How long do Labrador Retrievers live? According to research, the average lifespan for Labs is 12 ¼ to 12 ½ years.
Labrador Retriever health can be affected by conditions like hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy.
But some of the other major causes or contributions to a short lifespan in dogs includes: cancers, obesity, and traffic accidents.
So how does the Labrador Retriever life expectancy compare to other breeds? And what can you do to extend it? Let’s find out.
How long do most dogs live?
Clinical records are a fabulous resource as they allow statisticians to draw together all sorts of great data. For example, looking at veterinary clinic records for tens of thousands of dogs, we can find their average life expectancy.
Is the lifespan for Labs better than average?
The average lifespan of a dog is 11 years and 1 month. This means the average Labrador Retriever life expectancy at 12 years 3 – 4 months is above the grade. Great news!
Oh, but wait. When you strip out data from dogs that didn’t die from natural causes, this average goes up to 12 year and 8 months. This makes the dear old Labrador Retrievers lifespan fall slightly short
But don’t worry, because there are ways to extend your Labrador Retriever’s lifespan.
General rules to help a dog Live Longer
Watch their waistline!
We all know Labradors have no self-control around food. Sadly, life expectancy is dramatically reduced should a dog be overweight. So, you must be their conscience to keep them slim.
Stuff and nonsense? Afraid not as there’s science to back this up when we look at the question of how long do Labrador Retrievers live.
A study followed paired groups of Labrador pups from weaning to old age. Of the two groups, one was fed 25% less than the other. The results were startling.
Not only did the slim group live two to three years longer than their heavier buddies, but they stayed healthier for longer.
If there was a medication that helped your dog live two years longer, you’d give it – right? Well, calorie counting is that magic pill.
Dodge Traffic Trauma
Take death from traffic accidents, fights, and for behavioral reasons out an average dog life expectancy rises by 1-year 7 months.
So when you ask how long do Labrador Retrievers live, the answer is simple in this case. Good obedience training could extend your Labrador Retriever lifespan. Being able to stop them from running onto a road, could literally be life-changing.
Of dogs that die of natural causes, 16% are due to cancer.
So, check your dog weekly for lumps and bumps. Get to the vet if the lump changes or a new one appears.
Tumors are easier to remove when small before they spread so visit the vet if you find a worrying bump as it could save a heap of heartache further down the line.
With this in mind, pet insurance is also a good idea. This means you can decide treatment based on what’s most effective for that condition, rather than the depth of your pocket.
Statistics show us that spayed females win the prize for longest average life expectancy. They win out over entire (unspayed females) and males (whether desexed or not). Therefore, if you have a female dog, getting them spayed should add to their life expectancy.
Also, regular preventative care such as booster vaccinations and parasite treatments help keep your dog well. Many disease or infections are preventable, so why would you not want to take advantage of this to extend Labrador Retriever’s expectancy?
The Longest Living Dogs
Why do some dogs live longer than others?
Breed has a part to play. For example, cross-breed dogs live longer than purebreds, but there are exceptions.
Breeds with cricket-score life expectancies include poodles, whippets, and Jack Russell terriers. These guys even out-bat the mutts, in terms of how long they live.
Sadly, size seems to have an inverse effect on lifespan. Those gentle giants such as the Great Dane, Bernese Mountain dog, Irish wolfhound, and Mastiffs rarely get to double figures.
The big dudes, just don’t live as long. One theory behind this is that their extended growth in early life (to reach those giant sizes) uses up a good proportion of their allotted lifespan of cell function.
But, how long do Labrador Retrievers live? Well, they are a large breed, rather than a giant dog. Looking at the ‘glass half full’ there’s an argument to say their lifespan is the average against which exceptional length is measured. No more, no less.
Labrador Retriever Health Problems and the Impact on Life Expectancy
Labrador Retrievers are a breed at heightened risk of some hereditary health problems. However, the good news is that these issues don’t usually affect lifespan in the dramatic way that says a heart condition might.
Let’s delve a little deeper to find out more about how long do Labrador Retrievers live.
Common Health Issues
- Hip Dysplasia: This hereditary condition leads to poor hip joint anatomy. When the hip joint is in poor shape, walking or running causes inflammation. Over time this leads to remodeling of the joint and early arthritis. The biggest impact in terms of lifespan, is that hip dysplasia makes it difficult to exercise, and so the dog gains weight. As you already know, being overweight isn’t the best news in terms of life expectancy.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This affects the eyes causing degeneration of the retina. This leads to early blindness. Whilst not directly life-threatening, a young dog that goes blind is at greater risk of running into the road or not being able to run free to burn off enough calories to stay slim.
- Exercise-induced Collapse: Experts report that 30-40% of healthy Labs are carriers for this disease. Those that inherit genes from both parents, may collapse suddenly on vigorous exercise, and get back on their feet in a minute or two. This is no great shakes. However, in a few rare cases, this collapse is accompanied by severe hyperthermia (raised body temperature). Thankfully this is rare, but it can be fatal.
- Epilepsy: Some strains of Labrador Retriever are prone to epilepsy (seizures with no known cause.) For the majority of dogs epilepsy can be controlled with drugs. However, extended seizures known as ‘status epilepticus’ can be fatal. In addition, some forms of epilepsy are linked with aggression after the seizure, which can lead to euthanasia for behavioral reasons.
- Obesity: Sadly, the biggest risk to Labrador Retriever life expectancy is their own appetite!
Health Tested Parents and the Impact on Labrador Life Expectancy
Sometimes it’s not life expectancy that’s all important, but the quality of life. A Labrador Retriever with painful hips isn’t able to enjoy life to the full.
They then start on a vicious cycle where eating becomes their main pleasure in life. Over time the pounds pile on, which sadly does shorten lifespan.
This is why health testing plays such an important role in extending Labrador Retriever life expectancy and quality of life.
Screening schemes exist for hip and elbow dysplasia, PRA and other inheritable conditions. This enables breeders to use only parent dogs that are free from inheritable conditions for breeding.
This means the next generation of pups stand a much better chance of leading long and healthy lives. Something every owner wants for their best buddy.
Hopefully soon the answer to how long to Labrador Retrievers live will be a little longer!
More Labrador Reading
If you love finding out more about Labradors in general, we’ve got a ton of great guides for you.
Check them out here:
- White Labrador
- Labrador Retriever Gifts
- Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever
Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England, The Veterinary Journal, Volume 198, Issue 3, December 2013
Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, May 1, 2002, Vol. 220, No. 9