4 Labrador Retriever Health Concerns


We all want our Labradors to stay fit and healthy for their whole lives. To never have an off day, hurt themselves or get ill.

But of course, injuries and occasional illness are a part of life, and one day your dog may have an accident, or need an operation.

Articles on Labrador Retriever health

On the Labrador Site we regularly bring you features on the various aspects of Labrador Retriever health care.

Including information on some of the different conditions that Labradors can suffer from.

We’ve put links to four of our most popular health topics below.

These are not necessarily the conditions most likely to affect your dog, but they are conditions that people worry about, or write to us about.

Protecting your dog

The fact that these conditions are highlighted here doesn’t mean your dog is likely to get sick anytime soon, and these articles are meant to be a source of information and support, not a substitute for veterinary advice.

If you have any concerns about your Labrador’s health, do pop him down to your vet’s office for a check up. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of some health conditions, can make all the difference to the outcome for your dog.

Responsible breeding and puppy buying

Increasing awareness of potential health problems in Labrador Retrievers can be a good thing for the breed.  It encourages breeders to make better breeding decisions and to breed responsibly with the health of our breed at the forefront of their breeding programme

It also helps us make better choices when purchasing puppies, and responsible puppy buying is as important as responsible breeding.

If you are looking for a puppy, do check that both his parents have had all the relevant health checks. You can find more information in this article: Finding a good breeder

Below are four health issues that are often talked about by Labrador breeders and owners alike.

You can find much more information on Labrador health, from allergies, to epilepsy, parasites and much more,  by searching our health section using the menu above or this link: Labrador health

#Labrador health issue: Hip Dysplasia

There is a lot of information on hip dysplasia on this site, and there is no doubt that it is a major concern for those interested in the welfare of our breed.

Canine hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. This means that the socket is too shallow and the femur therefore doesn’t sit comfortably in it.

Depending on the severity, hip dysplasia can cause discomfort and some restriction of movement, to a lot of pain and trouble moving freely.

The tendency to have hip dysplasia has a large inherited component.

It is therefore possible to reduce the chances of your puppy having hip dysplasia by choosing him from a litter where best parents have excellent hip scores.

By only breeding from adult Labradors with good hip scores, the cases of hip dysplasia should be reduced over the generations. It is therefore very important that breeders don’t breed from dogs with poor hips, or who have not been scored.

#Labrador health issue:PRA blindness

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an incurable condition affecting many breeds of dog, including Labradors.

This is caused by a breakdown of the retina, the membrane that lines the back of the eye.

PRA is a genetic condition, and can be detected by an eye exam once it has manifested. It can also be predicted through a DNA sample using what is know as the Optigen test.

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When you buy your puppy, make sure both parents have been tested. For your puppy to not develop this condition either both parents must be clear, or one clear and one a carrier. If both are carriers your pup may inherit the condition.

You can find out more about this in our PRA blindness article here.

#Labrador health issue:Bloat

Readers that have heard of ‘bloat’ are often worried about it.  Labradors have a tendency as a breed to eat very quickly, and rapid eating is known to be a risk factor for  Bloat.

Bloat is the name for gastric distension, or an abnormal swelling in the stomach, that results in the stomach actually twisting inside the dog.

The resultant twisting and pressure can very sadly end in death if not immediately treated by a vet. It is not a common condition, but is more likely to occur in larger, deep chested dogs.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risks of bloat occurring. Such as using slow feeders, restricting eating before exercise and reducing meal quantity.

You can find out more about bloat and how to help your Labrador avoid it in this article.

#Labrador health issue: Ear Infections

Labradors have adorable faces, and a big part of this is their gorgeous flopped over ears. Unfortunately, like so many deviations from the natural wolf structure, this position has accompanying issues.The ear flap itself can create an ideal environment for germs to fester.

In addition to this, some Labradors have a substantial amount of hair in their ear canals. This presents even more opportunity for infection to take hold, and causes difficulty with cleaning.

Ear infections in Labradors are sadly therefore fairly common.

You can spot early signs of ear trouble by watching your Labrador for head shaking, rubbing and pawing at their ears. If you see any of these signs, take her to the vet who will investigate and give you appropriate medication.


We all want to do the best for our Labradors, to help them live as happy and healthy members of our family.

Most Labradors are happy healthy dogs, but like all of our dog breeds there are health problems that can affect them.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

To find out more about improving your dog’s health, why not visit our Labrador Retriever health section here.

There is also plenty of information on Labrador health in the new Labrador Handbook.

Don’t forget to call your vet or take your dog along for a check up, if you are worried about her.

Remember, a healthy Labrador is a happy Labrador, and prompt veterinary attention can often help improve the outcome for your dog.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website

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Lucy is a writer and blogger, who regularly provides posts for The Labrador Site. She has a BSc in Psychology and lives with her husband, daughter and numerous pets in Surrey.


  1. Our 10 year old chocolate lab has not been her self since Sunday. She won’t settle at night, passing up and down, panting, drinking ( I have even taken her water bowl up to bed with her) she hasn’t worried about eating since yesterday, she weed in kitchen this morning, which she has never done before. She also cries in the night and whimpers. She is normally a very friendly happy and always hungry dog. Vet is an arm and leg job but think need to take her this evening. !?

  2. please can you help my lovely black lab now 13 years old pants a lot also he has one back leg not so strong anymore but when we take him out hes so happy to run and sniff he surprises us how he can move when out in the fields also he doesn’t always know when he has a bowel movement but very embarrassed when it happens . thanks Eileen