Labrador Retriever

Lifestyle Needs

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador is a gun dog used for retrieving game. He is also widely used as an assistance dog.  He is a popular family dog and usually good with children, although temperament varies depending on his early socialisation. He is a water dog with a weather resistant coat who will love jumping into streams and rivers.  As a large country dog he needs plenty of opportunities for long walks and off lead exercise. He sheds his fur and will need regular grooming.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The breed average COI is  6.5%

Labrador breed expert, John Weller, has calculated a breed average COI from his pedigree database of 10.02%.

see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

There are two recognisable types of Labrador.  The slimmer, more athletic type is generally bred to work and should be a fit and agile dog.  The other type is a slightly shorter, heavier dog favoured for showing.  Bear this is mind when choosing your breeder and looking at the parents. Too much weight is harmful to a dog and prevents him having a good quality of life.   Excess weight is known to make the arthritis that develops as a result of hip dysplasia more severe, and the age of onset earlier.  So do your dogs a favour and keep them long on hugs….but short on treats.

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Hip dysplasia (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 10.8 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia (cartilage fails to develop naturally, causing chronic arthritis and pain): score ideally 0:0  Common in this breed, 17-21% affected
  • Eye scheme: Multifocal retinal dysplasia (MRD) (displacement of the retina) (litter screening); Total retinal dysplasia (TRD); Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing), Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (progressive loss of vision) (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (prcd-PRA)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA2)
  • Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)
  • Exercise induced collapse (EIC)
  • Macular Corneal Dystrophy (MCD)
  • Nasal parakeratosis (HNPK)
  • Cystinuria (a kidney defect allowing crystals or stones to form in the urine)
  • Narcolepsy (sudden collapse into a deep sleep)
  • Retinal Dysplasia/Ocularskeletal Dysplasia (OSD)
  • Thrombocytopaenia
  • Skeletal Dysplasia 2 (SD2)
  • Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Myotubular Myopathy (MTM)
  • Pyruvate Kidney Disease (PKD)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching and skin damage)
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) (Bloat) stomach fills with air and twists (requires urgent veterinary treatment)
  • Hepatitis – copper associated chronic hepatitis (autoimmune liver disease)
  • Epilepsy
  • Cruciate disease (damage to limb ligaments) (more commonly in Chocolates)
  • Cancers (in particular mast cell tumours; osteosarcoma; melanoma; soft tissue sarcoma; brain tumour)
  • Osteochondrosis (abnormalities of the cartilage in the stifle joint, causing pain and lameness and leading to osteoarthritis)
  • Shoulder osteochondrosis
  • Tricuspid valve malformation
  • Exercise induced collapse (EIC) (muscle weakness, inco-ordination and collapse)
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap causes osteoarthritis and chronic pain)
  • Laryngeal paralysis and other neuropathies
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease) (a variety of symtoms, prolonged period of malaise)
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings Disease) (overproduction of corticosteroids) (lethargy, thirst, increased appetite)
  • Hypothyroidism (sluggishness and lethargy, weight increase)
  • Primary seborrhoea (an excessively oily skin due to over production of the sebaceous glands)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds