Service Dog Breeds: Labrador Retriever

January 31, 2014 – 07:36 am

Labrador Retrievers: The Basics- -

The Labrador Retriever is an all-around good dog who, with proper puppyhood education and upbringing, will excel at any job.

In the working and Service Dog world, the stocky, solid, sweet-natured Labrador Retriever is an iconic sight. They’re well-known not only for their prowess as a search and rescue K-9, detector dog and Service Dog, but also for their die-hard loyalty and friendship to all.

Bred in Newfoundland from a stock of thick-furred, heavily-boned water dogs, the Labrador Retriever originated early in the 19th century as a sporting, hunting and working dog. The Labrador Retriever we know and love today began taking shape in the early 1900s as the breed caught the eye of fanciers and they began breeding to a working and conformation standard.

The Labrador Retriever is a sturdy, solid dog bred for one thing and one thing only: to pick things up, carry them around, and bring them back to his handler. While retrieving may be what the Labrador Retriever is bred for, this fleet-footed, muscular dog excels at nearly at task set to it.Labrador Retriever Service Dogs Extremely intelligent and trainable, the Labrador is quick-witted and a problem solver. Per the American Kennel Club breed standard, Labs should possess a “stable temperament, ” weigh “55 to 75 pounds, ” and be an “outgoing and devoted companion.”

Those qualities combine with a short, sleek, water-resistant coat, superb handler focus and the grit to keep working even when it’s tough to create a breed perfectly suited to assistance dog work.

Labrador Retrievers: The Puppy Stage
It’s important to remember that every well-trained Service Dog begins life like any other dog: as a puppy. Lab babies are high-energy, which lands them in some not so-good-situations with inexperienced owners. The Labrador’s calm demeanor and unshakable obedience are often touted, but what’s left out is the two-year kangaroo phase where they seem to have springs attached to their paws and chainsaws bent towards destruction in their mouths.

Labrador puppies chew. They mouth. They carry. They steal. They’re exceptionally happy, wiggly dogs who wish to share their joy at having ANYTHING, no matter how stinky, big, or smelly, in their mouths with anyone who happens to be near them. They’re exceptionally friendly and social dogs, which if not carefully managed, can morph into behaviors that will exclude them from service work.

While the Labrador Retriever puppy phase takes careful work to overcome, the resultant animal is a friend, partner, and confidant for life. A well-trained and socialized Labrador is a calm, steady and reliable presence in the face of any of life’s obstacles.


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