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.

Genetic Diversity
(Known as Coefficient of Inbreeding: 'COI'. It should be as low as possible.)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 6.5% - See 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Gene Pool Size
(Known as 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.

Prone to obesity

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Hip dysplasia: breed 5 year mean score 10.6 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia: score ideally 0:0  Common in this breed, 17-21% affected
  • Eye scheme: Multifocal retinal dysplasia (MRD) (litter screening); Total retinal dysplasia (TRD); Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing), Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing)

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

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (prcd-PRA)
  • Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)
  • Exercise induced collapse (EIC)
  • Skeletal Dysplasia 2
  • HNPK Hypertrophic nasal parakeratosis

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening 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)


  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) (Bloat/Torsion)
  • Cancer
  • Cruciate disease
  • Osteoarthritis

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.

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

The breeder should also be familiar with the CFSG/DBRG Code of Practice for Dog Breeding

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

Breed Health Information