Whether you’re already an owner of a Labrador Retriever dog or puppy and want to learn as much as you can about this precious little being, or are looking to get one but want to do some research beforehand to see whether this breed is the right fit for you or not, one of the most common questions that pops to mind and gets asked is “how long do Labs live?”.
I think it’s safe to say that if it were up to us, we’d let all our dogs have longer lifespans than the ones we do – if anything, just so we don’t have to deal with the heartbreak of their passing when the time comes.
But, and seeing that obviously none of us can do such a thing, we research the average lifespan of dogs such as Labradors to get an idea about how many years we’ll be able to enjoy their existence around us and in our lives.
Whether you’re wondering about the life expectancy of your black Labrador, chocolate Labrador, fox red Labrador, yellow Labrador or English Labrador, this article lays out tons of information you should know about.
How Long Do Labs Live? (Lifespan Expectancy)
Generally speaking, the numbers show that the average life expectancy of Labradors is between 10 years to 12 years of age.
Of course, and depending on many different factors life throws at different Labs, some of these dogs may live short lifespans and never get to see 10 to 12 years of age, while other Labs may live longer lifespans beyond the upper limit of 12 years.
On one part of the equation, events like illnesses, health problems, diseases contracted, physical injuries and accidents could obviously play a big role in determining your Labrador’s lifespan.
And, on the other part of the equation, and assuming that all other factors are equal and constant, one Lab’s lifespan will be different than another Lab’s lifespan because of difference in genetic makeup.
It’s just that the majority of Labs seem to live lifespans that fall within, or at least fairly close to, the 10 to 12 year range.
Compared to other dog breeds out there, this lifespan is considered to be somewhere in the middle. Some dog breeds are known to live for a significantly longer amount of time, while other dog breeds are known to live far less than the Lab’s life expectancy.
What Factors Determine The Labrador’s Life Span?
The following is a list of some of the most important factors that affect a Labrador’s lifespan.
Size: Being the medium to large sized dog breed it is, Labradors tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller sized dog breeds.
By now, it’s been proven time and time again that all other factors in life constant, small sized dog breeds tend to live longer than larger sized dog breeds, and this has also been proven to be true in the case of Labs. For example, have a look at the average lifespan of Chihuahuas, which is said to be anywhere between 12 to 20 years of age.
Now that’s a long lifespan! Also have a look at the average lifespan of Dachshunds, which is said to be anywhere between 14 to 17 years, which is a few years more than that of a Labrador Retriever.
These are not the only two breeds out there with longer lifespans than a larger sized Lab, but are enough examples to get this point across for now.
Pedigree Dog: Because of the fact that the Labrador is a pedigree dog, it’s believed to have a slightly longer lifespan than other dogs out there, especially when compared to cross breeds (a.k.a designer dog breeds).
For those of you who don’t know what a pedigree dog is, it’s defined as the offspring of two parent dogs that are from the same breed.
So, in the case of Labradors, both their mother and father parents are also Labradors. On the other hand, cross breeds where one parent is, for example, a Labrador Retriever and the other parent a Pitbull, are believed to have shorter lifespans than pedigree dogs.
Again, this is not always a rule set in stone, so it may or may not apply into determining YOUR Labrador’s lifespan duration – it’s just a factor you should know about regardless.
You’re usually able to easily determine whether your Labrador is a purebred or a pedigree dog by asking the breeder you bought them from – if the breeder is up to standard, that is.
High quality breeders will have documents that keep track of, prove and are able to answer most questions you may have about the dog and its parents, while shady breeders almost always will not.
Inherited Physical & Health Problems: Just like the case is when trying to estimate the lifespan of any dog breed out there, a Labrador’s physical and health problems that it tends to inherit from its parents are also weighed while trying to estimate how many years this dog tends to live.
Some of the most common physical and health problems that Labradors are known to inherit from their parents, which put them at higher risk of experiencing these problems during their lifetimes than other dog breeds out there, are the following: Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation.
The risks of your Labrador inheriting these illnesses and physical problems depend on their genetics, how much of these problems their parents suffered from during their lifetimes and how much your Labrador takes after either/both parents.
What Can I Do To Add Years To My Lab’s Life?
The following is a list of some of the most important issues you should keep in mind and try to implement in order to give your Labrador a shot at the longest lifespan possible, which we obviously all strive for.
Buy From Reputable Breeders: Probably the most important thing you could ever do if you want to get a Labrador that lives its full life expectancy is to buy from a reputable breeder.
That’s if you’re buying a Labrador puppy, of course, and not adopting. Many people think they’re saving on a significant amount of money by buying from breeders that offer them Labradors for fairly low prices, but what they don’t realize is that many (not all) of these breeders are fraudulent.
What you often end up getting with these breeders is unethical breeding practices that result in a puppy that will grow up to be plagued with all kinds of different health and physical problems because of these practices they followed.
Proper Diet: Because of how easy it is for Labradors to become overweight really fast, it’s extra important that you pay real good attention to this breed’s diet and eating habits.
An overweight or obese Labrador is a dog that has a significantly higher risk to suffer from cardiovascular diseases down the line, which obviously shortens their lifespan.
So, make sure to only feed them high quality dog food manufactured to meet their nutritional needs and make sure you’re properly calculating their portions and caloric intake to prevent them from getting a constant caloric surplus.
You should never leave your Labrador to free-feed, as they’re dogs with huge appetites that will eat multiple times their calorie’s limit for the day before they feel really full.
If you look at a large number of Labradors, you’ll find that a significant portion of them is either overweight or plain out obese, something which is just not acceptable on part of any dog owner.
Blaming it on those Labrador eyes that just make you cave in to feeding them what they want whenever they want it just isn’t a good enough excuse at this day and age, especially with the information we now know about the health risks associated with obesity in all dogs alike.
Constant Exercise: Besides paying close attention to your Lab’s diet and eating habits, you should also put in the necessary effort to supply them with necessary amounts of exercise and physical activity they need to be getting on a near daily basis for them to stay healthy and for you to prolong their lifespan as much as possible.
Studies have shown, and it’s really just stating the obvious here as no study is ever needed to reiterate this point, that Labradors that are regularly exercised live longer and happier lives than those that aren’t given similar physical activity outlets.
Besides, providing your Labrador with constant exercise will also help keep problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia at bay.
The good part about all of this is that Labradors, no matter what type they are, are all notorious for actually enjoying taking part of many different types of exercise and physical activity.
One of the most popular forms of physical activity a Labrador likes to take part in is swimming, so give that a try if you’re out of ideas.
Do Different Types Of Labs Have Different Lifespans?
One question we often hear being asked whenever the topic of Labrador lifespans is brought up, is: Do different types of Labs have different lifespans? Does the lifespan of an English lab differ from that of a yellow Lab? Or does the lifespan of a chocolate lab differ from that of a fox red lab?
The quick answer to that question is no, lifespans do not tend to differ between different types of Labs – the general lifespan range mentioned above holds true for all different types of Labradors out there.
This is because all these different types of Labs are prone to suffer from the same physical and health problems throughout their lifetimes by the same level of risk, so there really is not much in that department to differentiate the lifespan of one dog of one Lab type from another dog of another Lab type.