Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Posted July 26, 2015
I got my dog - a black haired lab called Floortje (a Dutch name) - when she was about 1 year old. This was essentially as a result of a rescue mission, sort of, as the owner was a little old lady living at the 8th floor of an apartment building, and this little furry ball of electricity was essentially tearing up the furniture, also because the little old lady was unable, due to her advanced age, to go outside and walk the dog.
So, I took Floortje off her hands, as a big, energetic hunting dog like a Labrador requires a LOT of room to run around in, and an owner who is equally willing to spend a lot of time going for walkies ...
Which is the point with Labradors: To keep a Lab healthy and happy, they need lots of exercise. A Lab is, after all, a dog bred to chase and retrieve waterfowl, such as ducks. As a result of this, the instinct to hunt and chase and, more than anything, jump into any body of water, is very strong in this breed of dogs. Think of it this way: How many overweight retrievers have you seen in your lifetime? Because retrievers need a lot of daily exercise.
Which is, of course, both a good and a bad thing, depending on your angle: If you are looking for a low-maintenance dog that can make do with a walk around the block every day, than a retriever is not for you ... Under the other hand, if you love to go out every day and walk and run and bike and go exploring and just be active, than you can find not better companion than a Lab.
A few things that you need to be aware of though:
- Labradors have a generally elevated risk of suffering from hip dysplasia and other joint related issues. This congenital condition simply means that their hip joints are not all that they are supposed to be. This can lead to high medical bills for medication, and even (if you are willing to go that far) hip replacement surgery. My dog also suffered from this condition. However, one thing that was recommended by my vet (and which also worked quite effectively) was to make the dog run at a steady and continuous pace for a prolonged period of time. I found that the best way of doing this was by getting on my bike, and simply biking around town with Floortje running next to the bike. The point of this exercise is simply to grow muscles around the affected joints, which keep it all together and essentially force the joints into their proper place. If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia or another kind of joint issue, I do recommended this kind of doggy "body building" (but still check it out with your vet first, just to be on the safe side).
Beyond the potential medical issues, however, I would say that Labs are pretty ideal dogs: Very friendly and emotionally stable, which makes them perfect around children or other animals. Also fairly intelligent, without being prone to bad behavior.
Really, the main CONS for this breed are:
1) they need lots of exercise, so, if you are not an active person yourself, don't get this breed!
2) they are prone to some medical issues, which may end up in high bills from the vet (and a potentially sad ending).
3) They like to hunt and chase, which means that they might just run out after a real or imagined rabbit one day and not return until three days later ...
4) They LOVE to swim, in pretty much any kind of water, which mean you will spend a lot of time with a garden hose or dog shampoo trying to get that muck off.
Beyond that though, they are truly a lovely kind of dog ...