If you are a newbie intending to purchase a Labrador retriever, one of the salient questions that will cross your mind is: How long do Labradors live? But while some consider lifespan an important variable for their dog selection decision, several other factors, including intelligence, help make Labrador retrievers the most popular dogs in the US since 1991 to date, according to the American Kennel Club.
How Long do Labradors Live?
The average lifespan of a Labrador retriever ranges from 10 to 12 years. But with good diets and adequate care, many Labradors can live a few more years.
Dog lifespan is determined by a number of factors, such as size, breed, and overall health. Small dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds like Labrador retrievers. Scientists cannot convincingly explain why this is the case, though it is thought that larger dogs suffer age-related diseases earlier than smaller breeds.
An overweight dog is more likely to die younger than otherwise, making the need for a balanced diet essential. Studies of Labrador retrievers indicate that even a moderate amount of additional weight can reduce life expectancy by a couple of years compared to puppies who have healthy weight throughout their lives.
The oldest Labrador retriever lived for 27 years. Known as Adjutant, he was born in August 1936, died in November 1963, and lived in Lincolnshire England. One way to acquire a Labrador that will live long is by demanding veterinary records when purchasing from a breeder or taking your vet along with you to help you select optimally, especially if you don’t know much about Labrador retrievers.
Short Background on Labrador Retrievers
Labradors are thought to have had their origins in Newfoundland, rather than Labrador— Canada, around the 1800s. The breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903 and by the AKC in 1917. They have excellent retrieving abilities, especially in water.
These affectionate, sporty, friendly, and loyal dogs make great duck hunters and family pets. They can also work as search and rescue dogs and scenting dogs, among others. Labrador retrievers have a nice temperament and are easy to train and socialize with. Their most abundant colors are black, chocolate, and yellow.
Labrador puppies are born after a gestation period of about 63 days. At birth, they can neither see nor hear and rely on their sense of smell and touch to interact with their new environment. They also have no teeth. At this very early stage, newborns are wholly dependent on their mother and human caregivers for warmth, sustenance, cleanliness, and overall survival.
But that does not mean newborns are absolutely helpless. With their tender front feet, they can drag themselves around in search of milk from their mother or a source of heat to keep their frail bodies warm.
Being very young, extreme temperatures are bad for their delicate bodies since they cannot regulate their body temperatures. So, they should be kept in a warm enclosure with moderate and stable temperatures.
By the second week of development, the young puppies gain more weight and begin to see and hear, either partially or completely. They also become a bit more mobile and gradually learn how to stand up. Some people start growing teeth after three to four weeks. By the eighth week, they are fully weaned and ready for adoption, having learned several necessary skills for living independently from their mother.
Between 8 and 12 weeks of age, a Labrador puppy will usually arrive at its new home. Body weight at this time is around 15 to 18 pounds. They are often vaccinated before arrival, but you can have your vet examine them to be sure. Ensure they are vaccinated within the first 48 hours of arrival if they are yet to receive vaccination. The early arrival period is one of significant excitement for the puppy as he happily adapts to his new owner, living conditions, and environment.
But adaptation can also be challenging, so be sure to offer your puppy all the care and support it needs. This is the same time when you should think about getting your Labrador puppy a good fitting collar. You can intensify basic training and socialization when your puppy becomes three months old. However, it should not be hurried but proceed gradually and according to the puppy’s pace because stressing them can negatively impact their later development.
Potty training should focus mainly on positive reinforcement methods and should often be brief, and interesting. Dogs can misbehave at times, so ensure you evolve potent ways of enforcing disciplinary measures for undesirable behavior, e.g., by ignoring them or walking away from them for a while. Intelligent dogs like Labradors will quickly learn that not giving them attention is a consequence of bad behavior.
Labrador puppies attain adulthood when they are between 1 and 2 years old. At this stage, they are now at their peak when it comes to growth and maturity, though some may still be growing. A fully grown Labrador retriever can be introduced to adult food at around 12 months old. But before this switch, you may have to rely on your vet to determine whether or not he is due for an adult diet or is still growing.
Because a Labrador is at its prime around this time, it is essential to subject it to sufficient mental and physical exercises to ensure it is well-conditioned. Ensure it goes on a brisk walk at least once a day in addition to playing regularly in a spacious location.
At the age of seven, your Labrador is now a senior citizen in the world of dogs. Male Labradors are usually larger than females. A typical male has a weight not less than 80 pounds while a female will usually weigh from 55 pounds up. From the age of seven, a Labrador may start contending with a variety of health challenges, but many will remain healthy long after their seventh birthday. Like in all other stages of your dog’s life, vet care, good hygiene, and optimal nutritional intake are necessary conditions for good health and longevity.
What are the Most Common Causes of Labrador Death?
It was mentioned above that Labradors may be prone to health problems at a certain stage of their adult lives. If not properly attended to, these problems can unexpectedly lead to your Labrador’s death. Here are some leading Labrador killers.
Scientists are yet to completely understand what causes tumors and cancers in Labradors and other dog breeds. However, UV light, teratogens, and other DNA-altering substances have been identified as possible causative factors. Tumors are common among Labradors and even more common among female species. Skin tumors on the legs and chest are the most common kinds of Labrador tumors.
Tumors can be benign or malignant. Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors are not cancerous (but may still require medical attention). Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and biopsy, among others.
From the age of 8, the risk of dogs becoming afflicted with arthritis increases significantly to 80 percent. Arthritis will usually not hinder them from living happily but may leave them finding it difficult to cope with rigorous exercises. Like tumors, arthritis is also common among Labradors, especially seniors. This is because the older dogs become, the weaker their bones and joints tend to be.
Some signs that your Labrador may have arthritis include swollen joints, difficulty in movement, reluctance to climb stairs or jump, limping, and sleeping more often than usual. You can take certain preventive measures to help your Labrador avoid arthritis, especially if it has advanced in age. For instance, you can feed them in a way that ensures they do not become overweight because the more they weigh, the greater the pressure on their joints and the likelihood of arthritis.
A lot of causative factors can be responsible for heart disease in Labradors. Some of them include genetics, diet, and weight. Symptoms of heart disease include fatigue or tiredness, difficulty breathing, and persistent coughing, among others. A healthy diet program will help check excess weight but may not prevent genetically predisposed Labradors from suffering heart problems.
Both acute and chronic kidney failure can be fatal or tragic for a Labrador. Your dog may suffer acute kidney failure if it ingests substances that may be poisonous to it, for example, antifreeze and raisins. Bacteria infections and some drugs - including pain relievers such as aspirin, are also acute kidney failure causal factors.
Acute kidney failure leads to a quick collapse of the kidney. In contrast, chronic kidney failure progresses slowly with the passage of time and can be caused by several factors, including a lack of adequate dental care and aging.
Preventive measures you can take to avoid both acute and chronic kidney failure include ensuring that your Labrador’s teeth are always clean and dog-proofing your home to guard against the assimilation of any toxic substance that may be bad for your dog’s health.
Joint and Hip Issues Due to Overfeeding
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is common among large dog breeds - dogs weighing from 50 pounds and above - like Labradors, Great Danes, and German Shepherds. Nutrition and genetics have been identified as the major reasons for hip dysplasia in Labrador retrievers.
Hip dysplasia is a kind of degenerative joint ailment. It can result in either old age or excess weight, or a combination of both. In this condition, your Labrador retriever will find it difficult or reluctant to play, jump and run as previously. There may also be hind leg lameness, limping, or stiffness, among other symptoms.
Diet is crucial when it comes to preventing CHD. Hence, do not overfeed your Lab puppies in their growth years to avoid obesity, which can strain the joints and cause puppy hip dysplasia. Research indicates that over 70% of puppies overfed during their youth and went on to develop CHD.
How does the Labrador Lifespan Compare to Other Dogs?
As noted earlier, the average lifespan of a Labrador is 10–12 years. Labradors often have a shorter lifespan than smaller dog breeds but compare favorably with large popular dog varieties.
Average Dog Lifespans
- Great Dane – 8-10 years
- American Bulldogs – 10-12 years
- Rottweiler – 10-12 years
- Golden Retrievers – 10-12 years
- Newfoundland – 10-12 years)
- Irish Wolfhound – 8-10 years
- Boxers – 10-12 years
- Siberian Huskies – 12-14 years
Five Tips for How to Prolong Your Labrador’s Life
Your Labrador can live a healthier, happier, and longer life if you take care of it very well. Below are a few measures you can adopt to prolong your Labrador’s life.
Choose a Reputable Vet
Hiring a sound vet is the most important consideration when it comes to prolonging your dog’s life. A well-trained vet will provide you with the necessary health care and support that ensures your Labrador stays as long as possible. Preventive care will ensure that no health challenges bedevil your dog.
Should he be unlucky enough to suffer an affliction, then you’ll rely on your vet to treat or manage the condition in a way that prolongs the dog’s life as much as possible. Your vet can also help vet your selection of a puppy from a breeder to ensure you select a puppy that will not be a liability to you.
Neuter or Spay Your Lab
Neutering a male Labrador and spaying a female ensures there are no unwanted pregnancies. In younger Labradors, unwanted pregnancy can induce stress and inflammation. The chances of developing some types of cancer are also decreased with neutering and spaying.
Maintain Your Dog’s Ideal Weight
A study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention indicates that as much as 64% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, and that number is rising. As noted earlier, overweight Labradors are likely to die earlier. Moreover, being overweight increases pressure on the joints, which can lead to arthritis, heart disease, and CHD. It is vital to provide your Labrador with the most ideal food for its age.
Labradors are not gluttonous dogs, so even one nutrient-rich meal per day will be okay. Be sure to partner with your vet while trying to come up with the best diet formula and feeding schedule for your Labrador.
Exercise — But Don’t Overdo It!
Physical and mental exercises are essential to keeping dogs strong and agile. They can also help tone down overweight Labradors. However, just like excess weight, excess exercise can lead to joint problems that may worsen with age. Moreover, some Labrador puppies come with exercise-induced collapse (EIC) at birth. Subjecting such Labradors to intensive exercise can lead to a breakdown.
Add Supplements to Their Diet
Supplements will help to further complement the nutritional value of the diet program you and your vet have arranged for your Labrador. For instance, they can boost your dog’s ability to resist certain health conditions, thus enabling them to enjoy a happier and longer life.
Labrador retrievers will usually live for between 10-12 years. This is also the average lifespan of some other popular dog breeds in the US. Though longevity can depend on some biological factors, the kind of care and nutrition provided by the dog owner can help prolong its life. A good vet will not only assist you in procuring a sound Labrador but will also help in the day-to-day management of its health throughout its lifespan.