How Often Does My Labrador Need Vaccinating


In this article we are going to answer the frequently asked question: How often does my Labrador need vaccinating.

When I was a teenager, you took your dog to the vet once a year for his ‘jabs’.

And he got the lot!

Horrendous diseases like canine distemper were still a recent memory.

And you did not take any chances.

But opinions have changed in recent years.

Give me that vaccine!

My mother had nursed our dog Tim through distemper when I was a toddler and he never fully recovered.

Many families went through the same experience.

So, we were grateful to be free of these life threatening illnesses, and we certainly did not question whether or not our dog was getting too much vaccine.

It was more a case of “gimme that vaccine now!”

This is something that has changed over the years, at least in the UK, and North America.

Too much of a good thing?

For a long time, vaccinations were administered on an annual basis, for each of the ‘core’ diseases that we protect dogs against today.

More recently it has become clear that some of these vaccines are effective for much longer than a year,  and that a certain amount of over-vaccination has been taking place

Does it matter?

Some vets feel that annual vaccination is still a good thing,  because it gets people into the surgery for an annual check up.

how often should you vaccinate your labradorAnd of course regular vaccinations are part of any veterinary surgery’s regular income.

However, most vets recognise that there are downsides to vaccinating more than is necessary.

Primarily because it increases the risks of vaccination to the individual patient.

Like almost all vaccination programmes, vaccinating your dog carries a very small risk.

And there is absolutely no point in increasing that risk unnecessarily.

In addition, vaccines, and your vet’s time, come at a cost.  And there is no point in spending more than you need to.

How often?

So, how often does your dog need to be vaccinated?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends that core vaccines are given once every three years.

These core diseases are Distemper, Parvovirus, and Hepatitis.

But there are two non-core vaccinations commonly given to dogs too.  And these are Leptospirosis,  and Kennel Cough.

And the catch is,  that these two need to be administered annually.   So we haven’t quite escaped from the ‘annual vaccination trip’  yet.

Is there are choice?

Ultimately of course whether, or against what, to vaccinate your dog, is your choice.  The three core diseases are killers, and most people do chose to protect their dogs against them.

Kennel cough is relatively mild disease in a healthy dog,  though boarding kennels may refuse a dog that has not been vaccinated.

However, Leptospirosis is a much more serious matter.   And whether or not your dog needs this vaccination will depend to some extent on where you live.

You can download a pdf document from the WSAVA  on vaccination, which is very informative.

Local knowledge

Do check with your vet for the latest local advice on your own dog’s needs.   And check out our other articles on vaccination for further information:

Don’t forget, if you are reading from overseas, that this information is written from a UK perspective.  In some countries you will need to vaccinate against rabies and other local diseases.

More information on puppies

Happy-Puppy-jacket-image1-195x300(paid link)For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

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(paid link) worldwide.

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. Hi Pippa,
    Have for long read, memorised, loved your posts…Then we went ahead(me and husband) and took a lab male pup just 8 weeks, Bruno, love him, he is just a handful though..Second day with us today..He got a upset tummy today early morning..gave him Noeo Peptin, is okay now..will visit vet on Saturday..He is almost white in colour…very active, doesnt like petting, yet, just likes to roam about…nod his head, eat in a rush, poops and pees and keeps on biting things…Is he okay??in Nature??

  2. I have some questions on kennel cough and prevention and strengthening the immune system. Will be posting in the forums soon on it!