By Dr Laura van Dalen. There is a breed for everyone, but not all breeds are for everybody. Do your homework and find out which kind of dog suits your lifestyle. Some facts to take under consideration are: Exercising. Labs need to exercise a lot. Even the most lay back puppy, will need to play for many hours every day. Training is a must, and it needs to be reinforced daily. Labs love the outdoors where they can explore, play, swim, sunbathe, etc., but they do not like to be left alone for long periods of time or overnight. They always love human companionship and want to be close. A perfect way to bond with your dog is to do regular walks. Walks are not only about the physical exercise, but walks are also very important for the wellbeing of the Lab's mind. Grooming. Labs have a short coat with a dense undercoat. Brushing once or twice a week is fine, but when shedding season comes, brushing daily is a must. Labs don't need to be bathe all that often. Once a month is plenty to keep a healthy skin and coat. Size of your house or apartment. I've had a few of my puppies living at small houses, condos, and apartments, but it takes a lot of time, energy, and effort from their owners to keep their dogs properly exercised and mentally stimulated. Bored dogs will become a problem. Ideally, Labs need a house with at least a medium size yard. Babies, special needs, and the elderly. When small kids or older people are involved, you need the lowest energy and gentler puppy. Same when having a special needs person in your household. Budget for veterinarian, feeding, etc. Thank God, Labradors are a healthy breed, and they require little vet attention. Still, accidents and bad things happen, and you must be prepared for it. Labs love to eat, but they should not be fed a lot. Good premium food is a must to keep your dog healthy. They'll eat about 1 big bag (40#) of premium food a month for about $65. Labs have the tendency to swallow everything, and they find themselves often in big trouble. You would have to dog proof your house! The most common problem is ear infections, especially is dogs that go swimming often. I highly recommend getting health insurance for your Labrador.
Temperament The English Lab is lay back by nature, but because they are pack animals, they respond to pack behavioral instincts, and some could be more dominant than others. The dominant ones will be more outgoing and will get into trouble more easily. They will be happy to have a job and will enjoy the outdoors a little more. This type of puppies does well at shows, performance, and hunting. They'll be a perfect match for active and well-organized families. Serious training is a must. The submissive ones will be more gentle and mellow. These puppies will be the perfect match for small children, special needs people, and the elderly. They love to be inside and going outside will be fun only if their owners accompany them. Gender. Males are more loving and playful, but they can take longer to mature. The dominant ones can become a challenge for inexperienced owners that do not take over the leader role. They are usually 15-20 pounds larger than females. Females are more attached to their family and can be more protective of their people. They mature faster and are probably the best option for inexperience owners. Spaying is a must for pet females. Color. Everybody has a color preference, but the color will not affect the personality and conformation of the puppy. If you feel that a puppy is the right one for you, don’t allow the color be the reason why you are not choosing him or her. Are you ready for a puppy? Let's be realistic. If you are a single person that has a new job, works outside 10-12 hours a day, lives in a rented space and/or has a very tight budget, you should not get a puppy yet. Wait until you are ready to have a pet. This is part of been a responsible owner. When a person isn't ready, this experience may end in a sad situation. Beware. Beware of breeders that claim to sell AKC Champion puppies. Puppies younger than 6 month can't be shown, much less be champions. Beware of breeders that sale rare colors like Silver, champagne, charcoal or brindle Labradors. Beware of breeders that do not show you the mother of the puppies, or want to meet you somewhere else than the place where the puppies are raised. Beware of breeder that work as brokers for other breeders.