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      20.04.2012 22:09
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      A wonderful family companion if you have the time and patience.

      Since the Oscars, and talk of Uggie - the Jack Russell star of The Artist - retiring, I've been wondering if my Labrador could seize the day, were we to ever go to Hollywood. This, then, is a warts and all lowdown of her potential film credits for anyone interested in the breed: * The Deer Hunter * "Oh Jesus Christ, Fenton!... Fenton!". The video clip taken recently in Richmond Park showing Fenton, the deer chasing Labrador probably divides people into two categories. Those who simply thought it amusing or got annoyed that a dog was allowed to scare some wildlife, and Labrador owners, myself included, who were thinking "There but for the grace of God". You see Amber would have been right by Fenton's side given the chance. I don't think this is typical of all Labradors but ours is a runner. So much so I'm sure if I trace her roots back far enough I'd find a sneaky greyhound in there somewhere. At the relatively middle age of 7, not only can she still give younger dogs a run for their money around the park but she still bounces after squirrels and rabbits, although totally without success. Often when I've seen other Labradors calmly walking side by side with their owners (some can even carry their own leads!), I've had a slight pang of jealousy. * Three colours: Red * It's a misnomer to think of yellow Labradors as being simply yellow. There's a whole rainbow of colours ranging from pale cream to darkish ginger. Yes, ours is ginger which shows up nicely on black clothing. Black Labs are pretty much simply black, but the colour of brown ones can vary remarkably as well. The coat itself is actually two separate coats of fur. The outer layer which is short and slightly wiry and a softer under coat which is a lighter colour with Amber. One benefit is that the outer coat is fairly weather resistant and traps the heat in meaning they won't feel the cold as much as other breeds, which is why you'll never see a Labrador wearing one of those dog coats even in the midst of winter. They're hardy creatures but obviously you should still use common sense in very cold weather. The flip side of course is that in summer they can overheat easily. The first sign of Amber panting or looking tired and we usually offer her some water (yes we take a little foldup dog bowl and supply of water when out). * Of Mice and Men * Most people - even those who dislike dogs - usually find Labradors appealing. It's those big brown eyes and cute faces. Trouble is, appearances as we all know can be deceptive. Loyal, obedient, playful are all commonly thrown around about Labs, and with good reason. But it's a bit like saying all Germans have an innate urge to annex Austria. The truth is, you can do all the research, talk to other dog owners, and the breeders themselves, but you don't really know what to expect until you are responsible for one yourself. You hope to take home the shining star of the litter. The most intelligent, loyal, sociable one of the litter. The truth is, their personalities probably differ as wildly as those of their owners. For instance, there are two black labs we often see in one local park with their owner. One of those dogs is friendly enough (if a little stupid), the other is downright hostile. The park is his, and he doesn't take well to any other dogs he considers is on his turf.. We try to avoid them. Which brings me to... * Barefoot in the Park * Socialising a Labrador as with any dog should be a priority. No matter how gentle natured it is, most behavioural problems dogs have probably stem from a lack of socialisation early on. That means meeting and greeting loads of other dogs (by and large something Labradors will love doing) and also people. Especially little people. Probably that is why Amber now believes people in parks are there for only one purpose and that is to make a fuss of her. If we chance upon a group of people - perhaps friends who have bumped into one another- she'll amble over as if to say, "Hey, whatcha all doing?". If a jogger happens to run past us, then for a while she may jog along too. Sometimes though she can be over confident. We've had a few occasions when she'll bounce over to a little person to say hello, and I can see a look of terror cross their face which is understandable. A swift grab of her collar and we sneak away before anyone starts crying. * Jurassic Park * Unlike some breeds Labradors don't need to get their hair cut. They do moult in warmer months though, so it's necessary to buy a decent brush. We usually take her brush with us when we go out and find a nice bench to sit on before we start. That isn't a challenge, but try cutting their nails! I used to attempt this myself but they really are... as hard as nails. We take her to a local pet store cum poodle parlour where they do the business. Otherwise we'd be left hearing the click click click of one of those dinosaurs claws. Not nice. * Jaws * One of the earlier issues we had was with our dog biting. Chewing toys is all a part of puppy hood but this progressed to trying to bite people's legs when we were at home. Even as a wee puppy I lost count of the times my shins were bruised when she bit me. This is because they have extremely strong jaws. Someone once told me that the police replaced their use of Labradors with Alsatians because they had managed to break so many crook's arms. I don't know if that's true or not, but if I'm ever faced with a choice of a snarling Labrador and a snarling Alsatian, from experience I may well choose the Alsatian. On a sobering note, it's worth remembering that in France a few years ago a lady had one of the first partial face transplants. I don't know the full circumstances except that her Labrador was responsible for the injuries. A smaller dog, or one with a less powerful bite may well not have managed to inflict the same injuries. * Ice cold in Alex * I'm not a beer drinker myself, but on the evenings when it's cold enough to warrant a hot chocolate there's no better way of warming my feet quickly than sticking them under Amber's tummy if she happens to be lying nearby. One downside of owning a Labrador is that they have bony elbows. If you're trying to get comfortable on the sofa and a Labrador wants to curl up close, having a bony elbow sticking in your ribs is no laughing matter. The only solution is not to let them on the furniture at all, which is just crazy talk. They're not lap dogs, so the only options are to put up with the elbows and fur getting on your clothing, or buy them their own comfy sofa. * Lastly: Sense and Sensibility * All this discussion of the dog, but just as important are the qualities of prospective owners. In a nutshell: patience, an ability to be consistent, along with an affable manner and a ready smile are all vital. Patience and consistency are obvious when toilet training the pup but also for ensuring they understand their boundaries (No it isn't okay to snaffle any food I might have left on the worktop when I turned my back). Labradors (especially pertinent for our one which is from working stock rather than show stock) require regular exercise. Which means a commitment to walking them outdoors regardless of the weather. As obvious as it seems, if I had a pound for every time we go to one of our local parks when it's tipping it down with rain or there's some snow on the ground and we haven't seen a single other dog walker, I would now wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. Invest in decent waterproof gear and boots and there's no excuse. Besides, walking really is a mood enhancer. Many times I haven't felt like going for Walkies, but I'm always glad I do. It's good exercise, and people will often stop and chat who might not otherwise when I have Amber with me. As for the affable manner and ready smile? Keep them handy. Recently Amber decided to swipe a glove left by a Teenage Boy With Trousers Around His Thighs who was chillin' on a park bench. Having recovered the glove and offered it back, Teenage Boy With Trousers Around His Thighs decided he didn't want the glove back now a dog had slobbered on it. I offered to take it home and wash it, perhaps bringing it back the next day, but he wasn't having any of it. Another time, I recall Amber bounced over to a man talking on his phone in a park who had placed a chocolate muffin next to him. Before either of us had time to react Amber had eaten the muffin whole - still in its wrapper. How do I know this? Because Yours Truly had to dispose of the mess a few days later when it came out the other end. All said and done they are of course not only intelligent and easy to train, which is why they're used by police as sniffer dogs as well as guide dogs. Choosing any dog is a major responsibility- far too many end up being abandoned - which is why you may find a negative slant on this review. For all her faults though, we wouldn't be without Amber. She's always glad to see us whenever we've been out, and usually fetches us her favourite toy by way of hello which more or less means I forget any other naughtiness

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        10.02.2012 18:53

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        Affectionate and friendly family dog

        I have a yellow labrador who turned 2 this week. We have had him since he was 10 weeks old. We are so glad that we chose to get a Labrador, he has been a treat. Like all Labradors he is VERY energetic and needs about 1 and a half hours of exercise a day - preferably with half an hours off lead exercise a day. Although he is now starting to calm down a bit over the past few months. He has been very easy to train - I think labradors in general are as they are an intelligent breed - he knows and can perform many tricks (for a treat)!! Labradors are renowned for being chewers however we have found that if we exercise him regularly and stop him from getting bored whilst we are not around (a Kong is perfect for this) then he does not feel the need to chew. Touch wood he has not destroyed anything valuable! I would recommend labradors to anyone looking to buy a dog, their advantages are: very affectionate and loyal dogs/ easy to train/ keep you fit/ great with children and other pets/ very easy to groom (just need occasional baths and brushes). Some disadvantages: expensive to feed!/ require a lot of exercise/ Definitely a breed to consider if you enjoy exercise and want a furry companion!

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        08.11.2010 19:00
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        The perfect family pet

        Labradors are a breed of gun dogs. They usually make excellent swimmers and live on average between 10 to 12 years. Labradors are loyal loving dogs and are well known for their friendly and gentle characteristics. Female Labradors should weigh between 25 and 32 kg. Male Labradors should weigh between 29 and 41 kg. The Labrador retriever comes in long hair and short hair varieties. The only difference between the two is the coat. The long hair retriever needs regular brushing where as the short hair type only needs brushing occasionally. The Labrador retriever is the most popular breed in the world for family pets. This is due to their easy going nature. Labradors by nature are gentle with children and other pets and extremely loyal to their owners. Labrador Retrievers are also known as very playful dogs. They usually enjoy tug of war, ball games, seeking games. They have a very good sense of smell and absolutely love food so treat reward games are always a hit. They will eat almost anything which means you must keep a close eye on their weight as they can easily become too heavy. They will often eat food from the streets or parks unless you can train them well to leave. Labrador Retrievers are intelligent dogs and are therefore very easy to train. They also enjoy learning new tricks and usually pick commands up quite quickly. Labradors need quite a lot of exercise, at least 1 hour a day, but they do better with more. They can use energy quickly on playing, running or swimming and they can maintain stamina on a long country walk as well. They are very sociable animals and enjoy being part of a pack, so they more family they have, human or animal, the better. When they are puppies like most breeds, they can be quite destructive. This will become worse during a bitches season. Do not worry, this phase is short lived and with plenty of exercise and the right training you will have a wonderful dog by about 10 months old. Whilst my Labrador was having her first (and only) season, she ripped up my entire bedroom carpet, ignored me on the dog walks and chewed everything she could get her teeth on. She also temporarily stopped going to the garden to go to the toilet. My point is this can be a difficult phase with a female Labrador. You can get Labradors in 4 colours, Black, Yellow (Golden), Chocolate and Red. The first three are common and can be found quite easily via the internet or papers. The Red Labrador is actually a dark ginger colour and is not quite so common, but can be found. There is no difference in characteristics for each colour, only appearance. Labradors are medium to large size. They have webbed paws which makes them good swimmers. They usually have a round rib cage and stomach and if they are a healthy weight, their waistline should go slightly inwards just above their rump. They have floppy ears and can shed regularly and significant amounts so don't get a Labrador if you like your house to always be spotless. Labradors can suffer from leg and shoulder problems and are prone to getting arthritis. They can also suffer from bloat so avoid any exercise immediately after they have eaten. They usually cost between £350 and £500. They can eat almost any balanced diet, wet or dry. I personally feed my Labrador raw meaty bones to ensure healthy teeth. If you want to feed your dog this, do some research online first. Summary: Labrador Retrievers suit a variety of people. They get along well with children so can join young families. They are usually gentle with other animals and friendly to all adults. The more exercise they can have the better, so if you have no time to walk them then don't get this breed. They love cuddles and human attention. The more they get the happier they are. They can sometimes before fearful of other dogs and need lots of socialising from a young age to avoid this. This is probably the friendliest breed of canine you could get and if you want a four legged best friend, then this is the breed to get. I have only met two unfriendly Labradors whilst walking my dog and hundreds of friendly one's. Any negative behaviour in this breed is usually due to the owner and training classes can fix this. I think this breed makes the perfect family pet and because of their characteristics will remain the number one breed of dog for the unforeseeable future.

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          24.03.2010 22:06
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          A great family pet

          My mum bought me a black labrador when i was 11 years old, id gone on for ages about how much i wanted a dog and promised to walk it every day before school but that never happened! We got our Labrador, who was named tessa when we got her and we stuck with it, from an animal shelter. She was with about 5 of her brothers and sisters and she was the smallest one and the others kept trampling on her! She deffinately was the best choice! Labradors are very loyal and very affectionate. They only have one owner which in our case is my mum, as i have moved out now. It was always my mum who fed her and took her for walks and now she absolutely adores my mum. She goes crazy if she she sees anybody hug my mum! Labradors are beautiful dogs, they can be white, black or chocolate colour. Tessa is a black lab with white markings on her. They are not the cleverest of dogs, for example, when we throw a ball for her it will land on the grass, and she carries on running for it as if its still in the air! They can be very naughty as well, and they always know when they have done something wrong. Tessa loves to raid the kitchen bin! You always know when she has done it as when you come home and she doesnt greet you, she is always hiding upstairs looking sheepish! She puts on a sad look and you cant help but hug her, she is so cute! Labradors are full of energy and need lots of attention. They need walking everyday, and can walk for hours and not get bored. My mum always takes her out when the soaps go off at night, and as soon as tessa heres the corrie sound tune she jumps up all excited! She knows shes about to go for walkies! If you are going to get a labrador, consider getting two as tessa loves other dogs company. She gets very sad and depressed when she can tell you are going out as she hates being on her own, she must get so bored when my mums out at work all day. My mum has got her a number of toys to keep her occupied, including one which is a ball, which you put dog treats inside. There is a small hole in the ball, and tessa has to push the ball round the house and try and get the treats out of the hole. It gives her something to do while shes all alone! Our labrador is also great with other animals, we have a cat and they love to sleep on the bed together. We also had two rabbits and we used to leave the dog out in the garden with them and she never bothered with them! It was so funny to see the two rabbits, dog and cat all in the garden together in the summer, none of them bothered the others! Labradors can be a little unpredictable, they are very soft and love affection, but if you go near their food or their owner they can be very possessive. They can growl and show their teeth to warn you away, and a couple of times she had gone to bite people. I would be wary of having a Labrador dog near small children, especially as kids tend to torment animals some times. Labradors can be very greedy with food! Once my mum had 3 packs of rolos in her bag for her, me and my brother. We came home one day to find tessa had eaten all 3 packs of rolos, foil and paper aswell! She has taken countless loafs of bread of the worktop! She has eat boxes of muffins, anything you leave out she manages to get it! Tessa is now 11 years old, and all the hair on her face is going white now, bless her! She still loves playing with toys though, going for walkies or just sitting on the sofa having a cuddle. I would deffinately consider having another labrador dog again, they are so much fun, not just as puppies, as adults too!

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            11.12.2009 15:37
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            Two labradors take over our lives, our house and our hearts

            Willow and Freya were my two beautiful black and yellow labradors. Both girls. I lost them both this year. Freya on 1-05-2009 aged 12 1/2 and Willow three days ago on 13 1/2. They were absolutley wonderful dogs and I am heartbroken to have lost them both within such a short space of time. Willow came to live with us first in May 1996 and she was such a cute little black puppy that just wanted to curl up and sleep on your lap, or nibble your fingers or generally chew any possesion that you valued. She did so much damage that we felt that she must be lonely when we were out at work (a period of only 4 hours at the most each week day) so we decided to get her a friend and went to choose another Lab. We chose Freya a cheeky little yellow pup. Once she joined the household in November 1996 the destruction doubled, extending to a hall and stair carpet, jeans, a welsh dresser and various shoes. Now Willow had a willing pupil in her quest to eat our house. Willow and Freya bonded together so well it was like they were litter mates. Willow was extremely gentle and affectionate. She loved to sit on your lap (despite the fact that she did not fit and you would not be able to walk properly afterwards). Freya was also very affectionate, but much more lively, more like an exorcet missile on speed. She liked to lie next to you on the settee stretched out on her back with her legs flopped wide displaying her bits for all to see. For all their typical lab behaviour the did eventually settle down (sometime after the age of 3 when we no longer had anything worth chewing). They were both brilliantly well behaved when on walks, always coming back when called. Freya's only failing was to bark at people who did not have dogs, as if she could not understand why anyone would want to walk without a dog. Early on (within the first year) Freya damaged her cruciate ligament and had to have an operation. This meant missing a mortgage payment, but the results were marvellous and lasted the rest of her life. She had hip displasia which only caused her problems in the last few years of her life. Willow did not have any major problems till she was 9 years old, when we discovered an ominous lump on the side of her chest that just kept getting bigger and bigger. When they xrayed they found a large quantity of fluid in her lungs - pleural effussion- in the space between the outside of the lining of the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity, where there should be no space. £10,000s, 1 thorsoscopy, 2 CT scans and numerous bloodtests later and both my vets and the Royal College of Veterinarians could only say yes she has got a lot of fluid there, but we don't know why!!! We never did find out why. They drained the fluid and she came home and took a few days, but bounced back to normal again. She always had a cough after that, but it was controlled by steriods and she lived another 5 years after that. I think we finally realised that they were getting much older last year, but they still enjoyed their walks and playing ball. Then things started to go downhill for Freya in April. She was put on some tablets to help her circulation and they seemed to be working, but on 30-04-2009 her back legs failed her and we knew it was time. We took her to the vets on the 1-05-2009 and stayed with her till it was over holding her in our arms and then went home feeling empty and lost, but also comforted that she was no longer suffering. Willow seemed ok for a while, but then in October her legs seemed wobbly and she suffered from the most awful diarrhea. The vet put her on some tablets for this and gave her corvental to help with the breathing. We took her back in Late November and got more covental because they seemed to work, although the vet noted that she had cushings disease from the steroids she was on. We started to reduce the steroids and the diarrhea returned and she very quicly got worse. In the end she just did not want to go our for walks anymore and just lay on her chair (when she could jump up) and slept. We knew that it was time again to make that dreadful trip. Again we stayed with her to the end and the feeling afterwards was awful. I miss them both and hope they are together in heaven playing together. We have 3 Cavalier King Charles dogs which makes things easier. How we would have coped if we had had to go home to an empty house I don't know. I do know that both my husband and I miss that boundless fanatical joy that Labradors bring into your house. We will love them always and miss them forever.

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              09.12.2009 10:59
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              9 out of 10 dogs would recommend it.

              I think when they were handing out brains; the black Labrador must have been fairly near the back of the queue. That said, maybe he slipped out of his place in that queue to go and collect extra loving, gentleness and faithfulness. As the only other male presence in the household (although at times we have our doubts as to his masculinity), he is a loyal presence, a faithful freind and a bringer togetherer of family. I am determined not to make this a collection of cutesy tales of our snukems (and no he is not really called that), instead I will try to give opinion on the breed, and some tips that worked for us. It will not be a Haynes workshop manual of the lab - Wikipedia is your friend if you want dimensions or the history of the breed... Oh go on 1 small historical fact; they were originally bred to retrieve fishing nets. Thank you doggy top trumps for that Steve-Wright-esque factoid. So we bought ours as a pup from a Kennel Club registered breeder. This should be considered a sensible route to go by as certain breeds - Labs especially - are susceptible to hereditary problems. For Labradors, hip problems seem to be all too common. Kennel Club provide 5 generations of proven blood line with hipscores, elbow grading, eye tests & DNA screening for the parents. To an extent it helps go towards ensuring a healthy pup with the best chance of a long, happy life ahead of him/her. Kennel Club is not essential, and I would assume translate to a higher price (cannot vouch for this fact though) but in my opinion it is a good, responsible way to start your puppy's life. Our dog cost £500 + VAT. Interestingly enough, we were told if we planned to eat him, we would have avoided having to pay VAT. Luckily for him, we are not into canine cuisine, although not a day goes past where I don't weigh up that 17.5% versus barbequing the little rascal with some onion relish and some sweetcorn chowder. (That's a joke before someone reports me to the RSPCA). We also, at the time, opted for purchasing a crate for him. That's not a cage, but a crate. Which looks a little bit like a cage. But is most definitely a crate. Reasons for this: Firstly it gives him his own secluded area which nobody else can go. Or shouldn't go. Secondly dogs love a crate. For a human, with our superior brains (well most of us), we would treat a crate as a cage, restricting us from everything out of the cage...er crate. To a dog however, with a brain the size (and intellect) of a tennis ball, a crate is like a bedroom filled with I-pod , DVD player (Lassie 1-17), Sky TV, magazines (play-dog, sniffies monthly etc), a Wii, Xbox & Ps3 and a four poster bed etc. Thirdly, it is an invaluable step in teaching what we big boys like to call "self control". Dogs despite being filthy creatures in the sense they will roll in god knows what, jump in stagnant ponds and eat anything with a stench, are inherently clean animals - they do not want to mess on their own patch. A crate helps them differentiate between outside for toileting and inside for not toileting. From day 1 we had very few accidents inside, and of those we did, I put full blame on the previous owners of our house who laid a green carpet evocative of grass. Even I have nearly been caught out in the past. The other thing I would recommend at an early stage is puppy training - teach them young and the principles will stay for life. A good trainer will not only teach the dog the key dog skills of heel, return, sit, lie, stay, leave, fetch + more advanced stuff if you desire, but they should also teach the owner; how to assert yourself, and given a dog is essentially a pack animal - ensuring YOU are top dog, not the other way around. We were taught to close doors in his face, make him wait until last before entering the house. Make him get up and move if you need to walk where he lies. All these ensure he knows that he is at the bottom of the pecking order. I am a firm believer that problem dogs are rare, it is problem owners that cause...well problems. At the beginning one mustn't walk a Labrador for long - their hips are still developing. I think until they are 6 months - short walks only. And only after a year old should you go on major hikes. Also - and this will come very hard to a Labrador whose small vocabulary is dominated by the word 'Fetch', it is essential to limit the 'back and forth' retrieving for the first year as the constant change in momentum can also affect bone development. Once your Lab has reached that year 1 milestone, he or she will essentially be nearing full size. Although it will be another 2 years of marginal growth before they are classified as fully grown. Actually one could argue that they never fully grow up, but that's another topic for discussion A pedigree Labrador is a medium sized dog. But from my experience they need the level of exercise associated with a larger dog. They are an incredibly enthusiastic, energetic breed who will put the Duracell bunny to shame with their desire to go on and on... and on. I would put money them wearing you out long before you could exhaust a Lab. They adore running, retrieving (the clue is in the name) and swimming. A lot of the Labs I have experienced have been cautious even timid of water for the first 6 -12 months of their life, but it will come, and once they are in it, you will begin to cherish those 'dry' days when he circumnavigated a puddle. For us, he was terrified of water until he cracked through a large ice covered puddle on the New Forest. After that he was Swimmy McSwimmy and water became his second domain. Except bathtime. Explain the logic in that. A Labrador is a perfect family pet. For us oldies, the kids, and more recently the babies. He is very loving towards all and puts up with absolutely everything. At crawling stage, the babies would be climbing all over him, pulling themselves up on him, hugging him, patting him, poking him, trying to be gentle but often failing. He put up with it all, probably secretly delighted with the attention. There isn't an aggressive bone in his body, but at the same time can be protective if encountering an antagonistic dog. The only time our Labrador ever barks is if there is someone or something at the door or walking past the property. Again this could be construed as protective. From a burglar. Or an old lady. Or a squirrel. Or a leaf. As a guard dog he may make a lot of noise, but I highly expect he could be readily disabled with a gravy bone. Overall I can't praise this breed enough. For us he is the perfect family pet with a perfect temperament. Although he can be a bit dappy at times, he also can be highly intelligent when he wants to be (usually around finding his tennis ball). And remember people; a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Dogs are not cheap, they require a LOT of work, they can be messy and smelly. They require commitment for up to 15 years of your life. And children's enthusiasm for walking etc will diminish over time, especially in the dark, cold, wet & windy weather.

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                11.11.2009 18:22

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                The best thing to sum up a lab is fun loving with a great zest for life who fit into a family.

                Ever since I was young I wanted a dog and when I moved out my partners dog came to live with us, Henrys a very sociable dog who does love company either from another dog or people. My youngest Labrador Bella, entered our lives 5 years ago and boy did she change things. We already had a German Shephard and our male Labrador but we didn't realise Bella came from working lines, this basically means shes a sleek, speedy girl who needs to use her brain to tire her out as not amount of exercise seems to (we did a 12 mile walk and she was still bombing around like no tomorrow). We have completed the good citizen scheme, bronze, silver and gold and started competing in agility about 2 years ago. She might not be as quick as a collie but she'll give them a good run for their money and enjoys barking at me the whole way around. My other Labrador Henry is 11 and a half but seems to think hes still 2, his eyes and hearing might be starting to fade and has a bit of athritus but for a dog his age hes still going strong. The key for long life in this breed is to ensure they don't put on too much weight as they are terribly greedy (they chewed through a cupboard door to get into the sack of food!!) The best thing to sum up a lab is fun loving with a great zest for life who fit into a family very well.

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                16.09.2009 17:36
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                The most popular dog pet breed, and for good reason

                Warning - this review is heavily biased! There is however nothing at all I can do about that as the owner of Lily, a one and a half year old black labrador who is my absolute pride and joy. When our faithful Welsh Springer Spaniel died about two years ago we vowed we would never get another dog as we couldn't replace her and it was too much work etc etc. It didn't last long as we are basically a doggy household and missed the presence of a canine companion just too much! So we decided on a Labrador. Their reputation as friendly, intelligent, loving, playful dogs really sets them apart among breeds - it's easy to see why they are the most popular breed for a pet in Europe and North America as they are generally so good natured and easy-going. That they are used as seeing and hearing dogs for people with sensory impairments again is an indicator of their nature - they are intelligent and reliable companions. We bought Lily from a breeder for £350. For inexperienced dog buyers - always ask to see the parents! The puppy breeding trade can be ruthless and cruel with dogs imported in horrific circumstances, and genuine breeders usually will let you see the parents. Also check for relevant documentation if you are going for a pedigree dog - Kennel Club registration and history of the dog's bloodline. So, after a deperate dash to Pets at Home for puppy essentials (we literally had five minutes until closing time) we took Lily home. She settled in incredibly quickly, playing with us and being boisterous and friendly immediately in spite of having limited contact with people before she came home with us. It hasn't all been plain sailing with Lily - the usual toilet training issues meant several puddles on the carpets but she really did learn amazingly quickly for a dog who had lived outside for 2 months. She does require a lot of walking - when she was really young she was difficult to settle and constantly wanted to be out. This drove me to tears on several occasions. Even though she was being walked three times a day it wasn't enough. I had a dissertation to write and she needed constant attention. While this was a difficult period it didn't last that long. It really is to be expected when puppies find themselves without other dogs to play with in a strange place. Lily settled after a couple of months and now is the laziest dog ever when she is in the house! Another area we have had issues was with walking on a lead. Where possible we take her somewhere she can be let off and she is good at coming when called - except for a massive football fetish which has led to some amusing incidents! However, when on the lead she pulls and after trying a harness which made little difference we discovered the canny collar which is a noseband designed to train dogs not to pull - I'd recommend this to anyone training a labrador as they are so energetic and curious without some kind of control walking them can become a massive chore! Lily suffered from separation anxiety when she was younger, and this limited our lives somewhat for a few months. This is apparently common for Labradors as they are such sociable dogs. Having tried all we could think of including leaving the T.V. and radio on to keep her company we eventually invested in a cage. I hated the idea, thinking it was cruel. However it turned out to be the best thing we have done for Lily! She absolutely loves having her own space, and we can leave her in there for a few hours and know she will be happy. It's not like we have to force her in - she lies in there through choice often and really loves it. I was dead against training her to be in the cage but it has been brilliant for us and Lily. I feel like I have done nothing but pick faults with owning a Labrador - let me make it clear that any problems we have had are far outweighed by the sheer joy of having her in our lives. Labradors are basically just excellent companions, who love your company and are always good for a laugh. The do some barmy things and are so playful that you can't help but fall in love with a Labrador! They do suffer from some health problems in later life, mainly due to their size in larger examples of the breed. However, in my experience having known Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfounlands and other large breeds Labradors are much better off and suffer much less than some other large breeds. They are expected to live on average 12-13 years, again brilliant for a large breed dog. All in all, my experience of owning a Labrador has been overwhelmingly positive. I wouldn't change a single thing about her, and as a breed I would recommend Labradors to anyone!

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                  08.07.2009 00:09
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                  labrador

                  i use to have a black labrador called bess who was in the family since i was born , she was a very friendly calm dog who was a great dog. if you are looking to buy a labrador dog you must have a spacious backgarden and living area as they do grow to be quite big, about a medium size dogs they are. you need to be willing to take them out on daily walks as they do like to keep active. my dog loved to play with toys and balls always carrying them in her mouth and she loved to play catch with the ball ( obviously not throwing back to me but loved fetching it back to me to throw it again) so ensure you have a lot of toys for them to be kept entertained. my dog was very friendly and a great family dog, the same goes for my aunties labrador. she was great around me when i was little and she was like my best friend through my younger years although my dog didnt breed if she did she would of had around 8-10 pups and my dog lived until she ws 18 years old which my mum said is quite long for that dog. we paid around £300 for my dog but they do go for alot higher prices. which can be annoying if you do not want to pay that amount for a dog but want a nice dog as you can buy from unlicensed dog breeders which i wouldnt reccomend as you do not know if they have been wormed , or if they have flees i know these can be treated easily but can be very annoying if you get flees around your home, also doing this you do not know the whole truth as if they say the dog is pedegree then it might not bee if you get it from a dodgy place, aswell as not knowing if it a cross between anything.so paying that little bit extra is always worth the while. do try and get pet insurance too as with my dog she did have a few things that happend as she got old , which old age did cause for example bad aruritus , bad eyesight and she started to not be able to control her bowls and because we couldnt afford the opperation to help this whe had to have her put down as it was not fair on her. these dogs are lovely dogs and are great if you are looking for a good family dog who will be great around children aswell as being your best friends. my dog was not agressive and did not bark all the time only when she herd nosies which she didnt not know like strange loud bangs as she did guard our house so this is proroberly why, i would reccomend a labrador to anyone my dog was the best dog in the world and was soft as a brush these dogs are great but make sure you do have time for them like ya do with any dog. thankyou

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                    28.06.2009 16:44

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                    The softest dogs ever

                    We have a Honey living with us who is the most adorable yellow Labrador who does not have a nasty bone in her body. We have always kept dogs but this is the first labrador we have owned and I wonder how we have done without one for all this time. Honey is six this year and getting a little grey around the muzzle but still has her puppy moments. She asks for very little, just regular food, a little exercise and a huge amount of love and attention. Labradors are notorious for the length of puppyhood they go through, Honey was still chewing shoes, chairs, door frames (anything made of wood) until she was well pass her second birthday and they do take devotion to get them trained. Our dog trainer used to call Honey a salad dodger as she would do anything for food and then ignore you once she knew she had eaten it all. I would recommend this breed for anyone who has young children as they love to play and do not mind being pulled around.

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                    27.02.2009 13:25
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                    A Great Pet!

                    Thinking of getting a dog but unsure which breed to go for ? well, let me tell you about the labrador retriever. *History* Labrador retrievers originate from Canada.They were originally bred as gun dogs.During the 17th century they used to swim across frozen lakes to get fishing nets for the fishermen. *Appearance* Labrador Retrievers come in three colours : Black , Golden and Chocolate. Male labradors' average weight is between 27-36kg. Females average weight is between 23-32kg.They are medium sized dogs.They have smooth coats. Labradors have 'good heads'. They have strong tales.They have tails like otters and web feet which is the reason why they're good swimmers.They were also bred to be gun dogs that can swim well. Labrador's eyes are most of the time brown or hazel. *Health* Because of their large floppy ears which trap warm moist air , labradors are prone to ear infections. Eye and knee problems are also common in labradors. Labradors tend to eat a lot hence the reason why obesity is often associated with them. Overweight labradors are prone to athritis. Labradors' life expectancy is 9-15 years. Labradors should be wormed from about the age of four weeks. *Food* Labradors are not fussy eaters and will eat anything. *Temprement* Labrador's are good natured and kind. They're intelligent and very energetic.They love to eat ,and will eat anything. They love to please their owner.They're very gentle dogs.They're very easy to train.They have a low level of aggression.Labradors make a great family pet but remember never to trust a dog with children.Labradors usually get on fine with other dogs and animals.They're not very good watch-dogs. *Exercise * They're very energetic and therefore need lots of exercise.Labradors love swimming and retrieving. *Labrador Facts* New-born puppies cannot not see or hear. When giving a dog a command say his name first e.g "Lad , Sit" *Overall* In my opinion I think Labrador's make a great pet as they're very loyal and gentle animals. Hope you've enjoyed learning about the labrador! Thanks for Reading!

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                      18.02.2009 18:02
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                      One of the most loving dogs

                      I have always grew up with dogs and the one I have now I love to pieces. She's a labrador called Summer who will soon be four, she's abosolutley gorgeous, she is the yellow colour (there are also brown and black ones) and she has the hugest brown eyes you could ever know. Theres something so human about them that you know exactly what she is thinking and what mood shes in! She's quite a tall dog as most labradors are but shes a bit skinneir then most her age as usually by then there starting to put on a bit of weight not are dog though she could eat and eat but how hyperactive she is I dont think she could ever put any weight on! When we first got her as a puppy I can remember thinkng she seemed so quiet and lazy, she was tiny (exactly like those andrex puppies non the advert) but she made no noise at all and would just sit on your lap. When she did get up and run it was rathr amusing to watch as she galloped around the garden in a way whivh reminded me of Bambi! It wasnt until we had her a few months she got her voice and barked, it made the whole family jump! Now though she's a bundle of energy terrorsing her way around our house when she's in one of her hyperactive moods running from upstairs to downstairs and back again slipping and sliding as we have wooden floors! Since she's found her voice them many years ago she knows how to use it barking for food and walks, the most funny part though is whenever someone comes in through the front door, automatically she'll pick up her blanket in her mouth and carry it to the door making the most unusual sound that of what I can only describe as a camel! She can be a naughty well more cheeky dog I suppose...Often then not she'll stand on her hind legs trying to get to food which is on the side in the kitchen swiping bowls and such with her paws. She even managed to figure out how to open the cabitnet draws in the kitchen where our bin as kept to get any remmanants of food their maybe, to stop this we ended up having to put a child lock on the door! She's also constantly eating underwear if she finds it..I know its disgusting the amount of times we've cleaned up sick to find a pair of pants we've been searching for for ages! I often wonder if theres more in her stomach! She's an incredibly loyal dog and when walking her she'll never go to far ahead, always coming back to you with whatever toy she has that she will keep dropping at your feet untill you pick it up and throw it back to her. Labradors especially our dog Summer our hard work they have an unlimitited amount of energy or at least it seems like that sometimes, and they'll be times you wish you could control them more (you proberly can if you train them but Summer doesnt listen!), but every bit of energy you put into them is worth it as at the end of the day she jumps up and lies her head on your lap and those big brown eyes look at you and she opens her mouth her tounge hanging out as if shes almost grinning and it's like she's saying 'We had a good day today didnt we?' and that is just something I couldnt do without!

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                        04.02.2009 11:03
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                        If you invest the time and love in a dog like this you will be repaid one thousandfold.

                        I'm going to split this review into two sections, the first about Labradors generally and the second about one specific Labrador, my pet Honey. (Some of you will have read a little about her in my 'Most embarassing moments' review.) Labradors were bred originally as retrieving dogs. They are soft mouthed (when they want to be!) which makes them ideal for bringing back game without damaging it. They like to work. They like to play too and in my experience of all the dog breeds, Labradors are the ones that stay like puppies the longest. They are easy to train and they can learn a huge amount of commands. They are ranked in intelligence with German Shepherds and Poodles. ie. About as bright as a dog can get! The downside of their high intelligence is that they can get bored easily and a bored Labrador is a destructive Labrador. Two friends of mine left their eight month old dog alone for the day and when they came home it had chewed the leg off a bed, a dressing table and a chest of drawers. All pine and all brand new from Ikea! (I took the dog out for a walk whilst they calmed down!) Inbreeding has created a problem with hips and they need to be checked before purchase. A few years ago I met an unusually ill tempered black Labrador and it's owner told me that it was becoming a problem, again with inbreeding. I don't know if this problem has persisted with some Black Lab's. Generally speaking Labradors are completely trustworthy with children and act as four legged nannies. They will endure any amount of prodding and poking, dressing up and mauling about from toddlers. Usually with a long suffering look on their faces. Most of them are extremely good with other breeds but will be protective of their 'pack' particularly small children. Mine used to get between the kids and other dogs as a matter of course. Not threatening the other dogs, just very there! They are bad at knowing when they have had enough to eat. In fact the concept is not even on their intellectual horizon. If they were humans they would occupy the waste bins at MacDonalds 24/7. I have never known any other animal with such a capacity for food. As a consequence of this, their incredibly appealing begging antics and soulful eyes, a lot of them end up overweight, this shortens their life spans and puts pressure on their hips which can already be a weak spot. They are water dogs and their double coat insulates them from the cold. It also insulates your carpets, furniture, bedding and clothes if you don't groom them rigorously. (and even sometimes when you do!) They need a lot of room and a lot of exercise. If you forget 'walkies' you are likely to be presented with the lead and a lot of slobbery kisses until you get the message. Labradors are experts at 'Mither power!' They are the most faithful and loving of dogs. Of all the breeds that I have met and loved, Labradors remain my favourite. ~~~*~~~ My dog, Honey. Honey was the grand-daughter of a dog I grew up with. Her Grandsire, Rusty, was owned by a neighbour and was a working dog. Rusty used to present himself at our front door at 4pm every afternoon for a jam butty. If I was very good I was allowed to take him for walks across the fields. Having Rusty around was what made me fall in love with dogs in general and Labradors in particular. Honey came to me aged eight weeks and was a bundle of loose skinned, blond furred, adoration. Rusty's owner Mr Kerr, had promised me when I was a child that he would give me a dog when I had my own house and space for one. I was visiting my Dad and Stepmum shortly after I was married and Mr Kerr arrived holding something in a bag. "Your wedding present Gill." he said, handing it over. That's all he said. In the bag, fast asleep, was Honey. That was the start of an incredible journey together. Honey was with me for five years until a mistake by a vet took her from me. In a way, Honey prepared me to be a Mum. She was certainly a very demanding baby! I learned patience as I trained her, I learned that her needs came first even when I didn't want to make the effort, she taught me so much about loyalty and forgiveness of mistakes. She was my constant companion even going to work with me. I loved her deeply and she very obviously loved me too. I'll just give a couple of little anecdotes about her. I trained her to fetch items I wanted. There were twentyfour seperate things I could send her for. I used to say "Honey, go and fetch my ciggies please." and off she would go and find where I had left them, often upstairs on the dresser. She never failed to find them. If she found them and couldn't get them, say, out of a pocket, she would come back and let me know by standing at the door and woofing gently. then she would lead me to them. Sometimes if she was feeling a bit cheeky she would get an empty packet out of the bin. She knew it was empty because she would look at me from under her brows, Princess Diana style! She had a sense of humour which I would not have believed a dog capable of if I hadn't seen her playing tricks on me. She didn't like fetching hairbrushes and would throw them down the staircase and nudge them them to where I was, using her nose. I trained her to put the kid's toys in the toy basket. If the kids were ignoring her she would drive them crazy by putting their toys away when they were still playing with them. It was so funny to watch! If we went to the shops she had to carry something home. I usually gave her a can of soup or something like that. I gave her a Frey Bentos pie to carry once and after a few yards she stopped, put it down and looked at me with a "Who do you think you're kidding?" look on her face. She got photographed a lot and once the local paper did an article on her. She was a one off! When our first child was born, Honey used to station herself outside his bedroom or under the pram. If Mark woke, Honey would come and tell us. If we didn't go to him immediately Honey would whine and get anxious. I waited once to see what would happen if I just stayed put. Honey took my wrist in her mouth and gently but very firmly started to pull me to the pram. I got the message! My cat Percy used to rule the roost, occasionally he battered Honey. Honey never fought back even though she could have made mincemeat of him. However, Honey got her own back. One day Percy was asleep in front of the fire and Honey came in, looked at us, walked up to Percy very quietly, turned around and plonked her bum down on the poor unsuspecting cat. I'll swear she was grinning all over her face. The cat stalked out furiously and Honey lay down in her place. I wish I had a video of it. We cried laughing! Once in a local cafe (where we had staff meetings) Honey was asleep under the table. (or so I thought!) There was a tap on my shoulder and a man was stood behind me looking a bit baffled. "Excuse me," he said."I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but I think your doggy just stole my cigarettes. They were in front of me and the next minute they had gone and the dog is the only thing that's been near me!" The poor man was terribly embarrassed to be making such a seemingly mad accusation. Honey chose that moment to drop a packet of Benson and Hedges onto my lap. She looked very pleased with herself! After that, the owner of the cafe used to 'borrow' Honey to play tricks on his new customers whilst the regulars looked on with glee! (As pets and cigarettes are not allowed in cafes any longer it's not a thing that could happen now!) I was delighted to hear that a few months after this event, the man who had had his ciggies pinched went out and bought himself a Labrador. Anyway, that's enough for now about Honey. They were just a few tales of hundreds I could tell about her. I was lucky to have such an extraordinary animal. Thank you for letting me reminisce.

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                          27.01.2009 16:30
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                          If you are looking for a family dog you probably wont get a better breed

                          Unfortunately my pet Labrador max recently passed away aged 11 the grief was almost like loosing a family member which is one thing off putting about getting another. Would I get another lab? Absolutely. I have had dogs all my life and without a doubt the best tempered, most loving of them was my lab. Labs are widely known to be intelligent dogs and I definitely found this the case. Mine was sometimes too clever when it comes to opening doors and stealing food which brings me on to my next point. Labs are probably the greediest breed of dog I have ever owned, they will eat anything from half defrosted fish to sheep poo they are disgusting in that respect. This can lead them to gain a lot of weight if you are not careful and this can damage their health, but just try looking at their begging face and saying no. Labs are obviously bred to be work dogs and love the outdoors, mine loved the hills and was a great hill walking companion, but they can also be incredibly lazy if you let them. They are fantastic with kids as they do not flinch even when kids annoy them by poking and prodding them. My lab was very much a people person who just loved attention, sometimes to a fault, especially when you are getting fed up with stroking him. He didn't always get on with other dogs but that manifested itself in him just avoiding them and not playing, rather than aggression. In true cartoon fashion he also despised cats chasing them out the garden whenever he saw one. Overall labs make a great family pet but care should probably be taken if you already have a pet.

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                            22.01.2009 20:47
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                            A dog for everyone

                            Where to start? Loyal, Loving, Playfull, Entertaining, Cuddly, Barmy .... All things you can say about Labs. I have two black Labradors, one 7 and the other one 8 years old. I say I have, my parents have and I spent their first 4 or 5 years with them and still consider them my pets too. I see them at least once a month despite being 100 miles away from my home now. The oldest of the dogs we got after our springer spaniel died. He was a lovely puppy when we saw him. The people we got him from had a massive house and their female lab, also black had just had puppies, well 8 weeks previously. We picked out Ben, because he was the one that seemed to be into everything and the liveliest of the 8 or so puppies left there. We went into the owners beautiful kitchen where the dogs rarely go and within minutes Ben had wee'd under the table and put his head in the ladies cup of tea and spilt it all over the place! But he was so cute we just had to keep him and we did and took him home that day. It's amazing how quickly these pups grow despite taking 18months to get to full size! For the first 2-4 weeks he couldn't go out for a walk because he needed to have his booster injections, and they have to have them every year afterwards as well as the kennel cough medicine if they are likely to need kennel stays. These are usually around the £100 mark although some pet insurance include this in their package. Toilet training was so easy with both these dogs. We did the usual newspaper on the floor thing where they would use that to go on and within days or a week or so they were just using the garden and have rarely had any accidents since which is a great trait in any dog. Since day one Ben has been the biggest attention seeker I have ever known. He constantly wants you full attention and if you don't give him it, as a puppy he would steal things. Paper out of the bin, teddy bears, anything he could get his teeth around and he would flaunt them in front of you just far enough away that he could snatch them back when you tried to grab them. He still does it now sometimes but he tends to just feel sorry for himself when you don't fuss him. This actually became so much of a problem during the first year someone recommended we got him a friend and this is when we got Bruno a year later. A lot of people don't realise there are two different types of black lab, a long haired and shorter haired one. Now the long haired isn't massively long and is probably the most common one, which is what Ben is, but Bruno has the shorter more coarse hair. Bruno was the last puppy of the litter to go. We went to see him and he was being kept, with his Brother who the owners were going to keep, in a chicken coup type box. It was stuffed full of hay to keep them nice and warm and when the bloke opened the box out rolled the fattest little puppy you have ever seen. He was the epitome of the term puppy fat and seemed to be cross eyed but he looked totally adorable. Ironically now he is the slimmer of the two dogs. My dad was very concerned how the two dogs would get on together, and worried they would fight but they immediately took to each other and if you saw them now they are the two parts of a wonderful friendship. They may not be blood related but they are definitely brothers. They are regularly seen lying together usually with Bruno's head resting on Bens back. They play together all the time whether at home or out on a walk. Labradors just love company whether it be human or other labs. I have spent an awful lot of time with these dogs because during the first few years of their lives I was very ill and was with them day and night. They always seem to know when there's something wrong, even now you get their full attention when you're ill or upset. They have an amazing ability to know exactly when you're coming home as well. When my dad is out for example, they will often start waiting by the door or window and I will say 'They'll be back in 20 minutes' and more often than not they are back in the time it takes them to travel home. This is the same for any of us when we are out. They just seem to know when you leave to come home. Ben and Bruno are very different dogs. I have already spoken about how Ben likes to tease you to get attention, whereas Bruno is more forthright and will simply climb onto you or cry until you let him jump onto the sofa for instance. They both love fuss, and they both get jealous when the other one is getting the fuss which can be frustrating because they often bark when they are jealous. I think this comes down to the loyalty labs have. They will do anything for their owners to make them happy. If you tell Bruno off for instance he so obviously feels bad. He will tilt his head and offer you his paw and give a performance that means you would have to be extremely mean not to forgive him afterwards. And he genuinely is sorry. I always get a lovely welcome when I go up with them climbing all over me with tails wagging and my face getting licked to dripping point. The Labrador temperament is fantastic and they are great around all but the smallest children. Ben and Bruno have never growled or turned their lips up at anyone or anything despite Bruno's hunting instinct which means he chases anything that moves. This I have found is the same with nearly all labs and generally the only time labs will growl or snap are if they are really scared and even then it's not vicious it's a warning. Labradors are retrievers and Bruno is a prime example of one. When he does catch something, he doesn't bite it hard, he simply holds it in his mouth just tight enough for it not to escape and generally when you tell him to drop it he will straight away. Ben never really got this idea so generally if you throw a ball for him he will chase it and then let you go and collect it! They just love to play and although a bit boisterous let you be rough with them as well which helps with children. They love to wrestle with you especially Bruno who's aim is to sit on your face which apparently is a sign of dominance although I do try and avoid this and definitely don't do it back! Our labs eat a mix of dry food and tinned meat and are usually fed just once a day. Getting the food right with labs is very important because they do have a tendency to put on weight and Ben and Bruno are no exception so we have to be very careful to feed them the right amount and not give them too many treats. They tend to have their main meal once a day and a denture stick to keep their teeth clean and little else. Don't be fooled by thinking they will stop eating when they are full because labs will not and you will end up with a very fat dog especially if they've had the snip! Health wise we have had a few problems with the dogs which seem to be common problems with the breed and these are cysts. Both dogs have been on a number of occasions to have fatty lumps removed from all over their body and are still developing them now. We have been told this is very common but it's always upsetting when they have to be put to sleep and have them removed. Bruno has always had a displaced hip which means from a young age he's had arthritic problems with it. We have to carefully regulate things like throwing the ball for him which he loves and other things where he can make it soar. He has painkillers and anti-inflammatories on a regular basis to help control this but we have been warned that with age it will get worse. These problems and rising vets costs means you shouldn't have any dog without pet insurance and labs are no difference. They have saved us thousands of pounds over the years with their problems and we wouldn't be without it. The boys are now middle aged with labs tending to live 12-14 years but they're showing little sign of aging except for a small amount of grey chin hair. They probably sleep a bit more and get a bit stiff after a long walk but they still love their exercise and play as well as all their fuss and attention. As they get older they seem to be even more stuck in their routine. They have a very structured day and when this is changed they do find it hard to cope. When they are due a walk they will make sure you know with Bruno climbing onto your lap and Ben barking at you, and when it's time for bed Bruno will sit at the bottom of the stairs until you go up with him. They just always seem to be able to communicate with you and tell you what they want. I've spoken about the different lengths of hair with labs, but there are also 3 different colours, Black labs, Yellow labs and the rarest of the breed, Chocolate labs. Generally labs weigh 30-35kgs depending on whether they are male or female, females being slightly smaller, so they are not small dogs but are very easy to look after. They do need a walk every day but don't usually need to be walked for mile upon mile. If they can get off the lead they will wear themselves out quite quickly all on their own. They don't like being left on their own for too long because of their sociable nature although on the occasions they have to be left they are always well behaved. All in all I think labs whatever the colour are the ideal pet and certainly the ideal dog and I would recommend them to absolutely anyone! I will be taking mine to the beach this weekend where they can run to their hearts content which is what they like doing best of all. Seeing them happy makes these little trips extra special.....

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