It isn’t surprising that you want to find out about Labrador Retriever life span. After all, when you have found the perfect friend, you want to know that you are going to have him for the longest time!
So “how long do Labradors live” is a popular question, and one that we are going to look at in today’s article.
Many people will tell you that the average life expectancy of a Labrador is ten to twelve years.
But some Labradors live a good deal longer than twelve, and some unfortunately don’t make it to ten.
So what controls how long your Labrador will live? And how can you influence your dog’s lifespan so that you can spend the best and happiest years together?
What Controls Labrador Life Span?
There are two key factors that have power or influence over your Labrador’s lifespan, and over the lifespan of any dog.
One is the genetic information that each dog has inherited from his parents.
The other is the events that happen to your dog during the course of his life, through puppy hood to old age.
Things like accidents, injury, and disease.
Let’s look first at the genes that control how your dog looks and behaves, and which set broad limits to the lifespan of your Labrador.
Labrador Genes & Lifespan
These genes don’t just control his coat colour, the shape of his ears, and the length of his tail, they also control his behaviour and his ability to carry out certain tasks, like running and hunting, or fetching things.
Labrador Body Shape
To some extent Labradors are lucky – they inherit a basically sound conformation or body shape.
They don’t have very long spines or short legs that can cause back problems, their bodies are nicely proportioned and designed for athletic ability – running and jumping.
Labradors have not been bred with shortened faces that can cause breathing problems or small skulls that can damage their brains.
Nor are they encumbered with excessive skin or a massive amount of fur. This is excellent because a good body structure makes a dog naturally healthier than a dog with poor conformation.
Factors Affecting Labrador Life Span
On the other hand, like all pedigree dog breeds, there are certain genetic diseases that have become established within the breed due to breeding between dogs that are closely related.
Added to which the simple fact of being both pedigree and a fairly large dog, as well as being ‘a Labrador’ all helps to limit the potential lifespan of your Lab.
How Size Affects Labrador Longevity
Little dogs live longer than big dogs. This is one of the quirks of nature that we don’t entirely understand.
As a medium to large dog, this is therefore a limiting factor in the lifespan of your Labrador – in short, the average Labrador is probably never going to live as long as the average toy poodle.
If you are interested in different longevity of different breeds there is quite a bit of data on the Kennel Club website
Do Pedigree Labs Life Longer?
The outer limits of your dog’s potential life are also limited to a certain extent simply by the fact he is a pedigree dog.
A study published in the Veterinary journal in 2013 showed that mongrels live on average 1.2 years longer than purebred dogs.
When we consider pedigree dogs as a whole, there are differences in longevity between the breeds, not just in terms of size, though this is important. There are also differences between different breeds of a similar size.
Sometime shorter lifespans are linked to poor conformation, though we have seen that Labrador conformation is pretty healthy.
And sometimes shorter lifespans in a breed are linked to inherited diseases.
How Inherited Diseases Affect Your Labrador’s Lifespan
While Labradors are relatively healthy, there are diseases in the breed that can influence how long a Labrador will live and how well or healthy each dog will be during that lifetime
For some of these diseases, hip dysplasia for example, and CNM, we have tests that can (and should) be carried out on adult dogs before they are used for breeding.
For other diseases, some cancers for example, we don’t have tests, we just know that in some cases, Labradors may be more susceptible than some other breeds of dog.
Black Lab Life Expectancy
So what is black lab life expectancy? Or chocolate Lab life expectancy, or yellow Lab life expectancy?
Or even English Lab life expectancy for that matter?
These are common questions and the answer to each is the same.
The life span of your yellow Labrador is unlikely to be any different from a black Lab lifespan, or a chocolate one.
As far as we know, with the exception of color dilution alopecia in silver labradors, inherited diseases are not linked to any particular color or type of Labrador.
And Lab lifespan is not influenced by the color of your dog.
Your English or bench bred Labrador is likely to live just as long as your American or field bred Labrador.
Provided you exercise him well and don’t let him get fat.
Lifestyle & Life Expectancy
Apart from your ability to be selective over the parents of your puppy, genetic factors are largely outside your control.
But as your Labrador grows and matures, there will be life events that happen to him which may influence his life expectancy, and some of these are events that you can control.
Accidents & Roaming
Many dogs die each year in accidents. And many of those accidents could have been avoided.
Fencing your property (or a small part of it) securely will help to prevent your dog from roaming and training him to come quickly when you call will help you to bring him to you in an emergency.
These two principles – training and control – will help to ensure your dog lives out his allotted years to the full.
Recall is fundamental for most Labradors safety, so make sure that you take the time to teach him to come when he is called whatever distractions may be surrounding him.
In some parts of the world there are still many serious diseases that kill unvaccinated dogs and puppies on a regular basis.
Therefore, depending on where you live, whether or not you vaccinate your dog may also affect his longevity.
Probably the biggest single influence though, that you can control with regard to both your dog’s longevity, and his enjoyment of life, is his bodyweight.
Do Thin Dogs Live Longer?
Obesity is increasingly common in dogs generally and in Labradors in particular.
These are greedy and friendly dogs that are very good at persuading people to hand over the treats, and to refill that food bowl.
If you have a greedy Lab then you might find a slow feed bowl helpful, like this one:
Studies have shown that reducing calorie intake in dogs, can increase life expectancy by a significant amount. This isn’t really surprising when we consider the health impact of obesity.
Keeping your dog slim can help him live a long and comfortable life and can defer the onset and reduce the impact of conditions like arthritis in older dogs.
Is Longevity In Dogs Inherited?
To a certain extent, it is clear that longevity is inherited.
But it isn’t the whole story.
Being a Labrador, being purebred, being a largish dog, all go against your dog when it comes to life expectancy.
On the other hand, being athletic and well structured go in his favour and for these reasons, the Labrador falls into the medium range of life expectancy when compared with other dogs.
You can help your Labrador
There are some dog breeds that are longer lived than our beloved Labs, and quite a few that are much shorter lived.
If you are choosing a puppy, choose his parents wisely.
And when you look into those pleading eyes, make sure you don’t give in to your dog’s request for second helpings.
How Long Do Labs Live?
Train and supervise your dog and make sure he is properly fed and well exercised throughout his natural life which should span a good ten years or more.
With loving care and a little luck, your wonderful friend will live into his teens and be with you for many years to come.
The Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.
The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.
The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.
Do you have, or did you have, a Labrador that lived a very long time? Tell us about him in the comments box below