Growing up, my family owned a Labrador Retriever and it was one of the best dogs I've ever had in my life. It protected my family, loved playing with me and was overall just a sweet dog. The only problem is dog years don't translate well to human years and it absolutely crushed me when my Lab passed on.
Although it may sound morbid to some, you really need to think about how long a pet will be with you. This is particularly true if you get a Lab as a friend for your child or children. It will become there best friend, so it is important to think about how long the fur ball will be around given the ages of your kids and how devastating it can be for them to experience the loss of their dog.
Dogs age more quickly than humans do, which is why the phrase "dog years" was coined. No, you are not the first parent or person to try to figure out this issue. The obvious problem is a dog has a shorter lifespan than you, I or your kids. In general, smaller dogs live much longer than larger dogs, sometimes by as much as 40 percent.
A Labrador Retriever is considered a large dog, but not a giant. On average, they will live 11.1 years according to a Banfield Pet Hospital Study, but this is highly dependent on how they are treated. A Lab can live up to 15 with good food, plenty of exercise and regular trips to the vet for checkups. Yes, the same formula that works for you and me. The question, of course, is what is their activity level and quality of life during these older years?
You have undoubtedly heard or been told that a dog ages seven or eight years for every human year. This common belief is actually completely wrong. In truth, a dog ages differently depending on its then current age and its size. The larger the dog, the faster it ages. So a Great Dane that is two years old might be the human equivalent of 30 years old while a Yorkie of the same age would be the equivalent of 15 years old in human years.
So, what about Labs? Generally, a two month old Labrador Retriever puppy has the body age of a three year old child. At five months, the same puppy is roughly the equivalent of a 10 year old child. Once your dog reaches 1 year old, they are the equivalent of a 16 year old teen and asking for the keys to the car!
Your Lab will continue to age quickly over the next year as well. By the time they turn two, they will be the equivalent age of a 25 year old human. Time to move out of the house and get a job!
Fortunately, things begin to slow down at this point. For every subsequent year they are with you, the Lab should age five human years. You can do the math, but this generally means they have a lifespan equivalent to a 55 to 60 year old person.
If you are buying a Labrador Retriever as a companion for your child or kids, you may need to do a bit of math. Getting one of these great pups
when your child is two years old means the dog is likely to pass when the child is 12 or 13. One view is this is a bit early for a child to be suffering an emotionally devastating event while others feel death is a part of life and a child should learn as much while they are still young and parents can comfort them. I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to deal with the issue. Just make sure you keep it in mind.
Sadly, there is no getting around genetics. Having said this, you can extend the life of your pup by keeping them in good shape, feeding them well and getting them checked out medically on a regular basis. Doing so will keep your Lab happy and you as well since these perfect pets will remain a part of your life for as long as possible.
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