All about your Labrador Retriever

Labradors are friendly, intelligent and energetic, making fantastic family pets. Discover this kind and trusting breed, and get tips on a range of topics from exercise, grooming and behaviour, to what you can do to keep your dog healthy and happy.

    Breed information & advice

    One of the most popular gundogs and family pets, the Labrador makes a great companion thanks to his easy-going and gentle manner. As a dog of many talents, Labs are often also used in therapy, to guide the blind and to help the police.

    • The Labrador is respectful and affectionate, but also hard-working
    • His two-layered coat needs brushing regularly, particularly when he’s shedding
    • Typically he will weigh between 25kg and 36kg, when fully grown
    • A healthy Labrador can live between 10 and 12 years

    Typical size of a Labrador: Medium: 53cm-60cm

        Recommended exercise & nutrition

        The Labrador is a working dog with his history rooted in helping the local fishermen off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Because of this, your dog will be active, needing a decent amount of exercise, and won’t be happy with simply being let out in the garden. You can train a Labrador puppy as soon as you take him home, and once older, he will love you for daily walks and regular ball games to burn off energy.

        As far as your dog’s diet is concerned, feeding across two meals is recommended, although the quantity may vary according to the food type and his size and age. He doesn’t necessarily need a special diet; it just needs to be of good quality, and always read the guidance on the packet.

          More than two hours of exercise per day

          An energetic breed, a Labrador has a strong hunting instinct and while he’s happy just roaming about, swimming and playing ‘fetch’ are his favourite activities.

              Common health problems & illnesses

              Labradors need all of the usual vaccinations, flea and tick control, and dental checks to go on to lead a healthy life, but it’s worth being aware of some of the more specific ailments which can affect this breed, so you can look out for any symptoms.

                1. Degenerative Joint Disease

                Degenerative joint disease (DJD), or osteoarthritis, is one of the more common conditions affecting Labradors. This is the progressive deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the dog’s joints, and older dogs are thought to be at increased risk. You can be alerted to DJD if your dog shows decreased activity or occasional lameness. Symptoms can be controlled with medical treatment, or surgery may slow the disease down.

                  2. Gastroenteritis

                  Gastroenteritis involves an infection of the gut and may be caused by things like eating something inappropriate or infectious diseases. Keep a close eye on your dog – if he begins to vomit, has diarrhoea or is losing weight, your vet can help to determine the reason for this. There are various non-surgical treatments for gastroenteritis, depending on its cause.

                    3. Lipomas and growths

                    As you’re grooming your Labrador, check him for lumps and growths that you haven’t noticed before. Lipomas are benign fat deposits, or fatty tumours. Commonly found in the chest, abdomen, legs or armpits, these lumps aren’t normally painful and they don’t usually pose a serious threat. However, if they’re limiting your dog’s movement or are irritating him, your vet will probably recommend surgery to remove them.

                      4. Otitis Externa

                      Otitis externa, an inflammation of the ear canal, can be brought on by allergies or water or hair in the ears, among other things. If your pet is scratching his ears more than normal, or if you notice swelling or redness in the external parts of the ear canal, speak with your vet, who may recommend topical therapy and a deep clean of the ears.

                        5. Cruciate ligament injury

                        The cruciate ligament is found in the knee joint - there are actually two in each knee. If it's ruptured, while not life-threatening, it can be very painful, leading to lameness, swelling and arthritis of the joint. Cruciate ligament damage can be caused by a range of underlying factors, such as the shape of the bones around the joint, your dogs' breed, and weight. It can also be caused by a traumatic event. There are many ways to manage affected joints so its best to visit your vet to discuss the problem at the earliest opportunity to minimize ongoing issues.

                            Dog name popularity

                            If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Labrador, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Bank Pet Insurance for inspiration.

                              1 Millie
                              2 Ruby
                              3 Charlie
                              4 Skye
                              5 Murphy

                              Average treatment costs

                              Wondering whether pet insurance for your Labrador is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance customers in 2019, and the average cost of treatment.

                                Top five conditions and average costs

                                Top five conditions and average costs

                                Arthritis / Degenerative Joint Disease




                                        Epilepsy / fitting / seizure


                                            Cruciate rupture


                                                Skin allergy


                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/09/19 to 31/08/20.

                                                    Considering Labrador insurance?

                                                    We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Bank Pet Insurance.

                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

                                                    Grooming advice

                                                    The time you spend grooming your dog is also valuable bonding time – it should be an enjoyable experience for both of you. As a short-haired breed, Labradors are not high-maintenance, although you’ll need to brush your dog’s coat regularly when he’s moulting (twice a year, in spring and autumn) and switches his coat. Brushing will also keep dirt and dust out of his hair and keep him looking healthy and glossy.

                                                    Bathing isn’t needed often, as Labradors’ coats contain natural oils that provide waterproofing and regular bathing would strip these. Three or four times a year will suffice, unless he’s particularly dirty following a long walk.

                                                    Keep an eye on your dog’s nails – trimming them once or twice a month – and regularly check his ears to keep them as clean as possible and free from water build-up and infections.

                                                      Fun & interesting facts

                                                      • In the 2008 film Marley and Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, a total of 22 different Labradors were used to portray Marley.
                                                      • Your Labrador will make a great workout buddy. He’s known for his high energy levels, so take him out on your morning run and he’ll put you through your paces.
                                                      • This breed holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records – 700 Labradors went on a 5km stroll in Poland in 2010 and it was named as the largest single-breed dog walk.
                                                      • The name might suggest it, but this breed doesn’t actually come from Labrador. First bred in the 1700s on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, the Labrador was known as the St John’s dog, after the capital city.
                                                      • Labradors love being in water and are strong swimmers thanks to their webbed toes and otter-like tail, which acts like a rudder and helps to direct them.

                                                      Important information

                                                      Key information

                                                      The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

                                                      Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                      All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

                                                        What is vetfone?

                                                        Vetfone™ is a 24/7 unlimited, free telephone or video call service that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

                                                        As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick telephone call or video call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you a trip to the vet.

                                                        Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                          Discover more breeds

                                                          Browse our other cat and dog guides to learn about some of the UK’s most popular breeds.