Labrador retrievers are a popular breed for families, and many wish to be with them for long as possible. Unfortunately, like all dogs, lab retrievers will eventually meet their end. So, how long does Labrador retriever live?
Generally, a labrador retriever can live between 10 and 12 years, like most large breeds. But some live shorter or longer, depending on the owner’s care, with some living beyond 20 years!
Read on to see how long labrador retrievers can live in-depth, common health issues, and how to prolong their lives.
How Long Does a Labrador Retriever Live?
Although there’s some consensus around the average lifespan of a Labrador retriever, there are many variances due to owner care, health problems, and its pedigree.
But generally, experts concluded that a typical lab retriever could live up to 12 years old. And with preventive care, these dogs can even go beyond 20 years!
Although this may seem short, remember that ten years in doggy years is approximately 60 years for us. You may also feel great knowing that lab retrievers are one of the longest-living breeds. After all, there are many ways to prolong a Labrador retriever’s lifespan.
What are the Common Signs to Know Your Labrador Retriever is Dying?
Bidding your farewell to your Labrador retriever can be one of the most challenging things to do. And though any dog owner would want to keep their furry friend around longer, it’s not ideal. So, if you see these signs in your Labrador retriever, it’s time to call your vet:
- Your lab is in visible pain or discomfort, often hiding or trembling.
- The dog can’t move well and now acts more aggressively.
- Excess panting and restlessness.
- Your Labrador retriever doesn’t eat or want to play as much anymore.
- Difficulty in grooming itself.
When you think it’s time to say goodbye to your Labrador retriever, find a reliable home vet who can come to your home. And though it can be difficult, it’s best to stay with your lab till its last breath to show your love till the end.
Labrador Retriever Development (Life Stages)
Knowing the developmental stages can help you paint a better picture of how long does Labrador retriever live — and the best way to handle it per stage.
Newborn lab retriever pups can’t hear or see their surroundings. And they depend on their mothers to live, fighting for sustenance and warmth. They’ll start to see, hear, and move after two weeks, interacting more.
Lab pups must begin socializing with other animals and humans at four weeks. You should ensure your Labrador retriever gets used to getting handled by people. Please do this for short periods to avoid stressing it out and let it spend more time with its mother and siblings.
I don’t recommend adopting a Labrador retriever pup that young, and it’s best to wait for it to turn eight weeks! After all, even if they’re weaned, these puppies still need to learn how to be proper dogs.
These pups will learn vital skills at eight weeks and beyond from their mom and siblings.
Between 8 and 12 weeks, Labrador retriever pups often go to their new forever homes. But as exciting as this can be, it can be overwhelming for the small puppy. So, take things at the young lab retriever’s pace, free from crowds and rushed interactions!
Start training the pup once it turns three months for long-term retention. Keep the training sessions short yet fun, using positive reinforcement. But you can also discipline your lab if it displays terrible behavior by ignoring it for a few minutes.
That teaches the young lab retriever that it won’t get any attention for misbehaving.
Overall, expect a Labrador retriever’s puppyhood until it turns 1 or 2 years old. Only by then will this breed become 100% grown and mature.
Although most lab retrievers become official adults after one year, some may continue filling out until their second birthday, even when they stop growing. Either way, this is the prime time of your Labrador retriever’s life, often needing more care, attention, and love!
Most consider Labrador retrievers senior dogs when they turn seven years old, no matter how healthy and active they are! But expect your lab to develop health issues at this point.
I recommend watching out for prevalent health problems in lab retrievers, such as arthritis and cancer. Of all the issues, arthritis is guaranteed to happen in most Labrador retrievers. And though your lab can still live happily, moving around might be painful and challenging.
It’s best to bring your senior lab retriever to its vet for regular check-ups to ensure its health.
What Health Issues Affect the Lifespan of a Labrador Retriever?
Below are health issues in Labrador retrievers every owner must know, as they can die from them:
Obesity is the most prevalent health problem in Labrador retrievers, especially older ones. When left uncontrolled, excess weight can shorten your lab’s lifespan.
So, keep your Labrador retriever healthy by controlling its diet and exercise.
🩺 Joint Issues (Canine Hip Dysplasia)
Labrador retrievers are prone to joint issues, specifically canine hip dysplasia. It’s a degenerative joint disease affecting over 5% of the lab population. Aside from that, this breed is more vulnerable to arthritis, inflicting more pain on your lab.
CHD or any joint issue in lab retrievers stems from excess weight or old age. The former is more painful for the breed as it adds more pressure on its joints. And that’s inevitable, considering a Labrador retriever is a large dog.
Either way, once CHD occurs, it’ll be more difficult for your lab retriever to move. Still, please don’t neglect your lab’s exercise and help it keep the weight off.
Managing CHD or any joint issue in lab retrievers is tricky, so it’s best to ask your vet for a second opinion.
🩺 Tumor Growth
Tumor growth is expected in Labrador retrievers, specifically females, with skin tumors on their chests and legs being the most prevalent. But all hope isn’t lost, considering not all tumors in lab retrievers are cancerous or fatal.
So, your older Labrador retriever might develop some bumps and lumps, and your vet can guide you on treating them.
As briefly mentioned, Labrador retrievers are vulnerable to joint issues, specifically arthritis. This breed can develop this debilitating medical condition over time. And though it isn’t fatal, it can impact its overall life.
In the early stages, you can treat a Labrador retriever’s arthritis with supplements. These include pain pills and other treatments suggested by vets. Still, the condition can progress to the point your lab retriever will have difficulty moving around or lose its leg functions altogether.
In short, it’s up to you, the owner, and your preferred vet to decide when your lab’s quality of life is affected enough to consider euthanasia.
🩺 Heart Disease
Heart disease in lab retrievers hails from many factors, including diet, genetics, and weight. Although keeping your Labrador retriever on a healthy and nutritious diet can reduce its risk, it won’t remove it.
So, if you see any signs of heart disease in your lab, like tiredness and coughing, contact its vet ASAP!
🩺 Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is a massive concern for lab retrievers as they’re heavy eaters. The medical condition often happens when a Labrador retriever eats something toxic, shutting down its kidneys. Meanwhile, chronic kidney failure occurs slower and can come from unexpected things like terrible dental hygiene.
Diabetes can also find its way to your Labrador retriever. And though it’s rare for lab retriever pups to be born or develop diabetes while young, it can still happen. Hence, it’s best to ask for a comprehensive health history from the breeder.
Although diabetes can also affect older lab retrievers, the chances aren’t as high. After all, this breed isn’t too vulnerable to this medical condition. And you can help your Labrador retriever avoid it by giving it a balanced and healthy diet.
🩺 Bloating (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)
Bloating or flipped stomach, medically known as “gastric dilatation volvulus,” is a massive concern for Labrador retrievers as these big dogs love their food. It roots from overeating, letting air get trapped in the lab’s stomach. As a result, the trapped air bloats and twists the stomach.
When a lab retriever’s stomach becomes swollen, it can begin to press on the blood vessels. As a result, it can block blood and oxygen, which can be fatal when left untreated. If you don’t have your Labrador retriever operated for bloating or GDV, expect your dog to pass away in a couple of hours.
🩺 Otitis Externa
Otitis externa is a medical condition where a Labrador retriever’s external ear canal continually swells. This inflammation isn’t only painful for your lab and makes your dog prone to ear infections.
Whenever water or other debris gets into your lab’s ear, it should be able to shake or rub them off. But when trapped in an inflamed ear canal, it can irritate the ear, leading to infections.
Unfortunately, this medical condition affects more than 10% of lab retrievers. And it’s more common in certain shades. For instance, a black Labrador retriever is less likely to develop otitis externa than a chocolate lab.
Finally, cancer is the last common health issue affecting a Labrador retriever’s lifespan. It’s like cancer in humans, stemming from different factors. Unfortunately, once your lab retriever develops cancer, it’s only a matter of time before it passes away. After all, even operating on the tumor won’t make a difference.
The most common cancer in lab retrievers is lymphoma, affecting the white blood cells in the dog’s body.
How to Prolong Your Labrador Retriever’s Life?
No owner wants their Labrador retriever to leave them too soon. So, to guarantee a longer and happier life for your lab, here are a few tips you must explore:
✔️ Pick a Reputable Breeder
The most crucial step you can take to support your Labrador retriever’s long life is picking the right breeder. After all, they’ll be the ones to tell you everything about the lab, including potential inherited diseases.
Labrador retrievers can inherit many diseases, such as:
- Cushing’s disease
- Heart disease or defect
Be meticulous when choosing a breeder in your state to guarantee a healthy and happy Labrador retriever. Ensure they closely and carefully monitor the lab’s developing conditions. With this, you’ll find a healthy lab with an impeccable bloodline in no time.
Also, remember that shades also correlate to a lab retriever’s health. So, ask the breeder for the specific medical history of your chosen coat color. After all, research has shown that darker-colored Labrador retrievers tend to live shorter than yellow-coated or creamed labs as they have unique needs.
✔️ Neuter and Spay Your Labrador Retriever
A foolproof way to prolong a Labrador retriever’s lifespan is by neutering or spaying it. Removing a male lab’s testicles or a female lab’s uterus and ovaries eliminates their chance of developing testicular and uterine tumors or cancers. Aside from that, this medical procedure reduces their risk for other diseases such as hernia.
Also, spaying a female Labrador retriever will stop her from going into heat and conceiving a litter, which can shorten her lifespan. And sometimes, this stressful period can lead to other life-limiting health issues in lab retrievers.
Meanwhile, neutered male Labrador retrievers are less likely to run away from home to search for a mate whenever in heat. Hence, it reduces their risks of injuries from accidents or fights with other animals outdoors.
Since different labs have varying health concerns, consult your Labrador retriever’s vet to see the best time to have it spayed or neutered for its safety.
✔️ Maintain Your Labrador Retriever’s Ideal Weight
Coordinate and talk to your lab retriever’s vet to balance its diet and feeding routine. Pick age-appropriate foods with the proper nutritional value for your Labrador’s health.
When choosing quality kibble, be sure to check for these factors:
- The first ingredient of the formula should be “real” meat.
- The fewer the ingredients, the better it is for your Labrador retriever’s health.
- Avoid synthetic additives, as these have little to no nutritional value.
- All-natural ingredients.
Generally, less is always more for this dog breed, and lab retrievers can live with one meal a day. But if you’re unsure what diet to put your furry friend in, don’t hesitate to consult your lab retriever’s vet. After all, who else knows your lab’s health better than its veterinarian?
✔️ Dental Care
Dental care is among the most crucial health aspects of a Labrador retriever. But as vital as this is, many lab retriever owners neglect it. So, if you still need to care for your puppy’s teeth, now’s the time to do it!
Like how the eyes serve as the windows to a Labrador retriever’s soul, teeth are the windows for the rest of its body. A lab retriever’s teeth and gums are the hidden pathways for pathogens to enter its body. And without you or your lab realizing, these things are already wreaking havoc in your dog’s body.
Bad breath will be the least of your problems with your lab retriever when that happens.
The worst-case scenario will be bacteria around the roots of your lab’s teeth gaining access to its bloodstream. It’ll lead to bacteremia, a periodontal disease that can inflame the heart muscles of your lab.
Research studies have shown that Labrador retrievers with severe periodontal disease might experience organ damage. And most often, this occurs in their kidneys, heart, and liver. When untreated, this simple dental issue can lead to irreversible and, sometimes, fatal damage.
You can support your Labrador retriever’s dental health in many ways. And here are some proven techniques to help your lab’s pearly whites stay that way:
- Regularly brush your Labrador retriever’s teeth at least once a day.
- Take your lab for professional dental cleanings once or twice a year.
Doing all these ensure your lab retriever’s teeth stay healthy and strong. Aside from regular brushing, I recommend giving your Labrador dental chews and water additives. These strengthen and clean your lab’s teeth.
With regular and proper dental care, your Labrador retriever may be able to extend its life span by 3 to 5 years.
✔️ Exercise — But In Moderation
Although exercise is crucial for keeping your lab retriever healthy, never overdo it. After all, too much movement in Labradors might lead to excess strain on the dog’s joints. Moreover, some young Labrador retriever puppies are born with a condition dubbed “EIC,” or exercise-induced collapse.
Ask the breeder for clues to create a safer and more accurate exercise plan for your lab retriever. Generally, 1 to 2 hours of walking should be enough to keep your Labrador retriever energized and fit without overdoing it.
✔️ Add Supplements to Your Labrador Retriever’s Diet
Commercial dog food has unique formulas to give Labrador retrievers all they need in one package. The issue is that nutrition could be more complex, making it an excellent idea to approach it from various angles.
Hence, it’s best to use excellent supplements to ensure your Labrador retriever gets everything it needs in each meal.
✔️ Offer Regular Mental Enrichment and Stimulation
Physical health aside, stimulating a lab retriever’s mental state can also help prolong its life. But like with aging humans, cognitive functions will reduce in older Labradors. So, starting early and enrolling your child in school is crucial.
You can use several activities, toys, and products to enrich your lab’s environment and keep your dog in mind. The best way to approach this is by saying you two have a short and sweet daily training session.
A fun enrichment activity benefiting all lab retrievers of all ages is “sniff-ari.”
✔️ Pay Attention
Aside from paying attention to your Labrador retriever’s physical health, focus on actual “attention” as well. After all, even dogs can get depression! And considering lab retrievers are quite clingy, they can succumb to loneliness — fast.
So, please pay attention to your lab retriever whenever you can and give pets and play with it. This way, your lab can stay healthy and happy, knowing you’re there for it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it possible for a Labrador retriever to live for 20 years?
A: Although most Labrador retrievers live between 10 and 12 years, some can go beyond that. Well-cared-for labs can live beyond 20 years, with the oldest recorded to live up to 27 years old!
Q: How long does Labrador retriever live?
A: Like most large breed dogs, a Labrador retriever can live well over a decade. And though the usual max limit for this breed is 12 years, some can go beyond two decades. But specific breed variations like the chocolate Labrador retriever have a shorter lifespan.
Q: How can I help my Labrador retriever live past 12 years old?
A: Proper care, diet, and love will help most Labrador retrievers live longer. But remember, there’s no guarantee, as each lab’s health is different!
Q: How long will a Labrador retriever with cancer live?
A: There’s no precise estimated lifespan for a Labrador retriever with cancer. But often, these dogs won’t be able to live for long once the symptoms become unbearable.
Q: What are the common causes of death in Labrador retrievers?
A: Cancer and musculoskeletal issues are the most common cause of death among Labrador retrievers. And though the latter isn’t fatal alone, it can cause unbearable pain. As a result, most lab retriever owners opt to have their dogs euthanized.
How long does Labrador retriever live? A lab retriever can live up to 12 years with proper care and diet. But some can last beyond 20 years, depending on the dog’s overall health and breeding conditions. Either way, no matter how long your lab has to live, it’ll always have plenty of love to offer — guaranteeing fun times in the next decade or so.