6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Labrador

labrador puppy

There are many things to consider before taking on the responsibility of a Labrador puppy. It’s a huge decision, on so many levels! Space, time, noise, mess, and the interruption to your regular lifestyle, are all huge factors. Not to mention the cost.

Price is just one of the things you’ll need to mull over. And Labrador Retriever price is more complicated that just the purchase price of a Labrador puppy at $800 to $1500. You also need to consider the impact of a Labrador puppy on your home and life. And the cost of food and medical care for Labrador Retriever puppies.

Here are six important things to consider before buying a Labrador puppy. Knowing these will help you to decide if now is the right time to buy a Lab puppy, or whether you might need to wait a little longer before you bring your new dog home.

Labrador Dog Price – The Costs Involved

Buying a Labrador is not just a question of the purchase price of a Lab puppy, though of course that is important. There are other costs involved, both financial, emotional and in terms of time and effort. So we need to look at those too.

You may be wondering whether you will have the time for a dog, and if you have the space and energy for a large and lively breed? Nearly everyone has an opinion on whether or not you should ‘take the plunge’. But this page will take you back to the fundamental considerations, to help you to make the right choice for you and your family.

labrador dog price can vary from one lab puppy to another

6 Things To Consider Before Bringing Home A Labrador Puppy

Here are the main points you may want to consider before making that final decision on whether or not to bring a Labrador into your life:

  1. Do you have the right space for a large dog?
  2. Do you have time for a dog?
  3. Can you afford a dog?
  4. What about your lifestyle?
  5. Will a dog fit in with your family?
  6. Is a Labrador the right dog for you?

These questions all apply regardless of the type of Labrador you are looking for. The needs of a black Lab, yellow Lab or chocolate Lab are all the same in these respects. The same goes for an English or American Labrador too.

1. Do You Have The Right Space For A Labrador Puppy?

Dogs need space, both indoors and outside. Even small breeds need room to stretch their legs and run about. And Labradors as fairly large and lively dogs need quite a lot of space. This means you need a decent sized backyard if you plan on buying a Labrador puppy. Somewhere that your Lab dog can run around, play and enjoy training sessions with you.

Labradors can be quite silly during adolescence, bouncing and cavorting in the home. Their tails are long and thick, easily knocking any fragile decorations you might have from shelves. If you have lots of ornaments then you will need to move them to higher shelves to avoid them getting damaged. You will also need to move anything that could be easily damaged by chewing.

Labrador Puppy Potty Breaks

Labradors also need to go outside regularly for ‘bathroom breaks’. With small puppies this will be very often indeed. Perhaps every 15 to 20 minutes during their first few days with you. If you live in a flat, or do not have a garden, this will be difficult for you.

You’ll need to set up a system where the puppy can toilet indoors, using puppy pads(paid link) or newspaper, then retrain him to go outdoors when he is older. Some people successfully use a dog crate*(paid link) to help with their puppy’s toilet training and to keep them contained in the house.

These are helpful but do take up a lot of space. Even more space invading is another great house training solution, putting a crate inside a puppy playpen*(paid link) for the first few months. Although this will take up a lot of space indoors, it can work very well for larger apartments with no easy outside access.

Ideally however you do need to have a garden, and a part of the garden which your dog can use as a bathroom, along with a good system for clearing up after him hygienically. Puppies should also not be allowed to ‘toilet’ where children play,  as their faeces can pass on some horrible and dangerous parasites.

Space is key for a Lab dog!

The right space for a Labrador includes large clear rooms in the house, with no breakable or fragile objects within his grasp. And ideally access to a garden where they can easily be let out to the bathroom and have room to play.

Keeping a single Labrador permanently outside however is not usually a good idea, even with adequate shelter and security. Labs are very sociable dogs and prone to separation anxiety if they lack company. This means your dog may be both sad and noisy.

2. Do You Have Time For A Lab Retriever Puppy?

It is always sad to hear from new puppy owners that are struggling to juggle the needs of a puppy with their need to work. These articles will help you to deal with this common issue.

It may seem obvious to many of you,  but a lot of people don’t realize that you cannot bring a small Labrador puppy into your life and leave it alone in the house all day.  Even with a visit at lunch time. An older dog may cope with being left for up to four hours in row on a regular basis,  but puppies need more attention than this. The truth is, you can’t leave a young dog alone for hours on end and expect him to remain quiet and well behaved.

Contented Labradors are fairly quiet dogs and unlikely to disturb your neighbors. Nor are they very good guard dogs. However, lonely dogs bark and wreck things. If you work all day,  can you afford to pay someone to come in and let him out to stretch his legs and empty himself?

Or do you have a relative or friend that would be prepared to do this on a regular basis.  Bear in mind that this is quite a lot to ask of anyone in the long term. The biggest long term time commitment in owning a dog is in the form of training and exercise.

Training Takes Time

All dogs need training in order that they can rub along in human society without being a complete nuisance.  This means a regular daily commitment  of ten to twenty minutes from you, in addition  to your regular interaction with the dog.

Training cannot be saved up for the weekend,  your dog will have forgotten most of what he learnt the weekend before,  and he does not have the attention span to concentrate on you for an hour and a half. You can find out more about training your Labrador puppy here.

Staying Fit

Exercise is required on a regular basis,  for some breeds of dog this means at least an hour a day of walking or jogging to keep your dog fit and healthy. You can find out more about the exercise requirements of a Labrador puppy here. Whilst your dog will not come to any harm if you miss a day occasionally,  a daily routine is often the best way to ensure that you build this important habit.

3. Can You Afford A Dog?

Dogs can be quite expensive to run.  You need to consider not only how much a Labrador will cost you to buy, but also how much it will cost you to keep.

How much do Labradors cost from breeders?

The price of a Labrador puppy will vary from breeder to breeder, and from place to place.  In the USA as a rough guide, you are looking at $800 to $1200. In the UK you can pay anything from £650 to £850 for a well bred, health tested Labrador.

Health screening is important, here are the tests your Labrador puppy’s parents should have had. Perhaps you know a friend that has a litter of puppies and they are going to let you have one for free.  However, the purchase price of a dog is almost irrelevant.  It is such a small part of the final cost.

The cost of keeping a Labrador

The reality is, you are also going to need to fork out a chunk of your wages each week on keeping your pooch happy and healthy. Obviously you will have taken the cost of a good brand of Labrador puppy food into consideration.

It is a good idea to budget for veterinary insurance too.  Modern veterinary treatment has simply gone ‘off the radar’.   Not because it is unreasonably priced, but simply because it is now so advanced. You can fix a lot of problems these days.  No longer is ‘put to sleep’  the option of choice for most serious ailments.  We can do open heart surgery,  mend complex fractures,  treat cancer with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Pretty much anything you can treat in a human,  you can now treat in a dog.  And the catch? It costs.

Health Care

If you don’t have access to substantial savings, one way to avoid the burden of huge vet fees is to make sure your dog is insured.   Veterinary insurance will most likely set you back at least a week’s wages or so, each year. The more comprehensive your insurance package the more it will cost. Watch out for very cheap deals, as they may not provide continuing cover for long term ailments.

You will also need to vaccinate your dog against common canine illness, and this will probably need to be done each year too. Especially if you are wanting to occasionally leave them in boarding kennels when you go away, as they require up to date vaccination certificates.

Labrador Puppy Costs

There will be a few other one-off costs such as a puppy crate and puppy play pen for your home for when your dog is young,  another for your car if you have one. Then there are bowls, bedding, collar, leash etc. But you may be able to borrow a crate or get one second hand. Here are some of the items you will need for your new Labrador puppy, and reviews on the best options for Labradors:

If you like to holiday abroad or anywhere that the dog can’t come,  unless you have helpful relatives, you will also need to think about the cost of putting him in boarding kennels for a week or two each year. The purchase price of your Labrador is not the main consideration when it comes to his cost. You will need to be confident that you will be able to cover all of the above, for at least the next ten years.

4. Will An Adult Labrador Suit Your Lifestyle?

Buying a Labrador will change your life quite drastically.  In fact, bringing any dog into your life will be a dramatic change. If you work away a lot, unless you can take your dog with you,  a dog is probably not a good idea for you right now.   Likewise if you if you travel a lot,  a dog may cause problems for you.  If you spend two months each year exploring the Amazon jungle,  a dog is almost certainly not for you. Travelling with your Labrador is possible, but it will depend upon your destination.

labrador puppies

What are you like at early mornings?   And at getting up in the night? Long lazy Sunday lie-ins will be a thing of the past once you have a dog.   In addition,  for the first few weeks when puppies are small,  they may need to be taken out side to toilet during the night. Maybe more than once.  You need to be comfortable coping with that.

Labrador Retriever Shedding and Mess

They shed  a lot of hair and like to swim and get muddy out on walks. Find out more about shedding before getting your Labrador puppy if you are at all concerned about keeping your home clean. If you like to take day trips to places that aren’t dog friendly, are you able to organise for someone to care for them in your absence? Your lifestyle will need to adapt to fit your Labrador’s needs, and you need to be happy with that arrangement.

5. Will A Dog Fit In With Your Family

If you have three children under five and your wife is expecting twins, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you don’t need a dog right now. Labradors can be great family dogs, in the right families. But some people take on a Labrador puppy when their kids are tiny, then struggle to cope.

Having a puppy is a bit like having a toddler,  and whilst some dogs and kids do rub along very nicely together,  it can be very tough in the early years. Pushing a buggy whilst trying to lead train a large or even a medium sized dog is no joke.  And tiny puppies are easily broken by small children as they step on them, climb on them,  and trip over them.

A toddler, expensive veterinary treatment, and a Labrador puppy with its leg in plaster is not a great combination. However, if your kids are all over five, able to walk for an hour or so without needing to be carried,  and to understand what a dog’s basic needs are,  the chances are you will all enjoy and benefit from your new companion. Check out “are Labs good family pets” for more information

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

Make sure that you invest in a crate and puppy pen, so that your puppy has somewhere safe to go when he needs a break from the kids. And help to get them off on the right foot by teaching the children how to play safely with a Labrador.

6. Is A Labrador Puppy The Right Breed For You?

If you are certain that the time is right for you to bring a dog into your family,  it is also worth considering whether a Labrador is really the right breed of dog for you and your family. Check out this article.

Labradors are loving, intelligent and fun. They are also very often large, bouncy and as puppies very prone to biting and chewing. Make sure that you know exactly what it is you are bringing into your home, get properly prepared, and you will hopefully be well set to have years of joy together.

Anything Else To Consider Before Bringing Home A Labrador Puppy?

How about you?  If you already have a Labrador,  what do you wish you had known before you became a dog owner?  Share your thoughts with our readers in the comments box below! If you want to find out more about the Labrador Retriever, we’ve got a really interesting article on his lifespan!

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


  1. I am moving onto some property we have in Mexico. I would love a Lab. The Mexican Lab breeders that I have found on line want $2000 USD. If I buy a Lab puppy here, do you know the costs/requirements of bringing him/her into Mexico?

  2. My wife brought home a lab puppy after l told her l didn’t want any more animals. All they do is break your heart when they die. My last dog lived 18 yrs, and my cat lived 18 yrs, and my bird lived 25 yrs. l don’t want any more animals.
    Anyway, I’m handicapped with a bad back. Needless to say, the lab puppy she brought home ended up being the smartest dog I’ve ever own. This dog who I named Marley, would do anything I asked. He’d go get me bottled waters from the frig. If l dropped something he’d pick it up and hand it to me. He stays by my side to help me with anything l need. He is so smart that everyone who meets Marley wants one of his offspring. So we let him breed with another lab. People were lined up to own a dog as special as Marley is. And did l mention that Marley is a very big dog, who weighs 145 lbs.
    He eats what l eat. lol. That’s why he grew so big. And l do mean big.
    Anyway, he is a character. If l dropped my wallet he would pick it up and hand it back to me. If my wallet had money in it he would take it to my wife. LOL. He loves my wife too. He even let me know when my wife was having a heart attack. What an amazing animal he turned out to be.
    One morning l noticed Marley was crying. It was 7:45 am. My wife came home from work at 8:00 am. As soon as she walked thru the door she asked why is he crying. I told her l had no idea. All of a sudden my mom called with some bad news. She told us my dad had past away at 7:45. Marley knew way before we did. Don’t know how he knows so much, he just does.
    So if you want an amazing breed of dog, l highly recommend a Lab.
    To this day, people are still asking about getting one of his pups. 😎
    He is definitely my service dog who is always there to watch over me. And had no problem getting him registered as a service dog either. What an amazingly smart animal. Just give them quality time and you’ll be totally amazed.

  3. My family has had Labs for decades,often two at a time.we love the large beautiful Labs. They are excellent watch dogs as well. The one now is almost 13 and has been a house dog. We have a nice fenced in yard and as a companion also a gorgeous Pug. They are very spoiled and very loving. Almost everyone family member,neighbor and friends have dogs. No better way to spend money,they are worth every cent. We all spoil our dogs but get so much love in return. Be ready to give your pets lots of love and spending quite a bit of money. You will be rewarded with love everyday.

  4. We have a yorkie tea cup she is 10 years old my son wants a black lab is this a good idea to have another dog a black puppy lab ? What are the pros and cons to having 2 dogs ?

    • I had a yellow lab and brought home a Yorkie at first my lab was growling and trying to show it who’s boss it took 2 weeks and they were besties my lab has since passed and I have 6 yorkies now I love multiple dogs they keep one another company

  5. I love that you explained everything that needs to be considered before buying a labrador, especially the time and space you have to give them to feel loved and free. My boyfriend and I have been living together for a while and we´ve been thinking about buying a labrador retriever since we both love the breed. I will talk about this with my boyfriend so that we decide on whether buying it or not.

  6. I am also a owner of a chocolate lab, rescue, and every thing that is said by Pippa Madison is true. except for one thing, I don’t believe that she said that a 2 year old puppy is still a puppy and can eat like a horse. Mine is so sweet, sheds, potty trained, unless i feed him table scraps of any kind. so if you can’t afford 100.00 a month do not get one. Also, I have an a little less than an acre and he loves every bit of it. He does swim in my miniature horse and pigs water and plays in the mud but the time i bring him in he is dry and clean. Yes his tail does knock over things including drinks on the coffee table. However, despite all the trouble he causes, he is part of my family. The family who bought him got rid of him for all of the above reasons. But with my love and attention he has calmed down and lost weight from being in a kennel 24/7 for the fist 2 years of his life. Pippa also forgot to mention that they do get along well with other animals, including my miniature horse and pig and 3 other dogs including my chiwawahua, 2 cats, and housed raccoons. Pippa is right, if you live in an apartment, studio, flat do not get a labrador. If you have small children forget it. Other than that, they are the best and he gets along with my collie very well. They both like outside but endure for the time to come on the couch and love me.

  7. I am a breeder and I love my labs. I not a huge breeder like a kennel. I have one litter once a year until a certain age my dogs stay with me even if not breeding. I currently have 2 fox red females and 2 lighter yellow males. All 4 are so loving. One male has a very strong prey drive and loves to just run. He had to have a job. I suggest looking into different breeders for the temperament that fits your needs. not just settle for any puppy.

  8. Great article covering the essential points of Labrador ownership. If there is one thing that I’ve found with our girl is that there is never enough food! Exercise is absolutely key and that means long walks, runs, swimming, fetch. It takes a strong demeanor not to share my sandwich! Best dogs ever ❤️

  9. I am having trouble choosing between getting a male or female fox red lab! Could you give me some advice to help me choose please!

    • if breeding done right. the temperament should be the same in both male and female from the same little. However males tend to mark there territory and have been known to roam if they are not fixed. Females will also mark sometimes. Even though they both can be trained not to mark in the house. Its a real pain wait for a male to finish going to the bathroom. If you want to find the right puppy for you. I sugget the Volhard testing.

  10. Any concerns with a Lab living on the road? It would be just me and him (prefer a male dog) and his backyard will be the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Moab, Badlands, etc…He would be with me 100% of the time, so getting up and going out a couple of times a night is NO issue, nor is room to run and exercise.

    Expenditures are not an issue, so health and food will be high quality…I just want to make sure he’s okay with riding in the 4Runner with me all across the nation…There will be MANY stops, no agenda, and I would CERTAINLY stay in one place long enough to take to, and through completion of, a reputable training program. Also would strive to take to a dog park at LEAST once/twice a week for his first six months to get highly socialized (although frequent off-roading will further enhance that experience with all the people and dogs he meets).

    I appreciate any counsel you would give, plus any help in finding a truly reputable breeder.

    • There be no problem with that! labs love the companionship and traveling with you! but trainings is a must. remember they are hunting dogs so you may run into a prey drive issue. I would sugget getting a show lab (english) they tend to be more laid-back