Researchers who collected information about Labradors between 1999 and 2013 found the average age of Labradors to be 12 years.
How long do Labrador Retrievers live?
One of the most important factors in ensuring a long life for your Labrador is its body weight with genetic factors also contributing. This may help your Labrador live to 15, 16 or even 29 years.
What controls a Labrador’s lifespan?
Two factors have an important influence on the longevity of Labradors. They are:
- Genetics – those factors the Labrador is born with and which dictate every aspect of the dog’s physical and mental makeup;
- Quality of life – how well the dog is looked after and how much and what type of hardship it suffers.
Observable genetic factors are often used as guidelines when breeding Labradors.
These may include coat color, temperament, eye color and other preferred characteristics present in the parents or ancestry.
The hidden genetic makeup plays a far more important role in how old your Lab will get. Labradors are victims of a wide range of genetic weaknesses that affect their longevity and if your Labrador suffers from specific weaknesses, it may not grow as old as you wish.
Many inbred diseases or conditions are just part of life and we accept that our dogs will die after an unknown time. But is always a sad experience if we must have our Lab euthanised to relieve it from the pain of an inherited disorder such as osteoarthritis which many Labrador Retrievers inherit.
The demands of breeding Labradors to enhance a popular feature may have an effect on future generations of Labradors. It appears as if chocolate Labradors have a shorter lifespan than black and yellow Labs.
Genetic factors that make Labradors suffer from specific diseases and conditions could contribute to the dog suffering from such a range of conditions that it may lead to a shortened lifespan.
Quality of life
The lifespan of your Labrador can be dictated to a large extent by how you treat it.
Just like you, your dog may suffer the consequences of bad habits, lack of exercise, stress over long periods or emotional and physical abuse and treatment that is contrary to what your Lab needs to reach its full “Labrador” potential.
Labrador owners that got a Labbie as a house pet when their way of life does not accommodate what their dog needs to live a fulfilling life, are often the reason why Labradors are overweight. Obesity in Labradors who, by virtue of their nature, need to be active is a problem often arising from inactive or time-starved owners.
In a Scandinavian research project over more than 10 years, interesting results were found.
The study aimed to find the longevity and causes of mortality in 39 Labrador Retrievers. The researchers concluded that:
- life-long maintenance of lean body mass (body mass without fat) and attenuated (weakened) accumulation of body fat were key factors in achieving a longer lifespan.
- high-quality food and the quantity of food intake together with general care (husbandry) and healthcare are important in obtaining a greater-than-expected Labrador lifespan.
There are indications that active Labradors may live longer but more research needs to be done on the specific question of the effect of fitness on lifespan.
We can expect that Labradors that lead a protected life with little hardship and stress and with activities and stimulation that answer to the temperament of the dog may live longer than it would otherwise have lived.
Countries with relatively small numbers of breeding dogs and breeders like The Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa (to name only three) may run the risk of experiencing a reduction in the median age of their Labs, but only the future will provide answers.
Genetic diversity leads to longer-living dogs which makes the background information of a dog of more importance for potential owners.
Research indicates that neutering increases dogs’ lifespan, with females benefitting more than males. Sterilization increased life expectancy by 13.8% in males and 26.3% in females.
It may well be that a Labrador that ends up with the right owner may live longer than it would with the “wrong” owner.