If you list the most popular dog breeds globally, the Labrador Retriever will definitely find a top spot. Labs are well known for their playful nature, loyalty, and obedience. No surprises then that Labradors are used as service and therapy dogs in numerous countries across the world.
You love your Labrador puppy and can think of nothing better than spending time with it. However, have you ever wondered how many more years is your Labrador going to be with you. How long do Labradors live?
The life expectancy of dogs varies according to their size. Smaller dog breeds tend to have longer lifespans than larger ones. Mongrels tend to outlive pedigree dogs. It is safe to say that a number of factors can affect the life expectancy of a dog. So, how long do labs live?
Let’s find out.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Labrador Retriever?
Labradors live, on average, for 12 to 12.5 years. However, that is not a guaranteed lifespan for every Labrador. Some labs can live for a good number of years beyond 12 years while some don’t even make it to 10.
The UK carried out two surveys in 2004 and 2013 respectively. The 2004 survey monitored 500 labs and showed that their median life expectancy was 12.25 years. The 2013 survey monitored 400 labs and showed the median age at death to be at 12.5 years.
A more recent study was conducted in 2018 that looked at over 30,000 labs. The study showed a median life span of 12 years for Labradors overall.
Several factors can affect the longevity of your Labrador. Nutrition, health problems, and inherited diseases are some of the major ones.
How Long Do Chocolate Labradors Live?
The average lifespan of chocolate labs is around 10.7 years. Black or yellow labs tend to live at least 10% longer than chocolate Labradors.
Chocolate labs appear to have more ear and skin diseases as compared to black or yellow labs. So does the color of the coat have something to do with the lifespan of a Labrador? Researchers believe that rather than the pigment genes, it is the breeding process of chocolate Labradors that affect their longevity.
The chocolate color coat is the result of a recessive gene. To produce an offspring with a chocolate coat, both parents must carry the gene. Breeders, thus, have a significantly smaller gene pool for chocolate labs. This results in a higher probability of inherited ear and skin conditions that shorten the life of a chocolate lab.
What Is The Oldest Recorded Age Of A Labrador?
The distinction of the longest lived Labrador goes to a male lab named Adjutant. His age at death was 27 years 3 months.
What Factors Affect The Lifespan Of A Labrador?
Some of the key factors that affect the life expectancy of a Labrador are:
Labrador Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs. Larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones. Being a large dog pedigree, a Labrador’s life span is automatically shorter.
Also, pedigree dogs are more prone to genetically inherited diseases. Some common inherited diseases that labs may suffer from are elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eye problems. These diseases can also significantly lower the life span of a lab.
The quality of life of a Labrador also determines its longevity. A healthy diet and plenty of exercises are extremely important for your lab.
Labradors were traditionally hunting dogs. Hence, they were specially bred for running and jumping. They are very fast and athletic dogs. To keep them healthy, an active lifestyle is a must.
Labradors are quite prone to obesity, which can significantly affect their life span. Obesity can cause several health conditions in labs like heart, kidney, and liver diseases. These diseases limit the life span of your Labrador.
Inbreeding in Labradors is at 6.5% which is higher than other pedigree dog breeds (5%). Inbreeding can have adverse effects as it makes the Labrador much more prone to inherited genetic diseases. These diseases can significantly impact the quality and length of a lab’s life.
5. Accidents And Injuries
Labradors are active and energetic dogs. They are extremely playful and energetic dogs. As with all other high energy dogs, labs are also prone to accidents and injuries. These accidents and injuries can also shorten the life span of a Labrador Retriever.
How Can I Make My Labrador Live Longer?
Most dogs live between 13 years and 14 years. However, for labs the average drops to 12.
However, you can make your labs live a few years longer by altering their lifestyle.
Here’s what you can do to increase the life span of your favorite Labrador:
1. Maintain Dental Hygiene
Studies show that dogs over 3 years have an 85% chance of contracting some form of gum disease during their life. However, for labs gum diseases do not stop at the mouth. They spread to other areas in the body.
Gum diseases can cause open sores in the mouth which creates a pathway for bacteria and toxins to enter the body. Shockingly, gum diseases can lead to heart, kidney, or brain diseases in labs.
To increase the longevity of your lab, proper dental care is a must. Brushing is important for labs just like it is for humans. If not every day, it is advised that you brush your lab’s teeth at least every alternate day. Brushing helps reduce plaque and other dental problems minimizing health risks.
When brushing your Labrador’s teeth make sure to use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. They are very easily available in stores as well as online. Do not use toothpaste meant for human use.
However, if you cannot brush your Labrador’s teeth every other day, you may use chew bones. They are typically made of substances like pork hide which is harmless for your dog. They may also contain solutions like simethicone and poloxamer 407 which coat the teeth preventing plaque from surfacing.
2. Prevent Obesity
Labradors love to eat and your beloved pet may make those adorable puppy eyes at you to make you give it some extra treats. However, doing so can lead to overeating which in turn can cause obesity in labs.
Besides affecting the heart, lungs, and kidneys, obesity also creates severe joint problems in labs. The extra weight puts excessive pressure on the joints and ligaments which also stretch under the added pressure. Obesity can cause severe mobility issues which can be extremely painful for your Labrador.
Studies show that dogs that are kept on a nutritious but calorie-restricted diet tend to live at least 2 years longer.
Checking for obesity is not difficult. Being chubby is an obvious sign. However, in not so chubby labs, you must see that the belly is tucked in without forming love handles. Vets recommend checking the ribs for obesity. In a Labrador with a healthy weight, you can feel the ribs through the skin. However, the ribs are not obvious until the dog breathes in.
3. Neuter Labradors Only After They Turn 1
Labradors are large dogs. Due to their size, you must avoid neutering them until they are about 1 year old.
Because of their larger size, Labradors need extra testosterone for proper growth and to fulfill their muscular potential. If you neuter them at the wrong age, their bodies won’t produce the required amount of hormones necessary for their growth. This can lead to several health issues in the future.
Neutering too early could mean that the lab won’t develop all the expected muscles. Without adequate muscle support, the Labrador's skeleton would not be able to properly support its large size. Without proper support, severe joint problems may emerge in the future.
Does it mean that you should never neuter your lab? Absolutely not.
If you think that neutering is best for your dog, by all means, go ahead. Neutering has shown to have benefits like decreased risk of several types of cancers and the obvious behavioral issues.
Dogs who have not been neutered have been found to wander far when they feel the urge. It exponentially increases the risk of accidents and injuries.
However, if you do decide to neuter your lab, do not do so at six months or even less than a year. The best time to neuter your lab is at about 16 months when your lab has fully grown into his adult size.
4. Provide A Nutritious Diet
The supermarket aisles have a tremendous variety of dog food. With so many choices, it can get pretty confusing choosing the right food for your dog.
First of all, do not fall for marketing gimmicks like dog food for large dogs. Choose the dog food based on its nutritional content rather than the size of your dog.
Secondly, thoroughly inspect the ingredients list. Find a brand that has a 1:2:1 ratio of calcium phosphorus that is very important for the development and maintenance of healthy bones in your lab.
You may also look for dehydrated dog food. The process of dehydration takes away the moisture from food while locking in all the nutrition and goodness. Dehydrated vegetables tend to have 4 times the vitamins and minerals as compared to regular fresh fruits and vegetables. Dehydrated meat is said to provide 300% more protein than fresh meat. Remember to add water to these meals before you serve them to your dog.
Providing the right diet helps in maintaining the right body mass of your lab preventing obesity and other related issues.
5. Vaccinate Your Lab
A sure-fire way to increase the longevity of your Labrador is to be up-to-date with vaccinations. We cannot stress enough how important it is to get the necessary vaccinations in their first year.
Your Labrador should get all the necessary vaccinations, and not all of them. Yes, some dog owners have a tendency to over-vaccinate their dogs which is absolutely needless.
Unnecessary vaccinations can make your precious lab susceptible to a whole gamut of side effects, including blindness.
Instead of spending money on needless vaccinations, invest the money in annual medical checkups of your Labrador. Also, make sure to visit the Vet to get your lab checked out regularly. Annual health checkups and Vet visits can help diagnose any pre-existing health conditions that your dog may suffer from. Plus, if a health issue is starting to form, it is better to take preventive measures sooner than later.
Foods You Must Avoid To Increase Your Labrador Retriever's Life Span
What is healthy for humans, may or may not be healthy for your lab too. Some food items are considered healthy for humans but they must be avoided in dogs, especially labs at all costs.
You must make sure that the dog food you buy also does not have the following items:
Corn is one of the biggest allergens in dogs and is also very difficult to digest. When the digestive system of dogs breaks down corn, it releases a large amount of nitrates which stresses the kidneys. Corn is cheap and hence, is used in most commercial dog foods. Read the label carefully before buying commercial dog food.
2. White Rice, Wheat, And Soy
White rice, wheat, and soy are used as fillers in commercial dog foods. These foods, though considered nutritious in humans, do not provide adequate nutrition in labs. They can also lead to poor stools in labs. When buying dog food read through the ingredients list to see that these items are not included.
3. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is believed to increase the risk of cancer in dogs by 69%. If a dog food contains sunflower oil, stay away from it.
Most dog foods have a shelf life of 2 or more years. That is only possible because there are several additives and preservatives added to these dog food.
It is not always possible to prepare fresh and natural meals for your dog, which is why most of us use dog foods. However, whenever possible give your Labrador fresh and natural ingredients to increase the length and quality of their life.
If your pocket permits, you may opt for dehydrated foods that are both convenient, saves time, and are highly nutritious.
What Is A Good Age For A Labrador To Live?
If you ask a dog lover, they would want their Labrador to live as long as they do.
The average life expectancy of a black or yellow lab is around 12 years. However, chocolate labs live shorter lives averaging at about 10.7 years. But defying all odds, the oldest Labrador ever recorded died at the age of 27 years.
So, when we think of a good age for labs to live to, we can all agree that it is great if a lab lives beyond its average life expectancy.
What Do Labs Usually Die From?
A study conducted in 2004 showed that 31% of Labradors die from cancer which is significantly higher than other dog breeds.
However, there are other health conditions too that affect the life expectancy of your lab, like:
- Obesity - Obesity can lead to heart, lung, and kidney diseases that can shorten the life of your lab.
- Joint problems - Like other large dogs, Labradors may suffer from joint problems like hip and elbow dysplasia. These joint problems can become severely painful for your lab. There have been cases where labs had to be put down due to the unbearable pain.
- Ear and skin infections - Labradors have large floppy ears which makes them prone to ear infections. If not treated, these infections can spread to the rest of the body seriously impacting your lab's life span.
- Heart disease - Even the healthiest lab can develop heart problems as it is a common canine health issue.
- Dental problems - Improper dental hygiene makes your lab susceptible to dental problems. The bacteria from these infections can infect other parts of the body resulting in severe health problems and sometimes death.
Can Labs Live To Be 16?
The answer is a resounding Yes. Adjutant was the oldest Labrador that died at the age of 27 years.
Also, there are several recorded cases in history where Labradors have lived to 19 and 20 years.
Simply put, with the right nutrition and care you can significantly increase the longevity of your precious Labrador Retriever. When you take proper care of your lab, love it, care for it, and ensure that it has a healthy lifestyle you can add years to your lab’s life.
If Adjutant can live to 27, it is possible that other Labradors can live to be 16.
We hope we have been able to answer your question about how long do Labradors live. If you are thinking about getting a Labrador puppy, make sure you do so from a responsible breeder. A good breeder ensures that the parents are health tested so that the next generation pups have a fair chance at leading long and healthy lives.
Most importantly, you must love and care for your Labrador. They are playful, energetic dogs who need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Make sure to spend quality time with your precious pet.
Last but not the least, do not fall for their adorable puppy eyes. Watch their waistline and you can have several more years of happy memories with your precious lab.