Do Labrador Retrievers Drool A Lot?

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do labrador retrievers drool a lot

Before you commit to owning one, you might want the answer to the question “do Labrador Retrievers drool a lot?” Labradors are not a breed typically associated with being very drooly. But as for all dogs, there are some things which will trigger them to start drooling more than usual. Occasionally, if your Labrador drools a lot, it can be a cause for medical concern.

In this article, we take a look at how much Labradors normally drool, and when a lot of drool calls for intervention, or even a trip to the vet.

Doggy Drool

I bet you’ll have no problem picturing a dog with long strands of drool suspended from the corners of their mouth. In fact, dogs of all breeds are master slobber manufacturers. Like us, they have all of the following pairs salivary glands (one on each side of their head):

  • Sublingual salivary glands under their tongue
  • Mandibular salivary glands toward the back of their lower jaw
  • Parotid salivary glands beneath the ear canals

And they also have a bonus pair of salivary glands in the roof of their mouth, beneath their eye socket, called the parotid glands! All of these glands are seromucus glands. Which means they produce a mix of water and mucus. It’s the mucus – a slippery mix of water, proteins and other compounds – which makes it possible for drool to hang from dogs’ faces in such long, pendulous globules.

Do Labrador Retrievers Drool A Lot?

Labs also have four sets of salivary glands. But, they are not known for being excessively slobbery. The most drooly dog breeds are those with loose skin around their mouth and jowls, such as

  • Saint Bernards
  • Bloodhounds
  • Basset Hounds
  • Bull Dogs
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Newfoundlands

In these dogs, the structure of their face makes it easy for saliva to leak out of the mouth. They aren’t making more drool than other dogs, they’re just not containing it very well! Meanwhile, according to their breed standard Labrador Retrievers should have powerful jaws and clean-cut cheeks that are free from fleshiness.

Inevitably there is a bit of variation from individual to individual, and some Labs have slightly looser mouths than others. But on the whole, the structure of their face keeps the mouth well sealed, and doesn’t lend them to drooling. Of course, Labradors crossed with loose jowled breeds, such as the Labrador-Newfie cross or the unlikely Bassador, may be a different story!

What Makes Labrador Retrievers Drool A Lot?

Over on our friendly Labrador forum, few members complain about their Labradors drooling too much in general. But there is one time when they all agree that their Labs’ salivary glands go into overdrive. Suddenly, long strings of slobber start to appear, and puddles of the stuff even form around their feet. What triggers such a soggy reaction? Well, food of course!

do labrador retrievers drool a lot

Labradors are famous for their appetite. This is partly because around one quarter of them are estimated to carry a genetic mutation which increases their appetite. But with or without this mutation, there’s a good chance that if your Labrador spots you with food, they’ll be stuck to your side like glue, with a hopeful expression and mouth watering.

Crating your Lab with a Kong while you prepare your own meals is a good way to stop drooling at the sight of food from becoming an unpleasant and off putting habit.

When Else Do Labrador Retrievers Drool A Lot?

Lots of dogs, including Labs, also tend to drool more than usual when their emotions are running high. For example during an exciting game with other dogs, or when confronted with something that makes them anxious. This is a well recognized physical expression of an emotional state.

In excited dogs, it’s not much to worry about. But there are things you can do to teach them calm behavior instead. However when anxious dogs drool, stopping them isn’t just about keeping dry. It’s a matter of protecting their emotional welfare too. These articles about separation anxiety and reactivity in Labradors can help you work on that.

Do Labradors Drool In The Car?

Another place where it’s common for Labrador Retrievers to drool a lot more than usual is in the car. This can be an emotional reaction, because they are frightened of the car. Or it can be a symptom of nausea, because they suffer from motion sickness. If you’ve tackled any fear of the car, reluctance to get in the car or signs of fear when the engine starts, then it’s worth talking to your vet about anti-nausea medicines.

Excessive Drooling In Labradors

We’ve established that purebred Labradors don’t usually drool a lot, and some normal reasons why they might. But, there are also some more serious reasons why a Lab might drool excessively, that you should address promptly if they occur. There’s even a technical medical term for abnormal excessive drooling: ptyalism.

Common triggers of excessive drooling include:

  • Damage to the physical structure of the salivary glands, for example due to a fight, rough play, or being hit in the face by something.
  • A tumor near the site of one of the salivary glands.
  • Infection in the salivary gland, or elsewhere in the mouth.
  • Severe allergies, making it difficult to swallow.
  • Rabies.
  • Poisoning.

You can read in more detail about the causes of excessive drooling in this article.

Can I Stop My Lab Drooling A Lot?

Making saliva is completely normal and healthy. Dogs need their drool to help them chew, swallow, and digest food. So, there’s not a lot you can, or should, do to prevent normal drooling. Never withhold water from your dog to try to prevent slobbering. You can manage normal drool that escapes by:

  • Crating them with an edible chew or a Kong while you’re preparing and eating your own food.
  • Keeping face cloths in strategic places to mop up dribbles.

If your dog drools a lot and you’re concerned that it is not normal, ask your vet to check them over. They will be able to rule out physical or medical causes. And recommend net steps for tackling behavioral causes too.

Does Your Labrador Drool A Lot?

Whether your Lab simply goes slobbery for snacks, or you’re worried about them drooling a lot in other situations, if you’d like to compare notes with other Lab owners, drop in on our forum!

References

Lewis. Understanding the anatomy of canine and feline salivary glands. Veterinary Practice News. 2018.

Official Standard for the Labrador Retriever. American Kennel Club. 1994.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Raffan. A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs. Cell Metabolism. 2016.

Reiter. Salivary Disorders in Small Animals. MSD Veterinary Manual. 2014.

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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