Labrador Retriever: A Canine Closer Look

Juliet Farmer

Labrador RetrieverWhen I first considered adopting a dog, it seems like everywhere I looked, there were Labrador retrievers.

My friends had one. My neighbors did, too. And don't even get me started about how many I saw when I was out on my walks (A LOT!).

It's no wonder the Labrador retriever canine breed is so popular, because they are some of the sweetest dogs I've ever met.

Recently I contacted Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue to find out more about these cute canines.

Petra House, area coordinator for CCLRR-Fresno Chapter, shared her insights about the Labrador retriever canine breed.
Why Labrador retrievers?

Growing up, we always had a mutt at home. My father loved dogs and our house wasn’t a home without one or two. That love of dogs has never left me and throughout my life I’ve always had one or two, okay maybe three.

I began volunteering for various animal rescue organizations after moving to the Central Valley of California several years ago. My efforts with the Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue developed because the group was very small and needed a lot of help. I started in transport, to adoption events, then fostering, and now I’m the Area Coordinator.

I’ve learned that Labradors are wonderful companion dogs and want nothing more than to be a part of one's family. Labradors come in three colors -- yellow, black, and chocolate. Because the Labrador loves to please, they excel as guide dogs for the blind, search-and-rescue dogs, and narcotics detection dogs for law enforcement. Labradors are outgoing and devoted family dogs and most of them love water. What’s not to love about Labs?

What is the adoption process like?

We have an adoption application with contract that is filled out by a potential adopter. We then schedule a home visit with the family.  We mainly look at perimeter fencing and that the dog would be secure when outside. If they have a pool, we explain pool safety for dogs. We try to match the energy level of the dog with the family.  

Initial adoption cost(s)?

Adult dogs are $250, Senior dogs $100 and puppies $350. We often pull the sick, abused, wounded, and senior Labs that do not have much of a chance of being adopted. The adoption fee includes medical needs that the dog may have. All adoptees are spayed/neutered, microchiped, have all vaccinations including rabies, have been heart worm tested, and have had a Veterinarian wellness examination.

What type of household/family is best for a Labrador retriever (are they good with small kids, in apartments, need lots of space, good with cats, etc.)?

Labradors are one of the best dogs for children of most ages. Labradors are kindly, good-natured, and take most things in stride. They are terrific for a family -- given enough vigorous exercise, supervision, and training. Depending upon the dogs temperament, many do live in homes with cats as friends. They can do well in smaller yards or apartments, but again, given the proper amount of exercise and stimulation both physically and mentally. Just a couple of short walks around the block is not nearly enough.

How many Labrador retrievers has your group you rescued to date? How many have you rescued to date?

In 2009 the organization as a whole (our main headquarters is in the Sacramento/Stockton area) placed over 450 Labs. About 40 were local in the Fresno area.

When did you start?

I’ve been involved with CCLRR for about 2 1/2 years now.

Are there any health issues the breed is known for (hip dysplasia, tooth decay, etc.)?

Obesity is the cause of many Labrador health problems and can be avoided by feeding a healthy diet and allowing plenty of regular exercise. Stomach problems among Labs is gastric torsion or bloat, another reason to feed quality food, quantity conscious. Although Labs are generally healthy, as a breed they are susceptible to a few genetic health problems like hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and other eye problems, and ear infections.

Assuming you have a Lab (one or more), tell me about them (ages, personality, names, etc.).  

We have a 13-year-old lab mix boy Max, rescued from a shelter in San Jose. He’s grumpy, but still gets his way with all our new fosters. Kona is a 7-year-old mutt from the Fresno shelter. Our Lab Bebe is one of our first fosters with a rather tragic beginning. Nonetheless, Bebe loves everybody and everything. She is our “new foster dog” greeter and has a calming effect on every new dog that comes to our home.

Any other pets in your personal pack?

Two stray cats that we care for and three donkeys -- also rescued.

Anything else you’d care to add about Labrador retrievers?

Labrador retrievers do not flourish being outside only dogs. Being one of the most popular dogs in America has led them to being over bred by some unscrupulous backyard breeders, who do not usually care for the welfare of the animals, nor proper breeding practices. 

Labrador retrievers are considered puppies for quite some time because they can be high energy dogs for several years. This high energy with no exercise, training and not being altered, often leads to destructive behavior. The cute puppy ends up in the backyard turning into a destructive adult dog that either ends up on the street or being surrendered to the pound. Labradors need obedience training and balance in there lives.

Although we don’t get a high number of puppies in the Fresno area, we are extremely careful to place them in a home with experience and willingness to teach and spend time with a puppy. We love it when people consider senior or adult Labs.

People still approach me and ask, “Do Labs really need rescuing?” I give them a resounding "Yes!" and then I explain why.


Readers, what do you like most about Labs?

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