Origin and Purpose: The Labrador Retriever originated
and developed on the island of Newfoundland as an all purpose waterdog and
functional retriever. The breed was preserved in England after anti-dog
legislation almost decimated the breed in its homeland. The breed is noted
for its love of retrieving and water, for its excellent nose, soft mouth,
intelligence and biddable temperament. Extraordinary versatility allows
Labradors to excel as hunting, service, and therapy dogs; in search and
rescues; in drug and bomb detection; as family companions, and in
performance and field events.
General Appearance: Medium sized, strongly built,
compact, short-coupled, powerful, athletic; broad in skull; broad and deep
through chest and ribs; broad and powerful over loins and hindquarters. A
water resistant double coat, otter tail, and sound temperament are essential
Proportion and Size:
Distance from withers to elbow approximately equal to distance from elbow to
ground; length from point of shoulder to point of rump very slightly longer
than height at withers. A well -balanced dog is the ideal.
Size: Ideal height at withers: Dogs 22 1/2 - 24 1/2
inches (57 - 62 cm); Bitches 21 1?2 - 23 1?2 inches (54 -60 cm). Weight
commensurate with height and with the breed's function as a medium sized,
powerful, active retriever. Approximate weights: Dogs 60-80 lbs (27.27-36.36
kilos); Bitches 55-75 lbs (25-34.09 kilos).
Coat and Color:
Coat Distinctive Feature:
Outer coat short, straight, although a slight wave down the back is also
correct; dense without feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch;
soft, dense weather-resistant undercoat.
Color: Wholly black, yellow or chocolate. Small white
spot on chest permissible. Yellows range from light cream to fox red with
variations in the shadings on ears, under parts, hocks, and down the back.
Chocolates range from light sedge to dark chocolate.
Pigmentation: Black in blacks and yellows; brown or
liver in chocolates. Pigmentation fading to a lighter shade in yellows not
to be penalized.
Head and Skull: A kindly,
gentle expression is characteristic of the breed. Skull broad with defined
stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks. Muzzle of medium length, powerful,
not snipey. Muzzle and skull on parallel planes and of approximately equal
lengths. Nose wide; nostrils well developed. Eyes: Medium
size, expressing intelligence and good temper; almond or diamond shape, not
round; color dark brown or hazel. Ears: Medium sized;
hanging close to head and set rather far back. Mouth: Jaws
and teeth strong; scissor bite.
Clean, strong, medium length, good reach; set
into well-placed shoulders.
long and sloping. Forelegs well boned and straight from elbow to ground when
viewed from either front or side. Legs of medium length, not short.
Pasterns: Strong, short, sloping slightly from the perpendicular.
Feet: Compact, round, medium sized; well arched toes; well
Chest of good width and depth; well-sprung ribs.
Brisket extends to the elbows. Straight, level topline. Loins wide,
short-coupled and strong.
Well developed, great power, not sloping
to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks well let down; cowhocks highly
Tail Distinctive Feature: Very
thick towards base, straight, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length,
free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with thick, dense coat,
giving 'rounded' appearance described as 'otter' tail. Tail may be carried
'happily' but not at more than a 35-degree angle with the back. Tail an
extension of the topline and balances the dog.
effortless, powerful, covering adequate ground with good reach and drive;
straight and true in front and rear. Tending to converge at higher speeds.
Any departure from the foregoing ideal should
be considered a fault. The seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded must be in proportion to its degree and its effect upon the dog's
function as a working retriever.
The Importance of Genetic testing
All breeds of dogs have there
share of genetic health problems. Labrador Retrievers are no exeption.
While searching for your next Lab puppy be sure the breeder provides the
following genetic testing. The following are the MINIMUM that breeders
of Labrador Retrievers should be performing.
Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because
of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint
disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading
to pain and debilitation.
The very first step in the development
of arthritis is articular cartilage (the type of cartilage lining the
joint) damage due to the inherited bad biomechanics of an abnormally
developed hip joint. Traumatic articular fracture through the joint
surface is another way cartilage is damaged. With cartilage damage, lots
of degradative enzymes are released into the joint. These enzymes
degrade and decrease the synthesis of important constituent molecules
that form hyaline cartilage called proteoglycans. This causes the
cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity, which are important in
absorbing mechanical loads placed across the joint during movement.
Eventually, more debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and
destroy molecules called glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are
important precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans. The joint's
lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the
debris-tainted joint fluid loses its ability to properly nourish the
cartilage through impairment of nutrient-waste exchange across the joint
cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial membrane lining
the joint capsule and more degradative enzymes and inflammatory cells
stream into the joint. Full thickness loss of cartilage allows the
synovial fluid to contact nerve endings in the subchondral bone,
resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize the joint to decrease the
pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the joint
surface, joint capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone spurs).
The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the joint's range of
No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic
dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. There are
multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of
exercise, and weather that can affect the severity of clinical signs and
phenotypic expression (radiographic changes). There is no rhyme or
reason to the severity of radiographic changes correlated with the
clinical findings. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe
arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs
with barely any arthritic radiographic changes that are severely lame.
The usual treatments are pain killers and/or surgury. The Labrador
Retriever ranks 82nd among pure bred dog breeds likely to have hip
dysplasia. OFA hip evaluations fall into one of seven catagories: NORMAL
(excellent, good, fair), BORDERLINE, & DYSPLASTIC (mild, moderate,
severe). From January 1974 to December 2009 there have been 208931
Labrador Retriever hip x-rays submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for
Animals for hip dysplasia evaluation. Of that number 17.6 % were graded
excellent and 12 % were considered dysplastic.
Hip Dysplasia screening by the OFA, PennHip, or
OVC is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers used for breeding.
Expense for this is around $200.00 to $300.00 plus fees.
Elbow dysplasia is a
general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the
elbow of dogs. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they
can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These
involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)
the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD)
anconeal process (UAP)
Studies have shown the inherited polygenic
traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical
signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time.
No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a
large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of
severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc.
Subtle changes in gait may be characterized by excessive inward
deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it
receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the
outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions
located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also
decreased. The statisics for ED in Labradors is shown below:
thru 1993 3,492 Labradors evaluated, 11.5% ED
1994 thru 1997 8,915
Labradors evaluated, 12.3% ED
1998 thru 2001 10,703 Labradors
evaluated, 10.1% ED
screening by the OFA or OVC is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers
used for breeding. The expense for this is $50.00 to $100.00 in addition
to the hip radiographs.
Retinal Atrophy: is a group of
genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs. It is characterized by
the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision
loss culminating in blindness. The condition in nearly all breeds is
inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. There is no treatment.