With so many positive qualities, it’s little wonder that Labrador retrievers are one of the most popular choices of pet owners. Kindhearted and friendly to humans and animals, they love children. They are also extremely intelligent and very trainable.Breed-related concerns
Every dog breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The following are the most common diseases found in the Labrador Retriever breed. Hopefully, your Labrador retriever will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your dog live a longer, happier life (see breed-related disease descriptions below).Puppy (birth to 1 year)*
Adult (1 to 6 years)*
- Developmental bone/joint disease (hip dysplasia cannot be definitively diagnosed until 2 years of age)
- Tricuspid dysplasia
- Retinal dysplasia
Senior (7 years and older)*
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Allergic dermatitis
- Ear infections (Otitis externa)
Breed-related disease descriptions
Listed in alphabetical order *Please note that these common diseases can occur earlier or later in the dog’s life.
Allergic dermatitis. Skin inflammation due to an allergic reaction to something in contact with the skin, inhaled dust or pollen, food, or fleas. Itchiness, scratching, rubbing, excessive grooming and licking are the main signs. Other signs may include head shaking, red skin, hair loss, smelly skin, skin thickening and skin darkening.
Developmental bone/joint disease. Includes abnormal development and arthritis of the hip joint (called hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs); elbow joint (elbow dysplasia); or cartilage diseases involving the shoulder, knee, or ankle (osteochondritis dessecans, OCD. Affects predominantly young, large-breed dogs (It starts in young dogs, but a lot of the time it is not evident until the dog is older). Dogs may show no signs or may show pain, lameness, and reluctance to exercise. With hip dysplasia, there may be muscle wasting in the hind legs.
Hepatitis. Inflammation of the liver. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, weight loss, jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and membranes), and sometimes a distended abdomen.
Hypothyroidism. Insufficient thyroid hormone production caused by disease of the thyroid glands. Symptoms include hair loss, obesity, lethargy, cold intolerance and skin infections.
Laryngeal paralysis. Paralysis of the vocal cords of the voice box or larynx, so that they are unable to open normally during breathing. Signs include a voice change, unwillingness to exercise, difficulty breathing, noisy breathing and blue color in the gums.
Ear infections (Otitis externa). Infection or inflammation of the ear canal. May be due to bacterial, yeast or ear mite infection, foreign bodies, allergies or hormonal disorders. Signs may include head shaking, smelly ears, scratching and rubbing of ears, reddening of the ear flap, discharge from ears, and pain on touching around the ears.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). A disease of light sensitive cells in the back of the eye (retina) that causes progressive visual impairment leading to blindness. Signs include night blindness, bumping into objects, dilated pupils, a shining appearance to the eyes and reluctance to exercise or play.
Retinal dysplasia. An inherited birth defect of the retina (back of the eye). Signs may include impaired vision or even blindness.
Tricuspid dysplasia. Birth defect in which the tricuspid heart valve is abnormal. Puppies often have no signs of illness with a murmur being detected on routine physical examination, but signs may include failure to thrive, exercise intolerance and fluid build-up causing abdominal distension.
Help your dog live a longer, healthier life. Ask your veterinarian about a breed-related preventive health plan.