Should you add a Labrador to your family?

Energetic - Friendly - Happy. There’s a good reason why Labrador Retrievers or "Labs" continue to be one of the most popular breeds amongst dog lovers. These happy go lucky pooches love human attention and make the very best companions for those looking for an addition to the family.

Below, we take a look at some of the facts and figures of this waggy breed and help you to decide whether a Labrador Retriever could be the perfect pet for you!

labrador dog

Labrador Retriever Breed Basics:

Average lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Average weight: Male: 29-37 kg, Female: 25-32 kg

Colours: Cream, Golden, Black and Chocolate

Trainability: Easy

Shedding: Medium to High

Type: Gundog

A history of the Labrador Retriever

The humble Labrador actually originated in Newfoundland, rather than the Canadian region of Labrador as previously thought. The original Labrador differed slightly and no longer exist. With a black waterproof coat, these dogs were bred to help local fishermen. A few of these dogs were imported into the UK in the 19th century as hunting dogs and developed into the modern Labrador that we all know and love. Since then, these loyal companions have become one of the world's favourite breeds, both in the UK and the US, due to their affectionate and happy nature.

Did you know: Whilst many will know Labradors as the Andrex puppy, in other countries including Australia, they are known as the Kleenex Puppy.

Labrador Retriever temperament & personality

Labradors are known for their happy and loving nature, it is what makes them so appealing to anyone looking for the perfect family pet.

When we refer to man’s best friend, we often picture the Labrador, with its smiling face, wagging tail and excited demeanour. They love to be active and make excellent companions when out and about. The ultimate outdoor dog, they love to swim, play, run and even hike with you as they are very energetic.

It is advised to make sure you’ve got plenty of chew toys when choosing a Labrador, as they love to chew on anything and everything. If you don’t give them enough to munch on, they will direct their focus on your furniture and even your shoes.

How much exercise do Labrador's need? 

This large breed dog comes with buckets of energy. They need lots of mental and physical stimulation. Long daily walks are a must! As labradors love water, a regular swim as part of their daily exercise is highly recommended.

Left to their own devices and if they don't receive the stimulation they need, Labradors can become destructive and may persistently bark. If you're set on introducing a Labrador to your family but worried you don't have the time to give them the exercise they need, check with a neighbour, or there are walkers and doggy day care options to ensure you keep your pooch happy and healthy.

How to groom a Labrador Retriever

Anyone who has met or lived with a Labrador, will have witnessed a lot of shedding. With the right grooming routine a high quality diet that's rich in animal protein and oils to promote a healthy skin and coat, you can manage shedding effectively.

Labrador Retrievers short coats still need regular grooming to keep their fur happy and healthy. Daily brushing with a nylon brush can help to stimulate the oils in their coat and keep it looking shiny. Regular grooming will also feel great for your pet, especially if you throw in a little massage!

Massaging and brushing your Labrador daily can also help you to find any abnormalities or lumps, helping to prevent any serious illness before it becomes a problem for you and your pet.

Other than a daily brush, Labradors are relatively low maintenance for grooming. To keep their teeth healthy, we highly recommend daily brushing (check out our guide on the importance of dog teeth cleaning) and as Labs do love to get mucky, regular bathing might be called for.

Labrador Retriever health

Labs are fairly robust but as with many larger sized dogs, hip dysplasia can become an issue, especially in later life. Feeding an appropriate puppy food formulated for large breed puppies can help prevent hip dysplasia as these foods will have the right calcium phosphorus ratios and joint support needed.

Labs have insatiable appetites. They're the only breed not allowed in food palatability trials as they will literally eat anything and everything. We've heard horror stories of labradors eating towels! Something that many Labrador Retriever owners may want to watch out for is overeating. As labradors love to wolf down their food, this can make them more prone to obesity and weight issues. To help stop these gannets from eating way too much, its important to stick to feeding guidelines and it's worth buying a slow feeding bowls specially designed to prevent them from engulfing everything at once.

You should also try limiting your dogs portion sizes and could even try spacing out smaller meals throughout the day to help prevent any digestion issues. Choosing a good quality pet food can also make a huge difference. Scrumbles large breed dog food is specially formulated for larger dogs, avoids nasties like artificial colours, sugar and salt and is low in carbohydrates helping avoid unnecessary weight gain. As an added bonus, our gut friendly recipe will help deliver a firm healthy poop.

Are Labrador Retrievers good family dogs?

As they are relatively low aggression, always happy to see you and love to be active, the Labrador Retriever makes an amazing family pet and are great with children.

They are very easy to train, due to their loyal nature, so they can be easily house trained and trained to walk well on the lead. Their steady character is one of the reasons they are first choice for guide dogs. However, labradors are not the best guard dogs in the world, so if you’re looking for a bit of home security, these dogs are not the breed to opt for.

Labrador family dog

Are Labrador Retrievers aggressive?

Any dogs can be aggressive, depending on their upbringing and training, but Labradors are known for having low aggression. If you have very young children or you’re planning to add a puppy and a baby to your family in the next few months, then a Labrador Retriever is an ideal breed choice.

Are Labrador Retrievers intelligent?

There have been a number of studies on the intelligence of some of our favourite breeds of dog and the Labrador Retriever regularly ranks in the top 10. Due to their working and hunting past, they hold a decent amount of intelligence, which makes them very easy to train.

They tend to pick up the most basic commands fairly easy, so if you need a dog that can be house trained quickly and efficiently, this is the breed for you.

How big do Labrador Retrievers get?

When it comes to size, you’ll find a Labrador to reach anywhere between 55-62 cm in height, depending on their gender. As large breed dogs, they can be pretty heavy, weighing in at a max of 37 kg for males.

How much do Labrador Retrievers cost?

Rescuing a dog is not only a great way to provide for a dog that needs our care but typically shelters will only charge a small administration fee and as a bonus, your dog will come home fully vaccinated and flea treated. If you're thinking of adopting a dog, read our guide on pet rehoming.

If you're set on buying a puppy, a Labrador Retriever puppy, could set you back £850 for a pedigree puppy. This is relatively low vs the cost of other, less common breeds.

Of course with any dog, there are extra costs you may want to consider. Pet insurance, monthly flea treatments and annual vaccinations as well as food, treats and toys.


When it comes to finding the perfect family pet, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dog that is better suited than the Labrador Retriever. They are bundles of sunshine that are always happy to see you, always ready to play and very loyal companions.


You might be interested in reading:

  1. Border Terrier Breed Guide
  2. Are Cocker Spaniels the right dog for you?
  3. A Mini Guide to the Miniature Schnauzer


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