The Labrador Retriever, best known as simply the Labrador or Lab, is known for being extremely loyal and intelligent, just a couple of reasons why it's one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. It is also, without a doubt, one of the greediest dog breeds in the world! As such, choosing the right, balanced dog food for your Labrador is essential for ensuring their good health and development. To avoid the risk of obesity (which Labs are unfortunately predisposed to!), you need to first understand your dog's nutritional needs. Here we outline some of the key factors to take into account when selecting your Lab’s ideal diet.

Labrador Retriever: Specific Dietary Needs

The Labrador is a large, robust dog (designed for hunting and retrieving) that can weigh up to 40 kilos in adulthood. Being very greedy, Labs are often associated with obesity issues, but they are also at risk of other diseases related to their breed.

These are some of the factors that you should consider when choosing the right food for your Labrador Retriever:

  • Labradors are very greedy: This is one of their most famous characteristics! But their tendency to gain weight is not just due to their eating habits. According to researchers at Cambridge University, more than one in five Labradors carry a genetic mutation that predisposes them to weight gain. This means that they are more genetically predisposed to being overweight than other dog breeds. The specific gene in question acts on their feeling of hunger and satiety so, unfortunately, no matter how much you intend to feed a Lab, some will always seek out more food from other places and, therefore, gain weight faster.

  • Labradors have fragile joints: These doggies also tend to suffer from joint pain, mainly due to their somewhat imposing build. Joint problems, such as hip dysplasia, are common in this dog breed.

  • Labradors are full of energy: This dog breed is well known for its energy and vitality. However, even though Labradors expend a lot of energy, their energy needs are weighted to 0.8 due to their genetic predisposition to gain weight. For comparison, naturally skinny dog breeds have energy requirements of around 1.1.

  • Labrador Retrievers are also known for their skin problems: Labradors, like Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to allergic dermatitis, also known as “canine eczema”. Dermatitis is found in the form of itchy patches on the head, ears, and paws. It's important to treat it as soon as it arises because it can cause lesions, infections, and turn into chronic dermatitis. Labrador Retrievers are sensitive to allergens such as dust, mites, and even pollen. Adding an antioxidant supplement to your Labrador's diet could help to combat this.

It's important to consider these factors when choosing the right kibble for your Labrador. A diet adapted to your dog's nutritional needs helps to guarantee good health.


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What type of food should I give my Labrador Retriever?

It's essential to ensure that your Labrador’s food contains all the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet. For this dog breed, we recommend:

  • Dog food that respects your Labrador's build and metabolism, providing them with an appropriate energy supply: Nourishing vegetable fibres are recommended for dogs who tend to gain weight easily, and L-carnitine allows for optimal fat burning.

  • Dog food that protects their joints and cartilage: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are good for maintaining your dog's joints and cartilage. Vitamin C also promotes the production of collagen, which helps build healthy cartilage.

  • Dog food that promotes healthy skin and coat: Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, from quality fish oil, and sources of vitamin E, such as wheat germ oil, associated with a Vitamin B complex, help improve the health of your Labrador's skin and coat.

The Hector Kitchen Motto

Every dog is unique, so their diet should be too!

We cannot stress it enough: each dog has their own specific dietary needs. And these recommendations are not the only things to take into account when choosing the best dog food for your Labrador.

Their age, weight, activity level, and any potential or reported diseases are equally important factors. Always remember, no one is better qualified than an animal nutrition specialist to help you create a suitable diet for your dog.

When and how should I feed my Labrador Retriever?

Choosing the right dog food for your Labrador is a good start, but now you need to understand how and when to feed them correctly. And this is no mean feat! There are certain rules you need to follow when considering how and when to feed your dog. Likewise, the quantity of food you give your pooch should be adapted according to their weight and daily activity level. This may involve some calculating, but it's important and worth it to keep your dog happy and healthy. Improper food intake can cause feelings of discomfort or even digestive problems in your dog.

Here we outline some recommendations for feeding your Labrador in the best way possible:

  • We recommend that you split your Lab's daily food ration into two or three small meals: For example, you can offer them a small portion of food in the morning and give them the rest in the evening. The idea is to distribute their food throughout the day, so as not to overload their digestive capacities. It's ideal for greedy dogs like Labs because it stops them from feeling hungry too often.

  • Give them their meals at the same time each day and, if possible, in the same quiet place: This helps to establish a feeding routine, which is important for facilitating digestion, as well as promoting a balanced diet.

  • Give them the correct amount of dog food: This will depend on different factors, such as your dog's age, weight, activity level (normal or sustained), and reported illnesses.

  • Treats: In addition to their regular food, you can certainly offer your furry friend a healthy treat from time to time. Little pieces of fruit or cooked vegetables are the best options for healthy, balanced snacks. However, be careful with this if your dog is overweight!

  • Forbid certain foods: Some foods are toxic to dogs and should be banned from their diet. Sugar, cold meats, and chocolate should be avoided as part of a healthy diet. Likewise, chicken or rabbit bones are not recommended.

  • Finally, don't forget that hydration is key, especially if your Labrador mainly eats dry food! Your pooch should drink an average of 60ml of water per kg of bodyweight per day. If they're drinking more than 100ml per kg of bodyweight, consider taking your Labrador to see a vet, as this may be a sign of diabetes or kidney failure.

Labrador Retriever: Characteristics of the Breed

A Brief History of the Labrador Retriever

Originally from the Canadian province of Labrador, this dog is said to be a descendant of St John's water dog. Used by Newfoundland fishermen to fetch their nets and search for escaped fish (hence the name "retriever"), these dogs quickly became popular in England due to their ability to hunt. Breeding began in 1880 and the breed was officially recognised by the English Kennel Club in 1903.

The Labrador breed is mainly characterised by its robust appearance, short, thick coat, and webbed paws, earning it the name “water dog”. Labradors can be black, yellow, or chocolate brown. They have a broad, deep chest and a strong, horizontal back. Their head is round with a straight muzzle and brown or hazel eyes.

Labrador Temperament

Labradors are exceptionally docile, and intelligent. Loved by families for their affectionate, playful, and very loyal nature, they also make good watchdogs, because they’re committed to protecting their family while being neither shy nor aggressive towards strangers. Labradors are also widely used as working dogs due to their gentle, patient nature. They perfectly play the role of guide dogs for people with visual or physical disabilities, but also as search and rescue dogs or police dogs.

Labrador Retriever Health

Your Labrador's health is not something to be taken lightly. Due to their tendency to gain weight, they require a lot of physical exercise, as well as a fairly precise diet. As such, any deviation from their normal food should be avoided. Because of their weight and size, Labradors are also prone to health and joint problems, such as hip or elbow dysplasia. Additionally, this dog breed is susceptible to eye diseases such as retinal dysplasia, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Stomach twisting is another pathology to look out for: it's important to watch out for possible swelling and bloating in your dog's belly, as it can potentially be fatal.

It's essential to keep all your Lab’s vaccinations and deworming treatments up to date—especially for Labrador puppies!—and provide them with regular vet check-ups throughout their life. If you have a Labrador Retriever, or you're thinking about adopting one, it's important to take all of these characteristics into consideration when choosing their ideal dog food.



in great shape

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at their ideal weight

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who lives longer

With a healthy digestive system.

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A healthy dog in a healthy body.

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