Acquired: Breeder (hobby breeder)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques, Books
California, United States
Posted January 15, 2012
Amber was the friendliest animal I could ever imagine knowing. We often joked that were a burglar to enter our home, she would lick him to death. Without exaggeration, even when she was hurt (she got injured in the Northridge quake) she just wanted love and attention, without the slightest complaint.
I have heard that labradors are the most popular family dog, and I can see why. In my experience, they are absolute angels with children of all ages, just happy to be getting attention, even with the kid is riding them like a horse, or poking them in the nose. Mine never snapped at anyone, rarely barked, and was never mean.
If you're looking for a guard dog, or one that would even just bark at a potential intruder, this probably isn't the pet for you. If you're looking for a dog that will be military-like obedient, again, this is not your pet. But if you're looking for a family dog that you won't have to worry about with your kids, strangers, etc. - a lab is a good bet.
Since Amber was purebred, she wasn't a cheap puppy. Her parents were pedigrees, but her thyroid problem made it so she would never be a show dog. As a result, she was "marked down" and my grandparents really wanted a purebreed. Labradors are fairly common in the United States though, so I would imagine that you could find one that's at least mostly lab at just about any shelter, or even a pet store if you want to go that route, without such a hefty price tag attached. Honestly, I'm big on mutts anyway - you get multiple traits from multiple breeds, often finding the best from each, in one animal.
But, back to labs... Being a short-haired breed, they are easier to groom than a lot of animals. A quick brushing once or twice a week, and you won't have to worry about gads of dog hair everywhere.
Amber did develop a couple health issues, starting around age 5 or so. She had always been overweight, but the medication the vet wanted her on would give her horrible dry mouth and make her hair fall out in clumps, so the thyroid was a constant uphill battle. Other, more minor, issues meant that she wound up at the vet more often than other animals I've owned. This all adds to the cost of owning the dog. That said, she remained active right up until the end, happy, and fairly healthy considering her age in dog years.
Training was a nightmare. She never did get the hang of it. She pulled on her leash while you walked her, ran towards strangers for petting (dragging you along), "heel" was beyond her. We took her to obedience training classes, and we worked with her at home, but she was just interested in sniffing the other dogs. I just learned to deal with it. She was such a sweetheart, and I was strong enough to keep a hold on her when I took her for a walk. But, if obedience is high on your list of pet priorities, you may want to consider a different breed, or start training them from VERY early puppyhood.