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Labradors are renowned for being one of the most loving breeds around. Often termed, America’s favorite dog — Labs benefit from good overall health and few serious or dire complications.
Poor nutrition and a lack of exercise can, however, lead to unnecessary health afflictions and a shortened Labrador life expectancy, but we’ll be taking you through a look at these soon.
So, how long do Labs live? A Labrador retriever’s average life expectancy is between 10 and 14 years.
Let’s delve closer into just how long you can expect your Labrador to live while pointing on basic factors that affect a Lab’s lifespan as well.
Factors That Can Affect How Long Labs Live
One of the best ways to increase your Lab’s life expectancy is to feed your Labrador a controlled diet.
No snacks, high-fat food, and low-cost kibble that carries the wrong nutrient profile. Make sure your dog food is specially formulated for medium-large sized dogs, and opt for human-quality meat- fish and poultry.
Complex carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potato are the ideal support for a well-rounded diet, but depending on your approach, you may decide to go with a scientifically formulated food instead. Both methods work as long as you cover all nutrient, protein, fat, and mineral requirements.
Most healthy diet recommendations for a Labrador are set at 50% animal protein, 30% complex carbs, and the final 20% is made up of fresh fruit and vegetables. Add a healthy source of omega 3’s like tuna or salmon regularly, and you’ve got a nutritious meal plan.
Read more about the Labrador diet and breed-specific recommendations in our guide: The Best Dog Foods for Labs.
Exercise Affects a Lab’s Life Expectancy
Exercise is critical to the good health of your dog. Labrador retrievers are high-energy animals that need a good amount of high-intensity exercise to keep their bodies in tip-top shape. The general time frame of exercise for a normal, healthy adult Labrador is roughly one hour of exercise per day. This can be anything that’s a bit of a higher pace than walking.
Walks should always be around 90-minutes long, while energetic exercise like fetch or jogging is best over the course of 45 minutes, with a 15-minute gentle cooldown. The more energetic your Labrador Retriever, the more exercise they will need.
Health Conditions That Can Affect the Labrador Lifespan
If a Lab is fed an unhealthy diet over a prolonged period, certain issues can arise. This, in combination with a lack of exercise, may spur a range of problems in this otherwise extremely healthy breed.
Here’s a list of the health conditions to be aware of, so that you can take preventative steps.
1. Canine Hip Dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia classifies the condition whereby a dog develops a malformation of the coxo-femoral joint. This can result from either genetic or environmental causes.
When the ball no longer fits snugly into the hip socket, dysplasia has occurred. It is vital to control the diet of these hungry dogs. With a feverous appetite, it is easy to allow them to overconsume.
Maintaining a consistently high body mass index stresses the joints, which heightens the risk of dysplasia. There’s no cure for this condition, but it won’t impact the lifespan of your Labrador Retriever as long as your dog’s quality of life doesn’t suffer. A healthy diet and avoiding exercises that put pressure on the injury is best.
2. Osteochondritis Dissecans
Osteochondritis dissecans refers to the condition occurring when ossification alters the growth of bone and cartilage. This plagues large and giant breeds more often, but it is a threat for Labrador retrievers as well.
As fragments of cartilage begin to fragment and grow weak, cartilage flaps from within your dog’s joints. This causes them to lift off the bone resulting in widespread inflammation. If left untreated, lameness will occur.
The first signs of osteochondritis dissecans include limping, trouble rising, reduced body mass, swelling joints, depression, and decreased physical exercise. This disease normally arises from overfeeding and excessive weight gain, which places immense pressure on the joints, but it can occasionally be from hereditary causes as well.
3. Patellar Luxation
Patellar luxation refers to the dislocation of the kneecap from its groove in the femur. This condition rarely causes pain and is generally caused by either direct trauma or a genetic malformation. When genetics are at the root of the dislocation, the first signs start occurring roughly four months after birth.
Kneecap dislocation is not normally a weight-related problem. Labrador retrievers are three times more likely to have patellar luxation as an abnormality. Surgery is seldom needed, and the issue rarely impairs a dog’s quality of life nor longevity.
With a healthy diet and supplemental vitamins like ascorbic acid, mixed tocopherols, and vitamins B1 and B6, Labs afflicted will live a long, happy life.
Neutering and Spaying
One way to lower your canine’s risk of tumors and cancers, as well as numerous diseases is to consider neutering or spaying. Neutering or spaying typically increases the lifespan of any dog it’s done to.
Removing the testicles and removing the female’s uterus and ovaries eliminate testicular and uterine tumors, growths, infections, diseases, and cancers. It also lowers the chance of hernias occurring.
Remember that spaying also stops a female Lab from having to undergo the stress of conceiving. Once ‘fixed,’ a dog is far less likely to go wandering, so if this was ever an issue, it no longer would be after the procedure.
Keep in mind that opinions regarding neutering and spaying are highly contested. Certain studies show that neutering or spaying can increase the risk of leukemia and lymphoma. Be sure to research the genetics of your own dog and the procedure itself.
Life Expectancy of Labrador Retrievers: Does Color Matter?
Until recently, science accepted that all types of Labs (Black, Yellow, and Chocolate) live to roughly the same age. Recently studies by Canine Genetics and Epidemiology contradict this proving that Chocolate Labrador genetics are indeed different.
Most Chocolate labs bred in the UK are found to live lives that are 10% shorter than non-chocolate breeds. If you treat your dog well and take good care of its health and fitness, you can expect a long life.
The oldest Lab in the world lived to the age of 27 years and three months. Adjutant (a black Labrador Retriever) was born in 1936 and died in 1963, making him the 7th oldest dog ever across all breeds. This shows us that averages are very hard to rely on. Rather, care for your Lab as well as you can, always expecting the best, longest life.