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Labrador Breed Guide

Labrador Breed Guide

Intelligent, fun-loving and full of energy, the Labrador breed makes a loyal and devoted companion.

The history of a labrador retriever

The Labrador Retriever is believed to have originated in Canada as a working dog. They were mainly used by fishermen to retrieve their catch of the day; the breed wasn’t introduced to Britain until the 1830s.

Their strong build and bundles of energy made them perfect working and sporting dogs, but their lovable personalities meant that they soon became a popular choice as pets.

Large Dog Large Dog
Up to 25-35kg Adult weight Up to 25-35kg
10-14 years Average life expectancy 10-14 years
Even tempered and loyal Even tempered and loyal
Gentle with children Gentle with children
Needs lots of exercise Needs lots of exercise
Common health issues with Labradors

Common health issues with Labradors

The Labrador’s huge appetite can make them vulnerable to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to bigger problems like osteoarthritis. Their energetic tendencies also mean that the breed can be prone to ligament and joint sensitivities.

Labradors are also more susceptible to ear infections. Although they love swimming, their floppy ears prevent air from circulating around the ear; moisture can get trapped in the ear canal and cause an infection. These can be painful for your dog (as well as itchy) and can potentially lead to hearing loss. To keep on top of this, check your dog’s ears weekly and take them to the vet if you’re unsure of anything – they’ll know what to do!

As they get older, Labradors will likely go through the normal signs of ageing such as loss of muscle tissue, weaker bones, and greying fur - but they can also develop more serious issues with their heart and kidneys.

Nutrition: What is the best food to feed a Labrador Retriever?

To keep Labradors strong and healthy, they need a well-balanced diet that’s packed with essential nutrients, such as:

  • High-quality proteins to help maintain muscle mass.
  • Highly digestible nutrients to support healthy digestion.
  • Antioxidants to support a strong immune system.
  • Essential fatty acids to support skin and coat health.

Lifelong nutrition

A dog’s needs and nutrient requirements will change throughout their lifetime – a Labrador puppy’s needs are different from those of an adult or ageing Labrador.

ROYAL CANIN® Labrador Retriever diets are specifically designed to support the nutritional needs of Labradors and to help keep your dog healthy at every stage of life, from puppyhood, through adulthood and into their senior years.



It’s safe to say that Labradors are bundles of joy! They need lots of exercise to burn off energy, but this shouldn’t be a problem because they love spending time with their owners. Whether it be playing, chasing, swimming, or walking – they will do anything to have some fun!

Their soft and affectionate personalities mean they have plenty of love to give and are good with children, they will be great companions for a sole owner, but they’ll also be a brilliant family pet. This also means that they are often trained as assistance or support dogs, which isn’t hard thanks to their impressive intelligence!


Labrador Retrievers are large dogs with a broad build, making them the strong and athletic breed we know and love.


A level back and a broad, deep chest.


Medium-length and tapered, with a thick base and thinner tip.


Broad, distinctive and defined.


Set back, well-proportioned and fall against the sides of the head.


A strong and powerful jaw.

Common Questions

Your dog’s hormone levels can change once they’ve been neutered, which means they’ll need different levels of nutrition to help them maintain a good weight and stay healthy.

Royal Canin has developed food specifically for sterilised dogs [AG1] to help make sure they get all the nutrients they need, including:

  • Fatty acids to help keep their skin, coat, joints and bones healthy.
  • Tailored fat content and proteins to help your dog maintain a healthy weight while still experiencing the feeling of fullness.

Labradors have a very unique coat of fur. They produce an oily sebum that causes water to run off of their coat, which is why they are such good swimmers. They also have a thick undercoat which traps air next to the skin, helping them to stay warm in colder environments.

Yes! Labradors are incredibly intelligent and are a top choice to be trained as sniffer dogs for narcotics or explosives, as well as assistance dogs. Their playful and fun-loving nature means that they can get distracted while they're being trained, but you can get past this as long as you remain firm.

Training your dog will not only make them easier to handle, but teaching them some more fun tricks is also a great way to keep them stimulated – not to mention provide you with some entertainment!

Labradors tend to shed all year round, particularly in spring and winter, as they have a double layered coat. But regular brushing (ideally twice a week) and grooming them should help you keep on top of this.

Absolutely! Giving your Labrador a mixture of wet and dry food means they will reap the benefits of both food types. You don’t have to mix both the wet and dry food in the bowl together, you could give your dog one pouch of ROYAL CANIN® Labrador Retriever Chunks in Gravy and adapt your dry food ratio according to the on-pack feeding guide.

A happy life with your labrador


From petting and playing to exercising and training, Labradors love attention. They need a lot of time and attention to keep their mind stimulated, and studies show that lots of positive handling can help to reduce your dog’s stress levels.


Their playful nature makes Labradors very sociable dogs, there is nothing they love more than playing with others! Take care with other dogs though, as they may not be as accommodating as your eager pup.


These energetic dogs need a chance to let off some steam, so plenty of exercise is a must, otherwise they’ll use their excess energy to cause some mischief! Ideally, adult Labradors should be getting around 60-80 minutes of exercise a day, whether that be walks, playing or swimming.


To keep your four-legged friend looking gorgeous, you need to regularly groom your Labrador. The best way to groom a Labrador is to ensure they are brushed regularly and have their nails clipped when required. It’s also important to keep their teeth clean, this can either be done at home or you can pay for professional cleaning.


Playing with your Labrador is a great way to keep them entertained and in shape. Their strong sense of smell means they particularly enjoy activities that involve scent trails, but they usually love any form of games or toys.


As Labradors are prone to unhealthy weight gain, you need to be careful not to give your dog too many fatty treats – it’s easy to do. Rewards taken from their daily kibble allowance work great as a reward for good behaviour.

Find the right food for your dog

At Maltby’s, we offer a wide range of high-quality Royal Canin wet and dry dog food, specifically formulated to suit your beloved companion’s needs.

View our range

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