Posted 3 months ago
By Abigail Rabbett
Labradors are the best dog breed, it's just a fact.
They are energetic, clever, affectionate and make great family pets.
Or if you're partial to country pursuits, they make excellent working dogs.
But what's even better than a Labrador? A Black Labrador.
My brother has a yellow lab - and while very lovely, he (the dog, not my brother) can only be described as a lion. He's enormous and he has giant (usually muddy) paws.
You can't cuddle him on the sofa unless you want to be hot, bothered and covered in white hair - far from ideal if you, like me, own a chic black wardrobe.
That's just one of the reasons why black Labradors have the upper hand (or should that be paw?).
Others include their sleek coat, velvety ears and irresistibly goofy temperament.
My dad, who is very fond of our dog despite what he says, has a song about black Labradors which is very fitting here.
"I love black Labradors but they have smelly paws" is the opening line (he's not wrong).
My black lab puppy, Shadow is all for the snuggles.
Every morning, he bounds up to me and licks my whole face - it's like having a very cute superfan.
He's incredibly intuitive too. I recently lost my mum and we brought Shadow to keep us company.
During the grieving process, he has been the most amazing tonic.
From making walks to the grave less lonely, to a comforting paw on the knee during teary moments - he has been an undeniable force of good during some exceptionally difficult and painful times.
I might be biased about black Labradors - as they are the only dogs I have ever had.
There was Sam, a burley and lovable gundog with a head the size of a dinner plate.
Then there was Storm. We had him for 17 years (a ripe old age for any dog) - and he was without hesitation, the greatest pet ever.
He was small for a Labrador but fit as a butcher's dog (which we credit in part to the slice of wholemeal toast he had every morning, without fail). He was a pal through my angsty teenage years and was my dad's best friend. When we had to have him put down, it was at the time one of my biggest heartbreaks.
And then last but not least, there's our Shadz.
He'll sit on you, smother you in puppy kisses (usually while on a Zoom call) and sneak into your bedroom in the middle of the night.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a dog that will love you unconditionally, run rings around and eat anything within reach, then get a Labrador, they are the best.
Vet Linda, from Pooch & Mutt, says:
1. Aim for one and a half hours of exercise each day for adult Labs, which should be made up of a combination of walks, hikes, swims and agility-style activities.
2. Medical conditions that we need to be aware of in Labradors include: hip and elbow dysplasia, obesity, ear infections, atopic dermatitis, epilepsy and hypothyroidism.
3. As Labradors are eager to please and very food responsive, they tend to make excellent training partners.
4. As they are prone to overeating, one of the main goals of a Labrador owner should be to keep their dog in good shape, avoiding too many carbohydrates and fats and ensuring they get a high quality protein source from their food.
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