Black Lab: The Best Labrador Retriever?

Labrador Retrievers are undoubtedly one of the world’s favorite breeds.

However the different colors of Labs have been in a constant competition over which variation is the best.

The gorgeous Chocolate Lab, the endearing Yellow Lab and the glossy Black Lab have fought for the number one spot for years.

All Labradors are kind and loving dogs that want nothing more than food, exercise and lots of belly rubs.

In this article we will explain what it takes to care for a Black Lab.

Maybe we will even help you settle the debate as to which color of Labradors is the best…

Black Lab

What is a Black Lab? (Overview)

The Black Lab is a color variation of the famous Labrador Retriever that has captured the heart of millions of dog owners.

These beautiful dogs are a purebred and are one of the most popular dog breeds around.

Most people choose to adopt a Labrador Retriever solely for companionship because of their loving and affectionate personality.

However these athletic pups are part of the sporting group so they can be active as well.

In addition to having a beautiful disposition they are known for being very easy to care for.

These pups are easy to train, groom and do not require much else except for lots of exercise, food and cuddles!

  • Overview: Purebred.
  • Purpose: Sporting and Companionship.
  • Weight: 50-80 pounds.
  • Size: 21-25 inches.
  • Temperament: Outgoing, playful and goofy.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Friendly to everyone they meet.
  • Easy to groom.
  • Skilled at various jobs and sports.
  • Gentle and patient with children.
  • Intelligent and easy to train.

Cons:

  • Sheds heavily all year round.
  • Can become overweight.
  • Has lots of energy and needs plenty of exercise.
  • Can chew or dig if bored.

Black Lab Appearance

Labs

They are a sturdy breed that have a solid and muscular appearance.

Whilst these dogs may be strong their goofy smiles and kind eyes give them an adorable appearance.

These Labradors come in two varieties: show and working.

The two variations look so different that they almost look like they could be different breeds.

English Show Labs are thicker dogs and are on the heavier side. They have wide heads and big barrel chests that hang low. These pups are often seen in competitions and are more common as companion dogs.

Working Labs are lean and agile and make perfect working dogs. These dogs are much smaller and narrow in comparison to English labs.

Working And Show Lab
A brown show lab next to a black working lab

Height and Weight

These stocky dogs pack a lot of weight onto their bodies.

Although these dogs only stand 21-25 inches tall, they can weigh between 50-80 lbs.

Show Labs will be on the heavier side of this scale and working Labs towards the lower end.

Breed Colors and Coat

As you would expect the Black Lab is black.

Most of these pups are as black as the midnight sky but a few have a beautiful charcoal color.

Despite being entirely black sometimes these pups can have a few white spots on their toes and chest.

Also as these dogs age they tend to get some grey coloring around their muzzle. This gives them a very wise appearance and makes them even more endearing.

Because Black Labs are such an active breed they need a coat that can withstand all types of weather.

So these pups have a thick and coarse double coat.

The outer layer is short which allows them to move with ease through the water. Their fluffy under layer of fur is used to keep them warm while they swim.

Although they have such low maintenance coats, these pups shed heavily most of the year. Be prepared to find lots of hair around your home and on yourself if you bring one of these beautiful dogs home.

5 Fun Facts About The Black Labrador

  1. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed in America since 1991.
  2. Until the mid-90s Black Labs were the most common of Labrador breed colors. Now attitudes have changed and people prefer the lighter coat colors such as chocolate and yellow. Unfortunately this has led to a surge in the number of Black Labradors in shelters.
  3. The otter shaped tail of the Labrador helps propel them through the water making them excellent swimmers.
  4. Short coat Labs were developed because long-haired dogs who jumped into the frozen Canadian waters would emerge covered in ice! So these dogs needed a short coat to survive their environment.
  5. Despite being from Canada in the early 1800s English nobles took these glorious dogs back to England and called them Labradors.

Black Lab Personality and Temperament

Black Labrador Retriever

Black Labs have a heart of gold.

These dogs are some of the biggest sweethearts you will ever meet.

Their affectionate nature makes them perfect to cuddle with and their loveable smile will always brighten your day. These pups will love you from the second you bring them home and will be devoted to you.

Labradors excel at making new friends (both human and canine).

If you are out for a walk they will likely drag you towards ever person or dog you pass in order to say hello.

This outgoing and kind personality makes them perfect candidates for emotional support dogs.

They have an endless supply of energy and need lots of exercise to be content.

These adventurous pups want to walk, run and swim. They will happily accept a job if you are willing to train them. They love to channel their energy into various activities that challenge their bodies and minds.

They love exercising so much that they will often exhaust themselves so make sure to provide them with water and breaks when necessary.

Although they have a lot of energy in their body they do not bark much.

They may bark at a passing mailman but they are not known for barking excessively unless they are bored.

Finally an interesting trait that many labs have is mouthiness. This usually is shown through constantly wanting to carry a toy or object in their mouth and is likely a result of their retrieving instincts.

Make sure you offer them plenty of toys that they can carry around with them when they are not playing.

Are Black Labradors A Good Family Dog?

Yes.

They are especially gentle and patient with children. They are often called the perfect family dog because of their agreeable and loveable disposition. Your loving Lab will look after your children and ensure their wellbeing at all times. It will be like having another parent in the house.

Caring for a Black Lab

Black Lab Puppies

Besides their high exercise requirements and huge appetites these beautiful dogs are quite easy to care for.

They require very little in terms of grooming and are a fairly healthy breed overall.

One thing to note is that if you have a working lab you will need to provide them with more exercise than a show Lab.

Regardless of which variety you get they are not well suited for apartment life because these pups have so much energy.

Exercise Requirements

Black Labs have bundles of energy and need a proper outlet for their active bodies.

These pups love to explore and enjoy walks, runs and hikes.

You should plan to take your pup on a walk 1-2 times each day and make sure they receive at least 30-60 minutes of exercise every day.

As this breed has strong hunting instincts you should plan to keep them on a leash.

Although they love to walk they will probably get bored of just doing that.

These pups love swimming above all else. They are strong swimmers and adore the water so find a local dog park where it is safe for them to swim.

They also love a good game of fetch because these dogs were bred to retrieve – they will gladly fetch a ball for you all day long if you are willing to keep throwing it.

  • Number of Walks Per Day: 1-2.
  • Total Exercise Needed Per Day: 60+ Minutes.

Grooming and Shedding

Black Retriever

Because Black Labs were bred to work so their coat is very low maintenance.

Although you will not have to worry about taking your Lab to the groomer you will definitely have to invest in a good brush, quality vacuum and plenty of lint rollers.

These love bugs drop fur constantly so you will want to brush them 2-3 times per week and possibly daily during warmer months.

Because their coats are water resistant you will not need to bathe them often (every 2 months should do).

Their nails also need to be cleaned 1-2 times per month and their teeth should be brushed 2-3 times per week. Because these pups love to swim make sure to clean out their ears often to avoid infections.

Feeding and Diet

Just like other Labs, the Black Lab has an appetite that is larger than life.

Their extreme love of food also means that they can quickly become overweight if you feed them too much. Typically they should be fed 2½ cups of food each day spread out over two meals. These pups need to be fed at certain times because if you leave out food for them to graze on they will overeat.

Because food is constantly on their mind it is quite common for these dogs to dig through the trash or snatch food off counters or tables.

Make sure to keep your garbage secured and avoid leaving food out where your dog can reach it.

To avoid your Lab becoming obese, pick a food that is low in fat and calories but high in protein.

Calories Per Day:Cups of Kibble Per Day:
1000~2.5

Known Health Problems

  • The most common health conditions that Labradors often develop are hip and elbow dysplasia. These are painful diseases that may cause your pup to have difficulties walking or moving freely. Breeders should have their puppies screened for these two conditions before they are 12 weeks old.
  • These beautiful pups also have the potential to develop heart disorders. This is best managed by keeping them active and keeping them within a health weight range. It is important to recognize the warning signs of all these conditions so you can alert your veterinarian immediately with any concerns.
  • Ear infections are common in this breed due to their passion for swimming. These dogs may also develop a condition known as Cold Tail where their tail will go limp for a few days and eventually recover. This issue is not serious but it is common in Labs.

Although these medical problems may seem daunting, if you are monitoring your dog’s health closely you will likely not run into any of these issues.

Labs are a fairly healthy breed and thrive when they receive a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise.

How Long Does A Black Lab Live?

These pups usually live for 10-12 years and every single year will be packed full of love and fun.

How Much Does A Black Lab Cost?

Expect to pay around $800-$1200 for a Black Lab puppy from a reputable breeder.

How to Train a Black Lab

Black Labrador

Training one of these gorgeous dogs is a walk in the park because they are highly intelligent and eager to please.

This makes for a perfect combination.

Out of all the color variations Black Labs are the easiest Labradors to train because they were bred for hunting purposes.

They are capable of performing any task you teach them.

This pup is a common choice for service work, search and rescue tasks, drug/bomb detection and police work because of their ability to pick up various skills quickly. They also excel in obedience trials and agility training.

There is no limit to the jobs that this dog can learn to do.

Just keep in mind that positive reinforcement is the best way to teach these dogs because they desperately want to make you happy.

Because these pups are so smart they can become bored easily if they are not being challenged.

When these dogs are bored they will chew and dig.

To avoid this train your dog to do some sort of job like the ones listed above.

When it comes to socialization this is simple because they are so sweet and extroverted.

These dogs get along with everyone they meet and happily welcome in new furry friends. Just like any other breed you should socialize your puppy from an early age.

Quick Breed Summary Table

Breed Characteristics
Size:21-25 inches.
Weight:50-80lb.
Lifespan:10-12 years.
Coat:Sleek, short-hair, double coat that is water resistant.
Color:Black or light charcoal color.
Do They Shed:Yes (a lot).
Temperament:Affectionate, friendly, joyous and playful.
Intelligence:Highly intelligent.
Socialization:Gets along very well with other dogs but stills need to be socialized at an early age.
Destructive Behavior:Will chew or dig if bored.
People Skills:Excellent with everyone they meet.
Good with Children:Very patient with children.
Activity Levels:Highly active and need plenty of exercise.

Summary

Whether you are a first time owners or an experienced keeper, anyone can easily welcome a Black Lab into their home.

These easy-going dogs are beyond sweet and get along with everyone they meet.

They love to be the center of attention and this is not difficult for them because everyone will constantly want to watch their goofy antics.

These pups need lots of exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.

However f you are willing to provide these dogs with lots of activities and food they will pay you back in love and adoration for the rest of their lives…

Thomas Woods Face Portrait
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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