The Ultimate Labrador Retriever Guide - Dog Walks Near Me

The Ultimate Labrador Retriever Guide

In this article: Facts about the Breed | Getting your Dog | Grooming | Health | Ownership Cost | Are they good pets | Do they need much excercise? | Do they bark a lot? | Can they be left alone?

The Labrador is the most popular of all pedigree breeds due to their versatility as a family companion, service dog, guide dog, and working gundog.

The breed originates from Newfoundland, and were originally breed to help fishermen retrieve nets and lost lines and pull cats loaded with fish. The Newfoundland dogs were a bit smaller than the modern breed, and it is thought that these dogs were crossed with hunting dogs taken to Newfoundland by English traders. Some of the resulting dogs from this breeding were brought back to England where their retrieving skills were recognised by the sporting gentry.

Facts about the Breed

Group: Gundog
Size: Large
Height: Male: 57–62 cm, Female: 55–60 cm
Weight: Male: 29–36 kg, Female: 25–32 kg
Average Lifespan: 10 - 12 years
Moulting Level: Moderate throughout the year
Grooming: Weekly
Exercise required: Greater than 2 hours per day
Temperament: Intelligent, Outgoing, Even Tempered, Kind, Agile, Trusting, Gentle
General: In general, Labrador retrievers are excellent family dogs, as long as you keep in mind their need for exercise and training. Labrador retrievers are easily recognised by their broad head, drop ears and large, expressive eyes.

Getting your Dog


Perhaps the easiest and cheapest way of getting a dog is by adopting a rescue dog from one of the many charities. Large nationwide charities such as The Dogs Trust re-home all dogs regardless of breed, but there are countless breed specific charities for people certain they want a certain breed - an advantage of these smaller charities is that they are very knowledgeable and passionate about the breed they’re re-homing and can put you in touch with other owners of that breed.

Lots of dogs end up with a rescue groups looking for new homes through no fault of their own and just need some loving dog owners. Talking with the charity, you can explain your individual circumstances to help ensure you are matched with a suitable dog for your family, but remember that if you are a bit nervous about re-homing a dog, you can always suggest to trial the new dog first without judgement; an option you may not have with a breeder!

Finding a Breeder

If you have decided that you want your new dog from a puppy, then it is likely that you will need to find a breeder although it is always worth checking with charities like The Dogs Trust first, as whilst puppies are highly sought after, they do re-home a number of puppies each year so you might get lucky!

Assuming you have no-luck with a charity or would like to ensure your puppy is a pedigree then the easiest way of finding a reputable breeder is via the Kennel Club find a puppy page. Please note that Dog Walks Near Me can take no responsibility for breeders found on external sites.

When looking for a suitable breeder, remember that a good breeder, will have a good reputation to uphold. As such they should be more than happy to welcome you into their home or kennel area and allow you to check out the surroundings that their puppies are raised in so you can see for yourself that they have been looked after and loved in those important first few weeks of their life.

Make sure that you do your research, there are countless news articles of unscrupulous people looking to take advantage either by selling sick puppies that have been illegally breed, or creating fake adverts for dogs that don’t even exist. To help avoid this you could take a look at their social media profiles and whether there are testimonials relevant to this breed, maybe ask your local vet if they know of a breeder in your area, talk to other owners, etc. this will all make it quite a bit easier to find a breeder you can trust. Breeders should be the people that love their dogs the most and want to share their love of the breed with everyone so if you feel they are hiding something then they probably are.


Grooming your Labrador will ensure you are keeping your dog looking clean and fresh as well as discarding any loose hair. Labradors, on the whole, are a simple breed to groom at home. However, if you are wanting to give your dog some professional pampering you should visit your local groomer for some well deserved TLC.

To make sure that your dog’s coat is at its best, you will need to groom your Labrador at least once a week, potentially more if you have been out walking your dog. However, when it comes closer to moulting season, you will need to up your grooming to around 4 times a week to make sure the dead hair is removed.


The potential health problems that Labrador Retrievers are prone to include:

  • Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Elbow dysplasia - elbow joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Prone to obesity
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – gradual deterioration of the retina of the eye. Symptoms can start with night blindness and progress to total blindness.

For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to re-home have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.

Ownership costs

The likely lifetime costs for a Labrador Retriever will need to be considered, and will typically include the following:

The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.

Are they good pets?

Labradors make perfect family pets, given the right socialisation, as with all breeds. They bond well with the whole family and are affectionate and loving. Their patient nature makes them ideal for children. Grooming is very simple, with a weekly brush usually enough to keep the coat in tip-top condition.

Do they need much exercise?

A Labrador has to be walked at least once per day, for 30 to 45 minutes but two walks per day is the more the accepted norm.

You will also need to take them for a much harder bout of exercise 3 or 4 times per week. A couple of hours hiking, or a good swim, or running in the park playing a good game of fetch. Exploring the great outdoors, having a good swim and retrieving games on land or in water is what a Labrador lives for.

If you’re the type of person who will walk, run and play with your dog EVERY day, no matter the weather, then a Labrador retriever is the dog for you. But a stay at home person with a lazy lifestyle will drive a Labrador crazy, and a Labrador will drive that type of owner crazy too! In this case, you should perhaps consider a lower maintenance dog breed.

Do they bark a lot?

Just like most dog breeds, Labradors do bark and for a variety of different reasons. Without plenty of physical stimulation and social interaction, Labs will bark more than normal, possibly to excess, due to their pent-up energy.

If you find that your Lab is still barking even with plenty of stimulation, it could be because they’re scared, frustrated, guarding or even suffering from separation anxiety

Can they be left alone?

Like most dogs, Labrador retrievers can be prone to separation anxiety which can manifest itself in a number of ways; from vocalisations (howling and/or barking) as soon as you leave the room, to destructive behaviour, or even toileting. Thankfully with training, most dogs can overcome separation anxiety and be trained to be left alone (more information on treating seperation anxiety in dogs can be found here).

As a general rule Labradors should not be left alone for more than 8 hours but ideally you should limit your time apart from them to no more than 3-4 hours. Alternatives such as boarding or hiring a dog walker should be considered if that isn’t possible for your situation.

In recent years the number of Doggy Daycare providers have expanded rapidly. Whilst this can be relatively expensive, it does have the advantage of both socialising your dog with the other dogs there, and as well as providing peace of mind that your dog is being supervised for the entire day. However, if Doggy Daycare is out of your price range there are other options, such as using a dog walking service. Services such as Rover or Wag! offer skilled walkers at affordable prices. This option is appropriate when you know you’ll be gone longer than four hours. In turn, your dog will have a chance to go to the bathroom and exercise while you’re away.

Investing in a mentally stimulating toy is a great way to keep your Dog’s separation anxiety at bay. Toys such as the ‘kong’ stuffed with food, are excellent at distracting your dog for the first 20 - 30 minutes when you leave.

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