6PR - Fairfax Radio Network


Labrador Retriever

Tony Vigano
July 13, 2012


Also known as the Labrador Retriever or Labrador (Lab for short) they are one of several types of retrievers, a type of gun dog. Characterised by webbed feet for swimming they were originally used to retrieve fishing nets and one of the most popular breeds in all parts of the world. Also one of the most popular assistance breeds, they are also widely used by police and other bodies for their detection and working abilities. The English Labrador, from English stock is heavier, thicker and blockier. The American Labrador is tall and lanky.


Labradors are from New Foundland and so called because a New Foundland already existed. Also known as St John Dogs or the Lesser New Foundland. Their forebears are not known but are likely to be a random-bred mix of English and Portugese working breeds. They were developed to aid fisherman, towing in nets, and working in the snow and ice of the near Arctic conditions. They were taken to the north of England in the early 19th century where they were used as gun dogs and retrievers.


Compact, robust, strongly built dogs with a dense water resistant coat and a thick undercoat. They come in black, yellow (which is a mutation of the black) and a rarer chocolate brown. Males stand at 56-57cm and bitches at 54-56cm with a desirable weight range of 25-34 kg.


The most popular breed in Australia and are described as an ever faithful companion, adorable and friendly and often considered the quintessential “mum and dad’s dog” so popular are they with young families. They have a short, dense coat which requires little maintenance though they shed hair.

Generally blessed with a kind, pleasant and outgoing temperament they are highly trainable, and their even temper makes them an excellent family dog being highly intelligent, and eager to please. They mature at about 3 years of age and before this can be a handful being boisterous and puppy-like. Early lead training is essential as they can become unmanageable in their early years so socialisation and obedience classes are highly recommended.

They can bark but are not generally noisy or territorial. Easy going and trusting of strangers they are not generally considered as suitable guard dogs. They are well known for their appetite and can be highly indiscriminate eating digestible and non-food objects alike! Food intake must be regulated as they can become obese particularly later in life.


They are ideally suited for families as they love joining in with all activities and being versatile they are good with all age groups and particularly children. They need lots of exercise and should be walked twice a day lest they become mischievous and overweight. They are not prone to separation anxiety and so when the family is away they can be trained to amuse themselves or just loaf around. As puppies they are prone to chewing anything and everything so keep valuable items out of reach. It is essential to gain early control of them as they crave human leadership so attendance at puppy school and dog obedience classes establishes the ground rules as to who is boss and this is essential or they will become destructive and unmanageable as adults.


A generally healthy breed with few major problems, they can be prone to hip dysplasia (an early hereditary arthritic disease of the hips), knee problems (including luxating or slipping patellas, and cruciate ligament disease) and elbow dysplasia. Eye problems are also seen in some strains including PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), cataracts, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia. Screening should be done at an early age for their eye problems, and selective breeding has largely controlled hip dysplasia in recent years. Obesity, which is exacerbated by sterilisation (though controllable with diet), can be a major problem in dogs not properly fed and exercised but with modern diets and a sensible approach to regular exercise this can be easily controlled.


In summary the Labrador is often the first choice for the young growing family as they are reliable and predictable around children.  Once trained they are excellent in the house, albeit a tad clumsy but this is made up by their ever friendly temperament and smiling face. Be sure to check out their breeding as regards the hereditary conditions that they are prone to carry and also temperament.

Ideal for Perth’s climate as they love the water and love nothing better than to jog along the beach with their favourite people.

Highly recommended.


Tony Vigano