Guide to Dog Breeds (See Full List)

Labrador Retriever

(AKC Sporting Group)

Labrador Retriever

Height: 22 1/2 to 24 1/2 in. (male); 21 1/2 to 23 1/2 in. (female).

Size: Large.

Weight: 65 to 80 lbs. (male); 55 to 70 lbs. (female).

Availability: Very popular.


A solid, muscular dog, slightly longer than tall, with a short, hard, easy-care, water-resistant double coat. Comes in solid black, yellow, or chocolate. The head is broad and the muzzle fairly wide. The medium-sized ears are pendant. The nose should be black on black dogs and yellow dogs, brown on chocolate dogs. A scissors bite is preferred. The eyes should have a kindly expression. The chest should extend down to the elbows, but not farther. The otter tail is strong, thick near the body then tapering, and completely covered with hair. The webbed feet aid in swimming.


The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the United States. Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, the Labrador was trained to jump overboard into the icy waters and haul fisherman's nets to shore. Specimens were brought to England where the Labrador's fine retrieving instincts were honed and developed. One of the best family dogs and canine companions because of his gentle, loving disposition, the highly trainable Labrador also excels in drug detection, as a guide for the blind, and a service dog for the disabled. The breed is also an outstanding obedience and field trial competitor.


The Labrador is a generally healthy and robust breed. Beware of hip dysplasia, PRA, and eye disorders. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP or another national hip dysplasia clearance and current CERF or OFA eye clearance. Can become destructive if left too much to his own devices. A big eater, the Labrador needs regular exercise and moderate rations to avoid a tendency to become overweight. Train Labradors early not to pull on the leash, as they have very strong necks. Show lines are generally heavier and more easygoing than field lines. Field lines tend to be very energetic. Often the best pets are from combination show/field stock. Loves to swim. Labrador Retrievers are very popular, leading to the sale of many poorly bred animals. Buy only from a reputable breeder.


Hunting, tracking, pointing, retrieving, watchdog, police work, narcotics detection, search & rescue, carting, agility, competitive obedience, service, and therapy.


Loving, lovable, and very patient. Highly intelligent, eager to please, and high spirited. Lively and good-natured. Loves to play, especially in water. Not aggressive with people or other animals. Field Labs tend to be much more high-strung and active than show Labs. A bit more dominant and independent than the Golden Retriever. Some may be reserved with strangers unless very well socialized as puppies.


Children: Excellent with children.
Friendliness: Loves everyone.
Trainability: Very easy to train.
Independence: Moderately dependent on people.
Dominance: Moderate.
Other Pets: Generally good with other pets.
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive.
Noise: Average barker.
Indoors: Moderately active indoors.
Owner: Good for novice owners.

Grooming and Physical Needs:

Grooming: Very little grooming needed.
Trimming & Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed.
Coat: Short coat.
Shedding: Average shedder.
Exercise: Needs lots of exercise.
Jogging: A good jogging companion.
Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised.
Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard.
Climate: Does well in most climates.
Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years).