Breed Spotlight: Labrador Retrievers

Health Issues With Labradors 


Labrador retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the UK, this comes as no surprise due to their gentle nature, adorable appearance and loving personalities.


Health Concerns for Labrador Retrievers 

Retriever dogs, like any other breed, can be prone to certain health concerns. Some of the common health concerns that Retrievers may face are:


Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are very common in retrievers. They are genetic conditions where the hip and elbow joints don’t develop properly, resulting in pain and lameness. In severe cases surgery may be required to realign affected joints and prevent future dislocations.

Dysplasia will often lead to arthritis and other joint problems. Arthritis can be a very painful condition and results in loss of mobility. Thankfully symptoms of arthritis can be managed through veterinary treatment, physiotherapy and making use of joint supplements.



Retrievers love to eat, and they can easily become overweight if they don't get enough exercise. Carrying excess weight can put retrievers at risk for other health problems. Just like the human body, when a dog is overweight, their heart has to work much harder to pump blood, this additional strain can lead to cardiovascular disease and even heart failure. 

Overweight dogs are also more susceptible to developing diabetes, which can lead to a range of complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Additionally, excess weight can make it difficult for labradors to breathe properly, especially when exercising or in hot weather. 

If your dog is overweight it is important that this is managed through dietary adjustments and controlled exercise. If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet speak to a vet or nutritionist for further advice.



Labrador retrievers have floppy ears that can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to ear infections. Minimise your dog's risk of developing an ear infection by inspecting them regularly and ensuring they remain clean and dry.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection contact your vet as this will usually require antibiotics.


Skin & Coat Health 

Labradors can be prone to skin allergies, which can cause itching, rashes, and skin infections. There are many things in a dog’s environment or diet that pose as potential allergens. If you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s allergy speak to a vet who may recommend allergy testing to determine this.



Labradors are at a higher risk of developing cancer than many other breeds. Common types of cancer in Retrievers include lymphoma, mast cell tumours, and osteosarcoma. Signs of cancer include: abnormal lumps and bumps, open wounds that will not heal and changes in personality. If you notice any of these signs you should take your dog to the vet to be examined. The earlier a cancer diagnosis is made, the greater the likelihood is of successful treatment.



Labradors are also prone to several eye problems, including glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy. Unfortunately there is no cure for either of these conditions and many affected dogs will eventually lose their sight. Thankfully dogs adapt quite well to sight loss and can continue to live a relatively normal life with a bit of extra help. 

Retrievers are significantly more susceptible to developing cataracts particularly in their later years. These can also cause sight loss, however can be removed in a surgical procedure. If your dog is older there is greater risk involved with general anaesthetic. A vet will help you make an informed decision regarding the suitability of this procedure for your dog.


Life Expectancy of Labradors 

Labrador Retrievers have a life expectancy of 10-12 years, with many living much longer than this. It is important that your dog remains happy and healthy throughout their life. Thorough breed research is recommended before welcoming a new dog into your family and regular veterinary and preventative care measures will ensure your retriever is able to live the best life possible.

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