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Dog Breed Edit | The Pros and Not so Pros of Owning a Labrador Retriever

by Karen Armitage

One of the nation’s favourites, the Labrador is always in the top 3 of the most popular breeds and for many years was at the number 1 spot. Labradors are smart, patient, loyal, and they make amazing family pets. They’re known for their love of playing, trainability and their endless appetite.

Self-confessed Labrador lover and Burns nutrition guru, Karen, explores the highs and not so lows of owning a loving Labrador.

Why Do We Love Labradors?

The popular Andrex  puppy seems to have a lot going for it. There are lots of reasons to love labs, but the most common reasons for their popularity is probably because they’re:

1. Cute and cuddly, which is why their pups are valued in the advertising industry.
2. Strong and agile and from a working background, so they make great walking companions.
3. Intelligent with a good temperament, easy to train, most popular assistance dogs
4. Loyal, trusting and gentle, which makes them wonderful with children and other pets.

What’s Not to Love About Labradors?

Pobody’s nerfect, as the saying goes. Labradors are definitely one of the most popular dog breeds for lots of reasons, which is why a lot of owners don’t expect the challenges that can arise from owning a lab. Having had two Labradors as family members, I am aware of the challenges as well as the joy they bring with them.

What Are the Cons of Owning a Labrador?

1. Persistent moulting
2. Greed
3. Obesity
4. Stiff joints

Moulting

Although Labradors are known as prolific shedders, leaving a carpet of hair around the house all year round is not normal. Dogs which shed hair should have one or perhaps two moults per year, usually in the Spring, and should only last for a couple of weeks.

If your Labrador is shedding constantly it’s time to look at diet. An appropriate diet can lead to a build-up of waste toxins in the body. The body attempts to eliminate these toxins through the different organ systems including the skin and coat, leading to hair shedding and quite often itchy, dry, flaky skin.

Feeding a high-quality diet which is easily digested, in the correct quantity will prevent this waste from accumulating in the system. The coat should be wonderfully soft and glossy, a joy to cuddle up to with NO greasy residue or unpleasant odour.

Greed

Labradors are known for being extra greedy! They have a gene mutation where-by a part of the POMC gene is missing. This gene plays a part in appetite and helps regulate fat storage. Being predisposed to greed, they tend to eat all manner of inappropriate things and can often get an upset tummy.

A weight control diet which is higher in fibre may help to keep hunger at bay for longer. Feeding vegetables also helps them feel full. Porridge oats cooked in water will help to satiate even the hungriest hound. Being greedy can easily lead to:

Obesity

Diet is key: Feeding a high-quality lower protein and low-fat diet will help keep that waistline nice and trim.

I know how hard it is to ignore those big brown eyes when they look lovingly at you, especially at mealtimes, but ignore them we must for the sake of their health and wellbeing. Being intelligent creatures, they soon learn how to train us to give into them. My Labradors, Whizzy and Poppy were so greedy they were just as happy with a healthy snack of vegetables or food out of their daily allowance as a high fat treat.

For the portly pooch, feeding a weight control diet, in an amount for their DESIRED weight will help to shed those extra pounds. Of course, we know that being obese has a huge impact on their heart, joints, kidneys and can lead to diabetes.

Stiff Joints

Labs are predisposed to joint issues such as elbow and hip dysplasia and later in life, osteoarthritis.

Whizzy’s hips were very stiff from a young age but we kept her nice and lean whereby we could just see the outline of her last 2-3 ribs. We also kept her mobile, walking her twice daily which we are certain helped her reach the ripe old age of 16. It was only in her last 6 – 9 months or so that we had to limit her exercise.

We often forget that Labs were bred as working dogs, their ancestors were used for fishing in Newfoundland. They love swimming and retrieving, a daily walk somewhere off lead will help to keep them trim and healthy.

If physical exercise is restricted, keeping them stimulated mentally by using feeding puzzles and games, playing hide and see, etc will also help to burn calories.

Key Takeaways:

• Correct diet and exercise will help to keep our Labradors nice and lean.
• Moulting will be controlled along with any other skin issues.
• Our Labs will live longer, happier and healthy lives.

by Karen Armitage
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