pros and cons of labrador retrievers

An Honest Review of the Pros and Cons of Labrador Retrievers

Do you want to know the pros and cons of Labrador Retrievers before considering adding one to your family? These lovable pups are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and for a good reason. But as with any decision, weighing the pros and cons before jumping in headfirst is important. As one of the dog owners, I can attest that labrador retrievers are an incredibly special breed – but they’re not without their challenges, too.

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not a labrador retriever is the right fit for you, keep reading for an honest breakdown of the pros and cons of labrador retrievers.

A Brief History of Labrador Retrievers

pros and cons of labrador retrievers

The story of the Labrador Retriever goes back to the 19th century when they were bred to assist fishermen in the coastal regions of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Their original purpose was to retrieve fish that had escaped from nets and to help haul in fishing lines. These early dogs were known as St. John’s Water Dogs, a mix of breeds, including setters, spaniels, and other retrievers.

In the mid-1800s, noblemen who were impressed by their hunting prowess brought these dogs to England. They were further developed and refined there, eventually becoming known as Labrador Retrievers. The breed quickly became popular among hunters, amazed by their ability to retrieve game on land and water.

Throughout the 20th century, the Labrador Retriever continued to gain popularity as a working and family dog. The military and police used them as search and rescue teams, thanks to their intelligence, trainability, and strength. In fact, Labrador Retrievers still hold the record for the highest number of search and rescue missions conducted by a single breed in the United States.

Today, the Labrador Retriever is seen as one of the most popular and beloved breeds in the world.

The Pros and Cons of Labrador Retrievers

pros and cons of labrador retrievers


The Labrador Retriever is an incredibly popular breed for a reason. They’re smart, loyal, and great with children – all traits are some of Labrador retriever pros and makes them an ideal family pet. But like any breed, they’re not without their drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of owning a Labrador Retriever:


✅Pleasant Personality

As one of Labrador pros, they are known for their friendly, sociable, and loyal nature. These Labrador retriever temperament are embedded in their genes and inherited from their ancestors, who were used for hunting and retrieving dogs. They have a strong desire to please their owners, which makes them easy to train and obedient. Labradors crave human interaction and are excellent with kids and other pets, making them the perfect family pet.

When I first got my lab, teaching him basic commands such as sit, stay, and come was effortless. He is always eager to learn new tricks, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Another aspect of Labrador’s pleasant personality is its calm and patient demeanor. They rarely show aggression or hyperactivity, making them an ideal companion for people with disabilities or mental health issues. Labradors have an innate sense of empathy and can detect when their owners are distressed, so they are used as therapy dogs. My Lab, for instance, has a calming effect on me, and his presence always uplifts my mood.

✅Friendly and Peaceful Dogs

Labradors’ friendly nature is one of the most endearing qualities of this breed. They are known for their outgoing personalities and love to be around their families. These breeds are excellent companion animals and enjoy spending time with their humans. They are also very social and love making friends – dogs and humans alike!

Another positive trait of Labrador Retrievers is their peaceful disposition. They rarely get aggressive, and even when they do, it takes a lot of provocation. They have a lot of patience, which makes them great with children and other pets. Also, they seldom get mad or worked up about anything, which makes them excellent family pets. Therefore, they are highly recommended for families with young children.

According to a study, Labrador Retrievers are the least aggressive dogs towards family and strangers. This finding further emphasizes the peaceful and friendly nature of these dogs. Another reason for this could be their breeding history. They were primarily bred as hunting and retrieving dogs, so they didn’t need to be aggressive to do their jobs.

✅Average to Long Lifespan

A study has shown that some Labradors can live up to 16 or 17 years. This is because Labs tend to sustain a slow body fat accumulation in the first years of life, which helps them to maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives. Additionally, they also experience a slower loss of lean body mass, which is important to keep their muscles strong and healthy. It is one of the reasons why Labs have been used to study longevity in humans – their genetics and lifestyle can give us insight into how we can live a longer and healthier life.

Now, let’s get personal. My own Lab is a testament to the long lifespan of this breed. He is now 14 years old and still going strong. We’ve been through so much together, and it’s comforting to know that he has many more years ahead of him. It’s not just about the number of years, though. It’s about the quality of life that Labs can have in their old age. Max still loves playing, walking, and snuggling on the couch. Sure, he may move a little slower than he used to, but he’s still the same happy and loving dog that he’s always been.

✅Great Outdoor Company

Labrador Retrievers are natural swimmers. They were bred to retrieve water birds for hunters, and their webbed paws made it easier for them to propel through the water. But what makes them even more special is their love for playing fetch in the water. You and your family can have endless hours of fun throwing a ball or a frisbee into the sea, and your Lab will happily retrieve it for you. There’s nothing like watching your furry friend glide through the waves with a smile on their face!

Another activity that can be done with a Lab during summer escapes is hiking. These dogs have high energy levels and need plenty of exercise, so taking them on a hiking trail is a perfect way to keep them healthy and happy. They make great trail guides, as their sense of smell is second to none. Plus, with their friendly personalities, you’re bound to make some new friends on the trail as other hikers stop to pet and admire your furry companion.

Campfires are another quintessential summer activity, and Labs make perfect companions for those cozy nights around the fire. Snuggled up next to their humans, they are happy to lie down and listen to the crackle of the flames while enjoying a nice belly rub from their favorite people. Who needs a flashlight when you have the glowing eyes of an attentive Lab lighting up the darkness?

If water, hiking, and campfires aren’t enough to keep you and your furry companion busy, Labradors are also great for playing games such as frisbee and throw-and-fetch games. With the help of a large backyard, any concerned parent can keep an eye on their furry friend while the dog engages in these different activities.

These are just some of the ways that you can enjoy spending time with a Labrador Retriever. We all know these dogs are loyal, loving, and gentle but also adventurous and active.



The reason why Labrador retriever breed are so food-motivated is due to a genetic mutation in their POMC gene. This gene regulates appetite and energy levels in all mammals, and when this gene is mutated in Labs, it distorts the communication between their stomachs and brains. Essentially, Labs do not receive the signal that tells them they’ve had enough to eat, so they’re always hungry. This genetic quirk doesn’t make Labs any less lovable, but it does mean that their never-ending appetite has to be managed.

I’ve had many Labs throughout my life, and they’ve all been insatiable regarding food. One of the most memorable stories was when we first got our Labrador retriever puppy, Charlie. We made the mistake of leaving a freshly baked pie on the kitchen counter while we were out running errands, and when we came back, we found Charlie happily munching on the remnants of the once-delicious pie. To this day, we still laugh about that incident, which has become a family anecdote.

Even though Labs’ obsession with food can be amusing at times, it can also be a bit challenging to manage. One thing we’ve found to be helpful is to feed our Labs smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This helps to regulate their hunger and keep them from becoming too ravenous. Another thing we’ve done is invest in puzzle toys that are designed to dispense food. These toys keep our Labs engaged and entertained while also satisfying their hunger.

It’s important to note that just because Labs have a genetic predisposition to love food, it doesn’t mean that every Lab will be food-obsessed. In fact, only about 25% of Labs have the POMC gene mutation. However, if you have a constantly hungry lab, it’s essential to manage their food intake to prevent obesity and other health issues.

❎Breed-specific Health Conditions

As a proud owner of a Labrador Retriever myself, I have some firsthand knowledge and experience on this topic that I’d like to share with you.

∎Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Among the most common health conditions that Labrador Retrievers may suffer is hip and elbow dysplasia. This condition occurs when the hip or elbow joints do not develop properly, leading to inflammation, pain, and eventually arthritis. Studies have shown that even when the parents of a Labrador do not suffer from the condition, there is still an 8.3% chance that the puppies will be at risk of hip and elbow dysplasia. This percentage increases significantly to 30% when both parents suffer from the condition. As a responsible owner, taking your Labrador Retriever for regular checkups and screenings is essential to identify health issues like hip and elbow dysplasia early on.

∎Eye Disease

Labradors are prone to developing a genetic mutation that causes progressive retinal atrophy, which results in permanent blindness. They are also at risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. It is crucial to take your Labrador Retriever for regular eye checks and to watch out for any signs of discomfort, cloudiness, or redness in their eyes.

∎EIC and Centronuclear Myopathy

Two other health conditions specific to the Labrador breed are EIC (Exercise-Induced Collapse) and Centronuclear Myopathy. EIC is a genetic condition that causes sudden, severe weakness and collapse after exercise or excitement. Centronuclear Myopathy is a genetic disorder similar to muscular dystrophy, which leads to muscle wasting and weakness. If your Labrador Retriever is diagnosed with any of these conditions, it is important to adjust their exercise regime and ensure they receive proper treatment.

∎Thyroid Disease

Lastly, Labradors may also risk developing thyroid disease, which occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. This can cause weight gain, lethargy, and hair loss. Early detection and proper treatment are crucial to managing this condition.

It’s important to educate yourself and be aware of the potential health risks that your Labrador Retriever may face. Regular health checkups, screenings, and a healthy diet and exercise routine are the best ways to keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come.

∎Heavy Shedders

First, we should clarify what heavy shedding means. Essentially, Labs have a thick double coat, which protects them in all kinds of weather, but also means that they shed a lot. All year round, you can expect to find some fur around your house, clothes, and car. However, the shedding of a Labrador intensifies during the fall and spring when they “blow their coat.” This means they shed a lot of their undercoat to prepare for colder or hotter weather. Consequently, even more hair than usual falls out, which can be overwhelming.

Now, how can you deal with this heavy shedding? The first thing to keep in mind is that you will need to brush your Lab regularly. Brushing will help remove loose hair and prevent mats and tangles. You can use a slicker brush or a Fulminator to remove loose undercoats efficiently. Make sure to brush in the direction of your dog’s hair growth and avoid rough handling, as Labs have sensitive skin. Use a grooming tool such as a de-shedding shampoo or conditioner that can help control shedding.

Another tip to reduce hair in your house is to limit your Lab’s access to certain areas during shedding seasons. For example, you can keep your Lab outside while you vacuum and clean your floors or use baby gates to prevent them from entering certain rooms. Additionally, you may want to invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner that can handle pet hair and dander. Some models come with attachments specially designed to pick up pet hair from upholstery, carpets, and hard floors.

❎Doggy Smell

All dogs have a natural scent from their skin and ear glands. However, Labrador Retrievers tend to have a stronger odor due to their double, water-repellent coat. This coat is designed to keep them warm and dry but can also retain moisture, leading to bacteria growth and a musty smell. Regular grooming and bathing can help manage this.

Moreover, Labradors love to eat and are prone to overeating, leading to indigestion and flatulence. Combined with their naturally oily skin, this can create a pungent odor. Feeding them high-quality food in appropriate portions and providing plenty of exercise can help regulate their digestive system.

Medical conditions can also play a role in the Labrador’s odor. Skin infections, ear infections, and dental issues can all lead to a foul smell. Regular checkups with a veterinarian can help address any underlying health concerns and keep your pup smelling fresh and clean.

In addition to grooming, diet, and medical interventions, you can do some simple things at home to manage your Labrador’s scent. Regularly washing their bedding, toys, and collar can help reduce any lingering smells. Using odor-neutralizing sprays or diffusers in your home can also keep your space smelling fresh.

❎Prone to Separation Anxiety

Labrador Retrievers are known for being friendly, loyal, and incredibly easy to train. However, as much as these dogs love their humans, they can become quite anxious when left alone. Studies suggest that this is likely due to genetics rather than the environment. Labradors have a similar genetic makeup to hounds, bred for hunting in packs. Thus, being alone is not something they naturally understand or enjoy.

But why is this an issue?

When a dog is stressed and anxious, it can end up affecting not only their mood but also their health. Separation anxiety causes your furry friend to feel extreme stress when left alone. It can lead to excessive whining, howling, barking, destructive behavior, and even physical illness. Not only is this troublesome for the pup, but it can also be extremely frustrating for you as an owner.

It’s important to know that this behavior is something you can work on with your Labrador Retriever. You can do a few things to help them feel more comfortable when left alone. One solution is crate training, which can help keep your pup safe and prevent destructive behavior. It is also a good idea to create an area in your home where they can rest, play, and feel safe when you’re not around. Toys, treats, or other comforting items can also benefit your pet.

Another tactic to try is gradually desensitizing your Labrador to being left alone. Start with short periods but gradually increase the duration when your dog has become more comfortable. This can help your dog adapt slowly rather than suddenly, which can be overwhelming. If you find that your dog is still struggling with separation anxiety despite trying techniques at home, it might be time to seek out the help of a professional dog trainer.

You should be aware of these pros and cons of Labrador retrievers. If you’re considering adoption, research and ensure you’re prepared for what comes with owning a Lab.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Labradors easy to train?

Yes, absolutely! Labradors are intelligent dogs and are known to be quick learners. They were originally bred as hunting and retrieving dogs, and they strongly desired to please their owners. However, like any other dog breed, training requires time, effort, and patience. It’s essential to start training at a young age and use positive reinforcement techniques. Consistency is key; you’ll have a well-trained and obedient companion in no time.

Q: What should I feed my Labrador Retriever?

Labradors are prone to gaining weight, which can lead to health problems. It’s essential to feed them a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet includes high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. You can feed them commercial dog food or even a raw diet, but it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian. Avoid overfeeding or giving them table scraps, leading to obesity and other health issues.

Q: How big do Labradors typically grow?

Labradors are considered a large dog breed, and they can grow up to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh anywhere between 55 to 80 pounds. Females are usually smaller than males. However, like humans, every dog is different and can grow at different rates. It’s essential to monitor their growth and adjust their diet accordingly to ensure they are healthy and developing as they should.

Q: Are Labradors good guard dogs?

Labradors are generally not good guard dogs. They are bred to be friendly and outgoing, and are more likely to greet a stranger with a wagging tail than to bark or growl. However, they can still protect their home and family, and their size alone can deter potential intruders. A Labrador probably isn’t the best choice if you want a dog specifically for guarding your home.

Q: Do Labradors make good apartment dogs?

Labradors are energetic dogs who need a lot of exercise, so they may not be the best choice for apartment living. However, a Labrador can adapt to apartment life but be sure to give your dog daily walks and playtime. Just make sure you have enough space for your dog to move around and play, and consider using puzzle toys or other mental stimulation activities to help keep them occupied indoors.

Q: How much does it cost to own a Labrador Retriever?

The cost of owning a Labrador can vary depending on where you live and what kind of care your dog needs. Generally, you can expect to spend upwards of $1,000 per year on food, toys, and veterinary care. In addition, Labradors are prone to certain health issues like hip dysplasia and obesity, so there would be an additional medical expenses. It’s also worth noting that larger dogs like Labradors may have a shorter lifespan, so you’ll need to be ready for end-of-life care and expenses.

Q: What kind of training do Labradors need?

Labradors are intelligent dogs who love to please their owners, so they generally respond well to positive reinforcement training. However, they can be stubborn sometimes, especially when they’re young and energetic. Basic obedience training, such as sit, stay, come, and heel, is a good place to start. You should also consider crate training, housebreaking, and socialization with other dogs and people. Many Labradors also enjoy advanced training like agility or retrieving, which can provide both physical and mental stimulation.

Final Words

So, after weighing the pros and cons of labrador retrievers, my personal verdict is this: they are amazing dogs! Sure, they shed quite a bit, but that’s just a small sacrifice considering their loyalty, intelligence, and playful nature. They make great family pets and are always up for a game of fetch. Plus, they’re fantastic therapy dogs and excel in search and rescue missions. Of course, every dog breed has flaws, and it’s essential to consider the cons of owning a labrador retriever, such as their potential health issues.

But ultimately, if you’re up for the challenge and ready to provide a loving home, a labrador retriever will undoubtedly bring joy and companionship into your life.

Similar Posts