Labrador Retriever

Image result for labrador retriever
AKC Group: Sporting
The Labrador Retriever probably arose from the St. John’s Dogs used for fishing in Newfoundland. The St. John’s dogs would go out with the fishermen on their boats and retrieve the lines or nets and haul them back into the boat. Late in the 19th century, they were brought to land and trained as gun dogs by aristocrats. The more “refined” dogs were soon labeled “Labrador dogs” to distinguish them from the Newfoundland Retriever breed, which was developed for the same reason. The popularity of these dogs soon took off worldwide. Today, the Labrador Retriever continues to rank high on lists of most popular breeds.
Size: 20 to 25 inches; 55 to 80 pounds
Color: Solid black, yellow or chocolate
Life span: 10 to 12 years
Health problems: Eye problems, hip or elbow dysplasia, craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO), thyroid problems, von Willebrand’s disease, diabetes, progressive retinal atrophy, osteochondritis dissecans, allergies, seizures, heart problems.
The Labrador Retriever is a good natured, loving, loyal dog and has been proven to be a wonderful addition to the family. A Lab is intelligent, responsive and one of the easiest breeds to learn
obedience. Quick learners, friendly and sociable, full of energy and affectionate; this dog is all positive personality traits to a T. A Lab thrives on human attention, so if you don’t have time for a
dog, check out another breed. He may have a tendency to chew. This may be most especially displayed when bored. A Lab gets along with everyone: kids, strangers, pets, other animals. They do require regular exercise and need a safe, secure play/exercise area. A Lab loves to swim! They have a tendency to pull on their leash and jump up on people. Start training as early as possible (a Lab is full grown at six months, although mentally it takes three years). After six months, training can become more difficult, so start with basic commands before this six-month birthday. Always discourage jumping. Be consistent and reward good behavior. If the entire family is involved in training and one member allows something, you will all have to allow it. Otherwise, your Lab will become confused and carry on with the behavior. (A Lab can “unlearn” a rule as easily as he can learn one.) Labs lean toward overeating, so try not to food reward and keep a watch on how much he eats.
Labrador Retrievers are handsome, large, sturdy dogs. They have dark, wallowing eyes with an eager and intelligent expression. The coat is short, close fitting and sleek. Brush him weekly to keep
him looking handsome. He tends to be a medium shedder, though he does shed seasonally.

Hip Dysplasia (Dogs)

A dog’s hip joint attaches the hind leg to his body via a ball and socket joint. The ball portion is the head of the femur while the socket (known as acetabulum) is located on the pelvis. In a normal joint, the ball rotates freely within the socket because the bones are shaped to perfectly match each other and the socket surrounds the ball. As well, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament which attaches the femoral head to the acetabulum. In addition, the joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, encircles the two bones for further stability. The area where the acetabulum and the femur touch is called the articular surface. It is perfectly smooth and cushioned with a layer of spongy cartilage. A highly viscous fluid contained in the joint lubricates the articular surface. In a normal dog, all of these factors work together to cause his hip joint to function smoothly.

Hip dysplasia is associated with an abnormal joint structure, laxity of the muscles, connective tissue or ligaments that would normally support the hip joint. As joint laxity develops, the bones lose contact with each other. The separation of the two bones is called a subluxation. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips, but as they age (due to genetic and possibly other factors), the soft tissues surrounding the joints develop abnormally. Hip dysplasia can be bilateral (affecting both hips).

Normal hip joint

Hip dysplasia joint

A dog can develop hip dysplasia at any age, but it often shows up in middle age or his senior years. Without intervention, a dog may eventually become unable to walk. The symptoms are similar to arthritis. A dog will often walk or run with an altered gait. They may resist movements that flex or extend their rear legs. Usually, he will run with a “bunny-hopping” gait. They may show stiffness or pain in their rear legs after exercise or first thing in the morning. They may have difficulty climbing stairs. A dog may limp and be less willing to participate in normal activities. At first, you may attribute this to normal changes of aging. As the condition progresses, most dogs will lose muscle tones and require assistance to get up.

Hip dysplasia occurs in dogs, cats and even humans. It is primarily a disease of large or giant dog breeds. It is most often seen in German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers and Saint Bernards. Hip dysplasia can be seen in medium-sized breeds and rarely occurs in small breeds. It primarily occurs in purebred dogs, but may happen in a mixed breed, if the crossbreed is of two breeds prone to developing hip dysplasia.

It is difficult to breed hip dysplasia out of a bloodline because though it may occur doesn’t mean it will. Obesity has been shown to increase the severity of hip dysplasia. Another factor shown to increase the development (in dogs prone to hip dysplasia) in rapid growth from free feeding between the age of three months to ten months. Feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet is also essential as a diet too low in calcium and other nutrients has been shown responsible for the development of hip dysplasia. If your dog is prone to developing the disease, don’t over exercise him as a puppy, Maintaining good muscle mass is essential for decreasing a dog’s chances to developing hip dysplasia. Moderate exercise that strengthen his gluteal muscles (running or swimming) is recommended.

Your dog will be diagnosed by his vet via a physical exam and, most likely, x-rays. So how can you help your dog? There’s nothing you can do about his genes, but you can certainly control his weight. Maintaining your dog’s recommended weight may be the single most important treatment you can do for him. If your dog will require surgery or medical treatments later, they will be far successful if your dog is at his optimal weight. Daily exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. If your dog is already showing signs of arthritis or hip dysplasia, you may need an individualized exercise plan, but it’s the second most important thing you can do for him. People experiencing arthritis feel more symptoms in cold or damp weather. This is true for Fido too. Giving him a sweater for outdoor time or even increasingly the temperature of your home and providing him with a warm, fleecy bed or blanket can ease his symptoms.  Massage or physical therapy can help to relax his stiff muscles and promote a good range of motion for his joints. (Start slowly to build his trust.) You may eventually need to provide your dog with ramps in order to avoid stairs.

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