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Understanding Labrador Retriever Health Issues

Labrador Retrievers are sweet-natured, easy-going, and affectionate dogs. It’s no wonder they are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States and America’s favorite family dogs. Labrador Retrievers come in yellow, black, and chocolate.

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Labrador Retrievers were initially bred to be useful and reliable working dogs. Originated in Newfoundland, Canada, the Labrador Retrievers were purpose-bred to be hunting dogs and work as duck retrievers. Thus, they are a sporting and waterfowl breed.

With a waterproof double coat to protect from wet and cold weather, thick tails, and webbed toes, the Labrador Retrievers love the water. They are energetic, active, strong, and eager to please.  

Today, Labrador Retrievers share many of the same work ethics as their ancestors. They can work in a variety of settings including retrievers for hunters, search and rescue dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs. Their intelligence allows them to be perfect assistance dogs for those with disabilities. Labrador Retriever has a strong nose, a courageous nature, and is athletically build. This makes them great search and rescue dogs.  Labradors are also easily adaptable and easily trained with a strong desire to please.

With an average life span of 10 to 12 years, the Labrador Retrievers are relatively healthy breeds. They have great agility so they can run, swim, and work for hours. However, there are a few common health concerns that are more common among Labrador Retrievers.

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

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Like the Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers are prone to both elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. Common in larger breeds, elbow and hip dysplasia occurs when the bones that form the hip and elbow joint develop abnormalities in the cartilage that lines the surface of the joint structures around it. This can lead to arthritis. You will notice your Labrador Retriever laying down more and not willing to exercise or go up and down the stairs. Being that this dog breed is naturally active with a lot of energy, this may be a sign of elbow and hip dysplasia. When you’re walking your dog to go potty, try using a retractable dog leash to give your Labrador Retriever more space to walk at their own pace with less pressure so they feel more comfortable.

To prevent elbow and hip dysplasia, it is vital for your dog to eat high-quality food. The food should contain vitamins and nutrients. Exercise is key. Along with proper food intake, it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight through low-impact exercise such as swimming.

Additionally, there are supplements that help with joint problems in Labrador Retrievers. Visit your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will recommend a few supplements that are best for your dog. If it is severe, your veterinarian can recommend long-term treatment or surgery. All of this will allow your dog to get back to having an active life.  

Cruciate Ligament Rupture

All dog breeds are susceptible to cruciate ligament damage. Labrador Retrievers are no different. The cruciate ligaments cross inside the dog’s knee joint in order to hold it stable. When the ligaments fray and rupture, it can lead to a lack of stability in the knee. Rupture can happen if your Labrador Retriever got into a physical injury such as landing hard when jumping or running. Cruciate ligament rupture can also happen gradually throughout the Labrador Retrievers’ life, especially if the dog is overweight.

To treat a cruciate ligament rupture, it is best to get surgery to stabilize the knee joint. A more conservative approach for CCL treatment can include a combination of a dog wheelchair and rehabilitation therapy.

Ear Infections

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We all love our Labrador Retrievers with their large floppy ears. Sadly, their large ears can become a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This makes them more susceptible to ear infections.

To prevent ear infections, keeping the Labrador Retriever’s ear clean and dry is essential. After swimming in the lake or taking a bath, take the time to dry their ears. Check their ears regularly to look for any signs of infection. Grooming your Labrador is crucial. If there is excessive hair in the ears, make sure to remove it.

If your Labrador Retriever has an ear infection, visit the veterinarian right away. The veterinarian will provide you with a treatment plan depending on the severity of the infection.


When Labrador Retrievers suffer from allergies, it can lead to skin inflammation called dermatitis. There are many ways a Labrador Retriever can get allergies. It could be through inhaling pollen or dust mites, eating human food such as raisins, getting into contact with human perfumes, or through flea bites.

Thankfully, allergies and skin conditions can be managed through treatments. Make sure to visit the veterinarian who will provide treatments specifically for your dog. This way, your Labrador Retriever can get back to enjoying life again.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Vision loss and blindness from Progressive Retinal Atrophy is common in Labrador Retrievers. PRA is a genetic condition that causes Labs to slowly go blind overtime. The PRA gene mutation occurs in about 20% of Labrador Retrievers each year. Although gene therapy is available, it is not widely available as a cure.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Labrador Retrievers do not have many health problems. Make sure to visit the veterinarian regularly for check-ups as early detection is key. It’s important to be aware of the health issues before getting a Labrador Retriever. Being aware of potential health issues will allow your Labrador to live a long, happy, healthy, and active life.

Labrador Retriever Mobility Products

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