The Labrador Retriever is a relatively young dog breed based on the official breed recognition in 1903 and the establishment of the breed club in 1916, which, however, has started an unbelievable triumphal march especially in this country and has now repeatedly topped the list of the most popular dog breeds in the USA.
The FCI leads the breed standard of the Labrador Retriever under the number 122 in group 8: retrieving dogs, rummaging dogs, water dogs, section 1: retrieving dogs, with the working trial.
Labrador Retriever Breed
- Size: 53-57 cm
- Weight: 30-38 kg
- FCI group: 8: Retriever dogs – Rook dogs – Waterdogs
- Section: 1: Retriever dogs
- Country of origin: Great Britain
- Colors: black, chocolate, yellow, yellow-chocolate brown
- Life expectancy: 10-13 years
- Suitable as: family, companion, a guide for the blind, rescue, sweat, and drug dog
- Sports: agility, retrieval, dummy training
- Temperament: gentle, intelligent, good-natured, kind, outgoing, agile
- Need for exercise: high
- Drool potential: medium
- The thickness of the hair: high
- Maintenance effort: low
- Coat structure: short, dense, not wavy, hard, and weather-resistant undercoat
- Child-friendly: yes
- Family dog: yes
- Social: yes
Origin and Breed History
There are different theories about the real origin of the breed. It is now unanimously reported that in the middle of the 19th century dogs from the Canadian province of Newfoundland, to which the Labrador peninsula also belongs, came to Great Britain with fishermen, where a further development in breeding was promoted, especially in aristocratic circles. These first dogs are said to have been representatives of the so-called St. John’s Water Dog, which was mainly used by fishermen as a working dog in the very water-rich areas of the northeastern regions of Canada.
The St. John’s dog had a very thick black coat with typical white markings on the chest and paws. He could swim excellently and was also very insensitive to the cold, which was indispensable in the arctic-subarctic climate of the sparsely populated landscapes of his homeland. Probably the ancestors of the St. Johns water dogs for their part came to Canada with British settlers as early as the 17th century, so that the origin “Great Britain”, which is now defined in the breed standard of the Labrador Retriever, finally appears correct.
While his Canadian ancestors mainly helped the fishermen to haul in the nets and bring aborted fish to the boat (the English word “retrieve” means something like “to bring back, to withdraw or to find again”), the Earl of Malmesbury finally stopped his aimed Breeding in Great Britain focuses more on the hunting use of the new breed. The crossbreeding of various other British hunting dog breeds resulted in a dog that was now also used on land as an excellent retriever when hunting small and feathered game. The recovery of hunted waterfowl from lakes is also no problem for the Labrador Retrievers, who still love to swim. In addition to the original coat color black, other colors such as yellow and brown later became established.
Where do Labrador Retrievers come from?
The progenitors of this breed probably came to Great Britain from the Canadian province of Newfoundland, in which the Labrador peninsula is also located.
Essence & Temperament of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever (or affectionately also called “Labbi”) is characterized by an extremely friendly, good-natured nature. He is an extremely affectionate family dog, loves children above all, and shows a pronounced need to please his people (= “Will to please”). These traits make raising this breed relatively easy. Whereby, as always in dog training, loving consistency on the part of the owner is necessary so that the dog learns safely what he is allowed to do and what is not.
Since the Labradors used for hunting also have the main task of retrieving a game that has already been killed and not tracking down and chasing live animals, their hunting instinct is hardly pronounced. This means that it can also be kept in a non-hunter household without any problems. Nevertheless, they want to be challenged and moved, because they are workhorses and need something to do. Most breed representatives still love the water and always enjoy retrieving things like sticks, balls, or throwing discs.
The appearance of the Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are medium-sized dogs with a strong build, but according to the standard they should be very active in order to “rule out excessive weight”. The stocky, compact body with a straight back, short loin area, and broad chest rests on strong, relatively straight legs. The broad head with tight, floppy ears and brown, intelligent eyes merges into a strong neck. A particularly characteristic feature of this breed is the very thick, round, and densely hairy tail. This is actually referred to as the “otter tail” and serves as a kind of oar for the dog in the water.
Males reach a shoulder height of 56-57 centimeters, bitches are slightly smaller with 54-56 centimeters. The fur, which is always monochrome, can be either black, yellow (in all shades from light cream to deep fox-red), or chocolate brown. A small white patch on the chest is allowed according to the breed standard and is reminiscent of the progenitor of the Labrador, the St. John’s dog. The coat is short, dense, and smooth with a weather-resistant undercoat.
Although the breed standard only knows one type of Labrador Retriever, two different lines have developed in breeding over the last few decades, which are now referred to as the compact “show type” and the somewhat lighter, more lofty “work type”.
How big does a Labrador Retriever get?
Males reach a shoulder height of 56-57 centimeters, bitches are slightly smaller with 54-56 centimeters.
Impressions of the dog breed
Upbringing and keeping the Labrador Retriever – this must be taken into account
Due to his friendly nature, the close bond with his people, and his need to please his two-legged friend, the Labrador Retriever is an uncomplicated dog. It can be brought up easily and well even by beginners if one adheres to the basic rules of dog training. As always, this includes a lot of love, but also patience and clear, consistent messages so that the dog understands and knows what to do. If one day he is suddenly forbidden what was allowed the day before, or vice versa, the dog cannot understand and assess this and over time becomes insecure and unhappy. This is why it is definitely advisable to attend a good dog school for this breed in order to understand the basic commands and at the same time to learn good social behavior with other dogs.
In order to satisfy the lively nature of the Labrador and thereby prevent excessive weight gain, this breed needs a lot of exercises and at the same time mental activity. The joy of retrieving is innate in the Labrador, so games with a ball, stick, or throwing disc are very popular. A large garden, in which the dog can run freely, is certainly an advantage but does not replace the daily long walks with the owner.
Diet of the Labrador Retriever
Dogs are carnivores and should therefore be fed with food, the main components of which are high-quality meat and animal products (offal, including fish). A predominantly plant-based or even purely vegetarian diet leads to deficiency symptoms and illnesses in the long run. Since Labrador Retrievers tend to eat a lot and with pleasure, the age, activity status, and general health of the dog must be very precisely taken into account when calculating the ration. Too much weight is fed quickly, but only slowly lost again. Obesity is harmful to the dog’s health and, in the worst case, even shortens its life expectancy.
A high-quality ready-made food (whether wet or dry food is secondary) provides the dog with all the important nutrients and vitamins, and as a rule, there are also products that are tailored to the individual energy needs (junior, work, normal, senior) thus help to avoid an over-or under-supply. Biologically species-appropriate raw feeding (= BARF) is also suitable for this breed, but a precise ingredient and quantity plan should be drawn up to ensure that the feed is balanced. In principle, dogs of this size should receive their daily ration divided into two meals in order to prevent overcrowding of the gastrointestinal tract and life-threatening gastric torsion.
Healthy – Life Expectancy & Common Diseases
A healthy Labrador Retriever that has enough exercise and activity can easily reach an age of 10-12 years or more, which can be described as above average for dogs of this size. It is important that emphasis is placed on the selection of healthy parent animals during breeding because unfortunately there are also some diseases in this breed that occur more frequently and are hereditary. These include above all diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as hip dysplasia (HD) or elbow dysplasia (ED). That is why the breed clubs compulsorily prescribe the examination of these joints by X-ray examination before a dog is admitted to breeding.
Eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which leads to blindness, or a congenital hereditary cataract, i.e. clouding of the lens, are also more common in Labrador Retrievers. A special, breed-specific disease in Labrador is the so-called Labrador myopathy. Typical symptoms such as muscle wasting, rapid fatigue, and the loss of the patellar tendon reflex occur, especially in young dogs between three and four months of age. From the age of one year, however, this disease stabilizes in most cases.
In addition to the above-mentioned clinical pictures, forms of epilepsy, spinal cord diseases with paralysis, and malformation of the ureters are also described above average in Labrador Retrievers. It is therefore especially important to make sure that it is a reputable breed when buying a puppy. At best, the breeder presents the necessary papers and test results to ensure that his parent animals are healthy.
When does a Labrador Retriever mature?
The Labrador Retriever reached its full height at around 12-14 months.
Grooming the Labrador Retriever
The easy-care fur in the Labrador cleans itself almost by itself – depending on the weather and the area for the walkers, you may want to help with a large, dry towel. In spring and autumn, when the coat is about to change, it is worth brushing your dog regularly to keep at least some of the loose hair out of the apartment and the car. If the dog gets used to regular care units such as brushing or tooth and ear checks as early as the puppy age, he can of course endure this and in the best case even enjoys the intense attention he receives there.
Labrador Retriever – Activities and Training
The Labrador is a very active dog who likes to move around, wants to work out properly every day, and needs someone who offers him the opportunity to do so. Long walks, ideally with an extensive free run, and retrieving games with a ball, stick, or throwing disc is, therefore, a must for the Labrador owner in order to have a balanced and satisfied dog.
In addition to the hunting use, which was the actual breeding goal of this breed, numerous dog sports such as agility, dog dancing, and obedience can also help the Labrador Retriever to do the adequate and appropriate occupation. And this breed is even very suitable for training as a search and disaster dog or as a guide dog for the blind.
Good to know: special features of the Labrador Retriever
After Labrador breeding began in Great Britain in the mid-19th century, the young breed would have almost died out by 1870. A single male named Avon, born in 1885 ultimately contributed to preserving the breed and ensuring its continued existence.
Initially, only the color black was allowed, but from 1899 onwards the yellow Labradors, which had been known as the wrong color, were also recognized. Much later, namely around 1960, the brown dogs were also able to assert themselves and were recognized as the official breeding color. All three color variants can appear in the litter, provided that both parents are black. If there are two yellow parents, the pups are yellow, and if both parents are brown, both brown and yellow offspring can result.
As popular as the Labrador Retriever breed is with dog owners, it is also often found in films, television, and advertising. Hollywood films like “Marley and I” or “A Dog Saves Christmas” have a Labrador Retriever as the secret main actor.
The record as the dog that has run the furthest distance is held by the Labrador mixed breed called “Jimpa”. In 1979 he ran 3218 km across Australia to find his way back to his master.
What is the difference between a Labrador and a Labrador Retriever?
There is no difference – the term “Labrador” is simply an abbreviation for the correct breed name for the Labrador Retriever.
Disadvantages of the Labrador Retriever
Its pronounced philanthropy makes the Labrador an excellent family dog - but that doesn’t make it a good watchdog! He’s just happy about every visit, and if he can also throw the ball, the Labbi doesn’t really care if the family silver is missing later.
In addition, Labradors are known for their great pleasure in eating and the resulting tendency to become overweight. It is therefore particularly important to always keep an eye on the daily ration and to carefully include the treats. Rubbish bins or inadequately locked kitchen cabinets are also checked for edible contents by an unsupervised lab.
And finally, these dogs shed quite intensely when the coat is changing, whereby the hard, short hair of the upper coat likes to get stuck in clothing, carpets, and upholstery. As a lab owner, you shouldn’t suffer from an excessive need for cleanliness.
10 facts about the Labrador Retriever
- Recognized British breed of dog
FCI Group 8: Retrieving Dogs / Browsing Dogs / Water Dogs, Section 1: Retrieving Dogs with Working Trial, Standard No. 122
- Ideal size male 56-57 cm / bitch 54-56 cm
- Colors: Solid yellow, black, or chocolate brown (small white chest mark permitted). The color “silver” is not officially recognized by the FCI.
- Originally used as a hunting helper on the east coast of Canada. Retrieved lost nets and aborted fish.
- Later bred to work “after the shot”. He retrieved small game from any terrain after it was killed.
- Trademarks are the broadhead and the “otter rod”
- Originally the Labrador was called “St. John’s Breed “or” St. John’s dog “.
- Two different lines were developed: the work line and the show line. The latter is more good-natured, heavier, and more compact in stature and is also called the classic line.
- The work line (field trial line), on the other hand, is characterized by narrower heads, lighter physique, and more muscling.
- The breed is very water-loving.
Labrador Nutrition and Food
Obesity in the Labrador
Labs aren’t exactly picky about their diet. This fact alone does not make it easy to avoid oversupply.
The fact is that Labradors are often overfed and the main cause of this is the dog’s behavior. Labradors often and happily beg for food. Your appetite appears to be insatiable. Obesity in Labrador is the main cause of later diseases such as diabetes or hip problems and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
The most common fattening foods
Lack of exercise: If you give in to the insatiable desire of your Labrador while your four-legged friend falls by the wayside, you shouldn’t be surprised at your dog’s weight gain. The solution: give less feed, but intensify the exercise. An agreement with the veterinarian can be useful.
Treats: Every bite, no matter how small, is an additional source of energy. Possible solution: Add up all the treats or extra bites. If you eat more than five per day, you should either switch to low-calorie rewards, such as apples or reduce the daily food ration.
Dry food: This provides a lot of energy even in small amounts so that 10 grams more than the usual daily ration can be too much. Tip: For the recommended daily dose, you can use the manufacturer’s lower limit as a guide. You can then check the weight of the Labrador by weighing it regularly and adjusting the amount if necessary. You can also offer wet food or replace a dry food meal with this. Wet food contains more fluids and is not as energetic.
Even larger amounts can be squeezed without harming the figure.
Begging: Often the begging dog’s eye alone leads to success. Tip: Stay consistent and don’t give your four-legged friend anything off the table.
Breed: Labradors tend to eat almost anything they find that is reasonably edible. They are at risk of being overweight because of their race alone. Tip: Make sure that your Labrador does not steal anything by fraud. So don’t leave your shopping, freshly baked cake, compost heap, or evening snack in places easily accessible for the dog, e.g. on the coffee table.
Castration: castrated dogs have a somewhat increased tendency to become overweight. The reason for this lies in the hormonal change. Tip: If a lot of exercise and a reduced amount of food do not bring the desired result, switching to diet food can make sense.
Age: With increasing age, the metabolism slows down. The muscle mass is reduced, but the fat reserves increase. In most dogs, this process begins between the ages of seven and ten. As a measure, you can switch to low-calorie senior food.
Illness: If sufficient exercise is not possible as a result of an injury, the usual feed ration will quickly lead to weight gain. Tip: In consultation with the vet, you can reduce the amount of feed for the duration of the illness.
Feelings of guilt: When time is tight again and the dog sits sadly in the corner, many tend to give the dog extra comforting bites. A loving caress also gives comfort without endangering the normal weight of the Labrador.
By the way:
Every Labrador owner knows: the dog can always be motivated by food. You can of course make great use of this during training.
But the insatiable hunger of Labradors is no coincidence. Researchers have found that a genetic defect is responsible for the appetite. A fault in the POMC gene affects the natural feeling of satiety. The result: The Labrador is actually always hungry. Messenger substances, which are responsible for putting an end to the feeling of hunger after a meal, are not produced.
However, not all breed representatives are affected. The modified gene can be found in around 25% of all Labradors. And that’s exactly what they usually have too much on their ribs.
How do I recognize a well-fed Labrador?
Many dog owners use the breed standard as a guide when trying to find out if their dog is the ideal weight. However, this is difficult with the Labrador Retriever, because FCI Standard No. 122 does not contain any weight information.
However, here is a rough overview:
Weight males: approx. 29-36 kg
Weight bitches: approx. 25-32 kg
The weight must of course always be seen in relation to the size. This is roughly the same for both sexes. Males have an ideal height at the withers of 56-57 cm and bitches are only slightly smaller at 54-56 cm. However, deviations from this are possible.
In general, it can be said that the female Labrador always looks a bit slimmer than the male.
Weigh your dog regularly. So you can quickly find out whether his weight is fluctuating up or down. To do this, you can stand on the scales with your dog and then subtract your own weight from it. Of course, you can also weigh the Labrador in the veterinary practice. Often you don’t even need an appointment.
Are you still unsure whether your dog has too much or maybe even too little on its ribs? Then it’s better to go to the vet and ask about it.
Here are a few tips on how to find out if your Labrador is being fed well:
- Are the size and weight within the range mentioned above? Then everything is probably okay. However, a rather small bitch (e.g. smaller than the ideal size of 54-56 cm) who scratches the upper weight mark can already be too fat.
- Does your dog have a nice coat? Does it have a good grip and is it healthy? An improper diet, on the other hand, often leads to a dull coat.
- Is the Labrador active and fun-loving? Or does he lie around a lot and don’t feel like it?
- Can you feel the ribs? This should be possible without a lot of pressure. However, if you can easily feel or even see it, you may be underweight.
- Look at your dog from above. Does he have a waist It’s good? On the other hand, if it looks like a sausage, it is too thick.
- The belly line should be pulled up a little towards the back. A very straight stomach or even a pot belly speak for too many pounds.
- Oftentimes, skin and coat problems are an indication of an improper diet.
- If the dog sheds a lot of feces, this either speaks for poor quality food or he is simply getting too much of a good thing.
Which is better: dry or wet food?
When it comes to feeding the Labrador, opinions differ. Some clearly favor wet food, others are supporters of dry food chunks. In addition, the selection in the pet shops is simply overwhelming. How are you supposed to decide?
Many puppies prefer to eat what they have already received from the breeder. You can keep feeding this for a while and later switch to adult food (possibly the same brand). Otherwise, you have to try out what is good for the Labrador and what he likes. What you ultimately decide on, of course, also depends on your budget.
If you want, you can combine both types of feeding in order to combine the advantages of both variants. The dog will be happy when he has a little variety in his bowl. However, there is still the alternative of barfing your four-legged friend.
In any case, both feeding options have their advantages and disadvantages. The most important are summarized here:
Advantages of dry food
- Is often the cheaper feed variant
- It has a long shelf life and can be stored well in advance
- Low odor
- Dry food contains more energy than a comparable amount of wet food
- The dog needs smaller portions to be satisfied
- Scattered remains around the feeding place can be picked up quickly
- Hard chunks of food support the dog’s teeth cleaning (but only if the dog does not swallow them whole)
- Easily portionable (suitable for on the go / when traveling)
- Can be used as a reward for training
- Environmentally friendly, as less packaging material is used than for cans, bowls or food bags
Disadvantages of dry food
- Little taste of its own, which is why flavor enhancers are often used
- The need for fluids increases after eating. This is disadvantageous for dogs who are lazy to drink.
- Hard chunks are not suitable for all dogs, e.g. seniors
- Often contains preservatives
- The chunks of food swell up in the stomach. The dog does not notice its satiety until
- later, which is why it may eat more than necessary. So a minus point for the voracious Labrador.
- Some varieties are high in grains and other nutrient-poor fillers
- The dog may drop a lot of feces due to non-usable ingredients
- Inaccurate labeling of various ingredients possible.
Benefits of wet food
- As the name suggests, it contains a lot of moisture. This is good for the Labrador’s fluid balance.
- Often better in taste than dry food and therefore preferred by many dogs.
- Older dogs and four-legged friends with tooth and gum problems can eat it without any problems because it is soft.
- Larger portions can be eaten without damaging the Labrador’s figure, as they are less energetic.
Disadvantages of wet food
- Can also lead to more droppings
- Sometimes contains preservatives and flavor enhancers
- Less environmentally friendly as there is a lot of waste
- Labeling of ingredients also sometimes leaves a lot to be desired
And what about BARF?
What is BARF nutrition?
Species-appropriate raw feeding for dogs, or BARF for short (for biologically appropriate raw feed), is a feeding concept based on raw meat, bones and vegetables.
This very natural diet, which does not contain any artificial additives, has proven itself especially for dogs that are sensitive to food.
A BARF diet is definitely a good alternative to ready-made feed. However, it requires a high level of knowledge of the dog’s nutritional needs, and it is more time-consuming and quite difficult to implement on vacation.
Benefits of BARF
- Natural nutrition
- No artificial ingredients such as flavor enhancers or colorings
- No fillers
- No grain (known to cause allergies)
- You know what you are feeding your Labrador with.
- Diet can be adapted to all age groups and special needs (sick, pregnant).
- Reduced droppings thanks to high-quality ingredients that can be easily used by the dog.
- Less tartar
- Shiny, more beautiful fur.
- You can take your dog’s preferences into account.
- Particularly varied diet.
Disadvantages of BARF
- Diet difficult to implement while on vacation.
- Reading into the subject is important in order to learn the basic rules and avoid deficiency symptoms.
- Keeping stocks is not that easy. Requires a lot of space in the freezer.
- You may find it uncomfortable to handle giblets, and some ingredients smell a bit harsh.
Is Raw Pork Dangerous For My Labrador?
Yes, because pigs can carry the dangerous Aujetszky virus, which is fatal for dogs and cats. Once sick, there are no treatment options, so the disease is always fatal.
Because the symptoms are like rabies, this disease is also called pseudo anger. Since this virus is not dangerous to humans, pork is not tested for it.
Meat and fish – which types are suitable for the dog?
When it comes to meat and fish, you can add variety to the bowl. Do not always only feed muscle meat, but also buy offal, fleshy bones, cartilage, fur, and blood for a balanced diet (find a good butcher!). The following varieties may be fed:
- beef and veal
- goat, sheep, and lamb
The lean muscle meat is particularly suitable for sensitive dog stomachs or for sick animals (light food). Unusual varieties such as kangaroo, on the other hand, usually tolerate allergy sufferers very well.
Beef, on the other hand, is particularly diverse and the individual components are often easy and inexpensive to get from butchers:
- Leaf stomach
What do I have to consider when feeding fish and meat?
Fish can be fed raw (absolutely fresh), boiled, steamed, or dried, but opinions and preferences differ somewhat.
Cooking destroys the enzyme thiaminase, which can cause a vitamin B1 deficiency in the event of excessive feeding, but valuable vitamins that are still abundant in raw fish are also lost.
Proponents of boiling or steaming, on the other hand, proclaim that the fish tapeworm and its fins are successfully destroyed by these processes and that feeding is therefore harmless.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should cook the fish gently and then remove the large bones and, as far as possible, the smaller ones. In the case of raw fish, on the other hand, all bones can be fed without hesitation.
Raw bones can and should occasionally end up in the bowl. Not only do they make an excellent natural toothbrush, but they also contain many valuable nutrients such as iron and calcium.
In addition, they are a much loved and time-consuming activity for every dog, because raw bones can be completely eaten up. However, if consumed in excess, they can cause constipation. But please do not feed pork (see above)!
Don’t worry about chicken bones, by the way! These are also completely harmless raw.
Cooking and cooking, on the other hand, change the structure of any type of bone, which can easily split and cause serious injuries to the dog’s mouth or digestive tract. If you want to offer different types of meat cooked, always leave out the bones in this case. Especially cooked poultry breasts together with rice are easily digestible and are often offered to sick dogs as a light food.
If you are afraid that your dog could become infected with parasites, tapeworms, or salmonella through raw meat, you can freeze the meat for a few days instead of cooking it. Many keepers, the barps, often buy meat, bones, and offal in large quantities anyway and freeze them in portions. After thawing, feeding is usually harmless.
Pork is not on the list above, but if cooked through it could be fed to the animal. Why many owners avoid this, however, is on the one hand the high-fat content of this type of meat and the (low) risk of infecting the dog with the dreaded trichinae (worm species). However, strict controls at slaughterhouses have made the pathogen extremely rare. Much worse, however, is the Aujetzky virus, which can lead to death in dogs within a few days. Harmless to humans, the dog can no longer be saved in the event of an infection, but only redeemed. So if you want to give your dog pork, you should forego the raw bones and offer lean pork ingredients well cooked.
The liver of any animal should only be fed in moderation, as it contains a lot of vitamin A. If this vitamin is oversupplied, skin problems such as hair loss can result.
This is what the dog can eat – harmless food
- Apple (without seeds)
- Apricot (without kernels)
- Pineapple (only very ripe)
- Cauliflower (steamed / cooked)
- Broccoli (steamed / cooked)
- Pears (without seeds)
- Bread (dried)
- Beans (little, flatulence)
- Chinese cabbage
- Egg (raw only egg yolk, cooked whole egg incl. Crushed shell)
- Iceberg lettuce
- endive salad
- Lamb’s lettuce
- cottage cheese
- Oat flakes (cooked / raw)
- Cabbage (cooked)
- Potatoes (cooked)
- Kohlrabi (cooked)
- Cheese (in small quantities)
- Melon (only very ripe)
- Mandarin (little, otherwise causes diarrhea)
- Swiss chard
- Lemon balm
- Orange (little, otherwise causes diarrhea)
- Oil (cold-pressed: olive oil, rapeseed oil, linseed oil, fish oil, …)
- Peach (without stone)
- Plum (without stone or skin)
- Paprika (little, only red and yellow varieties)
- Rice (cooked)
- Sweet potatoes
Useful information about feeding fruit and vegetables
Dogs cannot break down the cell walls in fruits and vegetables because they lack an enzyme to do this. So that they can still absorb the valuable nutrients, humans have to help.
Practical if you have a hand blender or blender at home where the greens can be shredded. A juicer also does a good job: after the process, simply bring the solid components back together with the juice and feed them.
Important: Always use only ripe fruit and vegetables and always remove the seeds. Frozen goods are an alternative, especially in winter, when fresh goods are not available in sufficient quantities.
I want to feed my Labrador differently – what to do?
Sometimes there are good reasons to switch your dog to a different diet or food. This includes:
- Allergies/food intolerance
- Change from puppy to adult food
- The medically necessary change of feed (e.g. kidney problems)
- The Labrador is supposed to get food for the elderly
- Your dog has been neutered and you are switching to diet food or a feed specially designed for neutered dogs
- You prefer a different type of feeding or a different brand
Most puppy owners are therefore first faced with the task of slowly getting the Labrador used to a normal adult diet. While the usual feed from the breeder ended up in the bowl at the beginning, something else has to be found in order to cope with the changed nutrient conditions.
It is not a good idea to simply replace the usual food overnight. Puppies in particular often react very sensitively and get stomach aches or diarrhea. To avoid this, you should always replace a small amount of the old food with the new one every time you feed. A plus: the puppy gradually gets used to the new taste and refusal to feed becomes unlikely.
You do the same, of course, if you want to get an adult Labrador used to a new feed.
Switching from dry to wet feed is usually very straightforward. Many dogs prefer moist food and love to eat it. It is also easy to digest. Conversely, however, you should ensure that your Labrador is adequately hydrated. Because if chunks of dry food land in the bowl from now on, the gastrointestinal tract first has to adjust to the extra work of digestion. That is why a changeover usually takes a little longer. If your dog likes it, dampen the chunks a little.
If you are considering barping your Labrador, you may get a surprise at the beginning. Because contrary to expectations, some dogs initially refuse this diet. The reason: Ready-made products are often full of flavor enhancers that smell and taste particularly appealing to the dog. In comparison, the fresh food seems a bit bland to him.
But don’t worry. Most dogs get a taste for it very quickly and soon look forward to this particularly healthy diet.
Would you like something else?
Just as we don’t want to eat the same thing every day, so does Labrador. A little variety in the bowl makes the dog happy and avoids deficiency symptoms or an oversupply of nutrients. A one-sided diet should therefore be avoided. Otherwise, allergies, fur and skin problems or organ damage, etc. can definitely occur.
A wrong diet is often not immediately apparent, rather it is a rather gradual process. For example, severe itching or hair loss can occur. The diet is often (initially) not considered as a trigger, because the Labrador has been getting the food for years.
So combine the advantages of different types of feeding. Many owners swear by the divisibility of their dogs or switch between cans and dry food. For example, moist food ends up in the bowl in the morning and chunks of dry food in the evening.
Examples of a little variety in the bowl:
- Meaty uncooked bones
- cottage cheese
- Raw or boiled eggs
- Lean meat (raw or cooked)
- Fish (without bones)
- Cooked potatoes
- A little salmon oil in the feed
Labrador diet for puppies
Labrador puppies need special foods. In the first few months in particular, they need a completely different diet than a full-grown Labrador.
When buying the food, it is, therefore, essential to ensure that the note “for adult dogs” or “adult” is not on the packaging. This food is really only suitable for adult Labradors or dogs.
Dog food is often high in crude protein, which makes the puppies grow faster. Growing faster is at the expense of the joints, i.e. HD / ED may develop. If adult food for puppies is fed, then please with very little crude protein (20-23%).
It is not easy to recommend a particular brand. There are breeders who swear by expensive and overpriced brands and others who completely trust food that is even offered in the supermarket.
It is important that the puppy’s diet is composed of the most important nutrients. These include protein (not too much!), Fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and also minerals.
For optimal puppy growth, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the food should be 1.5: 1. Your Labrador breeder will always be happy to advise you if you have any questions.
Some breeders forego special puppy food very early on. Then the puppies will be fed high-quality food for adult Labradors relatively soon. There are different opinions about puppy feeding. If you start from the wolf, the original dog, so to speak, then he didn’t look for puppy food either and brought his young …
Adjust the amount of feed during the growth phase
The growth phase of a Labrador lasts up to nine months. During this period you will have to change the amount and times of feed several times.
At four months, the feeding times are changed to four a day, at five months to three a day, etc. At the same time, the amount of food is increased so that the puppy always receives the nutrients it needs to grow.
Special nutritional requirements of old dogs
Most dogs get a little cozier with age. They sleep and doze more often, need longer to recharge their batteries, and are no longer as agile as they were when they were young.
If the portions at meals stay the same, but the Labrador is no longer as active, it receives more calories than it needs. The result: More pounds on the ribs. And these are known to have a negative impact on health. A feed for the elderly can be a good alternative.
Therefore, pay attention to the following when feeding the old Labrador:
- Avoid being overweight at all costs. This promotes joint problems and circulatory diseases.
- Old dogs need less phosphorus in their food.
- Fat and calories may also be reduced. After all, the metabolism works more slowly than before.
- Food rich in fiber stimulates digestion.
- Old dogs are sometimes prone to dental problems and can no longer chew food as well.
- Make his job easier by moistening dry food or switching to a moist food variant.
- Eat food that is easy to digest.
- Anyone who barges should do without large bones in the future. Teeth could break. In addition, bones can lead to blockages or, in the worst-case scenario, bone feces. It is therefore better to switch to another chew in old age.
Does my neutered Labrador need a different diet?
Depends on. The prejudice against overweight neutered dogs is actually no coincidence. This is due to the changed hormonal balance after the operation, which also affects appetite. So many develop real cravings. To make matters worse, the desire to move often decreases a little.
If you continue to feed the same amount of the usual food, you run the risk of being overweight. The amount must therefore be adjusted or switched to a light feed. There is also ready-made food that has been specially developed for neutered dogs and is less energy-rich.
Anyone who barges can rely on low-calorie foods and types of meat or reduce the usual amount.
Exercise is very important for neutered dogs. Take long walks and animate your Labrador in between with games such as fetching or try a dog sport.
Those who keep their four-legged friends busy not only prevent obesity, but also ensure a balanced dog with good stamina and fitness. All of this is good for your health.
How much food can it be?
How much a Labrador is allowed to eat depends on things like the type of food, weight or age of the dog, its activities, etc.
For a young Labrador weighing around 25 kilograms, 300 grams of food a day, divided into two meals, can be completely sufficient. For a Labrador around 35 kilograms, an amount of around 400 grams is usually appropriate. However, it depends very much on what you feed (wet or dry food, BARF) and how old, active and healthy the four-legged friend is.
What to look for in nutrition
There are foods that must be absolutely taboo for the Labrador, as they are poisonous for them. These include, for example, chocolate, grapes, walnuts and raisins, and much more. Raw pork does not belong on the menu either.
Nicotine and medication should be kept out of a dog’s reach. Young dogs, like small children, love to put everything in their mouths and prefer to eat it right away.
A good preventive measure is to give the dog small bones and chewing sticks that he can chew on for a long time and occupy himself (see: Labrador employment).
You can add some variety to Labrador’s diet with fruits and vegetables. It is best if you puree these, as the dogs can digest them better this way.
Dogs generally do not get dairy products such as curd cheese, cheese, milk, etc. They often cause diarrhea, stomach ache, or gas. However, if these products are well tolerated, they can be good sources of protein.
How do I recognize good dog food?
The main component of good dog food should of course be meat and not grain. What comes first in the list of ingredients will usually also be the substance that is represented the most.
In the case of animal by-products, the food quality is okay. Plant by-products are all kinds of low-quality plant-based wastes.
Dog food that puts grain, corn, or the like first is not exactly high quality. Dogs do not need grain in their food. Sugar is also not part of a good dog diet.
In the case of high-quality feed, the list of ingredients is very precise. Which meat and how much is there, which vegetable element, etc. Information such as “oils and fats, grain, vegetable by-products” etc. are far too general and therefore imprecise. Color and flavorings are also superfluous in dog food.
You can tell that you are feeding your Labrador properly by its shiny coat and beautiful skin without dandruff or coat problems. The dog smells pleasant. His droppings are firm and not excessive. The weight is appropriate for his size, he is fit, agile, and enduring.
Can my dog eat anything other than dog food?
Most four-legged friends end up in the dog bowl with dry or wet food every day. But what about the food of the owner and the woman? Many dogs wear the pleading dachshund look at their owners’ meals and pause expectantly by the kitchen table or even start begging when meals are served. Can you get weak and give something to your four-legged friend?
Yes and no!
Not everything that we humans like is tasty or digestible for the dog. On the contrary. There are many foods that can harm your pet in the short or long term. Some are even poisonous! However, this does not mean that delicious fruit and vegetables cannot find their way into Waldi’s stomach. Dog owners, the barps have long known about the advantages of raw food feeding.
So if you know which foods can and cannot be fed, you can put together your own food creations at home and add variety to your favorite’s menu. Nevertheless, it is better not to feed anything from the table (not suitable spices, too much salt, etc.), but rather to prepare a separate meal for the dog, which is intended for him alone and is served in a bowl. Because begging at the table is still unwanted and should actually be skilfully ignored.
The dog must not eat that – what is unhealthy or even poisonous?
Some foods are not entirely safe for dogs. They can cause digestive disorders such as diarrhea, flatulence, allergies, organ damage, and diabetes, cause poisoning, or, in the worst case, even be fatal.
As always, the dose makes the poison. Small amounts of garlic, for example, which are often fed to fight ticks and the like (the effect is disputed), are definitely harmless, but garlic cloves can be poisonous and even lead to anemia.
The following foods should therefore not end up in the bowl of your four-legged friend or only with restrictions:
Contains poisonous solanine. Always remove green peel, spots and shoots! Otherwise cooked harmless.
Unripe, green tomatoes contain poisonous solanine.
When immature, it also contains poisonous solanine.
Contains poisonous solanine.
Suspected of being toxic in large quantities and of destroying red blood cells.
Also poisonous. Like the onion, it can cause anemia.
Grapes and Raisins:
Vomiting and diarrhea are possible. Even smaller amounts can lead to excess calcium and ultimately kidney failure.
The lactose it contains is not well tolerated by all dogs and can cause diarrhea. Otherwise, the milk contains many nutrients and minerals.
Lentils, beans, etc. contain phasin. Cook for at least 30 minutes and only feed occasionally. They can cause gas and gas and damage the intestinal tract.
Sugar and Sweets:
Damage the teeth, make them fat and can lead to diabetes.
Can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Contains poisonous persin and can damage the heart, cause shortness of breath and cause coughing.
E.g. macadamia nuts or walnuts. The phosphorus it contains is incompatible with dogs. Muscle cramps, fever, vomiting or bladder stones can result.
Contains theobromine, which in the most harmless case only causes diarrhea or vomiting. In the worst case, muscle cramps or death can result. The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains!
Can cause neurological damage and damage to the liver or kidneys.
Alcohol and Caffeine:
Basically they have no business being in the food bowl.
Very questionable in dogs with heart disease. Too much salt leads to water retention and kidney problems.
Feed only in moderation. Can lead to an oversupply of vitamin A.
May contain Aujetzky virus, which is deadly to dogs. This animal disease is also called pseudo rage, has to be reported and cannot be cured.
Too many bones on the menu can lead to constipation or even bowel obstruction.
Always feed cooked/steamed and never raw. Types of cabbage can cause abdominal pain and gas.
Coprophagia – When the Labrador eats feces
Coprophagia is the technical term when dogs eat their own feces, the feces of other dogs, or excretions from other species. Although this phenomenon is not uncommon, it is not desired by the owner and is not entirely harmless to health. Because germs, parasites, and diseases can be transmitted to people and other animals in the household via smear infections. Many Labradors live close to their humans, lick their masters’ faces or hands and sometimes sleep next to them on the sofa or even in the bed.
Why is my dog doing this?
There are various possible explanations. On the one hand, the leftovers simply smell interesting for the dog and sometimes even quite appealing. This is particularly true for the feces of bared four-legged friends or is due to the fact that many finished feeds contain plenty of flavor enhancers.
But it’s not just diet that is responsible. The mother dog eats her pups’ feces in order to keep enemies away and to keep the puppy box clean. The removal of foreign “scent marks” from the area can also be behavior to secure the border. The male uses it to mark out his area.
Puppies, on the other hand, are like small children. You take everything into your little mouth to explore. They use it to explore their surroundings, but unfortunately, they also ingest feces. However, it is believed that your own puppy poop is even helpful for building up intestinal flora.
In addition to these rather harmless reasons for coprophagia, there are also worrying causes:
- Nutritional deficiencies and a deficit in certain nutrients
- Very hungry (street dogs)
- Bad housing conditions. It is sometimes observed that purely kennel dogs that are given little exercise eat their own feces. Either out of frustration, boredom or because they want to keep their tight living space clean.
- Digestive enzymes are missing (e.g. underactive pancreas)
Unfortunately, the behavior can also be trained. The dog learned by chance that it gets a lot of attention when it comes to the feces. It is not a positive affection, but people do at least pay attention to the dog with their anger.
How do I stop my dog from eating feces?
- Immediately collect piles of waste on walks.
- At home, empty the child’s potty immediately and dispose of diapers safely.
- Take your Labrador to the vet to rule out disease-related eating of feces due to deficiency symptoms or illnesses.
- Temporarily muzzle the dog on walks. It would be more sensible to ignore the feces eating (= the dog does not get any attention for the wrongdoing), but from a health point of view this is not feasible.
- Practice the command “Off” until you drop.
- Make walks engaging and exciting. Give your dog little tasks and don’t just run your usual lap. This way, your Labbi has your attention and eating feces fades into the background.
Why does my dog eat grass?
In contrast to coprophagia, nibbling on the grass is usually much less of a concern. Many dogs do and never have serious problems. They eat grass in the garden or along the way. Some just like to eat the greenery, others it drives boredom.
Nevertheless, you should keep an eye on your four-legged friend here. There are also other reasons for the nibbling fun. While some are not of concern, there are also disease-related triggers.
- The fiber in the grass stimulates digestion.
- An overly acidic stomach is uncomfortable. The Labrador eats grass to induce nausea. If
- he succeeds, he usually vomits yellowish liquid.
- In order to get rid of a piece of bone or another indigestible object, the gag stimulus is triggered with the help of blades of grass.
- Allegedly, dogs with a very strong worm infestation also eat grass.
If your Labrador is fine again after vomiting once, then everything is usually fine. If his stomach is empty and acidic in the morning, it might help to postpone his last meal in the evening a little.
If your four-legged friend vomits noticeably often or chokes frequently without vomiting, a visit to the vet is advisable.
A must: fresh drinking water
While the bowl is cleaned after every meal, the drinking bowl is unfortunately often neglected. If there is not enough water available, many owners simply add more water and only clean the bowl occasionally.
However, it would be better to wash the drinking bowl with hot water every day and change the contents every now and then. Fresh drinking water is important and contributes to your dog’s health. And after all, you surely don’t want to drink stale water, right?
Of course, access to the water must be available around the clock. This is especially important in summer and on walks. Here you should always take a bottle of water for the Labrador plus a small bowl with you on longer tours and walks. There is also a practical foldable version.
Since the Labrador is a rather large dog, many members of the breed also prefer a higher drinking and eating place. Feeding stations have proven to be very effective here, which are also easy on the back for your darling.
Dogs who are lazy to drink can sometimes be encouraged to drink by a drinking fountain.
Should my Labrador fast one day per week?
No. This is not necessary. Nevertheless, there are still owners and breeders who prescribe their animals one day a week without food. Allegedly this has a detoxifying effect and cleanses the intestinal tract. However, based on knowledge, this is not possible at all within a period of just 24 hours.
Sometimes the fasting day is inserted on the grounds that the wolf does not hunt down prey and starve every day. But of course, he doesn’t choose that himself. Who likes roaming the woods with a growling stomach when they don’t have to? He’s just unlucky if he couldn’t catch anything.
As the owner, it is up to you to provide your dog with delicious food every day. And since it is the greatest thing for Labradors to eat anyway, you shouldn’t spoil this fun for him either.
Can I have a purely vegetarian diet for my Labrador?
In contrast to cats, it is entirely possible to feed your own dog a vegetarian diet. This is often preferred by owners who also have a vegetarian or even vegan diet. If the dog is used to this diet from puppy legs, it is often not a problem.
However, it should be borne in mind that it is not appropriate to feed your four-legged friend purely with plant-based food. The dog’s entire digestive system is perfectly designed for a meat diet. Additionally, the Labrador would arguably prefer the chicken if given a choice.
In stores, you can find ready-made vegetarian food that is tailored to the needs of dogs. You may want to address this diet the next time you visit the vet to avoid mistakes. In addition, the doctor could recommend dietary supplements for your Labrador.
If you do not want to provide your dog with meat-based food because you are concerned with factory farming and you do not know where the ingredients come from in the case of finished feed, then BARF would actually be an alternative. This sounds a bit crazy at first, but anyone who purchases slaughter meat directly from the farmer or from a good butcher who knows where the ingredients come from and can get an idea of the keeping conditions, etc. Long journeys to the slaughterhouse are avoided, especially if the animals are slaughtered in-house, which is far less stressful for the animals.
A few more tips on feeding
- You don’t have to keep feeding times down to the minute. On the contrary. It’s okay if the Labrador doesn’t get its food until 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. If you always feed at fixed times, the digestive system adjusts itself precisely to this. If the meal is missed or if it happens later, many dogs react by overproducing stomach acid, which can lead to vomiting and malaise. If, on the other hand, you always feed with a delay, the stomach acid is always produced as required.
- Does your Labrador swallow like it hasn’t seen food in a week? To slow down the meal, there are special dog bowls (anti-Schling-Bowl) with grooves and uneven depressions. The Labbi has to make a little effort to eat its food from it. This lengthens meals and prevents digestive problems.
The dog should be left in peace while eating. If children live in the household, they should be taught from the start not to disturb the Labrador and not to reach into its bowl.
- Many large breeds of dogs prefer an elevated eating and drinking area. Feeding stations are a great invention here. They are also very easy on the back.
If you eat a lot, you will eventually be full. But some feel full quickly, while others feed and feed until the stomach is tense. We know that from humans and dogs alike.
Labrador Retrievers are considered to be above average eager and, unfortunately, are also very often overweight. Researchers have now been able to determine the reason for the dog’s hunger pangs: There is a defect in the POMC gene, which is important for the production of messenger substances that signal “I’m full!”. Not every Labrador carries this genetic defect, but it was found particularly often in large representatives of this breed and in dogs that were trained as assistance and guide dogs. Labradors with the POMC gene defect are evidently particularly motivated to work for food and can be trained accordingly.
However, not every Labrador with a POMC defect is overweight. The decisive risk factor for obesity is still the dog owner because he decides how generously he fills the food bowl and how often he gives in to begging his four-legged friend. Admittedly: Owners of a particularly greedy Labrador have to be more steadfast than other masters and mistresses. But obesity can be avoided and a Labrador with a POMC gene defect can stay or become slim, as can be seen in most assistance dogs. After all, it is easy to animate him to much movement with little food. And if you like to eat so much, you won’t turn up your nose even with low-calorie food …
Is the Labrador Retriever right for me?
Before deciding to buy a dog of any breed, you should always ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Do I have enough time to look after my Labrador Retriever, to move and keep it busy several times a day?
- Do all family members agree to buy a Labrador? Is it allowed to keep dogs in my apartment?
- Who will take care of the dog if I am prevented or ill?
Am I ready to plan a vacation with the dog too? A Labbi just wants to be there all the time.
Do I have enough financial means not only to cover the purchase price for the puppy and the initial equipment with a leash, collar, dog bowl, and bed, but also the running costs for good food, visits to the vet, vaccinations, and medication, dog training, dog tax and liability insurance to pay? After all, in the course of its life, a dog is about the cost of a small car!
If you have finally considered everything well and decided to move a Labrador Retriever in as a new family member, you should first find a reputable breeder. Important criteria for the breeder to be really serious about his Labrador Retriever breed are, for example, a manageable number of breeding animals and litters and the keeping of bitches and puppies within the family and with close connections to caregivers. The price for such a puppy is around $1200. On request, a good breeder will show you the documents proving the breeding suitability of his dogs and also ask questions to the interested party. So he wants to know how and where you want to keep his puppy, and if necessary, refuses to sell a dog if your answers do not satisfy him. Recommendations on feeding, information on veterinary treatments such as initial vaccinations and worming, and the offer to contact you even after the purchase should be a matter of course for a good breeder. It is best to visit the breeder before you finally buy the puppy and take a look around him.
You should never buy a puppy at an animal market or from the trunk of a dubious dog dealer, not even out of pity! These dogs are usually cheaper than those of a reputable breeder, but behind them, there is almost always unscrupulous and cruel animal cruelty! The dams are kept as pure “throwing machines” under terrible conditions, the puppies are neither vaccinated nor otherwise cared for by a veterinarian, often suffer from acute, in the worst case fatal illnesses soon after purchase, or remain a case for the veterinarian for their entire life – and that is under the bottom line is much more expensive than the puppy from a reputable and responsible breed!
In addition to purchasing from a breeder, it may also be worth going to the local animal shelter – purebred Labrador Retrievers or Labrador mixed breeds are always waiting to find a new and beautiful home. Various animal welfare organizations have also specifically devoted themselves to helping Labrador Retrievers in need and are looking for suitable, loving owners for such dogs. Just ask.
So if you are ready to spend a lot of time with your Labbi in the fresh air in order to offer him enough exercise and activity, you will find in him a loyal, loyal, and loving companion. With his relaxed, balanced nature he is a very pleasant housemate and an absolutely peaceful family dog. Active seniors will also enjoy this breed.
What is a typical Labrador Retriever?
- He loves the water
- Less suitable as a guard dog. He might still greet intruders wagging their tails.
- High exercise volume. Needs a lot of exercise and activity.
- He sheds all year round, sometimes as much as if he’d rather been born a naked dog.
- Frequent brushing of the dog, but also increased vacuuming and cleaning are necessary.
- Fortunately, the hunting instinct is not as strong as the joy of retrieving.
- He is an intelligent but corruptible dog. The hungry Labrador likes to be moved to work with the help of treats.
- Excellent suitability for therapy, detection, or rescue dogs.
- He is kind and loves people.