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Labrador Retriever

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Troy   

The Labrador Retriever

ANKC Standard

(from http://www.ankc.org.au/home/breeds_details.asp?bid=18 )

Group: Group 3 (Gundogs)

General Appearance: Strongly built, short coupled, very active; broad in skull; broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and strong over loins and hindquarters.

Characteristics: Good tempered, very agile (which precludes excessive body weight or substance). Excellent nose, soft mouth, keen love of water. Adaptable, devoted companion.

Temperament: Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness.

Head And Skull: Skull broad with defined stop; clean cut without fleshy cheeks. Jaws of medium length, powerful not snipey. Nose wide, nostrils well-developed.

Eyes: Medium size, expressing intelligence and good temper; brown or hazel.

Ears: Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far back.

Mouth: Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. Upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Neck: Clean, strong, powerful, set into well-placed shoulders.

Forequarters: Shoulders long and sloping. Forelegs well-boned and straight from elbow to ground when viewed from either front or side.

Body: Chest of good width and depth, with well-sprung barrel ribs (this effect not to be produced by carrying excessive weight). Level topline. Loins wide, short-coupled and strong.

Hindquarters: Well-developed not sloping to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks well let down, cowhocks highly undesirable.

Feet: Round, compact; well-arched toes and well-developed pads

Tail: Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with short, thick, dense coat, thus giving 'rounded' appearance described as 'Otter' tail. May be carried gaily but should not curl over back.

Gait/Movement: Free, covering adequate ground; straight and true in front and rear.

Coat: Distinctive feature, short dense without wave or feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch; weather resistant undercoat.

Colour: Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.

Sizes: Height:

Dogs 56 - 57 cms (22-22.5 ins) at withers

Bitches 55 - 56 cms (21.5 - 22 ins) at withers

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dog's ability to perform its traditional work.

Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum

QUESTIONS

1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

3. How common is it in Australia?

4. What is the average lifespan?

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

9. How much grooming is required?

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

If you wish to contribute to the knowledge about this breed, please answer the above questions. (Copy and paste them into a new post).

  • Please only answer if you breed or own a pedigree example of this breed.
  • You do not have to answer all questions
  • Please keep posts limited to answering questions or for asking further questions if you require more (or expanded) information.

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Sonic   

Just querying the height of 22 to 22.5 for dogs and 21.5 to 22 for bitches. I have always thought this was correct but was told by breeders recently that the max height had been increased.

Can anyone confirm this.

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Lab lady   

1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

Breeder, ex exhibitor

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

The Labrador’s origin dates back to the late 1700’s, from the St John’s area of Newfoundland. There were two types of dogs being used extensively by the local fisherman.

The larger of the two was a large long thick-coated dog known as the greater Newfoundland or greater St John’s dog and most likely to be today’s Newfoundland. This dog was used for its strength pulling cartloads of fish.

The smaller was a short dense coated black dog known as the lesser Newfoundland or the St John’s water dog. This dog was the constant companion of the fisherman of the Labrador Sea. These dogs bear a strong resemblance to today’s Labradors. They were unrivalled for hardiness and stamina and after a hard days work could be seen playing with the children of the fisherman. Their keen love of water made them ideal for grabbing the floating corks on the edge of the nets and dragging them to shore, their keen retrieving instincts combined with their gentle mouth made them useful the fetch fish, which strayed from the nets. These dogs had such a reputation for it’s loving devotion, loyalty, hunting and retrieving abilities they were imported to Great Britain in the early 1800’s.

The second Earl of Malmesbury was instrumental in the development of the breed, in a letter he wrote in about 1887 he noted, “we always called mine Labrador dogs and I have kept the breed as pure as I could from the first I had at Poole. The real breed may be known by its close coat which turns off water like oil and above all a tail like an otter”. These Labradors where black with the first yellow on record “Ben of Hyde” born in 1899 in a litter of black from black parents. Occasionally yellows were born among predominately black litters with many being destroyed until their value was established. Today the number of yellows registered each year out number the blacks. Chocolate also appeared in the early 1900’s but even today their numbers are not as high as the yellows and blacks. The first Labradors arrived in Australia in 1929, they where imported by the Liddy kennels in the UK and included a black dog and 2 black bitches. From these 3 dogs a serious breeding program began and the ever rising popularity of the Labrador in Australia.

3. How common is it in Australia?

Very, The Labrador has the highest registration of puppies (ANKC stats) of the gundog group

4. What is the average lifespan?

13 - 16 years

....more to come

Edited by Lab lady

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Do breeders/owners notice any difference in temperament between the three Labrador colours? I know this occurs in other breeds and was wondering if that's the case with Labradors??

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Lab lady   
Do breeders/owners notice any difference in temperament between the three Labrador colours? I know this occurs in other breeds and was wondering if that's the case with Labradors??

I personally would say there is no difference.

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jerojath   

This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

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Ellie1   
This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

I got my lab from a breeder that breeds the 'show' type labradors and 2 of his siblings from the same litter went to be guide dogs.

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1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

Breeder, Exhibitor, Obedience and pet owner

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

Just wanted to add that the first chocolate was actually recorded before the first yellow. Around 1893.

3. How common is it in Australia?

4. What is the average lifespan?

(these were already answered)

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

Generally a very happy dog, keen to please, love food and water. Good with people and devoted to owners. Also have a very good sense of smell.

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

Labs need exercise. A good walk twice a day, a game of ball. People have a misconception that labradors are lazy couch dogs. They are only this way because their owners overfeed them and allow them to be lazy. They are a gundog and essentially should be kept active.

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

I would say no if you are not going to put the time and effort in to your puppy. They are prone to being like small children in dog suits and some take a few years to mature. On the other hand, not all are like that, but you must be prepared. A labrador, or any dog for that matter, will only be as good as the effort you put into raising it.

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

A bored labrador can be a destructive labrador. They are not suited to being stuck in a back yard with no socialisation. Provide plenty of toys, a sandpit to dig in, a clam pool to cool off in as well, and ensure plenty of human contact as they like to be with their owners.

9. How much grooming is required?

Very minimal. Wash when needed. A brush once a week to help remove the shedding hair - and yes labradors do shed 365 days a year. But not copious amounts of hair, but it is continuous.

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

Labradors sometimes forget their size and can be a little too bouncy for small children. They will knock a child over in play and do not realise their own strength. Again, they need to be trained. Labradors are not born guide dogs, despite what people think, and they need a firm hand with their training.

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Progressive Retinal atrophy are the main ones that are tested for.

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

Check paperwork on tests done. Dont always accept the breeders "yes the parents have been done" as the parents scores could be too high.

This is a very debatable subject but I would not like to see a parent with more than a total score of 2 for elbows. Hips I'd be a bit more flexible on - but a score of 5:5 is better than a score of 1:9 (even though both are under the breed average). The breed average for hips is 12 (at present) so ideally you would like to see both parents under that score. Also if possible, its good to research hip and elbow scores of grandparents, siblings, etc (if you can).

Unfortunately breeding two low scoring dogs together does not mean that somewhere, sometime a "gene" is going to present itself and the pup has problems. But at least if you go to a breeder that is vigilant and breeds with sound stock, then you are a lot better off.

But it is also important on how you raise your puppy - a fat puppy puts extra strain on growing joints, as do things like climbing stairs, jumping on beds and couches, and into cars, and slippery floors are not good either. So your care on raising your pup also goes a long way to ensuring protection of that growing body.

One more thing - Labradors are a VERY popular dog and favoured by the the BYB and puppy farms because of their popularity. Stay away from that cheap one from the guy down the road, or the local petshop, as all too often they have not had testing done, and the amount of ppl I talk to with dogs with problems is heartbreaking.

Again, not all breeders are ethical either, and a lot have jumped on the bandwagon of the colour of the moment and are breeding "chocolate" pups simply for colour and some are seriously lacking type.

Most importantly research and feel comfortable with your breeder. :p

They really are a wonderful breed !!!!

Edited by MissMonaro

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missmoo   
This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

I got my lab from a breeder that breeds the 'show' type labradors and 2 of his siblings from the same litter went to be guide dogs.

The "type" and size of Labradors depends on the origins and what the breeder is looking for. My black Lab is from English origins, so his head is bigger and squarer, he is slightly shorter than the "typical' lab you see around these days but he is more broader in body size and his temperament is a little quieter, he still goes a little nuts but as much as your "typical' lab you see walking down the street. The American and Australian Labradors are more refined, smaller head and slender bodies. From what I have heard the American labradors are more excitable than their English and Australian counterparts.

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Lab lady   
Just wanted to add that the first chocolate was actually recorded before the first yellow. Around 1893.

wow, i wasn't aware of this. I've never really been into the chocolates.

Was it in the UK?

Thanks MissMonaro.

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whoops......it was 1892 :laugh:

The dogs were Ned (born 1882) and Avon (born 1885). Many say that these two dogs are the ancestor of all British Labs. Buccleuch Avon is said to have sired 'liver-coloured' pups.

In 1892 two 'liver color' Labradors were born at Buccleuch's kennel. (Richard Wolthers, The Labrador Retriever)

In 1899 the first recorded yellow Labrador was born at the kennel of Major C.J. Radclyffe and named Ben of Hyde.

In 1903 the Labrador Retriever was popular enough to be recognized by the Kennel Club in England.

1916 the Labrador Club was formed in England with support from Lord Knutsford (Munden Kennel line) and Lady Lorna, Countess Howe (Banchory Labradors). Some chocolate labs are said to trace back to FC Banchory Night Light from the Banchory Kennel. He was a black dog born in 1932 in England. Night Light comes from the line of Dual Ch. Banchory Bolo (1915) who appears to be a carrier of the chocolate gene from Buccleuch Avon. Banchory Bolo was also known for carrying a trait of white hairs under the feet (Bolo pads).

Edited by MissMonaro

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QUESTIONS

1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

Breeder, exhibitor, obedience and working gundog

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

3. How common is it in Australia?

4. What is the average lifespan?

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

Gentle, faithful, playful, and full on at times and yet obedient.

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

A good walk /play or a swim for 30 - 40 minutes each day is usually enough

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

Yes they are easy to train, minimal grooming, adjust socially to all situations

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

Yes if given the right environment

9. How much grooming is required?

A good brush every 4 or 5 days is usually sufficient

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

THis could be said of any breed with the exception of the very small toy breeds. A well behaved dog is the end goal of all owners.

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

Yes you should only buy from reputable breeders who test for PRA, retinal dysplasia and do hip and elbow scores.

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

The breeder you are dealing with should be able to provide you with copies of dam and sire's hip scores, DNA results for PRA and current eye certificates for both. The breeder should be confident in quoting the breed average for hip scores and know something of the background of the pedigree of the pups for at least 3 generations.

One very important thing to remember when buying any breed is that you should do your research into the breeder, do not buy from a pet shop and remember that in reality you often 'get what you pay for'.

Edited by mercedes

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This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

When any breed is bred purely for temperament and working ability the conformation of the dog is looked at less. Naturally the breeding stock isn't the best looking, but the one most likely to produce a perfect working dog. The physical appearance of the dog will of course change away from the desired standard.

Most registered breeders will breed for both conformation and temperament, taking into consideration both when choosing their breeding stock. That way the offspring will ideally have both great temperament and adhere to the breed standard.

As somebody else said, Guide Dogs for the Blind do buy stock from registered breeders with well known lines.

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whoops......it was 1892 :laugh:

The dogs were Ned (born 1882) and Avon (born 1885). Many say that these two dogs are the ancestor of all British Labs. Buccleuch Avon is said to have sired 'liver-coloured' pups.

In 1892 two 'liver color' Labradors were born at Buccleuch's kennel. (Richard Wolthers, The Labrador Retriever)

In 1899 the first recorded yellow Labrador was born at the kennel of Major C.J. Radclyffe and named Ben of Hyde.

In 1903 the Labrador Retriever was popular enough to be recognized by the Kennel Club in England.

1916 the Labrador Club was formed in England with support from Lord Knutsford (Munden Kennel line) and Lady Lorna, Countess Howe (Banchory Labradors). Some chocolate labs are said to trace back to FC Banchory Night Light from the Banchory Kennel. He was a black dog born in 1932 in England. Night Light comes from the line of Dual Ch. Banchory Bolo (1915) who appears to be a carrier of the chocolate gene from Buccleuch Avon. Banchory Bolo was also known for carrying a trait of white hairs under the feet (Bolo pads).

That is correct and the colour was produced by deliberately crossing lighter and lighter coloured dogs until the yellow was achieved. The colour seen the least today is part of the "yellow" colour classification and is actually a fox red colour. There are a few around and I have noticed over the past couple of years they are making a bit of a comeback.

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This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

I got my lab from a breeder that breeds the 'show' type labradors and 2 of his siblings from the same litter went to be guide dogs.

That is correct, many of us not only breed for confirmation but also supply pups to Guide Dogs in our relevant state. From Maddie's first litter 3 are in the show ring, one does obedience trials, one is a working guide dog and one is an assistance dog.

One of the reasons Guide Dogs like to acquire the smaller pups is because a guide dog is required to sit at its owners feet in the front foot well of a car. If you have a great big bulky dog then it is very uncomfortable if not almost impossible. While I agree that they can appear a little finer in bone I think the term 'less robust' is not quite right. I take on board your meaning but we could find a more apt expression (just a comment not a dig). In some ways you are right in saying they appear to move more soundly - I think they are fit for movement in some ways.

I know that some of the longer finer dogs are certainly better able to work all day in the field and its here that I think you see more of the two types of Labs. Sometimes you will see a dog bred for the ring beside a working gundog and they are certainly two very distinct types but then bred for two very distinct tasks. JMO

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mikelli   
This is going to sound really dumb, and admittedly I should know better owning gundogs!.....

Why is there such a hugely distinct difference in type between what we know as 'show' type labs and those which come from the guide-dog breeding kennels?

My impression is that those from successful winning kennels seem very heavy, thick-set 'bulky' dogs that move accordingly.

Others I've seen (usually from guide-dog kennels or 'pet trade breeders') appear much more refined, a little finer in bone, less heavy and less 'robust'. They often (to me anyway!) seem to move more soundly too (Flame Suit!!!).

Why the distinct types? How did this happen and was it for a purpose?

OR have I just got it all wrong?

I guess ultimately all breeders should be trying to breed to the standard as seen above. As with everything there are going to be deviations from the standard, given that there are so many labradors bred every year, there will be differences, weather it be different blood lines, country of origin, or sometimes it is personal interpretation of the standard...

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I'm a breeder of ~10 years who shows only occasionally, but works hard when it comes to finding appropriate dogs and trying to improve the breed. . . according to what I feel is an improvement.

Many of the points on the initiating list have been covered well. A few bits and bobs.

How common? In 2008, 4264 pedigree Labrador pups were registered in Australia, putting the Labrador a little higher than the GSD and the SBT. Similar numbers have been registered in previous years, making the Labrador a contender for most common pedigree dog in Australia (to know what is most common, you'd have to know average longevity of different breeds and do a little modeling. Sadly, there is no reliable data on breed longevity).

I think it is important to realise that the Labrador Retriever is, relatively speaking, a modern breed, and the establishment of the breed involved a good deal of cross breeding in the early 20th century, often with selection oriented to creating a dog who was a good hunting companion, but some selection oriented toward speed in retrieving competitions. Thus a lot of diversity remains in the bloodstock, and build, temperament, and health issues are quite variable. Even careful breeders with select lines sometimes get heads that look like setters rather than Labradors, coats that are far too soft or too thin for the breed standard, or wavy and oily like a Chesapeake, or even semi-brindled. I think we should regard this diversity as a positive.

In Australia, hunting birds with a gun is a vanishing pastime, and the breed is loosing its calling. This tends to put more focus on showing for the 21st century interpretation of the breed standard. I suspect this is leading to a heavier set (which looks powerful, but may not be so good in the field) breed with broader heads.

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This is a very debatable subject but I would not like to see a parent with more than a total score of 2 in an elbow. Hips I'd be a bit more flexible on - but a score of 5:5 is better than a score of 1:9 (even though both are under the breed average). The breed average for hips is 12 (at present) so ideally you would like to see both parents under that score. Also if possible, its good to research hip and elbow scores of grandparents, siblings, etc (if you can).

MM - whilst not disagreeing with you, I was wondering if you would consider the fact that a dog with a score of 1:9 (for example) may have had an injury relating to the average score, vs the better score of 1 on the other hip? Would you take this into consideration if choosing to use a dog with such a score?

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MM - whilst not disagreeing with you, I was wondering if you would consider the fact that a dog with a score of 1:9 (for example) may have had an injury relating to the average score, vs the better score of 1 on the other hip? Would you take this into consideration if choosing to use a dog with such a score?

Yes I would take this into consideration. But for me personally I would want to see evidence rather than believing someones word of mouth. I know that may sound a bit distrusting, but unfortunately not everyone in the dog world is "honest" about hip and elbow issues. :laugh:

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Labs   

1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

I was born into a family who had Labradors as pets.

Now am a breeder and exhibitor of mutiple award winning dogs. I believe I am amongst the most travelled Labrador exhibitors in Australia at the moment so get to see dogs in many states every year

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

Already answered

3. How common is it in Australia?

one of the most popular dogs in the Australia and the world

4. What is the average lifespan?

average is 12 years

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

wonderful dogs if the correct ground work is undertaken

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

I think a good 30 minute run, but is very dependent on the individual dog.

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

Probably not, they can be an extremely destructive puppy

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

If they have lots of toys but they are much better with company

9. How much grooming is required?

minimal

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

Yes as a puppy but are a wonderful pet once older

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

HD, ODC, PRA and cataracts (oh and now EIC)

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

Already answered by MM, but I will add purchase puppies from parents who actually look like Labradors - there are so many people out there breeding from sub standard Labradors

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