A sweet face. Large, kind eyes that seem to see into your soul. A Labrador Retriever has friendliness in abundance — it's no wonder this medium to large-size pup is America's most popular dog breed! Here are five important tips to keep in mind when welcoming this engaging member of the sporting group into your home.
1. Grooming is good.
Labs have a thick double coat. The undercoat protects their skin and keeps them warm, while the top layer of shorter, oily hair helps them repel water. Labs are heavy shedders, so you'll need to establish weekly brushings, and give them a bath with a gentle dog shampoo every two months. You'll also need to get used to vacuuming your home more often and finding Lab hairs on all your clothes — but his steadfast companionship and congenial ways more than make up for it!
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2. Grab your rain jacket.
The water-resistant coat means that Labs absolutely love rain and water. Slip on your slicker on rainy days because Labs love to trek through puddles and mud. Keep towels at the ready to keep mud-splattered walls to a minimum!
3. Keep him moving.
Exercise is key to keeping this natural athlete at a healthy weight, so bring your Lab on long walks and scenic hikes through the woods. His water-resistant coat and huge paws make him a natural-born swimmer, so take him to the local swimming hole for a couple of laps (don't forget a pet life jacket for safety). If in doubt, always check in with your veterinarian to determine a good exercise routine for your Lab.
4. Get ready for a second shadow.
Privacy? What's that? Labs want to be the center of your universe and will follow you everywhere you allow them. They can't wait to welcome guests with a wet kiss, a handshake, or a full embrace, so training on proper greeting techniques is a must.
5. Monitor his health (and visit the vet).
A Labrador Retriever thrives on positive reinforcement, so it can be tempting to shower your good boy with treats for a job well done. But an overweight Lab is at risk for diabetes, joint issues, and hip dysplasia. Control your Lab’s weight by incorporating healthy snacks like low-calorie treats or veggies — like carrots — to encourage positive behavior. Other health issues that can occur in Labs are heart disorders, eye conditions, and bloat. The best way to keep on top of your Lab's health and happiness is regular visits to your vet.