Labrador retriever

October 12, 2022 - 4 min read
A chocolate brown Labrador Retriever puppy is lying down, looking straight into the camera with a playful expression against a beige background.

Vital stats

  • Breed type: Sporting
  • Size: 20 - 26 inches
  • Weight: 53 - 84 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 - 12 years


  • Size

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  • Intelligence

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  • Trainability

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  • Exercise needs

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  • Good with kids

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  • Levels of shedding

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  • Good for new owners

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  • Overall health of breed

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Labrador retrievers are immensely popular in the United States.

They were the breed most registered with the American Kennel Club in 2021 (that's the 31st straight year!), and they’ve got an enduring reputation as reliable family dogs.

But Labradors actually have working roots in Britain and Canada, dating back to when British fishermen took their St John's Water Dogs (a now-extinct breed with a water-resistant coat) with them to Newfoundland in the 18th century. They were taught to swim in the freezing water and carry ropes and nets in their mouths.

Their later descendants were transported back to England, where they continued to work, but in more recent history, they became gun dogs to retrieve game.

Of course, they’re now much better known as amiable companion dogs, as happy in a family home as they are in a farm environment.

Labrador colors, shapes, and sizes

A tan woven basket holds six adorable chocolate labrador retriever puppies. Four of the puppies are awake, and two are asleep with their heads propped on the basket. The background is a beige color.

When most people think of a Labrador, they often picture its classic golden or yellow coloring. Black, liver, and chocolate brown labs are also quite common.

Less common are a whole range of unusual colorings, including fox red, silver, white, blue, champagne, and gray.

One thing you'll notice is that Labradors are almost always just one color; a multi-colored Labrador is virtually unheard of. If you think you've seen one, it's probably a mix.

The same goes if you see ads for "miniature labradors" or "micro labradors." This isn’t a true breed and will probably either be a mix with a smaller dog or a Labrador with dwarfism, which can come with other health issues.

Labrador Retreiver temperament and characteristics

An adult chocolate labrador retriever sits and looks up attentively. A black leash is held off camera, keeping the dog secure. The backdrop is a blurry depiction of orange fall leaves.

The Labrador’s temperament is probably the main reason they’re so incredibly popular in the US and around the world. They’re famed for being extremely good-natured, as well as intelligent, trainable, and eager to please.

But this is just a generalization for the breed—temperament will always come down to the individual dog, and all dogs need training and proper socialization to get the best from them.

Thanks to their roots as fishermen’s dogs, Labs have a special affinity for water and are liable to jump in any lake, river, or muddy puddle you get too close to. It’s endearing or infuriating, depending on your outlook on wet dog smells and regular baths.

Labradors—especially young Labradors—are fairly large and energetic dogs with a lot of bounce. A lot of new owners underestimate this and find themselves struggling with their new pet's friendly exuberance. If you’re considering a Lab, make sure your family has the energy levels to match.

Two labrador retrievers, one golden and one black, only have their heads visible as they paddle through marshy water. The black lab holds a red toy in their mouth.

How much does dog insurance cost for a Lab?

The average ManyPets ManyPets policy for Labrador retrievers cost about $48 per month in 2022. By comparison, our average monthly premium across all dog breeds and ages was $37.

Labs cost more to insure than mixed-breed dogs, which is a big reason why Labrador insurance costs more than average. (Policies for mixed-breed dogs tend to be a little less expensive since mixed-breed dogs tend to suffer from fewer health conditions.) But actually, Labs cost less to insure than many other purebred dogs, especially those of similar size. They're a pretty healthy breed.

Also, keep in mind that these are just averages based on data from all customer premiums, including the pricier ones. Your pet's age and location will heavily affect your monthly price, and it's possible your premium will differ from the average. Learn more about insuring your Lab today.

The average claim ManyPets received for Labrador retrievers in 2022 was $502, but we received lab claims that ran as high as about $8,900.

What are common health issues in Labrador Retrievers?

Labradors may be susceptible to several health conditions due to their size and genetics. Here are the key concerns:

Learn more about common Lab health concerns and how you can take action to keep your pup healthy.

Keeping your Labrador healthy

black lab with chuck it max glow dog ball in his mouth, laying on brown grass with dark blue sky and black hills in the background

When it comes to your pet’s health, prevention is always better than treatment. There are some steps you can take to keep your Labrador healthy for longer.

Pay attention to their diet. Be careful not to give them too many treats or any human food (at least not without consulting a veterinarian). And it can be very helpful to weigh out their food instead of just guessing what the right portion is.

By keeping them light and lean, you’ll help avoid the health conditions that come with obesity, and you’ll avoid exacerbating conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be worsened by excessive weight.

You can ask your vet to evaluate your Labrador’s hips, especially if you plan to breed from them. To become a reputable breeder with the Labrador Retriever Club (the breed’s national parent club, affiliated with the American Kennel Club), sires and dams must undergo evaluations for hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as eye conditions and other disorders. Only dogs with healthy evaluation results should be bred.

But you should consider getting these tests even if you don’t plan to breed. That way, you can be prepared for any health issues that might crop up with your dog and ask your vet for preventative care advice.

Labrador retriever popularity

Frequently asked questions about Labrador retrievers

Where can I get a Labrador?

Most people get Labradors from breeders. Many choose to buy from breeders who list their litters on the American Kennel Club’s marketplace. These breeders are required to follow health and wellness regulations, and are subject to routine inspections by AKC field agents.

If you're buying a puppy from a breeder, they should be at least eight weeks old when you take them home. Responsible breeders allow puppies to spend a minimum of 8-10 weeks with their mothers and siblings, which results in proper development and socialization. You should also be able to observe your puppy’s entire family and environment; that includes seeing your puppy with their mother.

If you don't mind having an older dog instead of a pup, make sure you check your local shelters. Labradors are so common that it's likely some will be passing through rescues hoping for a second chance at a home.

Why are they called Labradors?

They were named ‘Labrador dogs’ after the Labrador Sea — a stretch of ocean between Newfoundland in Canada and Greenland. It’s where they worked on the fishing boats, retrieving nets and ropes for their masters.