Since I talk about my chocolate Labrador Retriever in almost each and every post, I thought I would share some facts and characteristics about the breed. Our Harley is a wonderful companion for me, and he goes just about everywhere I go (depending on the weather – I don’t like taking him if too hot and having to leave him in the truck). He has some good habits and of course some bad habits that drive me bonkers, but he is a dog who has become my faithful companion. And with most dogs you take the good with the bad and hopefully are able to train them to stop the bad habits.
The gentle, intelligent and family-friendly Labrador Retriever from Canada continues to be the most popular breed in the United States, according to AKC® registration statistics. This versatile hunting breed comes in three colors – yellow, black and chocolate – and because of his aptitude to please his master they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams or in narcotics detection with law enforcement.
Labrador Retrievers, originally from Newfoundland, were initially used in work alongside fisherman, helping to pull in nets and catch fish that escaped from fishing lines. After being crossed with Setters, Spaniels and other Retrievers, the Labrador Retriever honed its skills as a true retriever. From this point in the breed’s history, “Labs,” as they are affectionately called, were bred primarily to perform as an efficient retriever of game, with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of activities beyond hunting.
We have found with our Harley, from the time we brought him home at 8 weeks, he has been easily trainable. We did puppy obedience school when he was only 10 weeks old. We attended class mainly because it had been over 15 years since I had trained a pup and had never trained a larger breed dog and wanted some guidance. Puppy school was recommended as soon as Harley understood his name and recognized his name when we called him. Now Harley is by no means perfect, he loves to clean his feet (constantly – which in the middle of night is extremely frustrating) and when he was younger Harley loved digging to China. All traits that we have learned are very common behaviors for a lab pup. Harley is now just over a year old and weighs in at 78 pounds and can take me for a walk very easily if I don’t have him under control.
Labs are energetic dogs and love some good exercise opportunities. And they love to learn new tricks to please you. We find with Harley he likes to be challenged with his toys. And Harley loves to be around us – he is a good boy when left alone – but where we are he is typically only a few feet away. Harley is just as happy being a couch potato as he is running laps in the yard. When we want him to have energy he has tons and when we require him to be quiet and respectful, you would never know he was there. He is patient with my grandchildren, and loves all the attention they give him. Last summer we even purchased a doggy pool, to entertain Harley while the kids are in the pool – as they swim he does little laps in his pool. And then when it is time to bask in the sun, you will find him stretched out on a lounger right next to the kids.
Labs make an ideal sporting and family dog, the Labrador Retriever thrives as part of an active family or as a trusted hunting companion. A double-coated breed which sheds seasonally, regular grooming keeps his coat at its water-resistant best. Because of his even temperament and train-ability millions of Americans own a Labrador Retriever as a pet. Any one with children would love the addition of a lab puppy, they are wonderful dogs around children and other pets.