If you are looking to add another member to your family, a Labrador Retriever is an excellent option. One important thing to know before you adopt your dog, however, is how long a Labrador will live and how you can increase their lifespan.
The average age for a Labrador to die is 12 years old. Labradors live to be 10-15 years old, which is an average lifespan for dogs of this size. A Labrador’s lifespan can be increased if it gets plenty of exercise, eats a healthy diet, and is taken to the vet regularly.
Keep reading to find out what factors will impact the lifespan of your Labrador Retriever.
Lifspan of Labradors
One of the biggest impacts on a dog’s lifespan is the dog’s size. Larger dogs don’t tend to live as long as smaller dogs, as their bodies have to work much harder to sustain them. Heart and muscle problems are common in large dogs that are only 6 to 8 years old, whereas smaller dog breeds can live for more than 15 years.
Labradors fall into the middle of the pack when it comes to size. One of the reasons they are such a popular dog breed is that they are perfectly sized to be a family dog. Labrador Retrievers grow to be about 20-24 inches tall and weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. Because they are medium to large-sized dogs, their typical lifespan falls in the middle of the range. Labradors are expected to live for about 12 years, although health issues can reduce it.
A big factor in a Labrador’s lifespan is its gene pool. The best dog breeders have spent decades breeding dogs for resilience and longevity, but many of the Labradors that you find might be at risk of heart problems or muscle decay once they have lived for 10 years or so.
One commonly noticed trend in Labrador lifespans is that chocolate Labradors tend to live for a noticeably shorter amount of time. This is because chocolate labs are rarer (as the chocolate coat coloring is a recessive trait) and the small gene pool makes these dogs more prone to disease.
Common Health Issues
Labradors get sick, typically towards the end of their life. They typically suffer from heart and joint issues, which seriously impact their quality of life and total lifespan. Unfortunately, about 30 percent of Labradors are overweight, which increases the strain on the dog’s joints and heart.
Canine dysplasia is one of the health issues that Labradors commonly deal with. It causes a dog’s joints to start loosening up. This is most commonly observed on a dog’s hip joints, but can also happen to the shoulder and elbow joints.
Common symptoms of canine dysplasia include decreased activity in your Labrador, lower mobility, and that your Labrador has difficulty running, jumping, or climbing stairs. If your Labrador has canine dysplasia, you can help it to rest and heal but much of the problems will persist.
Labradors also commonly develop Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). OCD comes from having the cartilage around a dog’s joints break away from the bone. The joints in a Labrador’s leg will swell, and the dog will become almost completely unable to use that limb. Through rest and some motion therapy, the dog can mostly recover, but it will probably never regain the motion that it once had.
Labradors that are getting older can also begin to lose their eyesight. This problem is becoming less and less common over the years (as breeders are testing their dogs for the disease that causes it) but it can still be found in Labrador Retrievers around the world. If your Labrador eyes are clouding up or if you see white spots or swelling from their eyes, they may be going blind.
When this happens, your Labrador will become more and more anxious in new environments and will probably need to stay at home as they live out the rest of their lives.
For more information about Labrador health problems, click here. If your Labrador is suffering from health issues or behaving abnormally, take them to the vet for a checkup.
Extending Your Labrador’s Lifespan
Thankfully, there are many things that a Labrador owner can do to extend their pet’s lifespan. The most important thing that you can do is to help your dog maintain a healthy diet. Don’t overfeed your Labrador or give them too many treats. Keep an eye on their weight, and take note of their weight when you visit the vet.
The appropriate weight for a fully grown male Labrador Retriever is between 64 and 79 pounds, while female Labradors should be between 55 and 71 pounds. Young puppies will weigh much less, but their weight can’t be so easily predicted. Your vet will tell you if your Labrador puppy is a healthy weight.
In addition to making sure that your dog is eating well, make sure that your Labrador is getting exercise. Swimming, running, and playing with other dogs will let your dog exercise and help keep it at a healthy weight. Although it may be difficult to schedule time for your Lab to play, they will enjoy it and sleep well afterward.
Help your Labrador stay stress-free. If your dog is frequently stressed, you will notice behavioral and health changes. Dogs (especially Labradors) are generally social animals that need attention and care to stay healthy. Spend plenty of time playing and cuddling with your Labrador. This will reduce their stress and anxiety levels, which will increase their lifespan.
If they are brought into a new environment with new and unfamiliar people, you can expect them to become extremely stressed. Help them destress by spending time with them, helping them exercise, and giving them something to do. There is more information about this here.
Though you won’t be able to extend your Labrador’s lifespan indefinitely, there are many things that you can do and look out for to help your Labrador stay alive for as long as possible.