The Labrador Retriever, or Labrador, is the most popular breed world over. In India, it's the most commonly found in homes, after the Pomeranian/Spitz. Labradors are known for their mild and kind temperament. Their affability makes them much loved across the globe and they are considered to be excellent family dogs for this reason too.
Indeed, pretty much every second family that decides to bring a pet home opts for a Labrador because they believe they will be getting an animal that is"easy and friendly. But if this is true, then what is the reason why so many Labradors are found abandoned? According to us, the main reason is the myth surrounding the temperament of the Labrador.
Fact is that popular as Labradors are, they are also the most commonly abandoned dogs in India. You will find several Labradors in most animal shelters. The most common reasons cited for their abandonment are health concerns and behavioural issues. They are supposedly "destructive", have "too much energy", are "aggressive" or "bark too much".
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So, what does this really mean? Simply put, it means that the dog is bored and the family has no time for their pet.
Then there are also dogs that have serious issues like dominance aggression, territorial aggression and food aggression as well as a few that are highly unpredictable.
In the last couple of years alone, more than 500 Labradors have crossed the threshold of Friendicoes; at present we still have 20+ in-house residents. While the demand for Labradors on the adoption front is also high, shelters are still chock-a-block with this particular breed. The root cause? Lack of effort to understand the breed and what makes it tick.
Labradors are not just a genial and social breed of dog. There is much more to them than an "easygoing" temprament. As a breed Labrador retrievers are considered pups till anywhere between 18 to 24 months and can continue to have puppy-like energy even beyond three years of age. They were originally bred as working dogs, to be able to perform physically demanding jobs and hence have such high energy and stamina. Having been bred for "retrieving" of water fowl and other quarry, Labradors are known to possess an inborn behavioural trait called "soft mouth", which makes them prone to constantly wanting to grab things with their mouth. This particular habit if unchecked as a puppy, or misunderstood and mishandled by owners as aggression, has been known to develop into biting.
Also, like most other working breeds of dogs, without proper exercise and some basic training, a rambunctious Labrador puppy can soon turn into a big rowdy dog who misbehaves and is disobedient and thus out of the owner's control and authority.
In addition, the problem has also intensified significantly in recent years due to improper breeding practices. The high demand for Labradors and the greed to make a quick buck has led to the mushrooming of inexperienced and unethical backyard breeders and puppy mills that churn out pups for profit without care and with little consideration to the health of the mother and pups or the gene pool. Consequently it has immense health and behavioural consequences for the puppies. Ignorance and insensitivity also leads to inbreeding, another unethical practice. Inbred pups are known to show unprovoked aggression or be sickly (with compromised immunity or some kind of congenital deformity or condition), leading to an early death or abandonment.
So it is best to study deeply and in detail the breed you choose to bring home. Any vet worth their salt, of course, would always recommend a sturdy mixed breed or a breed suitable for the local weather conditions, your lifestyle and home atmosphere. And then of course there are abandoned babies waiting longingly in shelters for new homes and families. But whichever way you go, it is important to consider all factors before bringing Fido home—be prepared for the huge responsibility and research your options well to ensure beautiful companionship for you and your family.
This post was first published by Friendicoes here.
All images have been provided by Friendicoes.
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