Is a Labrador Retriever the right breed for you?
Every year, countless Labrador Retrievers are given up because their owners simply didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. This article isn’t aimed at putting you off the idea of getting a Labrador Retriever, it’s just an honest guide, based on my own experience, to the realities of bringing a Labrador Retriever into your life. Forewarned is forearmed as they say….whoever ‘they’ are!
A Labrador Retriever is a HUGE commitment
If you are really serious about getting a Labrador Retriever, you should be 100% certain that you are prepared to be in it for the long-haul. By that I mean you must be ready to commit to this amazing animal for the rest of his life. He will be with you on your life journey for 10-14 years. He will be there for you through all of life’s ups and downs. Will you be there for him to the very best of your ability? Always? Your dog will be relying on you for his health, happiness and wellbeing. In return he will give you unconditional love and devotion until the last beat of his heart.
Labrador Retriever puppies can be a lot of hard work
The first few months may be exhausting. A Labrador Retriever pup will constantly demand your attention and it can be overwhelming for a first time Labrador owner. Labrador puppies are famous for ‘mouthing’; they are likely to nip at your hands, ankles and clothes until you have trained them to do otherwise. Your patience could very well be tested to its limits in the first few months. Things do get easier with time, patience and training.
Owning a Labrador Retriever will be expensive
Not just the initial outlay of actually buying a Labrador Retriever, this cost is just a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of money you will need to spend over the coming years.
Costs to consider:
- Insurance (optional but I’d definitely recommend it)
- Veterinary bills
- Vaccinations and other Medicines such as worming and heartworm prevention meds.
- Boarding Kennels
- Doggy Day-care (if necessary)
- Repairing or replacing things that your Labrador Retriever will inevitably destroy or damage
- You might even need to get a bigger vehicle!!! (I did)
- Everything else….toys, bedding, etc.
Labradors will shed all over your carpets and furniture
Your Labrador Retriever will shed….a LOT!!! If you don’t like the idea of your carpets and sometimes even your furniture getting covered in fur on an almost daily basis, you will really struggle with a Lab. Fortunately there’s some really great grooming tools around that will reduce shedding. The FURminator Deshedding Tool being just one of them.
A Labrador Retriever will damage things around your home and yard/garden
As sure as night follows day, even the most well trained, well behaved Labrador Retriever will at some point destroy something around your home. Labs just love putting things in their mouth. One day it might be your ipod, the next day your treasured designer sunglasses. This is all preventable of course. Pretty soon you will get into the habit of putting your prized possessions well out of the reach of your Labrador. Oh and chances are they’ll also be a ‘digger’. Bye, bye to that perfectly manicured lawn! My lawn currently boasts no fewer than six sizeable ‘excavations’ courtesy of my lovely chocolate Labrador.
A Labrador Retriever will need some training
Every Lab needs a basic level of training. Labradors are intelligent dogs and they tend to learn fast. However, some young Labs will be more difficult to train than others. My Labrador conveniently suffered form ‘selective hearing’ the minute we walked through the door at puppy training class. Training your Labrador Retriever may require a lot of time and patience but it’s worth the effort.
A Labrador Retriever will need a significant amount of your time and energy every single day of his life
Labradors need exercise and lots of it. Ideally, two hours a day for a Labrador Retriever aged over 12 months (much less for pups). This is quite a time commitment for the majority of us.
Exercise your Lab well and you will have a very happy, contented dog on your hands. Labradors are working dogs and not enough exercise leads to boredom and frustration. A recipe for disaster!
We owe it to our dogs to provide them with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. If you are in any doubt about being able to find the time to exercise your Labrador well, every day, then perhaps a Labrador Retriever is the wrong breed for you. There are plenty of breeds out there that require considerably less exercise. It’s important to find a dog that suits you and your lifestyle.
Having said all of that, bringing a Labrador into my life is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Yes it’s been a challenge and in the first few weeks I even wondered whether I’d made a terrible mistake. There was one week in particular when I even doubted my ability to raise a Lab. With a little patience and perseverance, I got through it.
Three and a half years on I don’t have a single regret over the time, energy and money I’ve spent raising my Labrador. Okay so he’s wrecked my lawn, chewed the toes out of most of my socks and reduced my carpets to a shadow of their former selves. I don’t care though; I love every single thing about him. He’s my little fur-covered soul mate. I’d rather live in a cardboard box with my Labrador Retriever than in a mansion without him.