Labrador Retrievers As Pets: History, Health, And How To Care For These Dependable Dogs

There's a reason labradors are so popular as pets.

How to care for a Labrador Retriever.
Claire Norman / Shutterstock

There's a reason labradors are so popular as pets.

Labrador Retrievers as pets are as common as the German Shepherd as a police dog. Below are some tidbits about these dependable dogs for people thinking of getting a Labrador Retriever as a pet.

History of the Labrador Retriever

The term “retriever” isn’t just an add-on in this Labrador name. It is there for a good reason. The Labrador’s ancestors came from a province in Canada near the Labrador Sea. However, the breed wasn’t called the name it is known by today.

The Labrador Retriever used to be called the lesser Newfoundland dog. As suggested by its former name, the Labrador is a relative of the Newfoundland water dog. Back then, Newfoundlands were divided into two categories: the greater and the lesser. Based on Pet MD‘s explanation, the term “lesser” came from the fact that the breed was smaller than the greater Newfoundland, not because they were less appreciated.

The lesser Newfoundland wasn’t less valued at all. Their smaller stature proved to be an advantage for fishermen. The lesser breed was known to be agile and adept at fetching and delivering fish lines nets. They were also known for adapting well to family life with their affectionate and playful natures.

Over time, British travelers discovered the breed. By 1903, the British Kennel Club welcomed the lesser Newfoundland and renamed the breed the Labrador Retriever. In Britain, the breed became popular hunting dogs and remain so until today

Labrador Health

There are several health conditions that owners should carefully watch for in their Labradors, namely minor skin and ear problems, some inheritable diseases, and joint problems in old age.

According to The Labrador Site, these dependable dogs could have several ear issues. Their floppy ears are conducive to infections, so it is advisable to have a Labrador’s ears cleaned frequently. Besides ear infections, Labradors are also prone to skin problems. For instance, they can suffer from allergies resulting in skin inflammation. They are also vulnerable to pyoderma or skin infections from bacteria, fungi, and yeasts reported Pet Plan. Good grooming practices and regular visits to the vet should be able to mitigate skin problems.

Details people need to know before getting a Labrador Retriever as a pet.
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Some conditions Labradors could inherit from their parents include Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM). PRA is a genetic disease that causes degeneration of the retina and can lead to vision loss and in severe cases blindness. With CNM, a Labrador’s muscles weaken, and its movements may stiffen due to atrophy in the skeletal muscles. Given that this dog breed can be very active and energetic, CNM significantly affects a Labrador’s quality of life. Due to their genetic foundations, it is best to talk to a vet about PRA and CNM.

Another common health problem in Labradors has to do with their joints. Hip Dysplasia and Elbow dysplasia in Labradors is quite common. There is strong evidence that suggests these joint issues are genetic in nature. However, Hip and Elbow Dysplasia may be more preventable than PRA and CNM. So, talking with a veterinarian to learn about practices to prevent these joint problems is advisable.

Despite being prone to the health issues mentioned above, Labradors are still sturdy pets. After all, they are classified as working dogs. This dependable breed works as hunting dogs, service animals, therapy animals, along with being lovable pets. The Labrador Retriever is very versatile and can be an excellent pet for different owners with varying needs.