Retriever (Labrador) is the official name for this breed or dog. They are wonderful people dogs and become very attached to their family. They can be trusted with children as they will usually walk away from a situation they don't like rather than bite. They tend to be very stable personality wise and adapt easily to different situations.
CKC Standards: Sporting Dogs Group
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 breed characteristics.
Proportion and Size Proportions: 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 ½ - 24 ½ inches (57 - 62 cm); Bitches 21 ½ - 23 ½ 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 Colour 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.
All Labs need training, exercise and discipline. You must be firm and consistent in all the training you do. While usually one member of the family is responsible for the training, all members must be on the same page and consistent in what is allowed and not allowed. Don't let them up on the couch one day and not the next, they won't understand. If you sit on the couch with the puppy on your lap, then in the puppies mind, he is on the couch. So if you want the puppy on the couch go ahead, but if you don't, then don't sit with him on your lap. You must remember to think like a dog.
I have put together this little information booklet with tips that I have found useful over the years. It is geared towards people who have either never raised a puppy, or it has been a long time since they first raised a puppy. Please take the time to read it. Hopefully you will find it useful.
THINGS TO BUY:
This is a suggested list of items that will be useful to all dog owners.
1. Buy a CAGE. This is the most important item. The down side of Labs is that they can be highly destructive when left alone during the first two years of their life. They will chew on anything and everything, even drywall.
2. A strong collar. You will probably need several sizes as the puppy grows. We always found the nylon ones to be the best, you can wash them.
3. A leash, and I would highly recommend a "halti", this is a strap that goes around their head and nose (it is not a muzzle). These dogs are very strong when they are full grown. A "halti" gives you direct control over the most important part of their bodies, the head. Even a child can easily walk a dog with this kind of collar.
4. Chew toys, have several kinds, some dogs can be very picky.
5. Treats and raw hide chewies are great for getting their attention and keeping them occupied for a time.
6. One of the best toys is called a Kong. You can get them on a rope so that you can play catch with them without having to pick up a gooey ball. As well, with the rope you can throw it farther. Some of them are hollow so you can put treats in them.
7. Some kind of flea protection for the summer. There are many available out there and most of them work. I have always found that flea collars do very little. The best thing is the Advantage system. This is a liquid you put on several spots down their back right against the skin once a month during the warm months, and you will never have a flea problem.
8. A blanket or pillow for them to sleep on. Puppies and dogs love to sleep on things, towels left on the floor, clothes, etc. Get them their own pillows and they won't put dirt and fur all over other things.
9. Of course you also need, food and water dishes. I use both kinds either plastic or metal. Some dogs have allergies to plastic (I had a dog who had an allergy to plastic) so if they develop and rash on their chins, switch to a metal dish. Be aware that some dogs (most of mine) will turn over their water dishes once they are done drinking, because you know water is a multipurpose substance, not only is it good for drinking, you can playing it!!!! We let ours drink out of the toilet (I know this sound gross but it works). Ours won't drink unless the water is clean. Outside, they drink out of the horse's water tank. It is really what ever works for you.
10. Grooming tools will also be needed. A brush and comb for their fur; nail clippers for their toe nails. The best kinds of nail clippers are the ones that have a spot to place their toe and the nail sticks through an opening and the blade comes up from the bottom. (You can get them at most pet stores.) Fortunately, labs really are very low maintenance and don't need to be brushed very often. But once they start shedding, you will need to brush all the loose fur out to speed up the process and keep their coats healthy and looking nice. Once they have stopped shedding, we really only brush them a couple of times a year, usually after they have been in the water and dried off. Labs do not need to be bathed very often. It can be detrimental to bathe too often, their skin secretes an oil that coates their fur to help make it waterproof. The more they go in the water the more of this oil they secrete, and it really stinks.
11. It is always a good idea to have several towels around that you can use just for the puppy. Have them available near the door they come in to dry them off from the rain or wipe their feet.
12. Most counties and cities have license laws. Please make sure you purchase a license in case the puppy is lost and so you don't get fined. They are all registered with the CKC and have microchips. If they are found loose somewhere, most vets and animal shelters have scanners and would be able to track the dog that way. It is always best to have as many methods available to make sure you find your dog right away.
THE FIRST NIGHT:
The first night you have your puppy at home (probably the first several nights) the puppy is going to be upset at the change, lonely for his litter mates and he/she will cry quite a lot. This may last one night or several. The best solution (not the only one) I think would be if you could confine the puppy in a small area with lots of newspapers and their blanket and the one that smells like the other puppies. Do not put food or water in with them at night - they will only make a mess. Take them outside to run around a little before bedtime - this will help tire them out so they will sleep. Then leave them alone. Get yourself some earplugs! The sooner they get over being alone the better. Be prepared, they will bark and cry quite loudly for quite a while. But be patient it won't last forever. They get over being away from their litter mates quite quickly as they become bonded to you and your family. They will still, however, not like being alone. You should start right away with whatever schedule you want them to get used to. After all the other puppies have left, we still leave the ones we have kept in the puppy room at night until they are house trained and can be trusted to tell us when they need to go out. It is also good training for when you will be gone all day at work or somewhere you can't take them with you. It will not hurt them to learn to be alone.
As they become house trained you will not need to put down newspapers, but at first it would be a good idea as they should go to the papers to pee and poop. Be sure to leave them in the cage once you think they can go all night without peeing or pooping in it, because as they get bigger, they get more and more destructive when they are left alone.
Vaccination Schedule: this is the recommended vaccination schedule. This is what my vet suggests, your vet might want to do something else, it will probably be very close to this. You should follow this (or your vets advice) as closely as possible so the puppy will remain healthy.
4 Weeks: Deworming (Strongid T).
6 Weeks: Distemper, adenotype 2, parainfuenza, parvo, deworming (Strongid T), and physical exam.
8 Weeks: Deworming (Strongid T).
12 Weeks: Distemper, adenotype 2, parainfluenza, parvo, fecal sample and physical.
16 Weeks: Distemper, adenotype 2, parainfluenza, parvo, rabies and bordatella (bodatella - if kennels or shows are in the future.)
There may be other possible vaccinations needed depending on location and whether you will be taking them to shows - check with your vet.
All puppies are born with rounds worms, so they should be given a deworming treatment series which consists of 3 doses, one at 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 8 weeks. Strongid T works on most worms so they shouldn't have worms of any kind
Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and other eye problems - There is no hip or elbow dysplasia or PRA problems in my puppies (both parents have had their hips and elbows x-rayed and their eyes tested). I guarantee these puppies are free of these problems. But hip and elbow dysplasia is not dependent on genetics alone, there are other factors that can come into play and you can make a big difference. Do not allow your puppy to become overweight, eating a good quality food and feeding good quality treats is essential. They, of course, eat whatever you eat. We do feed our dogs' table scraps, remembering that if it's bad for you, it is probably bad for them. Any kind of vegetables or meat can be given to them without harm, except for grapes, raisins, onions, or chocolate. But if it's bad for you like candy or chips, then don't feed it to them. Do not over exercise them until they full grown, this is probably the worst thing that you can do for a young dog. Dogs do not really care about pain or anything else if they are chasing something and they do not understand moderation, so you have to do this for them. Until their bones and muscles are fully developed they can cause serious damage to their joints simply by being who they are. These three things all play a part in the development of hip and elbow dysplasia. In 20 years I have never had a puppy grow up to have either of these conditions. Raise them carefully and your dog should grow up just as healthy.
Ear Infections - Labs are prone to ear infections just because of the design of their ear canals. Some dogs get them about 3 or 4 times a year, especially if they go swimming frequently. You can get a solution called Epiotic from the vet and you use this about once a month, or right after they have been in the water. Just pour the solution into both ear canals, rub around for a couple of seconds and then stand back. Do both ears at the same time and hold them still for a minute. Do this outside or in the garage because you will be covered in the liquid when they shake their heads.
You will know when they have an ear infection, the ear will get very red and dirty looking, it will smell very bad and they will be sensitive around it. They usually start shaking their heads a lot. They will need ear drops to clear up this problem, so take them to the vets as soon as possible. It is not an emergency, but it will not clear up until they get medication.
Upset Stomach (vomiting or diarrhea) - While all my puppies have been very healthy, they do sometimes get sick, usually from eating strange things. If they start vomiting or develop diarrhea, take them off all food and water for 24 hours, and then start them again on small portions of the food for a day or two before going back on regular portion diet. If vomiting or diarrhea persists for longer than 24 - 48 hours, call the vet. Unfortunately labs eat many weird things if you aren't watching them and sometimes this upsets their stomachs. If you see them eating grass, watch them, this is a sign that their stomachs are upset. It doesn't necessarily mean they will vomit, but just that their tummy is bothering them. Most Labs have a cast iron stomach and they can eat anything, but not all of them are like this.
Sometimes puppies will have diarrhea for the first couple of days after they go to their new homes. This is caused by the stress of being in a different environment and with people they don't know. If they have diarrhea when you first take them home, give them some plain yogurt and Pepto-Bismol (about ½ cup of yogurt and two tablespoons of Pepto-Bismol), you can give this to them several times a day. This should settle their stomachs, but it could take several days. If it keeps up for more than 3 or 4 days, take them to the vet. It should clear up within a couple of days. If they won't eat the yogurt and pepto mixture, use a syringe filled with about 2 cc of pepto and place at the back of the throat the then empty the syringe, do this several times a day. They won't like it very much, but it will get the job done.
You can use the Pepto-Bismol and plain yogurt on adult dogs that have diarrhea as well.
Arthritis - This is a problem that develops in older dogs (just like people). It is especially prevalent in large breed dogs. There is no cure for this, but feeding a good brand of dog food that contains MSM or glucosamine will help keep joints healthy. If your dog develops arthritis later in life, you can give them enteric coated ASA for pain. Your vet will also want you to supplement him either with glucosamine or chondroitin. Be careful of using supplements, there is really not very much useful testing of any of these supplements and there is almost no government regulations about them. Some of companies that produce them make a lot claims but there is really no clear data to back them up. The Blue Buffalo dog food that I feed the puppies has the daily recommended dose of MSM in each serving.
Water Logged Tail - This is a kind of funny condition that only affects water dogs, of course. Happened to my dog one time which is how we found out about it. It happens after they have been swimming in very cold water. Their tail will hang down and they will not move it voluntarily. They will not want to sit, or they will cry while sitting. The muscles in their tail will have cramped up and become sore and very stiff. It usually takes a couple of weeks to wear off. Labs have insulated coats and because they love the water they don't seem to care how cold it is or how cold the weather is, they will still go in the water. It is not dangerous, however, it is very painful for the dogs. You can give them some enteric coated ASA to ease the pain, but it will pass with time.
Miscellaneous - Another thing to watch out for is if the dog is usually full of energy and suddenly for no apparent reason, becomes depressed and very fatigued (this usually only happens to females under two years of age) it could be a sign of Addison's disease. Some vets believe it is caused by a virus or bacteria, but they are really not sure. It is always a good idea to watch a dog that suddenly changes its behaviour for no apparent reason. If you are worried, call the vet.
Exercise - Labs need plenty of exercise. However, do not run them hard until after they are 12 months of age. You could damage their muscles or joints by over working before they are full grown.
Heart Worm - There have been some vets known to tell dog owners that they don't need to give heart worm medication because they live in the city. Heart worm is transmitted through mosquitoes and all dogs are at risk. I have known people whose dogs have died because of this problem. It is not that expensive to prevent the disease. It is $42.00 for the year and you give it once a month during the warm season. This has an added benefit because the medication works for lots of different worms, not just heart worms.
Allergies - More and more dogs seem to be developing allergies to all sorts of things. They can be allergic to fleas, plastic in their food dish, eggs, corn, the fillers in some dog foods, the protein source (meat) in dog food. Some of the reactions do not always look like an allergic reaction. They can develop rashes, runny eyes and nose, ear infections that won't clear up, etc. If you dog develops an allergy, please check with your vet but there are some things you can check first. Be sure to check the ingredient list of any food you buy to make sure there are no filler or byproducts in the food. Check to see if they have any bug bites. With labs, when they have an insect bite that bothers them, they will lick and scratch the area raw. You will probably have to keep them from this behaviour either with a spray that stops them from licking because of the taste, or with one of the plastic head cones. If it gets worse, please talk to your vet about which strategy to use in order to discover what they are allergic to, you may have to change foods to a hypoallergenic food.
Nails - Puppies should be taught from an early age to have their nails trimed. If you continue this right from the beginning you shouldn't have a problem. Puppies need it more often than big dogs as their nails seem to grow faster and they don't get worn down as much when they are outside. Make sure you don't cut into the quick, this hurts them and it will bleed. On the yellow pups with the white nails this will be easier than on the black ones, where you have to guess where the quick is. Make sure you use a sharp pair of dog nail cutters. Don't get cheap ones, they don't last and sometimes they are not very sharp.