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Is the Labrador Retriever the Right Breed for You?

Is the Labrador Retriever the right breed for you? This relatively simple question is vitally important. Too many people get a Labrador Retriever on a whim — without any thought as to how that breed will fit into their lifestyle or home. This is one of the primary reasons why there are so many dogs in animal shelters.

Maybe you've always pictured life with the perfect lab. Maybe you imagine the two of you jogging in the park, your dog in a perfect heel, watching out for your safety and enjoying your company. But when it comes to living with a breed, you have to take more than just the fantasy into consideration. You need to think about the pros and cons of Labrador Retrievers and whether they are a good fit for your family.

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed of dogs in the world. They were cute and lovable and wonderful companions. Aside from their sweet nature, Labs are excellent retrievers for hunting purposes and great all around working dogs. If you keep him out of trouble, teach him the basics of what you want him to do, and make his good behavior rewarding for him, he will compensate you with years of devoted friendship.

Before deciding on a Lab take the following into consideration:

  • Do you have the time?

    You may feel ready to take on the responsibility of a dog, but you may not realize how much time a Lab requires. Your Lab will need daily training sessions, lots of purposeful socialization as a puppy, and time to simply hang around with you.

    If you aren't home very often or have too much on your plate when you are home, enjoy a friend's Labrador Retriever now and then, but don't take on your own.

  • Do you have the energy?

    Labs require as much energy as time. Your Lab will need to be walked at least once a day, taken for occasional swims, and given the opportunity to do lots of retrieving, the thing they love best.

    If you're a certified couch potato, your Lab might be able to adjust, but he won't be as healthy, and Labs that aren't provided outlets for their energy may become destructive. If you aren't up to the physical challenge, consider a less active or smaller dog — or perhaps, a cat.

    Overweight Labs are unhealthy. Try using halved baby carrots or small broccoli florets as treats rather than dog biscuits, which are often too caloric to be used daily.

  • Do you have the space?

    The ideal situation for a Lab is a single-family, detached house with a fenced yard or a country home with lots of fenced land. Other situations can work, too, if you walk your Lab religiously and train her well.

    If you don't have the living space for a large dog, don't bring home a Labrador Retriever. Likewise, if you live in a tiny apartment with no yard and can't walk your dog every day, or if you like your home immaculate, please consider another type of dog.

  • Do you have the money?

    Purchasing a Labrador Retriever through a breeder can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 (more if you want a competition-quality dog), although adopting a Lab is less expensive. That being said, the cost of buying a dog doesn't compare to the cost of keeping a dog healthy and well-behaved throughout its life.

    If you can barely afford groceries or medical bills for yourself and your own family, don't bring any dog, Lab or otherwise, into your home until you're on a firmer financial footing.

Some people dream of getting a dog for all the wrong reasons. Every dog and every Lab is different. Before considering a Lab, it is important to remember that Labs need training, attention, exercise, veterinary care, and a regular routine. They are active, boisterous, large, and sometimes overly affectionate animals.

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