Labrador Retrievers: What You Need To Know

Labrador Retrievers: What You Need To Know


One of the most popular dog breeds in the world, the Labrador Retriever was originally a hunting companion used to retrieve fallen waterfowl. Even before that, as the breed was being developed on the island of Newfoundland, the St. John’s Water Dog (believed to be a direct ancestor of the modern Labrador Retriever) was used to retrieve fish and to haul in fishing nets, swimming strongly in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Still used by hunters in the field today, these dogs have become popular as family companions as well as being used as guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs for those with disabilities.

Also commonly used for work in law enforcement as contraband detection or as search and rescue dogs, Labrador Retrievers continue to prove themselves to be good natured, steady and reliable canine partners.

Labs Come in Three Colours - but not Golden!

There are three accepted colour variations of the Labrador Retriever breed type:




Though you may hear people refer to ‘
Golden Labs’, the correct term is ‘Yellow Lab’. Golden is reserved for another popular breed, the Golden Retriever.

Three Labrador Retrievers black chocolate and yellow in colour

Field vs Conformation Types

As with many of the sporting breeds, there are also a couple of subtypes that have been bred for field work or for the show ring where conformation is key.

All Labrador varieties have short, water resistant double coats which they shed, usually twice each year.

Why Dogs Shed And What You Could Do About It

Field bloodlines tend to be a bit leggier with slightly finer heads and noses but conformation or show dogs are a bit shorter and stouter with blockier heads.

The show types tend to have calmer temperaments.

 Six Labrador Retrievers in alternating colours looking at the camera

Australian Labrador Retriever Clubs

There are Labrador Retriever clubs all around the world that specialise in education, breed information and show events for the Labrador so if you’re interested in learning more reach out to one.


Here is a list of Labrador Retriever Clubs around Australia:

The Labrador Retriever Club Of Queensland Inc

The Labrador Retriever Club Of NSW Inc

Labrador Retriever Club Of Victoria Inc

Labrador Retriever Club Of South Australia Inc

We’re pretty inclusive here, but we weren’t able to easily locate website information for Northern Territory or Western Australian clubs. If anyone out there has some details they're able to share, we’d love to include them in this article. Just give us a shout.

Labs Are Family Dogs

Kind, gentle dogs, Labrador retrievers make wonderful family pets and are generally patient and affectionate with children.

Friendly, intelligent and eager to please, labs are easy to train and do well in the obedience ring as well as at agility.

Loyal and dependable, you’ll often see Labs working in harness at the side of a blind handler or involved with search and rescue missions.


young girl in pink shirt sitting on floor petting her yellow labrador retriever

Health Concerns

Health-wise, like with other large dog breeds, owners need to keep an eye out for potential health problems like elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia or possibly stomach torsion (or bloat).

Labs love their food and have a tendency to pack on extra pounds. Diet can play a role in mediating many potential health issues. Rawmate’s range of individually tailored, custom raw pet dinners takes into consideration factors like a dog’s ideal weight, activity level and breed.

Because of a Lab’s love of all things tasty, it’s best to limit treat training and instead use praise as your primary reward.

As people dogs, Labs respond well to lots of love and attention and it’s a good idea to be very careful with how many extra calories you introduce into your dog’s feeding regimen in the form of training treats.

High Energy Dogs Need Regular Exercise

Perhaps not the best choice for apartment dwellers, Labs are high energy, playful dogs that need regular exercise, at least 30-60 minutes each day.

As the name suggests, a Labrador Retriever is always up for a game of fetch and will tirelessly chase after a tennis ball for as long as you are willing to keep throwing one!

Keep in mind that these dogs have a strong retrieval instinct and can suffer from heat exhaustion, muscle fatigue and joint problems if you overdo it. Keep a close eye on your dog’s respiration rates and be sensible when it comes to excessive exercise on hot days.

Fortunately, Labs generally enjoy the water, so tossing a stick into the water can be a great way to allow your dog to exercise (swimming is terrific as it also minimises pounding on the joints) while staying cool.

Because of their waterfowl retrieval history, Labs like to have something in their mouths. That genetic history when combined with a bored dog not getting enough exercise can lead to unwanted chewing behaviour. This same trait can make it easy to teach your Lab to bring in the morning paper or carry his own ball to the local park. Most Labs appreciate having a variety of toys to carry around the house.


young male Labrador Retriever in the water on the beach

A Perfect Breed for Visiting Seniors

If you have a Lab and are interested in volunteering, the sweet dispositions of these gentle dogs make them excellent choices for therapy dogs at senior care homes and hospitals. Agencies operate in many communities that provide personality testing for suitability (you don’t want your dog to be prone to stress when visiting new people and you certainly don’t want an aggressive or nervous dog snapping at someone). These agencies will often also provide some sort of badge or accreditation for both dog and handler and facilitate bookings with local institutions where visits from friendly dogs are encouraged and supported.

Labrador FAQ

Q: Are Labradors Aggressive?

A: Labradors are NOT known to be an aggressive breed. The Labrador Retriever is gentle, and family loving. Teething puppies mouth as most puppies do, but protection or man-eating dog a Lab is not. 

Q: Is a Labrador Retriever a good family dog?

A: Labradors are amazing family dogs. Gentle natured, friendly, loyal and loving. A Labrador puppy raised well will be a trusted companion for their lifetime. 

Q: Are Labrador Retrievers easy to train? 

A: The American Kennel Club (AKC) acknowledge the Labrador Retriever as the most popular breed of dog in the United States. Despite being known as a "high energy puppy" Labradors are great learners who love to serve.

Welcome to My Den!

The one job that Labrador Retrievers are totally unsuited for is being a guard dog. Generally, their first thought when a new person shows up at the door is, “Hi, new friend!!” While that trait is charming when it comes to having an easy-going dog around, it’s not so helpful if you are hoping your dog will protect the family jewels!

Young Yellow Labrador Retriever Puppy Dog laying on back in a basket with pink roses

Let’s Meet Your Pup!

Do you have a great photo of your Lab enjoying life? We’d love to see it. Post on Instagram and use the hashtag #rawmatelab so we don’t miss out.

If you have any questions about how a Rawmate natural raw food diet can help your Lab stay fit and healthy, let us know. We’re always happy to chat with pack mates about the best food options for our beloved pups!

Are you owned by a Labrador Retriever?

Matt Joseph

Staff writer

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