When we think about the characteristics of Labrador Retrievers we need to look at two sides; the physical and the, for want of a better word, mental!
The general expectation of a Lab is that he will be a large, broad chested fellow. Often this is true but not always. Labradors come in all sizes from the small to the large.
The Labrador breed standard, according to the Kennel Clubs, states that dogs competing in official events should weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and have a height of 21.5 to 24.5 inches.
But this, it should be remembered, is for dogs competing in high profile events. For more information on this visit our Labrador breed Standard page.
If your Lab doesn't fit into those brackets it doesn't mean it isn't a pedigree dog or that there is anything wrong with it. We are all different and that goes for Labrador Retrievers as well.
Some Labs, especially older ones, can weigh in at a scale busting 100 pounds whilst others may only be around 30 pounds.
The two Labs I have at home illustrate this perfectly.
Our yellow Lab, Whisky, is a big old lump of around 80 pounds but Pippa Fourpaws, our Fox Red Lab, is a much more petite 35 pounds.
Amongst the physical characteristics of Labrador Retrievers the coat is particularly important for some owners.
Because of its history and breeding the Labrador has a double layered coat. The outer layer is thick to resist the weather whilst the under coat is soft and serves as insulation.
Some owners, or potential owners, have a dislike of those Labs with a thin outer coat but, again, all Labs are different and some have a lovely smooth outer coat that isn't as weather resistant as the thicker coats.
But it seems to be in the colour of the coats that so much debate and controversy is stirred up.
Straight away we should make clear that there are only three officially accepted colours. Yellow, Black and Chocolate. Yellow includes shades of colour from fox red to light cream.
Those are the colours recognised by the Kennel Clubs although breeders do claim to breed other colours such as silver. For more information visit our page on Labrador Retrievers coat colours.
By the way, at this point it may be prudent to shoot down a few myths that always circulated about Labradors. The colour of their coat has absolutely no bearing on their behaviour.
There is no truth for instance that black Labs are more aggressive or that chocolate Labs are more intelligent than other Labradors.
Sorry if anyone disagrees, but the colour of the coat doesn't affect anything and indeed three puppies from the same litter may all have different coloured coats but the same temperament.
Ask most owners about the characteristics of Labrador Retrievers and they will tell you the same. They are incredibly loyal, friendly, loving and absolutely nuts!
Having a Lab in the house is always an adventure as you never know what they are going to do next. That said, they are fantastic companions and will bring joy into your life every single day.
Labs are very trainable as they are very intelligent and they will soon pick up exactly what you are trying to teach them. Generally a Lab is a very sociable dog though I seem to have found the only two Labs in the world who don't enjoy the company of other dogs.
For households with children, Labradors are the ideal family pet.
They are great with kids but love to be outside playing ball or frisbee. They enjoy long walks and seemingly boundless energy and always ready to grab their leash and head out of the door.
But, as we have said before on this page, all Labs are different.
And, whilst generally they will fit the description above, some Labs will buck the trend and be different. They will also develop their own personality and habits.
For example, my Lab Whisky is a bit of a couch potato and loves nothing more than curling up on the sofa and grabbing some zzzs whilst Pippa Fourpaws is a whirlwind who never stops and even bounces up and down like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh.
But one thing all Labradors have in common is their appetite. They love to eat anything and everything. And all the time is dinner time to a Labrador.
You must be very careful not to over indulge your lab and to make sure he is getting the right kind of food. Visit our page on Labrador Nutrition for more information.
Remember, it is very easy for a Lab to become overweight so make sure he eats right and gets plenty of exercise to keep him in trim.