Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Labrador Retriever puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Labrador Retrievers, the best dog food diet for feeding Labrador Retriever puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Labrador Retriever dog breed

Labrador Retriever Health Problems and Raising a Labrador Retriever Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in Labrador Retrievers:

Orthopedic problems are very common, with Labrador Retrievers suffering high rates of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella.

  • Between 1974 and 2005, the Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 176,000 Labs and found 12 dysplastic. Compare that to the Flat-Coated Retriever, who has a hip dysplasia rate of 4%.
  • Similarly, the elbow X-rays of 33,000 Labrador Retrievers were evaluated and 11.5% were dysplastic. Compare that to the Flat-Coat at 1.5%
  • Luxating patella was evaluated at 18% – the 5th worst rate of 57 breeds.

Other orthopedic health problems in Labrador Retrievers include osteochondritis, panosteitis, cruciate ligament rupture, wobbler's syndrome, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

Eye diseases are common in Labradors, as well:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) appears at 4-8 years old and leads to blindness.
  • Cataracts can appear anytime from birth to old age.
  • Retinal dysplasia is very common in Labrador puppies, especially from field-hunting lines – it ranges from mild to severe and can be accompanied by a form of dwarfism in which the front legs are shortened and bowed out at the elbows.
  • Eyelid abnormalities include entropion and ectropion.

Heart disease (tricuspid valve dysplasia) and epilepsy have become serious concerns in Labrador Retrievers.

Tumors and cancers (especially mast cell tumors, melanoma, histiocytic sarcoma, digital squamous cell carcinoma) are increasing in the breed.

As with all deep-chested breeds, Labs are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.

Skin problems are common, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). Other skin diseases include seborrhea, lick granuloma, and nail bed disease.

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases occur in Labs, especially hypothyroidism, but also diabetes and Addison's disease.

Blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's, hemophilia A, hemophilia B) are potential concerns in the breed.

A number of neurological/neuromuscular diseases affect Labrador Retrievers, including polyneuropathy (specifically centronuclear myopathy), laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, myasthenia gravis, cerebellar ataxia, narcolepsy, and also vague head tremors that may be the result of unknown abnormalities in the brain.

In field/hunting lines, exercise-induced weakness is an odd disease in which young adult Labs (7-24 months old) who have been vigorously exercising suddenly begin swaying, collapse, and require a rest before they can move again.


You probably want to know if you can prevent those health issues from happening to YOUR Labrador Retriever.

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Labrador Retrievers today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Labrador Retriever puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental, which means they're caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Labrador Retriever puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Labrador Retriever puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Labrador Retriever lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Labrador Retriever
The best diet for feeding your Labrador Retriever is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Labrador Retriever. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Labrador Retriever
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Labrador Retriever. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Labrador Retriever puppy really need? Does your adult Lab need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what some vets aren't telling you....


Information on choosing the best vet for your Labrador Retriever. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Labrador Retriever. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Labrador Retriever.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.