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Can we cope with a lab?

(60 Posts)
JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 11:06:41

DH grew up with labs, absolutely adores them, and from his point of view it would be a lab or nothing.

DD (4) has inherited his obsession!

We have always said we WILL get a dog (DD is an only child and DH has always wanted a family dog) when the time is right.

DD starting school in Sept which was one of my main stumbling blocks (wanted her to start and settle in before taking on a puppy) so we are starting to talk more seriously about it.

BUT - we live in a terrace in London, it's by no means massive (especially ground floor), about 1300 square feet in total. And our garden is small.

We have decent parks about 10 min walk away though, and HUGE commons about 10-15 mins drive.

I work from home so would be able to be at home pretty much all day with the dog, no leaving it alone for long periods or anything like that.

But is it just unfeasible to have a lab in a small house like ours? DH's house was twice our size when he grew up with them (though back garden still small) and he was literally across the road from a big wide common.

I keep looking fondly at smaller dogs - our neighbours had spaniels which I alos love - actually, come to think of it they had 2 spaniels in a house the same size as ours so maybe 1 lab would work...! But they had no kids!

Should I be trying to steer DD off the subject of her precious golden labrador or do you experienced MNers think we can manage it, with our specific circs?

Thank you.

1004Rise Wed 22-Feb-17 11:22:58

I'd have a lab over spaniels any day.... although spaniels are small they're nowhere near as laid back as a lab.

Our lab is happy in the house when he knows where his bed is, our golden retriever however prefers the middle of the floor.

I'd be careful of small dogs personality, in my experience they become much clingier than bigger dogs and are significantly noisier... we had to teach our lab to bark. hmm

If you're able to get a lab out for a good hour run during the week and longer at the weekend I think it would be happy. They're happy having a routine and knowing where they're safe.

They are exceptionally food orientated which makes them easy to train, but means you see many fat labs (this drives me crazy) if you control their food intake and get them
out for regular walks they can stay lean and fit and don't suffer from arthritis as early.

In reality you're never going to have a garden big enough for a lab unless you own a farm.

Just as a bit of a curve ball if you think the exercise is a bit much.... what about a greyhound.... similar laid back temperament to a lab but less running around needed.

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 11:27:49

Thanks 1004!

Actually the exercise thing doesn't worry me, DD will be going to a school right next door to one of the commons near us so my routine would be to take the dog for a solid hour when I dropped her off.

Love the reminder about food... DH's old lab (bless her) was food OBSESSED; he was really realy good at keeping her lean and she lived to 17 (he still gets tears in his eyes when he talks about her and she died 20 years ago!) So he would be firm with food from the outset.

THat's helpful advice too about small dogs - in reality I would have an uphill battle convincing DH on a small dog as he is not a fan at all, and he loves dogs in general (he would have 2 labs, an Alsatian and a Dalmatian if he could...)

Thank you.

TheFlyingFauxPas Wed 22-Feb-17 11:37:46

I think whatever your size house if you ha e a lab you know you have a lab. Our house is tiny and tiny garden. We have a small terrier and he is so "convenient". Small, easy to bath, can pick him up to pop him places and sneaks on your knee without you, eats little, poos are little, loves a good long walk, people don't mind him visiting etc. He doesn't even shed! halo

ProfessionalPirate Wed 22-Feb-17 13:30:16

Labs are definitely not always more laid back than spaniels! Labs in particular often go through a especially difficult adolescence that needs careful management before they settle down in later life. And as with any large dog, exuberance is always going to be a 'bigger deal' than with a small dog.

The lab will be absolutely fine with your house/garden, it will just mean a bit more hard work and concession on your part to accommodate. Are the local parks suitable for off-lead walks?

The most important thing is whether you really want a lab. You mentioned how much your DH wants one several times, but nothing really about yourself - yet it sounds like you'll be the one taking care of it!

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 13:39:02

Pirate - ha! - you're right!

I guess the point really is that I've never owned a dog (despite wanting one my entire childhood) so I'm less confident and a bit more uncertain about dog ownership, full stop.

That said, I absolutely love labradors, too. By far and away my favourite dogs. I loved DH's old lab (met her in her very old age) and just get a bit of a kick out of their greediness and (usual!) placidness/affection.

You're right, it would mostly be me in charge on a day-to-day basis, which is why I'm taking the whole thing very seriously. I need to be sure I can deal with all the hassle, as well as obviously enjoy all the benefits.

But it's a good question to ask, and I wouldn't be getting swept along in all the lab-enthusiasm if I didn't love them as well.

LilCamper Wed 22-Feb-17 13:41:56

Just to be pedantic...there is no such thing as a golden lab. they come in three colours....yellow, black and chocolate.

empirerecordsrocked Wed 22-Feb-17 13:42:23

I live in a London terrace about the same size, the people we bought from had a great big chocolate lab - he was gorgeous BUT they were moving to the country, the house was too small...

We have a terrier, he's fine, can't imagine much bigger tbh.

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 13:44:03

Thanks, Lil, you're right of course and I always like a bit of pedantry grin

Interesting empires... thank you. Will mention that to DH when we have our next pow-wow about it

GooseyLoosey Wed 22-Feb-17 13:47:43

What about a Labradoodle? We have a miniature one (so dad was a miniature poodle). She is a lot smaller than a lab but just as affectionate with the family and a lot less shedding than with a lab. I guess the problem with a mix is that you can't guarantee what you will get

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 13:49:14

Thanks Goosey, will have a closer look at Labradoodles!

Less shedding sounds appealing...!!

Do they have a decent life expectancy? Any major health issues?

Hoppinggreen Wed 22-Feb-17 13:51:01

The problem is once you completely love one breed it's hard to get used to another.
I had 3 Golden Retrievers as a child and when it came time to get a dog that's what I wanted. DH thought they were too big so to be fair I researched other breeds and thought maybe certain ther ones would be ok.
However, just when I thought I could get a non Goldie fate would intervene and I would meet one and it would confirm that no other breed would do for me.
A smaller dog would be easier and other breeds less hairy but they would always be " not a Golden Retriever " to me no matter how much I loved them.
( guess what I've got curled up on my foot right now!)

Hoppinggreen Wed 22-Feb-17 13:52:28

Labrador/poodle crosses are nice but they aren't Labs!!!
We looked at Goldie/poodle crosses and they weren't Goldies.

witwootoodleoo Wed 22-Feb-17 13:53:39

I have a lab in a small London terrace with v small garden and it's fine provided she gets a lot of exercise. She needs an hour twice a day. Provided she gets that she's happy as can be with our setup so it works well for us.

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 13:54:23

Ha! Hopping that's pretty much exactly the way DH feels. His main lab as a child was his best friend and he just adored her. I'm pretty sure he'd rather carry on with no dog at all than have a different breed.

tbf he's pretty successfully brain-washed both me and DD grin - we really are a lab-loving family, it's simply the space that really concerns me.

I actually think DH would even be prepared to move miles out to accomodate one though!!

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 13:55:56

Oh wow thank you witwoo. That is good to hear.

I had anticipated a LOT of exercise but that is really a lot.

Still, it's good to hear she's happy and I think there are definitely ways we would be able to fit almost that amount of exercise in. Maybe slightly longer in the morning and slightly less in the afternoon/evening.

CornflakeHomunculus Wed 22-Feb-17 14:23:45

Any major health issues?

They can be quite prone to hip and elbow issues. It's very important to find a breeder who not only uses the hip and elbow schemes but understands the results and acts on them appropriately as well as giving plenty of consideration to conformation and how it affects soundness.

They can also suffer from a number of eye conditions. Both parents should have had DNA tests for prcd-PRA and retinal dysplasia. They should also each have a current BVA eye test and the puppies should have been screened for multifocal retinal dysplasia before going to their new homes.

DNA tests are also available for:
* Achromatopsia
* Leukodystrophy
* Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome
* Cystinuria
* Degenerative Myelopathy
* Skeletal Dysplasia
* Exercise Induced Collapse
* Hereditary Myopathy
* Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis
* Macrothrombocytopenia
* Narcolepsy
* Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
* Retinal Dysplasia
* X-linked Myotubular Myopathy

That looks like quite a scary list but these conditions aren't necessarily particularly common in the breed. I would, however, expect a conscientious breeder to be thorough and make use of all available avenues for gathering information on the genetic health of their breeding dogs. DNA tests can be skipped if both the dog's parents were tested clear, this is generally referred to as being clear by parentage or hereditary clear.

Realistically there aren't many breeders at all who will make use of every available health test so it's up to you how much you'd be willing to compromise on. I would suggest not considering any breeder who doesn't do an absolute minimum of hip and elbow scoring, annual eye testing and the DNA tests on this list (my link) which are marked as being part of the KC DNA testing scheme for labs.

I'd also look for a breeder who understands the importance of coefficients of inbreeding and is taking that into account when choosing a mate for their bitch. This (my link) is a great explanation of COIs and why it's so important to take them into consideration when breeding. Ideally a breeder should be aiming to be well under the breed average (which for labs is currently 6.5%), preferably as close to 0% as possible.

(Any links appearing in this post other than those marked as my own have been inserted automatically by advertising software and may link to companies or products I would neither support nor recommend.)

witwootoodleoo Wed 22-Feb-17 14:24:25

In fairness she's pretty flexible - she could happily have a longer walk and a trip round the block in the afternoon. Or a longer walk and 20 mins of playing fetch and/or hide and seek later in the day. But a regular one hour a day wouldn't be enough for her as she's young and energetic.

Would you consider an older less energetic lab? Eg a guide dog that has retired early or a rehomed dog.

Hoppinggreen Wed 22-Feb-17 14:30:26

Yes, you could apply for a failed Guide dog - but it might not be a lab!!

witwootoodleoo Wed 22-Feb-17 14:32:10

You can specify breed I believe but I'd you're prepared to consider a lab x gr that's a significant proportion of the dogs

Dipsydora Wed 22-Feb-17 14:44:56

I grew up with labs. As long as they are walked properly and have a good run 2x a day you would be fine. Ours just plodded around leaning on people or sleeping when home anyway. They don't need a massive house just space to spread out in the most inconvenient place possible and ideally room to hang around the kitchen should anyone open any cupboard and of cause the essential room to fit under a dining table at all meals if you have this you have a happy Lab !
Just get one and train it well you will be fine x

Allshadesofpinkie Wed 22-Feb-17 14:48:22

Labs are so much work but I can understand the appeal. My parents have an 8 month old pup, Fred, and he is gorgeous. I was so tempted to have one too. Realistically though he has done a bit of chewing and dug up plants and needs a lot of exercise. So I am just helping out with their boy just now.

LumelaMme Wed 22-Feb-17 18:08:36

The only thing I'd add is that, if you do go for a lab, avoid one from working lines unless you want to spend a lot of time keeping your dog mentally and physically occupied. Working line labs tend to be more lightly built than those bred for showing or for the pet market, and have boundless energy: they're bred to go all day, and they can, and they will.

measles64 Wed 22-Feb-17 18:11:43

Had labs when children were small they are so laid back, once they get through the chewing stage, now we have spaniels much more work. I would avoid yellow labs. they are not as tolerant stick with the black.

willdoitinaminute Wed 22-Feb-17 20:45:34

The first 12 months are hard going but if you put in the time it pays off. Don't be too worried about excercise during this time, our vet ( lab lover) advises limited excercise and keep them thin to allow joints to grow properly. No jumping on furniture, climbing stairs or jumping into cars in first 6-12 months which actually helps with training and sets boundaries early on. Also stops accidents during house training.
Labs are fantastic company, they make a lovely grumbly growly sound when they are content. We call it Labrador purring, all our labs have done it.
Our new girl is just 12 months and is settling down well, I did wonder whether I had done the right thing at around 8 months but I just kept going with the basic training and it has paid off.

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