Can A Labrador Retriever Live Outside?

I recently bought a house with a big yard and my Labrador retriever loves being outside.  Most days, he tries to spend all his time outside investigating everything and running around.  Since we moved in, it is tough for me to get him to come inside the house. That got me wondering if I could install a dog house and let him stay out there all the time since he is so happy.  

I needed to know if it is safe for him to live outside (at least part of the time).  I know some dogs are capable of doing this.  I don’t know if it is healthy for a lab and needed to learn more. This past weekend I took some time to investigate this idea a little closer, and here is what I found out.

Can A Labrador Live Outside?

The Labrador Retriever is a dog breed that can live outside, but generally, they do not want to do this.  Physically their bodies are designed to handle the elements of the outdoors unless they are extreme and unsafe.  They have a fur coat designed for more extended stays outside, and their high energy level keeps them going for more extended periods. 

Their breeding is that of a helper and companion for fishing and hunting, which requires that they naturally spend more time out of doors.  Most owners will find that they would rather be inside beside their human family. 

They are very loyal and connected to their family and will likely want to spend time beside them.  Owners and families may find that the Labrador will be inside and outside at varying lengths for one day to the next, depending on their doing. 

If the owner or family is out has a picnic or gardening. The Labrador retriever will be exhilarated by the ability to be outdoors and serve as a companion to those they love. 

Potential Lab owners who want to keep their dog outside may find that the dog enjoys it when their owner is outside to share in the fun and excitement, but if they come inside, the dog wishes to follow.

The Labrador retriever was initially bred as a working-class dog that helped with fishing and hunting.  This makes them both a natural outdoor lover as well as a great companion animal.  Their high energy level makes it very important that they spend a good deal of time out of doors.

If they don’t receive adequate exercise, destructive behaviors such as chewing and scratching can become a problem.  These can easily be remedied for the happiness and health of everyone concerned within the family or home.

Physically their bodies were designed for outside work and play.  They have what is known as a double coat of fur on the underside of their body.  This double coat help keeps them dry, protected, and healthy from the outdoor elements, including rain, dirt, debris, and other foreign objects that could be harmful.

If my dog insists on staying outside all the time, how do I keep them healthy and safe?

For those dogs, Labrador, or otherwise that insist outside is their home, there are quite a few ways to ensure they are healthy.  Their safety and health is a top priority above all else.

The first and most important aspect of good health for the Labrador retriever is a veterinarian trip.  This checkup should be done annually or as needed when health issues arise.  These annual checkups help ensure that they are as healthy as possible.  They will also be able to access if it is okay for a Labrador retriever to live outside.

Beyond this, providing them with a comfortable place to sleep and hang out can keep them healthy.  A dog house or insulated area to seek refuge from the elements when necessary is significant.  Adequate water and shade in the summer can help keep them comfortable and healthy when it is hot.

The Labrador retriever may also need more food if they stay outside all the time.  They will be burning more calories than a Labrador retriever that spends some time inside sitting on the couch or their bed.  Increasing their daily diet can also be done if they seem extra hungry at a meal.

The yard that they live in should be safe for them to play and exercise.  Depending on their training level and behavior, a fence may or may not be needed, but without a wall, it may require that the owner checks in more often to make sure they are okay.

Various toys and activities can be scattered around the yard to provide mental stimulation and increase exercise.  If there is space, an obstacle course can be a great way to amuse a Labrador retriever.  A pond or small pool is another way to delight them since they enjoy the water.

If my dog stays outside, are there any times I should bring them inside?

Yes, for the Labrador retriever who enjoys staying outside, it is always best to bring them inside during severe weather conditions.  No matter how enthusiastic a dog is about being outside, extreme weather has the potential to harm them, so it is best to keep them to stay close to their owner and family.  Once the weather passes, they can return to their normal outdoor life.

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If they are unhealthy for any reason, illness and injury can increase the chance that they don’t fare well outdoors all the time.  Consulting their veterinarian to aid in their overall health can help.  If they recover and are healthy, they can again enjoy the outdoor life.

Age also plays a part in if they spend their time outdoors and how much.  Puppies are best kept indoors unless they are supervised to prevent unnecessary injury and other issues.  Labrador puppies’ natural energy and curiosity for the world around them can be a recipe for disaster if left unattended or outside for lengthy periods.

For the older or senior Labrador retriever, life outside may have to be kept to just during the day.  At night seniors and older dogs should be brought inside, so they are comfortable and out of the elements. 

Arthritis, joint, muscle, and other health issues are common in this age group.  These issues can be exasperated by changes in weather and make the Labrador retriever more uncomfortable.

What are some things an outside Labrador retriever should have for health and happiness?

There are quite a few things that an outside Labrador retriever should have to be healthy and happy.

A comfortable and safe place to sleep and rest is first on the list.  This area should be covered to protect from the sun, wind, rain, and other outdoor weather elements.  It should be made of sturdy materials that can withstand the weather changes and not injure the dog.

This outdoor house should have a heating pad or other warmth during cold, raining or damp weather.  During hot weather, a cooling pad should be provided.

They should have a food and water bowl that is always close by and checked regularly to ensure that they don’t get dehydrated or hungry.  These bowls should be made of the best quality materials an owner can afford since they will also be exposed to the elements.

The area that they sleep and rest should be free of any debris or objects that could cause harm or injury.  The yard should be examined at regular intervals to prevent unnecessary injuries to the dog while living outside.

Dog gear can be provided if the Labrador retriever is accepting of them.  These can include a snap-on raincoat and warming coat to help keep them healthy.  These aren’t necessary since their skin is designed to withstand harsher weather patterns, but some dogs may welcome it.

Toys and other fun objects are a must for the dog that lives outside.  Entertainment will prevent a dog from becoming bored with their surroundings and getting into trouble.  Changing up the toys and items will prevent this from happening.

Can A Labrador Live Outside?

Another overlooked item the outside Labrador retriever will need for happiness and health is the owner or family members’ presence.  It is a good idea to check in with them from time to time, make sure that they are okay, offer some love and attention, and bond with them.

If they are outside and their owner or family is inside, this can create a disconnection.  Check-ins reinforce the bond that is important for everyone’s happiness and health.

Final Thoughts

Outdoor life can be great for everyone at one time or another.  The fresh, clean air, connection with nature, and scenery change can be exciting and a perpetual vacation.

Most dogs, though, will enjoy escaping the elements to snuggle in a soft and warm bed inside.   This can prevent that new and exciting feeling from ever fading away!

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