Are So Desirable
They are cute! The majority of puppies are cute and desirable, the Labrador puppy is no exception. But, they remain sweet and adorable as they become adults. Perhaps it is their willingness to please, or their habits, you may even succumb to their sad expression.
What is certain is that these are intelligent dogs and not difficult to train, you will not need extensive equipment to instill positive behavior patterns, in fact, this clicker is an effective aid. Include a good dog toy, such as this rope/chew toy to burn excess energy, and you will find your lab is happily following your commands in no time.
Regardless of whether you have chocolate, black, or yellow labs, instilling training is surprisingly simple, especially if you supply them with treats for positive behavior. Labradors adore treats.
Known Health Issues With Yellow Labs
The average lab varies between 22-25 inches in height and weighs 55 to 80 pounds, their life span is between 10-12 years.
Unfortunately, yellow labs and Labradors in general are big dogs. This means they are prone to issues with their legs in later life, the good news is that these dogs are generally very healthy and are unlikely to need significant attention from your vet.
Conditions affecting them can include:
Hip dysplasia happens when the thigh bone doesn’t fit perfectly into the hip joint, this can be a result of trauma or sometimes from a poor diet. Because dogs are surprisingly effective at hiding pain it’s theoretically and practically possible your dog will suffer from this condition without your knowledge. You’ll simply observe the odd stiffness during their daily exercise routine.
However, as they age the condition is likely to lead to arthritis which is significantly more painful and deliberating for your lab.
If you suspect your Labrador has this issue you need to have it x-rayed, it is worth observing that Labradors with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
This is a common problem for most larger dogs and is a consequence of the three elbow bones growing at different rates. This establishes an issue with the joint which prevents your dog from moving it properly. Left untreated it will cause lameness and pain.
Medication has the capability to be enough to maintain dog happiness but your vet may recommend surgery as the better long-term option.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
OCD can be found in dogs as young as four months, it occurs when the cartilage does not grow properly, causing the joints to stiffen. This is painful for your dog and can cause serious movement issues.
It usually occurs in the elbows but it can affect the shoulder joints as well. The issue can usually be detected early in a dog’s life and may be connected to giving your puppy too much growth formula food or protein-rich biscuits.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye disease linked with the gradual reduction of your dog’s retina. In the early stages of the disease, your dog will develop night blindness, as the disease progresses your dog will slowly lose daytime sight as well.
There is no remedy for this but your dog can continue to live a happy life providing their surroundings remain static, changes will cause hurdles and interfere with their ability to move around.
Cataracts in dogs are similar to those found in humans, observation of cloudy spots on the eye is likely, although they will not affect vision. In rare cases, vision loss is an occurrence, but generally, these can be removed with surgery with no likely side effects.
It is possible that your lab can experience mild or even severe seizures. These should be investigated by a vet as there are a multitude of causes. The most common underlying cause is epilepsy which is disturbing to watch but, fortunately, has little discernible effect on the long term health of your lab.
Labs with epilepsy may exhibit unusual behavior just before an attack.
This is often referred to as bloat or twisted gut. It’s common in deep-chested dogs, such as yellow labs. The stomach becomes full of air and twists, trapping the air and restricting blood flow to the heart. It needs urgent medical care or your lab can die.
You can reduce the risk of this by making sure they do not eat too fast, which is a common issue with labs. You will find a slow-feeding dog bowl can help with this, it’s also advisable for them not to undertake excessive levels of exercise straight after eating.
This is painful for your lab but thankfully not harmful. Their tail will literally go limp, it’s believed to be related to an issue with the muscles and the vertebrae in the tail section.
Your dog may try to bite its tail but the predicament should heal by itself within a few days.
Yellow labs and all types of labs generally love water, unfortunately, the combination of water and drop ears increases the likelihood of water becoming trapped, which leads to infections in the ear.
You will need to establish a checking schedule to inspect and clean their ears weekly, this should provide a significant amount of protection against this becoming an issue.
Choosing Your Labrador Puppy
Deciding to get a Labrador retriever puppy is exciting. However, you will want to spend a portion of your available time researching. This will ensure acquisition of the perfect dog. Start by deciding between chocolate, black, and yellow labs, although it’s not essential to obtain a color preference.
Most importantly, verification of the seller is essential. They should be a registered breeder and have certifications for your intended dog alongside the parents to provide proof that they are healthy.
This is vital to make sure you are not purchasing a dog with a known condition. The breeder should be happy to present their premises and verify the health of the puppy alongside its parents. This also provides you with the opportunity to certify that the breeder keeps a clean and tidy house.
Do not forget that these dogs are incredibly energetic, envisioning the necessary time to exercise and play with them should be seen as a regulatory requirement.
It’s also vitally important to consider the role your dog will play. Is it just a family member or do you want to take it hunting? Your answer will affect the qualities you are looking for in a lab.
After that you can interact with prospective puppies, the one that displays the right characteristics and bonds with you is the one you should get!
Top Labrador Training Tips
Labradors are big enough and strong enough to pull most people along, which is why it’s important to have them properly trained.
- Start young, 8 weeks or as soon as you bring them home is best
- Keep training sessions short and effective
- Be consistent
- Positive reinforcement
It is very important to praise your lab every time they do something right. Telling them off will not work and you will find it harder to get them to respond.
It is worth noting that Labradors respond well when treats are offered. These can help instill the right behavior into your lab puppy. But, make sure you do not overdo the treats, their love of food leaves them vulnerable to weight gain.
The best approach is a treat after every good behavior and, as they become accustomed to it, drop the treats to one every 5th time. It keeps your dog on its toes without contributing to obesity.
Short training sessions coupled with simple steps are extremely effective. When they are very young watch them. As soon as they are about to do something, such as sit, tell them the command and praise them when they sit. Labs are intelligent and will quickly put it together, giving you a happy and well-behaved dog.
As already mentioned clickers can be very beneficial when training yellow labs, and other color labs. Clickers are useful as they mark the exact moment positive behavior happened. This creates a strong connection for your dog, making them more responsive to it in the future.
Yellow labs, chocolate labs, or even brown labs, they are all easily trained, responsive, and family orientated. There is a good reason why they are the most popular dog in the USA. It’s why they make an excellent choice as your next family pet.
Simply take the right steps when selecting a dog and when training it. You will end up with a dog that can go anywhere with you, that is a pretty cool feeling.