How Do Most Labs Die? (Sad but true)

While you probably don’t want to think about it, it’s important to know the diseases your dog might be prone to so you can help prevent them. Knowing the most common causes of death for Labradors can help you prolong the life of your Labrador.

The most common causes of death for Labradors are cancer and musculoskeletal disorders. The musculoskeletal disorders are not fatal by themselves, but they cause intense pain that often makes owners euthanize their Labradors. Cancer usually always has a high death rate, but you may be able to prolong your dog’s life with proper treatment.

Knowing how to prevent or help with these diseases can ensure your dog has a happy and healthy life. Labradors are one of the best breeds of dogs, but they do suffer from certain diseases and complications that should be watched for.

How Do Most Labs Die How Do Most Labs Die? (Sad but true)

What Color Lab Lives the Longest?

A study has shown that chocolate Labradors have shorter life spans than black labs or yellow labs. It doesn’t have anything to do with the color, but more about how selective the breeding is when it comes to Chocolate Labs.

Some studies even show that Black Labs and Yellow Labs live 10% longer than Chocolate Labs. Black Labradors tend to be the healthiest and are the dominant and historic color when it comes to breeding Labradors.

Are Labradors Prone to Cancer?

Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to cancer. Some studies have shown that about 70% of Labrador Retrievers have a gene that increases the probability that they will develop mast cell tumors. If the dog has two copies of the risk factor gene, they are three or four times more likely to develop a mast cell tumor.

This means that about one in four Labradors will be affected by cancer in their lifetime. You can always get your dog tested for these genes to see if they have them or not. This will help you to better prepare yourself for what the future may hold.

How Do Most Labs Die

What Health Problems do Labs Have?

Labradors are predisposed to 67 different diseases. Some are more common than others. Here are some common diseases and problems you should look out for if you own a Labrador so that you can keep them healthy.


Obesity can have horrible effects on your dog’s health. It can decrease their quality of life and intensify the symptoms of other diseases. Labradors are known to often eat more than they need to, especially if you leave food out or allow them to snack too much.

Obesity can lead to very horrible orthopedic problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. This can cause an increase in musculoskeletal disorders. Keeping your Labrador at a healthy weight their entire life will decrease their chances of developing significant health issues throughout their lifespan.

Otitis Externa

This is an inflammation of the external ear canal. It can cause intense ear pain and make ear infections more likely. Over 10% of the Labrador population is affected by this condition. The color of life will depend on how likely they are to get this disease.

Chocolate Labs are more prone to this disease, followed by Yellow Labs and then Black Labs. It can also be more prone in dogs that swim often.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Around 5.5% of Labradors suffer from some kind of degenerative joint disease. The most common ones are hip dysplasia and arthritis. As your dogs continue to age, their joints will begin to deteriorate.

Some dogs will even see the cartilage split away from the bone and lose some of the movement in their hips. This disease is more common in obese dogs, but it can happen in dogs of normal healthy weight as well.

How Can I Prolong the Life of my Labrador Retriever?

If you want your Labrador Retriever to have a long and healthy life, there are some steps you can take to ensure they avoid as many health problems as possible. Knowing the potential problems before they happen can ensure you take steps for preventative care.

Talk to Your Breeder

Since both cancer and joint disease run in Labradors, you should discuss with your breeder if they have screened their dogs for these diseases. If the breeder only screens for dogs that are not symptomatic, you have a better chance of getting a dog that does not develop these issues.

Ask breeders what the prevalence is of cancer in the dogs they breed. Good breeders will know all this information and will be willing to sure all the knowledge they have with you.

Don’t Spay or Neuter Too Soon

There has been some research that has shown that some Labrador Retrievers who are spayed or neutered before one year of age might have a higher prevalence of cancer and joint concerns.

They might also be more likely to have a slightly higher increase in bone cancer osteosarcoma as well as bladder and prostate cancer.

Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

If your dog is overweight or obese, they have more strain on their joints. This can be debilitating to their physical and mental health. Make sure your dog stays at an ideal weight for its entire life. If your dog begins to have joint issues and they are a healthy weight, you will find the symptoms much more manageable.

The vet will also find it easier to treat them and they will have less strain on their joints as they recover.

How Do Most Labs Die

Provide Your Dog With Joint Supplements

Supplements and vitamins aren’t just for humans. Your vet will be able to recommend a good brand for you with all the nutrition your puppy needs. These supplements support the joints as your dog grows and reduce the incidence of the joints developing inflammation or disease.

Supplements can also reduce the progression of the disease if your dog already has symptoms and is in pain.

What is the Average Age for a Lab to Die?

The average Labrador Retriever lives between 10 to 14 years. This is the lifespan if they are healthy and don’t have any other issues going on. Genetic and environmental factors can go into the life expectancy of a Labrador as well.

10 to 14 years might not seem like a long time, but larger dogs like Labradors often have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs. Since Labradors are pedigrees, they also automatically have short lifespans.

Their short face, small skills, and excess skin can all cause health problems later in life.

Labradors are also vulnerable to many genetic disorders. This can limit their lifespan as well. Most of the inherited diseases are hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and many eyes and significant problems. Some of these disorders can be avoided if they are genetically tested before breeding. Not all breeders do this though.

As discussed above, giving your dog a healthier lifestyle can prolong its life. While many diseases are unavoidable, the home you give your Labrador can directly affect how long they live.

Do Labradors Die Early?

A lifespan of 10 to 14 years is considered average when it comes to dogs. Smaller dogs and mongrels will live longer, but a lifespan of 10-14 years is still considered an average lifespan. For this reason, Labradors are known considered to die early unless they don’t reach 10 years because of a health problem.

This is why it’s important to feed your dog a healthy diet and get them tested for genetic problems early on, so you know what to expect from your dog as they get older.

How Do You Know When Your Labrador is Dying?

This is hard to think about, but it should be considered as your dog gets older. Knowing the signs can ensure you get your dog proper health care. If you notice any of these signs below, you need to make sure your dog sees a vet as soon as possible.

Extreme Weight Loss

Weight loss is common in senior dogs and maybe the start of more serious medical issues. As the dog gets older, it will lose muscle mass and not be efficient at digesting protein. You might need to change their diet to one with more easily digestible protein.


If you notice your dog is not energetic anymore or doesn’t want to play as much, it could signal a medical problem. Senior dogs also sleep more often though. You may notice your dog gradually sleeping more and more as they age.

Poor Coordination

As your dog ages, its muscles and nerves will stop functioning as they used to. This means they may struggle to walk or step. Some dogs may also stumble or slip especially when on surfaces that are not carpeted.

Final Thoughts

Knowing the common health problems that Labradors can face will ensure that you provide your Labrador all with the care and medicine they need. Watching out for signs and symptoms of illness can also ensure you get them the proper treatment before they die.

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