The average life expectancy of a Labrador retriever is 10 to 12 years. While there are anecdotal stories about the differences between black, brown, or yellow Labradors, there is no scientific evidence that coat color will affect your dog's life span. This beloved dog breed is known for its agreeable nature and willingness to please. Labradors are not only one of the most popular hunting dog breeds, but they also excel in other roles including service dogs, drug detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
The lifespan of Labradors
Proper care of your Labrador will help ensure that each of his 10 to 12 years is lived to the fullest. Feed your dog high-quality dog food that is formulated for his age, whether that be puppy, adult, or senior. While your lab will love treats and they are a valuable training tool, some dogs are prone to being overweight, so limit the amount you give. Labradors shed regularly so a weekly brushing will not only help minimize the amount of fur that gets on your furniture but will also help to keep your dog's coat shiny and healthy.
This breed loves to please, so training should be easy with some positive reinforcement and consistency. Make sure puppies get plenty of socialization with people and other dogs. Plenty of exercises will not only help prevent obesity but will also keep your dog happy, rather than anxious and destructive. Aside from traditional walks, Labradors love to swim in the lake or play seemingly endless games of fetch.
You can also consider participating in canine sports, such as obedience, agility, dock diving, and tracking. This is not only a fun way for your dog to burn off energy, but it also offers you the opportunity to meet and socialize with other dog lovers.
Life shortening conditions in Labradors
Unfortunately, some genetic disorders can decrease the quality of life and shorten the average life expectancy of your Labrador retriever. While responsible breeders will not breed dogs that test positive for these conditions, make sure any puppy you choose has the recommended health tests.
Labradors may develop hip and elbow dysplasia, which may make it difficult for your senior Labrador to live comfortably into his geriatric years. This condition can be more difficult to manage if your dog is overweight. Dogs should also have an eye exam and an exercise-induced collapse, or EIC, DNA test. EIC can cause uncoordinated movements, muscle weakness, and collapse and can be life-threatening.
Although cardiac exams are optional by the Labrador Retreiver Club, Inc., be sure to monitor your dog for symptoms of heart disease and get regular veterinary wellness checks. Discussing any concerns with your vet may help to diagnose any diseases early.
Tips and considerations for longevity
Be sure to spay or neuter your Labrador retreiever. This not only helps to prevent unwanted litters but also extends your dog's life. It prevents mammary cancer in females and testicular cancer in males and also reduces the risk of other conditions such as degenerative diseases and Cushing disease. You and your dog will likely live a happier, more harmonious life as spaying and neutering help to reduce behavioral problems.
Even when you take every step to prevent injury and disease, sometimes dogs get sick or injured. Consider purchasing a pet insurance policy to help you cover vet bills and prevent money from standing in the way of your dog's treatment.
Other tips to extend your dog's life include setting up your home and yard to minimize dangers and hazards to your dog and teaching the critical commands that can save your dog's life such as "come" and "leave it." Make sure the phone number for your veterinarian, local 24-hour emergency vet clinic, and Pet Poison Helpline is saved in your phone or kept where it can be easily accessed. It is also a good idea to learn basic first aid and the Heimlich maneuver for dogs.
- American Kennel Club: Labrador Retriever
- University of Alabama at Birmingham: Spaying and Neutering Dogs Can Help Them Live Longer
- Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.: Recommended Health Clearances
- University of California, Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory: Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC)
- American Kennel Club: 10 Ways to Extend Your Dog’s Life
- Pet Poison Helpline: Emergency Instructions