And obviously we think that they are brilliant!
But not everyone feels the same way. A labrador is not the right dog for every family and the best time to discover this fact is before you commit to owning one.
Check out the following and discover if you are ready to have a labrador share your home!
Time and exercise
An adult labrador needs regular exercise. Just like people, dogs need to keep their cardiovascular system and muscles healthy through regular use.
For minimum fitness every adult labrador that has access to a garden should also have a minimum daily walk of at least half an hour, and a longer and more vigourous exercise session (1-2 hours) at least three times a week.
If you don’t have at least this much time to spend outdoors with your dog in all weathers, a labrador is not the right dog for you.
If you live in a flat, you will need to take your labrador out far more often than this in order for him to empty his bowels and bladder, stretch his legs, and get some fresh air.
Training your labrador and teaching him some basic manners is vital. Big dogs must learn not to jump on people, barge toddlers over, snatch, bite or generally behave unacceptably. And like all dogs they must be trained to come when they are called. See our recall training centre for more information
This all takes time and effort.
Labradors take up space in your house and garden
Labradors are relatively large dogs. An adult male may weigh as much as 80lbs. They are also fairly lively dogs, especially in the first couple of years, and take up quite a bit of space in your home.
The crate your lab will need as a puppy, will be large and may dominate your kitchen for a year or more. This will not look pretty.
A part of your garden will be used for labrador toilet purposes and you will need to pick up, and dispose of, his faeces on a daily basis. Puppies and bitches will wee on your grass and this may make brown circular patches on your lawn.
Some young labradors are extremely fond of digging and are quite capable of constructing a sizable crater in your flower beds if left unattended outdoor. These things need to be considered if you are a keen gardener
Labradors are one of the stronger smelling breeds of dog. Their coats have a natural ‘doggy’ smell which is stronger when they are damp. Some of us are quite partial to this smell. Others are not.
Bathing only temporarily reduces the Labrador odour, and it also removes the coats natural waterproofing. So you should not bath your labrador in the winter if he is likely to go swimming.
Labradors are attracted to water and mud, and preventing a labrador from swimming may be difficult for you.
You will not notice the smell of your labrador after a while, but rest assured if you own a labrador, your house will take on a distinct aroma which your non-doggy friends will be aware of. If this bothers you, a labrador is not for you.
Labradors have a very dense undercoat which they deposit on your carpets about twice a year. Usually in spring and autumn.
You can hasten the shedding process a little through grooming, but it cannot be avoided entirely. Even with frequent vacuuming, you will have hairy carpets, and hairy clothes for several weeks.
All dogs cost money, and small dogs may eat proportionately more food per pound of body weight. However, there is no doubt that it costs more to feed a seventy pound labrador, than it does to feed a fifteen pound terrier.
Veterinary costs these days can be horrific and for any dog, you will need to budget for veterinary insurance. The cost of certain accessories, leads, beds etc, are all usually higher in larger sizes.
It only takes one member of a family that is really unhappy with any aspect of these facts of labrador life, to cause real stress and disruption.
Are all your family in agreement that they are happy to live with a labrador for the next ten to fifteen years? If not, you may want to reconsider.
You really want a labrador!
If we haven’t put you off, and you really do want a Labrador, you might like to read Choosing the right dog next, to discover how to find your perfect friend!
How about you
If you already share your home with a labrador, is there any advice you would like to offer a prospective labrador owner, about the reality of living with a lab? Share your thoughts in the comments below
Photograph of labrador Barney taken by Andy Adams and published with kind permission of Carole Batchelor
More help and information
If you enjoy Pippa’s articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.
The Labrador Site is brought to you by Pippa Mattinson. Pippa's latest book The Happy Puppy Handbook is a definitive guide to early puppy care and training