The “Down Low” about Black Labs

Black Labs are originally from Newfoundland.  They were bred to work alongside fisherman, helping to pull in fishing nets, so a fun day for a Black Lab is a day spent in water. And they are the most popular breed of dog in America because:

  • they are outgoing
  • eager to please
  • adaptable
  • gentle
  • intelligent
  • great family dogs that are active and love kids

Black Lab are generally not considered adult dogs until age three, when they start to settle down. Black Labs are considedred a large breed dog and can weigh between 50 and 80 pounds so they need:

  • lots of exercise
  • lots of space
  • lots of training

We will provide tips and techniques for training so you can enjoy being both indoors and outdoors with your dog.

And Black Labs love to eat and will eat just about anything.  We thought the cooling chicken was safe in a covered roaster in the kitchen sink.  We came home to find an empty roaster and a grease spot on the floor! It’s important to feed a Black Lab good food, which will support strong bones and a healthy coat.  We will have recommendations for dog food depending on the needs of your dog and your budget.

Black Labs have short, thick fur and shed constantly in temperate climates.  They need:

  • regular grooming every 3-4 months to keep their nails trimmed, ears cleaned and skin healthy
  • weekly brushing to keep the dog’s coat shiny and water resistant

Black Labs love to play and chew on things.  Since they have a lot of energy, they will play for long periods of time.  We will have suggestions on toys so your dog can play with you as well as staying occupied while you are gone or need to get chores done around the house.

Black Lab Puppy or Black Lab Rescue

It’s a hard choice to make, but an important question.  The choice is yours.  In this post we will explore the pros and cons of getting a Black Lab puppy or an adult Black Lab.  Whichever choice you make, it is a personal one that will fit you and your family best.

Picking your own Black Lab puppy can be a wonderful experience; meeting lots puppies and finding the one that has the best personality for you.  With a puppy you must have the time to housebreak your new Black Lab and train him, or rather, you get trained!  You can take your new puppy to a pet store, such as Petsmart, or find a private trainer.  Either way, make sure you check the creditials of the trainer.  And it is important that you continue the training at home.   Black Lab puppies have lots of energy and need a lot of attention.  They reach physical maturity in a year, but don’t emotionally mature, meaning settle down, for another two years. They will want a lot of attention, a lot of playtime and a lot of things to chew on.  Having toys available with save your shoes and your sanity.  It is also imporant to have a kennel.  That sounds cruel, but it is not.  Having a kennel that is the right size for your Black Lab puppy with help with house training and security.  The kennel becomes the puppy’s “room”, a safe place to sleep and hang out.  Also your Black Lab will not mess in his kennel, so housebreaking him becomes easier.

Getting a rescue Black Lab comes with its own set of issues.  We got Maverick from the Humane Society.  I saw him on a youTube video and knew he was what I wanted.  I didn’t want to have to housebreak a puppy and I wanted a dog that was partically trained.  But Maverick has had it tough.  We are his third home, so even three years later, we still deal with some insecurity issues.  He knows what it means when we are packing the car for a trip, even a day trip, and will try to jump in with us.  He was yelled at in his previous homes, so anytime he hears a loud voice (a common occurence with a teen in the house) he will hide in his kennel or, if the door is open, he will push the screen door open and run outside.  And Maverick will refuse to come back in and often needs a “bribe” (a treat) to get him to come into the house.  Sometimes rescue Black Labs will have had problems with other dogs.  Maverick has been bitten several times and does not like big dogs, but he does like small dogs.  That combination makes the dog park out of the question and leash training for walks important.  Since Black Labs love treats having a pocket full can help when your Black Lab is in a stressful situtation.  Since Black Labs are so personable and want to please, a rescue Black Lab will be easy to bond with and make a great family pet.

When deciding on whether to get a Black Lab puppy or a rescue Black Lab take into account the needs of you and your family; your time, energy and environment.  And be sure and get as much information from the breeder, rescue organization or Humane Society as possible.  The more information you have the more you will understand your new Black Lab and make him a part of your family.

 

Meet the Black Lab.

Have you ever met a Black Lab you didn’t like; or any Labrador for that matter?  Labradors are the most popular breed of dog in America and around the world.  Black Labs combine intelligence, gentleness and eagerness to please in a perfect balance, making the Black Lab an ideal dog for active people.  But Black Labs were not family dogs originally.

The modern Black Labs’ ancestors originated on the island of Newfoundland in Canada.  The founding breed was the St. John’s Water Dog, a breed that emerged through ad-hoc breedings by early settlers of the island in the 16th century.    Local fishermen originally used the St. John’s Water Dog to assist in carrying ropes between boats, towing dories, and helping to retrieve fishnets in the water. The Labrador’s loyalty and hard working behavior were valuable assets for fishermen.

Black Labs later became popular in England where they functioned in a variety of hunting situations, accompanying hunters in the open field and retrieving game.  For this reason they were called Labrador Retrieivers and were considered working dogs.  To this day, Black Labs have a natural aptitude as a hunter.  They love to swim and with their webbed feet and water-repellent coat they are well equipped for the water.  But if a daily swim is not possible for your Black Lab, any exercise adventure will make him happy; from running with you to playing “fetch”.

However, because of their high activity level and work ethic, Black Labs also have an insatiable appetite.  Black Labs have inherited the need to eat a lot of just about anything.  Maverick ate my daughter’s upper retainer shortly after she got it.  One evening we cooked a whole chicken for dinner.  Since we had to leave for my daughter’s choir concert before the chicken was cool, we put the cast iron cooking dish in the kitchen sink with the lid on it, thinking Maverick would not be able to get it. Wrong!  We came home to find the lid pushed off the cooking dish and a grease spot on the floor!  Because of this desire to eat, it is very important to do your best to make sure your Black Lab doesn’t get into anything harmful.  We put all chicken and turkey bones, shrimp tails and any other food remains that can be harmful in the freezer instead of the compostables.  Maverick is very good at get the “good stuff”.

Black Labs have a passion for putting things in their mouths and carrying them around.  Originally, what they carried was a dead duck, but most Black Labs don’t go hunting so they are content with whatever they can find.  I often find my daughter’s stuffed animals around the house.  So be sure your Black Lab has plenty of toys, everything from a soft squeaky toy to a bone to chew on for hours.  Maverick loves Bully Sticks and his Kong.

Black Labs love to work with people.  They respond to food and play rewards with enthusiasm, which makes them fun and easy to train.  They are often trained as guide dogs and rescue dogs.  Black Labs don’t become emotionally mature until about age 3, so be prepared for an active dog for a few years!  Generally, Black Labs are not prone to barking at strangers and do not create a lot of noise because they have been bred to be stealthy hunting dogs.  They will alert you, however, when something is truely wrong, even if it’s just a skunk!

Black Labs are among the smartest dogs in the world and continue to learn throughout their lives.  With Black Labs, you can teach an old dog new tricks.