A survey of Labrador
Retriever owners tells us what they eat, how often they exercise, and where
A survey of over
4000 people with Labrador Retrievers provides a fascinating insight into the
lifestyle of the average Lab. 68% of the dogs were pets, 6% working dogs, and of
the remainder the largest group of people did not say (a quarter of overall responses). Black Labradors were the most common (49%),
followed by yellow (27%) and chocolate (21%), with other colours including fox
red and hailstone.
Most of the dogs
lived with another pet: 31% with another dog, 22% with a cat, and 15% with
another kind of pet. Families with children were more likely to have a cat, and
less likely to have another dog, than other households.
Just over half (55%)
slept indoors alone at night and 19% slept indoors with another animal. 21%
slept indoors with a person, and for some of these dogs another pet was also
present. Only 4% of Labs slept outside.
80% of the Labs were
fed dried food and 13% were fed a mix of dried and wet food. Only 1% of owners
fed a homemade diet. Younger dogs were fed more often, but by 6-9 months old
most dogs were fed twice a day.
As for exercise, the
average Lab got 129 minutes per day. Most exercise was off-leash or in the ‘other’
category (not including fetch/retrieve/chase, lead walks, running on lead, or
obedience training). It’s possible that some of the ‘other ‘ exercise included
work, since working Labs got more exercise than pet Labs once they were over 6
months of age. Before 6 months, dogs got less exercise (especially off-lead and fetch/retrieve/chase), perhaps due to breeder advice to limit
the amount of exercise.
surprisingly, families with children spent less time exercising the dog than
nugget of information comes from data collected about height. Some data had to
be discarded because it was suspected that people had measured in inches and
recorded it in centimetres, or vice versa, which led to some strange numbers.
But after that, the average height was greater than the breed standard by 2-3cm.
This shows that
future research cannot rely on the height given in the breed standard; if height
is a variable, it needs to actually be measured. Only 21% of females and 14% of
males had a height within the range given in the breed standard.
The average female
Lab weighed 26.8kg, and the average male weighed 31.6kg. Chocolate Labs tended
to be heavier.
It is not known if
the Labrador lifestyle is similar to that of other breeds. The sample
included people from across the United Kingdom, and covered KC-registered
Labradors up to 4 years of age. This citizen science project includes data validation; for example researchers visited some homes to measure the dogs for themselves. They said, "Weighing the dogs was not always easy without veterinary scales, but the
measurement of dogs’ heights was more challenging as many of the dogs
were understandably quite wriggly!" The project is ongoing. If you are in the UK and have a KC-registered Labrador Retriever born after 1 January 2010, you can take part in DogsLife.
How does your dog’s
lifestyle compare to the average Labrador Retriever?
Pugh, C., Bronsvoort, B., Handel, I., Summers, K., & Clements, D. (2015). Dogslife: A cohort study of Labrador Retrievers in the UK Preventive Veterinary Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2015.06.020 Photo: c.byatt-norman (Shutterstock).