Labrador Articles

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.

Before bringing home your new puppy....Prepare Yourself!

Before you bring your new puppy home.....visit your library to read and review the many different puppy training books on a variety of methods and perspectives on puppy training. 

You'll find books available from many dedicated authors, each one hoping to help you be successful with your new puppy.

You don't have to feel that you have to follow the recommendations of any single author, but feel free to explore the many viewpoints on training and pick and choose the methods that not only appeal to you, but also pick the methods that you can actually use in your home with your new puppy.

An excellent book by the Monk's of New Skete titled, How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend is a worthy reading. Their newer book, The Art Of Raising A Puppy dwells upon the stages of a neonate puppy before it comes to your new home, making it a nice read, but not a must have training book. 

Don't pass up reading books aimed at the current dog owner who is having training difficulties because reading about those problems that were a direct result of accidental inappropriate training methods is invaluable in helping you avoid those very problems yourself !

Michael Evans wrote, People, Pooches & Problems that details in easy step-by-step solutions ways to resolve, for example:  the dog that won't come and other common training "oops" that need resolution. His steps, if followed, will solve probably every common training difficulty that you might encounter down the road with your puppy.

When you've absorbed every book on puppy training published, check out books on dogspeak!  Stanley Coren's How To Speak Dog is great. Dogspeak is another one.
 
If you've never had a puppy before, educating yourself is of paramont importance. Even prior dog owners can benefit greatly from re-reading texts on puppy training -- dog owners adding a second pup should benefit from learning about multi-dog environments.

Training starts the moment you take your new puppy home!  Don't wait!  Get started today!  Remember to be consistent!  There's at least a dozen books waiting on the shelf at the library right now for you, check filed under Dewey Decimal System number:  636.xxx  If you're on a budget, but prefer to own your books, 
Amazon.com offers books pre-owned at a discount as well as new. 

After you've brought your new puppy home.....if you took my suggestions to heart, then there isn't much for me to reiterate here.....but I'd be remiss if I didn't include a few reminders.....

Never let the puppy inadvertently injure itself, the couch and a bed are too high for a puppy to navigate!  The orthropedic veterinary's rule of thumb is to NEVER let a puppy or a dog jump down from a height greater than it's own shoulders' height to avoid injury.  

Playing with a tennis ball against a wall, or any other injurious repetitive action that creates the need for the puppy to be constantly "braking" repetively is known to cause damage to the joints.  Play with your puppy responsibly to avoid trauma induced injury.

Never over-exercise your pup, veterinarians recommend only moderate exercise until your puppy is full grown, which isn't until about two years of age for a large breed puppy.

Never pick up a puppy solely by its front legs, it can cause injury.  

Remember to bring your puppy in for its' recommended schedule of vaccinations. Be
prepared to provide proper veterinarian care when needed.

Puppy proof the area(s) that your pup will have access to before your puppy gets into trouble.  Limit your pup's freedom to eliminate accidents.  For tips on easy crate training, see Crate Training Tips.

Feed quality puppy food to ensure your puppy's proper nutritional needs are met throughout it's growing years to ensure proper growth, especially important in large breed puppies.

Don't be hesitant to modify the suggestions or concepts that you've read in books and adjust what you've learned to make solutions that work in your home with your new puppy. If you've researched puppy behaviour, you will be able to recognize dominance play.  Do not roughhouse with your puppy, what may be cute with a tiny pup is not cute with an adult dog.

And, in my opinion, it is never the puppy's fault, look to yourself to prevent whatever happened from happening again.  Well, let me re-state that....innate activities like digging, vocalization, love of life, dominance play and curiosity and teething - chewing  are all part of the puppy package, which is why you should be prepared to successfully modify or safely re-direct such behavior as it may be encountered!
 
Puppy training classes are available at your local Pet Superstore and are also held at many Animal Shelters.  They are a wonderful opportunity for the new puppy owner to learn basic training methods and are an opportunity to socialize their puppy.  Puppies must have completed all their vaccinations before enrolling in such classes).

Remember, Train-Train-Train and then Train-Train-Train some more! 


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This is by no means complete nor comprehensive -- it's just lightly skimmed the surface of the subject of bringing home a new puppy -- my purpose is to point you toward the wealth of information readily available to you (for free at your local library) and at your fingertips online that will educate, entertain and marvel you if you truly love dogs.  

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Crate Training your Puppy -- Tips to be Successful !


Today's puppy experts highly recommend crate training. It avoids the accidents and surprises that a free roaming puppy can hide in the house for its new owners.

It sounds simple enough....but sometimes the new puppy owner can encounter resistance from their new puppy when placed within their new crate.

Star Trek fans know the mantra, "Resistance is FUTILE."  But your puppy most likely hasn't watched even a single episode of Star Trek and is blissfully ignorant about the Borg!

Okay, seriously!  Crates can make a wonderful temporary holding area for your puppy, but always remember that your puppy's favorite place is by your side!

If you plan ahead, your puppy will love his crate!

You to be easily successful when crate training if you have on hand yummy treats, like a pig's ear, smoked bone or something else aromatic that can be placed within the crate before you instruct your puppy inside with the command, "in!"

You might find that the puppy rushes "in" before you can even utter the command once puppy gets a whiff of that yummy you've placed inside. 

Puppies placed within a crate must be pottied first, otherwise they will cry to be let out to relieve themselves.

How can you tell if a puppy is crying to go potty?  You don't at first!

Often it's a fine line between a puppy crying to regain his place by your side and the puppy that's crying because of a real need.  Ask yourself if you have in fact met your puppy's needs?  Did you potty him?  Did you hang a water bottle on the outside of the crate?  Does he view his crate as a enjoyable alternative to being by your side?

You are also being trained during this period. 

You must consider your pup's needs foremost during this time.  Your puppy will trust you if you have proven yourself trustworthy to them!

You must put your pup's toilet needs first and foremost in order to achieve success in a relatively short period of time.  You must communicate all your "house rules" to the puppy through consistency on your part.

If you let your puppy out of the crate and the puppy has the opportunity to relieve themselves a few feet from their crate, they will potty erroneously before they will respond to your pleas to "come" outside. 

You can solve this dilemma easily enough by having a leash atop the crate that can be attached instantly to the puppy's collar that permits you to briskly walk puppy out of the home and to the approved potty spot. Remember consistency on your part is necessary.  Open the door, clip on the leash, take the puppy to his approved potty area. 

Keep play time and potty time separate events to avoid confusing the puppy.  

If you reliably attend to the puppy's need to relieve itself -- you will be successful.  (Notice that I put all the responsibility on "you" because if you do your part, puppy will happily keep his crate clean and potty where he's supposed to.)

What if your puppy sets up a cry for your company unlike any thing you've ever heard before?  Yikes.  I've seen it advocated to simply ignore such a puppy, but if  it's 2am, and you're at this page searching for a solution, let me suggest you give in to why you brought home that puppy in the first place.  First and foremost he wants to be with you, so hug the puppy close to your chest, shhhhh the puppy, and if you have a safe place not too high off the floor to lay down on, you will be pleased at how fast both you and the puppy can get back to sleep if you retire together.

Most of us don't sleep on futons inches off of the floor, so this option is rather dangerous for a puppy that might get up later during the night and fall to the ground so please deploy this suggestion only if safe to do so.

Your cupboard should be stocked with a variety of goodies from that Kong toy that can be stuffed with a bit of cream cheese or tasty peanut butter inside it to any other safe treat(s) that catches your eye that you know your puppy will love. Save treats for making the stay inside a crate pleasureable and for occupying puppy when you leave him in a secured area are a must to have on hand.

A great alternative to crate training is to secure a safe area inside the home or within a protected yard for the puppy that is left alone for a period of time. 

Remember it's okay to find the solution that works best for you in your home and if you choose to use crate training, make going "in" fun for your new puppy and enjoy your new family member!