You know what they say about the Labrador Retrievers:
Black is good, Yellow acceptable and Chocolate is for the show bench.
Today, we will just focus on the best – a well-earned title indeed.
Once considered the only acceptable color in Labradors, it is still the most popular. The Chocolate and Yellow Labs may have garnered their fandom over the years, but they are still nowhere close to the popularity of the Black Labs.
Let’s find out what makes them so popular.
Overview and History
When we say Labrador, most people would naturally think of a Black Labrador. According to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular family pet breed in the entire world. That’s right, these babies hog the number one spot. And since black is the most commonly occurring color, it is also the one most commonly associated with the breed.
If we say the Black Labrador Retriever is the best family pet, it won’t be wrong.
The Labradors make for perfect family pets because of their friendly, patient, and playful nature. They are good-natured, obedient, and loyal dogs who gel well with every member of the household. They can keep your kids engaged in play, and they can even assist the elderly around the house.
A good indicator of their obedience and smartness is their positive response to any kind of training. So, when it comes to ideal pets, not many breeds check as many boxes and the Labrador Retrievers do.
The history of the Black Labradors has a lot to do with how we know them today.
Man’s Most Trusted Companion
The ancestry of the Labradors can be traced back to the St John’s Water Dogs and the Newfoundland dogs. Somewhere in the 1800s, they were bred as fishermen’s fishing companion. Labs from the early days are known to have a thicker coat than the modern labs. They mostly lived in colder areas of Canada and loved swimming in almost frozen water to retrieve fish for their master.
During the 1900s, the Labradors made their way to Britain, where fine breeders transformed them into the dogs we know today. Still great retrievers, they were now used as shooting companions. While it is not uncommon to see them on the show bench, the Labrador is still primarily a working breed.
In fact, in Britain, you still need a working certificate for Labs to enter a bench show.
A Game of Genetics
For around a century, black was considered the only desirable and acceptable color for a Labrador Retriever. Any other color was considered a flaw so unacceptable that most yellow and chocolate pups were culled as born.
Out of nine possible genetic combinations in Labradors, only four result in black, three in brown, and only two in black. However, genetics isn’t the only reason blacks are more common. Almost a century of selective culling and careful mating has resulted in more Black Labbies than their yellow or brown cousins.
Now, the gene that determines the coat color has little to do with any other physical or mental attribute. However, since black is easy to produce, the Black Labs come from a larger gene pool than Yellow and Chocolate Labs. Naturally, there is a lower chance of inheriting diseases and defects, a concern prevalent in the Chocolate Labrador Retriever.
The Black Labradors are not always black. Sometimes they have white markings, and sometimes they are Charcoal grey.
If you make a bunch of Black Labradors stand together, you might notice a slight difference in every dog’s coat. It is hard to imagine too many shades of black, but it is entirely possible to witness it in Labradors.
Another interesting fact about their coat is the short but dense fur that is weather-resistant fur that dries quickly.
Overall, a Labrador is a medium-sized dog with strong, athletic built that speaks volume about the breed’s history in the field. A male Labrador grows up to 22.5 to 24.5 inches, while a female lab is usually an inch or two shorter. Ideally, their weight should remain between 65 to 80 pounds. Healthy female Labradors are between 55 to 70 pounds.
That said, it isn’t entirely impossible to see a perfectly healthy Black Labrador weighing 100 pounds.
Other signature features of a Black Labrador include a medium-sized muzzle and an otter tail. Not to mention, their kindness is evident in their eyes and expressions.
It won’t be wrong to say that they are dogs to fall for at first sight.
Personality and Temperament
Undoubtedly, all Labradors are friendly, obedient, affectionate, loyal, and playful. Without exception, the Labs have all the qualities to look for in your four-legged companion. They are all lovable, to say the least.
However, we cannot cover this topic without talking about two different strains of the Black Labradors: the English Labrador and the American Labrador.
The English Labrador vs. The American Labrador
…or we can call it the show dog vs. the field dog.
Since the 1940s, the Labrador became more popular as a show dog in Britain. People started to train and raise them differently, and that is where a different strain came from. So, the British Labs carry a bit of show dog attitude. They may be a little picky about their food. While they enjoy playing around, their energy level is not as high as that of an American Lab.
Eventually, there were changes in appearance. The British Labradors now have a wider head and shorter muzzle. They are bulkier, more muscular than their American kins.
One the other hand, the American Black Labrador Retrievers are more in touch with their working nature. Raised for the field, they are more active and energetic. They may not seem as athletic as the British Labs, but they surely have more stamina and agility. With strong hunting instinct and are more inclined towards productive activities and exercise.
Whether you choose a field Lab or a show Lab, here are a few traits that every Labrador brings home:
Playful and Lively
A Black Labrador’s entire personality revolves around their eagerness to please everyone around them. Their energetic and enthusiastic nature continues well beyond their early years. An adult Lab will like as much play as a young pup.
Trainable and Obedient
Due to their desire to please others, they respond well to any form of training. They get too excited about outings and don’t seem to mind the leash. That is also why they fare so well on both the field and the show.
Loving and Affectionate
Moreover, a Labbie will win your affection with adorable gestures. It will look at you with fondness while wagging the cute otter tail. Lab owners should also stay prepared for frequent licking.
Peaceful and Calm
The Labradors aren’t barkers. That is another major factor behind their popularity as family pets. You can sleep in peace even though they aren’t the best watchdogs.
The Darker Side
When trained right, the Labs are generally low maintenance pets.
The only downside of having a Black Labrador is shedding, which gets worse at least twice a year. However, a proper grooming routine can help you manage this issue.
It may not be too common, but bad behaving Black Labradors do exist.
However, most of the negative traits arise from a lack of proper training. Your Lab will respond well to any form of training, but you have to ensure a comprehensive training program in the first place. Many owners overlook training their Labs because they find them well behaved and friendly. This only encourages bad behavior as Labs are more likely to act on their impulses and instincts as they grow.
For instance, you might find your jumping puppy cute, but you wouldn’t like it when your grown-up Labbie jumps on people. Similarly, their retrieval instincts can instill the habit of grabbing and gnawing every other object they can find around the house.
Here are a few training tips to help you ensure a well-behaved Black Labrador Retriever:
It is easy to ignore socializing a dog that is generally so social and people-friendly. That is a huge mistake made by owners of famously friendly breeds like the Labrador. Labs that aren’t introduced to different people and pets in the early years often get too nervous when they see new faces. Their nervousness makes them act negatively.
Similarly, familiarize them with a new environment. Take your young pups out to a different park from time to time. Walk them to the mall and other public places whenever possible. This will also help them associate the leash with fun rather than restraint.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your Labrador. They love treats, but even a pat on the head would satisfy their desire to please. Sometimes all they need is for you to acknowledge that they are a good boy.
Your anger or aggression towards them will make them sad. You don’t want a sad Lab.
It is worth noting that many of the behavioral problems identified in the Labradors often stem from their playful and enthusiastic nature. They have a lot of energy that makes them act on their natural tendencies when bored. That is why they chew on objects.
The worst thing you can do is try to change their nature by simply stopping them from an act that comes naturally. Just redirect their energies somewhere else. For instance, if they chew on a cushion, distract them from it and give them a chew toy instead. If they dig too often, create a digging box for them.
Note: Any bad behavior that doesn’t stem from your Labs natural tendencies is considered abnormal dog behavior. Aggression is an example of abnormal behavior for this otherwise calm breed. Seek professional help if you notice any such negative behavior in your Black Labrador.
Caring for Your Black Labrador Retriever
The Black Labradors aren’t demanding pets. All they need is for someone to be around. They want your attention but give a lot more than they take. It is why they stay happy indoors. Leave them out for long, and they will become sad, bored, and even destructive.
So, an essential aspect of caring for your Black Labrador is its diet. Let’s start from there:
The Labrador Diet
As active medium-large sized dogs, the Labradors need a lot of nutrients and calories, which makes them susceptible to obesity. Their famously huge appetite doesn’t help either. You need to make sure your Black Labbie is getting a quality dog food rich in nutrients.
While most Labs do well on large breed dog food, it is best to adjust your Lab’s daily calorie intake according to its individual needs. Highly active field Labs require more calories than show dogs that may not be too active. Keep an eye on their weight. If you feel they are getting chubby, that is a clear sign of overfeeding.
Since the Black Labradors can weigh anywhere between 60 and 80 pounds, their dietary requirements also change with size. A smaller Labrador can eat 2 to 3 cups of large dog kibble a day, while larger ones can eat up to 4 cups of the same dog food. It should be divided into three meals a day.
Labrador pups also do well on large breed puppy foods. Since puppies are more active, you should consider their activity level to decide how much they need to eat. Divide their daily meal into smaller portions to prevent overeating and tummy troubles. Feed them four to five times a day to keep them healthy and happy. Start the transition from puppy food to adult food at 15 months.
Choose a dog food with a healthy protein and fat ratio. It should have healthy carbs, preferably from non-grain sources. For nose to tail health, pick a dog food with antioxidants and probiotics for your buddy.
For a Black Labrador, it won’t be wrong to say that exercise is a part of their training. Lack of exercise is one of the major reasons behind temperamental and behavioral issues in this otherwise well-behaved breed. Exercise is the most constructive way for your Labbie to utilize their excessive energy.
So, half an hour’s walk in the park is not enough. Their daily exercise routine should include a longer walk, hikes, swimming, and active playtime. They love to fetch and would never refuse a game of Frisbee.
Speaking of playtime, if your Labrador isn’t getting enough outdoor time, invest in indoor toys that can keep them physically engaged. These toys are also good for mental stimulation.
The overall active time for an adult Labrador should be around 1 to 1.5 hours. If you feel that your Labbie is getting a little slow with age, you can reduce their exercise time to 45 minutes a day.
Overall, the Black Labradors are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Shedding, however, can be a real problem for those who do not like black hair all over their furniture. So, you need to make sure you take care of shedding hair before it ends up everywhere.
Brushing can help with this issue. Brush your Labbie’s gorgeous black coat every day to remove excess hair. It will also remove any debris stuck in the thick coat. Plus, it will spread the natural sebum all over the coat to keep it shiny.
Bathing Your Labrador
Since regular brushing also removes debris and dirt from the coat, you won’t have to wash your Labbie too often. Even if you are using a mild dog shampoo, excessive bathing will strip away the natural oils and their gorgeous coat will lose the luster. Bathe them only when there is visible dirt that can’t be removed without water and soap.
Clipping the nails of your active dog is extremely important because it can hinder their movement. With long nails, they aren’t able to walk properly and often end up hurting themselves. Clipping the nails of a Black Labrador, however, is trickier than clipping the nails of a Yellow Labrador. The quick isn’t visible in their nails, and there is a risk of cutting too deep.
High-quality kibble is designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy by removing plaque. Still, you should brush your baby’s teeth daily. Use a soft toothbrush with a mild toothpaste meant for kids.
As for eyes, nose, and ear, you only need to clean them when you see visible signs of dirt or wax. Just like wax, a little bit of eye discharge is also normal, and you can gently wipe it off.
Black Labrador Health
The Labrador Retriever is generally a healthy breed, but Black Labs are healthier than their lighter-colored cousins are. That’s because of their larger gene pool. Still, all purebred dogs can inherit certain diseases. Aside from obesity, other health conditions that are common in Black Labrador are as follows:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy: It is a genetic degenerative eye disorder that can cause blindness in Black Labrador Retrievers.
Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia in the Black Labradors may or may not be a genetic health issue. Larger and active Labradors have a higher probability of developing this disease as they age. However, it is possible to manage and treat the problem effectively.
Epilepsy: The Black Labradors can inherit epilepsy from their parent, and it can cause seizures that are painful to watch. No matter how severe the seizures are, the issue can be managed through timely treatment and medication.
Gastric Dilataion Volvulus: Also known as ‘bloat’, GDV is common in large dogs with a deep chest like the Labrador. Poor eating habits are the main culprit behind this health issue that is often fatal.
Ear Infections: Ear infections are more common in Labradors that swim too often. You can early prevent this problem with the help of ear protection devices such as Aquabandit.
Pick a Healthy Puppy
As you can see, most health issues related to the Labrador are genetic in nature. This means if any of the parents carries the disease, the puppy will inherit it as well. That is why it is crucial to get your puppy from a trusted breeder who can provide health certificates for both the parents.
Good breeders don’t just rely on blood tests; they go for DNA tests to breed healthy puppies from healthy parents. While these pups may cost you a few more bucks, you will save a lot more in the long run.
The Black Labrador Retriever is essentially a gift of God. There is hardly a creature more adorable and affectionate. The Black Labs have a long history of serving their human companions out in the field. They are loyal, friendly, and dependable dogs. Since they are good with kids and the elderly, they make for great therapy dogs and disability assistant dogs.
In short, it is America’s favorite dog, and you can never go wrong with the decision to buy or adopt a Black Labrador Retriever.
FAQ: Black Labrador Retriever
What is the average lifespan of a Black Labrador Retriever?
A healthy Black Labrador Retriever raised on a proper diet and a friendly environment can live up to 12 good years.
How much does a Black Labrador Retriever cost?
A Black Labrador puppy from a reliable breeder who can provide health certificates for the pup and its parent can cost your around 500 to 1000 dollars.
Why is my Black Labrador lazy?
The Black Labradors are considered the most energetic of all Labradors. Laziness can be an indicator of an underlying health problem. Take your pet the vet as soon as possible.
Are Black Labradors hypoallergenic?
No, they are not. Frankly, the only reason to avoid these wonderful pets is the high amount of shedding. While frequent brushing can control the issue to an extent, it is still not the right breed for people with allergies.
Are Black Labradors good guard dogs?
No, the Black Labradors are lovely pets, but they are too friendly to prevent any kind of threat. They might befriend anyone trying to break into your house.