Today, Labradors are the most popular dog in America. Despite them being very common, long haired Labradors are fairly rare. In fact, you may not even realize that they are Labradors at first glance.
Long-Haired Labrador Facts
Long haired Labradors are often mistaken for golden retrievers, thanks to their long coat. While they have a different appearance than other labs, they are actually full blooded Labradors.
If you want to show your Labrador, a long haired lab isn’t the right choice for you. According to the AKC standard, a lab should have a short straight coat. Coats that are long or wavy go against the standard.
You can register a long haired lab, but you won’t be able to compete in confirmation shows.
If you simply want a great family pooch, the long haired lab is a great choice.
It is important to know that long haired Labradors aren’t quite as hardy when it comes to field work. Standard labs have a dense double coat, which insulates them and protects them from water.
A standard lab coat will shed water easily, allowing them to function in icy waters. The coat dries quickly, and requires little maintenance.
A long haired lab is certainly beautiful, but their coat is a liability in a sense. Because the hairs are finer and less dense, it doesn’t offer the same protection from the elements.
It also takes longer to dry, and requires more grooming. This is particularly true if your lab gets dirty or muddy.
If you plan on taking your Labrador out into the field to hunt or engage in water activities, a long coated lab is not the best choice.
Long Haired Lab Genetics
No one is entirely sure where the long coat gene originated. It’s theorized that labs were bred with other retrievers early on in the life of the breed.
The long haired gene is recessive, which means it requires two copies of the gene to be expressed. If a lab has one gene for a long coat and one for a short coat, it’s coat will be short. If it has two genes for a long coat, it will have a long coat.
This means that the gene could be “hiding”, and be passed on without ever seeing a long haired lab. When two labs who have the gene for long hair mate, then they will produce pups with long hair.
Breeding long haired Labradors has been discouraged, because it goes against the breed standard. However, two short coated labs who carry the long haired gene will produce some pups with long hair and some with short hair.
Today, long haired labs are becoming popular pets, so some breeders are intentionally breeding for the long coat.
Long Haired Labrador Appearance
As the name suggests, a long haired Labrador has long hair. However, there’s much more to know about their look. In addition to being longer, the coat is finer and wavier than a standard lab.
The easiest way to picture a long haired Labrador coat is to think of their relative, the golden retriever.
Labrador Basic Appearance
A Labrador’s appearance will vary a bit, depending on whether it’s an English lab or an American lab.
English Labradors adhere closely to the breed standard. They are a bit stocky, and have a powerful body.
American Labradors, also known as field labs, come from lines of hunting dogs. These dogs naturally became a bit leaner, taller, and longer than their English counterparts. They are a natural when it comes to hunting and retrieval.
Labrador Coat Colors
Just like short coated Labradors, long haired labs can come in three basic colors. These are yellow, black, and chocolate. They can also be silver, red, or champagne, although these colors aren’t officially recognized by the AKC.
Silver coated labs have the gene for a chocolate coat, along with the dilute gene. This causes the brown to be expressed as silver. Champagne colored labs are a dilute yellow, and red is a full expression of the yellow gene.
Long Haired Labrador Price
Long haired Labradors are difficult to find, so it’s hard to pinpoint their price. Registered Labradors usually cost between $800 to $2,000.
Labs with a long coat or a unique color can be more or less expensive, depending on the breeder.
Unregistered Labradors are less expensive, and will cost less than $800.
Long Haired Labrador Rarity
Long haired Labradors are rare for a few reasons. Traits that are caused by recessive genes are rarer, because it requires two copies of the gene to be expressed.
Long haired labs were not seen as desirable until recently, so breeders avoided breeding them, which also adds to their rarity.
If popularity continues to grow, the long haired lab may become more common. For now, they are very rare and difficult to find.
Long Haired Labrador Life expectancy
Labradors live for an average of 12 years. They typically live for 10-13 years. Occasionally, they can live to 14.
Your pooch’s lifespan is determined by genetics. However, you can maximize their years by caring for them properly. This includes a healthy diet, exercise, and routine veterinary care.
Long Haired Labrador Size and weight
Long haired Labradors are considered medium to large size dogs. They can vary significantly in size.
American labs are slimmer and usually a little lighter than English labs. Female English labs weigh 60 to 70 pounds, and males weigh 70 to 80 pounds.
American Labradors are usually 55 to 70 pounds and 21 to 24 inches tall. Male American labs weigh 65 to 80 pounds, and range from 22 to 25 inches tall.
Long Haired Labrador Health
Long haired Labradors are susceptible to the same health conditions that can affect standard labs. Labradors are usually healthy, but they are prone to some health conditions.
Genetic testing has lowered the instances of some diseases that are passed on from parents to offspring.
Responsible breeders typically perform genetic testing before breeding. If a Labrador has a genetic health issue, the breeder will not breed them. Over time, this reduces the number of puppies born with these conditions.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia is a common problem for many breeds, including long haired labs. This occurs when the hip joint doesn’t form correctly, allowing the joint to slip out of place easily.
This causes pain, and can affect their mobility, depending on the severity.
Hip and elbow dysplasia risk is genetic, which means it can be passed on from parents to pups. The good news is that a healthy diet, proper weight, and exercise can reduce the risk or severity of the condition.
Obesity is a common problem for dogs today, including long haired Labradors. In fact, over 50% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Just like humans, dogs who are overweight are at a higher risk of health complications, including diabetes, heart failure, and joint problems.
It’s best to prevent obesity with a healthy diet and exercise. If your lab becomes overweight, it’s best to speak to your vet about a diet and exercise plan.
Bloat is a concern for all dogs, particularly medium to large sized breeds. It occurs when the gas that is created during digestion can’t escape the stomach.
It can quickly become fatal if it isn’t treated. The pressure continues to increase, which can cause the stomach to twist. Once this occurs, only 50% of dogs survive, even with veterinary care.
Most Labradors who get quick treatment recover well. The symptoms include a swollen or bloated stomach and severe pain. Retching without productive vomiting is also common.
Labradors have floppy ears that give them a gentle friendly look. However, it also increases the risk of ear infections.
Ear infections affect dogs similar to the way they affect humans. If your pooch has an ear infection, they may howl, scratch at their ear, or rub their head against the ground.
You may also notice a yeasty odor coming from their ear.
In addition to being painful, an ear infection can affect your dog’s hearing or balance. If your pooch develops an ear infection, it’s important to take them to the vet.
There are a few heart diseases that can affect long haired labs. One of these is Nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy, or nutritional DCM, which occurs when the heart is dilated, which impairs its function.
This is typically caused by a grain free diet. Peas, legumes, and lentils are common ingredients that can lead to DCM.
DCM can be asymptomatic, particularly in the early stages. The first sign is usually a heart murmur that is detected by the vet. As the disease progresses, rapid heart rate, lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and weight loss can occur.
Another heart condition that can affect your long haired lab is Tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD). The valve malfunctions, allowing the blood to flow back into the right side of the heart.
The heart becomes enlarged. It can be asymptomatic at first, but it can eventually cause health issues. Potential symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and rapid heart rate. They may also have a swollen stomach or fluid in their stomach.
Long Haired Labrador Behavior/Characteristics
Long haired labs are highly affectionate, gentle, and friendly. This makes them great family pets. They will develop a close bond with everyone in the family. They also get along well with strangers and other dogs.
How to care for a Long Haired Labrador
Long haired Labradors are relatively easy to care for, despite their beautiful coat. They do need plenty of exercise and grooming.
Labradors are born to work, so they have lots of energy. Long haired labs don’t have the tolerance to water and cold their short haired counterparts do, but they still have high energy levels.
How much exercise your pooch needs will depend on their temperament and age. Most need an hour of each day.
Laid back labs are happy if they get 45 minutes of exercise each day. Higher energy labs can need 1 1/2 to 2 hours of exercise daily.
Jogging or walking with them, fetch, or tug of war are great ways to give your long haired lab the exercise they need. If you walk them, be sure they get some more intense exercise as well.
Labradors are very intelligent, so they need plenty of mental stimulation. They are naturally inclined to work, so they need something to make them feel useful.
This can be as simple as playing games with them, or teaching them new commands. The important thing is that it provides them with mental exercise and gives them something to do.
Most Labradors are easy to groom, even though they have a double coat. Long haired Labradors are a bit more difficult, thanks to their long hair.
All Labradors are double coated. This means they will shed twice a year, in the spring and fall. They shed their undercoat, growing a thicker denser coat in the fall, and a lighter coat in the spring.
Long haired Labradors need to be brushed at least twice a week. Begin by brushing the undercoat, and then their topcoat. Use a comb to remove tangles, and then a brush to remove shed hair and dirt.
When they are shedding, you’ll need to brush your long haired lab daily. This will help speed up the shedding process, and reduce the amount of hair that you find everywhere.
How do you buy a Long Haired Labrador?
Buying a long haired Labrador requires some research. Because they are rare, they are difficult to find. You can check the AKC registry. If you can’t find a long haired Labrador on the registry, you can perform an internet search.
Be sure to find a reputable breeder. Ask them how they determine which dogs to breed, and how they ensure they are healthy. It’s also a great idea to visit the dog’s home, to see that they are well cared for.