Are you about to take a step into the world of dog ownership for the first time? Are you currently searching for your new puppy, or trying to learn as much as you can about the breed before the time comes?
You are right to take this decision seriously, because there’s a price to pay for life with a Labrador – and it isn’t just the money!
In this article we are going to be looking at the pros and cons of owning a Lab. And you’ll find more information to help you in that green box above.
Highlighting six important aspects of puppy parenting that you will need to take into account before you take the plunge.
If you are thinking of bringing a Lab puppy home, you probably feel rather bombarded with information.
You may be wondering how much it costs to keep a Labrador happy and healthy, and what price you’ll need to pay to buy a puppy.
Buying a Labrador is not just a question of the purchase price of a Lab puppy, though of course that is important.
There are other costs involved, both financial, emotional and in terms of time and effort. So we need to look at those too.
You may be wondering whether you will have the time for a dog, and if you have the space and energy for a large and lively breed?
Nearly everyone has an opinion on whether or not you should ‘take the plunge’.
But this page will take you back to the fundamental considerations, to help you to make the right choice for you and your family.
Here are the main points you may want to consider before making that final decision on whether or not to bring a labrador into your life:
Dogs need space, both indoors and outside. Even small breeds need room to stretch their legs and run about, and Labradors as fairly large and lively dogs need quite a lot of space.
Labradors can be quite silly during adolescence, bouncing and cavorting in the home. Their tails are long and thick, easily knocking any fragile decorations you might have from shelves.
If you have lots of ornaments then you will need to move them to higher shelves to avoid them getting damaged.
You will also need to move anything that could be easily damaged by chewing.
Labradors also need to go outside regularly for ‘bathroom breaks’.
With small puppies this will be very often indeed. Perhaps every 15 to 20 minutes during their first few days with you.
If you live in a flat, or do not have a garden, this will be difficult for you.
You’ll need to set up a system where the puppy can toilet indoors, using puppy pads or newspaper, then retrain him to go outdoors when he is older.
Even more space invading is another great house training solution, putting a crate inside a puppy playpen for the first few months.
Although this will take up a lot of space indoors, it can work very well for larger apartments with no easy outside access.
Ideally however you do need to have a garden, and a part of the garden which your dog can use as a bathroom, along with a good system for clearing up after him hygienically.
Puppies should also not be allowed to ‘toilet’ where children play, as their faeces can pass on some horrible and dangerous parasites.
The right space for a Labrador includes large clear rooms in the house, with no breakable or fragile objects within his grasp.
And ideally access to a garden where they can easily be let out to the bathroom and have room to play.
It is always sad to hear from new puppy owners that are struggling to juggle the needs of a puppy with their need to work.
These articles will help you to deal with this common issue.
It may seem obvious to many of you, but a lot of people don’t realise that you cannot bring a small puppy into your life and leave it alone in the house all day. Even with a visit at lunch time.
An older dog may cope with being left for up to four hours in row on a regular basis, but puppies need more attention than this.
The truth is, you can’t leave a young dog alone for hours on end and expect him to remain quiet and well behaved. Lonely dogs bark and wreck things.
If you work all day, can you afford to pay someone to come in and let him out to stretch his legs and empty himself? Or do you have a relative or friend that would be prepared to do this on a regular basis. Bear in mind that this is quite a lot to ask of anyone in the long term.
The biggest long term time commitment in owning a dog is in the form of training and exercise.
All dogs need training in order that they can rub along in human society without being a complete nuisance. This means a regular daily commitment of ten to twenty minutes from you, in addition to your regular interaction with the dog.
Training cannot be saved up for the weekend, your dog will have forgotten most of what he learnt the weekend before, and he does not have the attention span to concentrate on you for an hour and a half.
Exercise is required on a regular basis, for some breeds of dog this means at least an hour a day of walking or jogging to keep your dog fit and healthy.
Whilst your dog will not come to any harm if you miss a day occasionally, a daily routine is often the best way to ensure that you build this important habit.
Dogs can be quite expensive to run. You need to consider not only how much a Labrador will cost you to buy, but also how much it will cost you to keep.
How much do Labradors cost to buy?
The price of a Labrador puppy will vary from breeder to breeder, and from place to place. In the USA as a rough guide, you are looking at $800 to $1200. In the UK you can pay anything from £650 to £850 for a well bred, health tested Labrador.
Perhaps you know a friend that has a litter of puppies and they are going to let you have one for free. However, the purchase price of a dog is almost irrelevant. It is such a small part of the final cost.
The cost of keeping a Labrador
The reality is, you are also going to need to fork out a chunk of your wages each week on keeping your pooch happy and healthy.
Obviously you will have taken the cost of a good brand of puppy food into consideration.
It is a good idea to budget for veterinary insurance too. Modern veterinary treatment has simply gone ‘off the radar’. Not because it is unreasonably priced, but simply because it is now so advanced.
You can fix a lot of problems these days. No longer is ‘put to sleep’ the option of choice for most serious ailments. We can do open heart surgery, mend complex fractures, treat cancer with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Pretty much anything you can treat in a human, you can now treat in a dog. And the catch? It costs.
If you don’t have access to substantial savings, one way to avoid the burden of huge vet fees is to make sure your dog is insured. Veterinary insurance will most likely set you back at least a week’s wages or so, each year.
The more comprehensive your insurance package the more it will cost. Watch out for very cheap deals, as they may not provide continuing cover for long term ailments.
You will also need to vaccinate your dog against common canine illness, and this will probably need to be done each year too. Especially if you are wanting to occasionally leave them in boarding kennels when you go away, as they require up to date vaccination certificates.
There will be a few other one-off costs such as a puppy crate and puppy play pen for your home for when your dog is young, another for your car if you have one.
Then there are bowls, bedding, collar, leash etc. But you may be able to borrow a crate or get one second hand.
Here are some of the items you will need for your new puppy, and reviews on the best options for Labradors:
If you like to holiday abroad or anywhere that the dog can’t come, unless you have helpful relatives, you will also need to think about the cost of putting him in boarding kennels for a week or two each year.
The purchase price of your Labrador is not the main consideration when it comes to his cost. You will need to be confident that you will be able to cover all of the above, for at least the next ten years.
Buying a Labrador will change your life quite drastically. In fact, bringing any dog into your life will be a dramatic change.
If you work away a lot, unless you can take your dog with you, a dog is probably not a good idea for you right now. Likewise if you if you travel a lot, a dog may cause problems for you. If you spend two months each year exploring the Amazon jungle, a dog is almost certainly not for you.
Travelling with your Labrador is possible, but it will depend upon your destination.
What are you like at early mornings? And at getting up in the night?
Long lazy Sunday lie-ins will be a thing of the past once you have a dog. In addition, for the first few weeks when puppies are small, they may need to be taken out side to toilet during the night.
Maybe more than once. You need to be comfortable coping with that.
If you like to take day trips to places that aren’t dog friendly, are you able to organise for someone to care for them in your absence?
Your lifestyle will need to adapt to fit your Labrador’s needs, and you need to be happy with that arrangement.
If you have three children under five and your wife is expecting twins, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you don’t need a dog right now.
But it is surprising just how many people do take on a puppy when their kids are tiny and then struggle to cope.
Having a puppy is a bit like having a toddler, and whilst some dogs and kids do rub along very nicely together, it can be very tough in the early years.
Pushing a buggy whilst trying to lead train a large or even a medium sized dog is no joke. And tiny puppies are easily broken by small children as they step on them, climb on them, and trip over them.
A toddler, expensive veterinary treatment, and a puppy with its leg in plaster is not a great combination.
However, if your kids are all over five, able to walk for an hour or so without needing to be carried, and to understand what a dog’s basic needs are, the chances are you will all enjoy and benefit from your new companion.
Make sure that you invest in a crate and puppy pen, so that your puppy has somewhere safe to go when he needs a break from the kids. And help to get them off on the right foot by teaching the children how to play safely with a Labrador.
If you are certain that the time is right for you to bring a dog into your family, it is also worth considering whether a Labrador is really the right breed of dog for you and your family.
Labradors are loving, intelligent and fun. They are also very often large, bouncy and as puppies very prone to biting and chewing.
Make sure that you know exactly what it is you are bringing into your home, get properly prepared, and you will hopefully be well set to have years of joy together.
How about you? If you already have a Labrador, what do you wish you had known before you became a dog owner? Share your thoughts with our readers in the comments box below!