First imported in the 19th-century from Canada, the Labrador Retriever is widely considered one of the most popular breeds in the world.
The UK alone registered 44,311 individuals as of 2022, and with their playful and intelligent nature, it's no wonder they regularly rank so highly when it comes to choosing a family pet.
But as with any breed, there are health considerations new owners should take into account. These, in combination with breeding, can play a key part in the lifespan of your Labrador.
Labrador development: Key life stages
When it comes to choosing your Labrador puppy, there are certain questions you can ask the breeder. A responsible breeder will spend time talking to you about the puppy in question, explaining their needs and temperament clearly. They will also have paperwork and vaccination records, and they will have carried out the necessary health testing, for hip and elbow scores, eye tests, PRA scores and dwarfism.
As newborns, Labrador puppies can't see or hear and are totally dependent on their mother. At around 2 weeks, they will start interacting with their surroundings. At four weeks, the key socialisation period begins. By 8 weeks old, they should be weaned, and can leave their mother to join their new family.
You will typically be able to bring your puppy home between 8 to 12 weeks. Their training can begin once they settle in to their new surroundings.
Your Labrador will become an adult between 1-2 years of age. The breed requires an active lifestyle, with lots of physical and mental stimulation.
Reaching their senior years at around 7, Labradors will need regular check-ups to ensure they aren't suffering from joint problems.
What is the lifespan of the Labrador?
The lifespan of your Labrador will depend on genetic health and daily care. The average Labrador lifespan is between 10-14 years. Yellow and black Labs are generally believed to live longer than Chocolate Labs.
How long do female Labradors live compared to males?
The lifespan of a Labrador will depend more on their quality of life and any specific health issues, than whether or not they are female or male.
Spaying female dogs can reduce the risk of mammary tumours, and an infection of the uterus (pyometra), that in severe cases can be fatal.
How long do yellow Labradors live?
According to a recent study of 33,000 individuals in the UK, the average life expectancy of the breed is 12.1 years for yellow and black Labs, who are believed to have a slightly longer lifespan than chocolate Labradors.
How long do chocolate Labradors live?
Chocolate Labradors are believed to have a shorter lifespan, at around 10.7 years. The coat colour is a recessive trait, meaning that breeders will look for Labradors carrying the chocolate gene.
This narrows the gene pool over time, which can lead to a higher probability of ear and skin problems.
Do Lab mixes typically live longer?
Cross breeding often limits the possibility of pre-existing inherited diseases being passed along, which means that Lab mixes can have a longer life expectancy than that of pedigree Labradors.
What do Labradors usually die from?
The most common disorders known to affect Labradors are ear and joint conditions, such as elbow or hip dysplasia and arthritis.
The breed is also known to be prone to obesity, so a rich, balanced diet is important to help maintain a healthy weight over time.
The most common causes of death, regardless of coat colour, are musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.
How old was the world's oldest Labrador?
While experts can give an indication of how long Labradors live for, there are exceptions to every rule. The longest lived Labrador was Adjutant, who lived to the remarkable age of 27 years and 3 months!
With a birth certificate validated by the Guiness World Records, this golden oldie lived from 1936-1963, at the Revesby Estate in England.
If you're lucky enough to share your life with a Labrador, regular check ups and a balanced diet will help ensure they live a long and happy life with you... and perhaps even beat Adjutant's record.