Labrador tips from the experts

Go to a specialist breeder, so that you can see the different generations of a breeding line

Make temperament, not sex, your overriding factor when choosing

Don’t buy a show labrador if you actually want a gundog, and don’t buy a gundog if you can’t promise it plenty of exercise

As soon as your puppy wakes up, take it outside. After a couple of weeks, it’ll be house-trained

When introducing the labrador to a lead, walk it with an older dog

Possible problems to look out for

Canine hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, causing the abnormal development of the hip socket, resulting in pain and lameness. It’s seen in dogs as young as five months, but may not develop until maturity, and can be remedied using treatments ranging from restricted exercise to drugs and surgery. Listen for a popping sound when the dog walks, and look for reluctance to use stairs, as well as sensitivity when you touch the hindquarters

They can also be prone to retinal dysplasia, an inherited condition that affects labradors used for field work, and results in their developing blind spots. Generally, the dog can work around this by changing head positionProgressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA) are inherited conditions that may result in blindness. Reputable breeders will be able to show certification that the dog has no eye conditions, which you should ask to see when buying a dog

Labrador breed standard

General appearance Strongly built, short-coupled, very active; broad in skull; broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and strong over loins and hindquarters

Head and skull Skull broad with defined stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks. Jaws of medium length, powerful not snippy. Nose wide, nostrils well developed

Eyes Medium size, expressing intelligence; brown or hazel

Ears Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far back

Mouth Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite

Tail Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with short, thick, dense coat, thus giving ‘rounded’ appearance described as ‘otter’ tail. May be carried gaily but shouldn’t curl over back

Coat Distinctive feature, short dense without wave or feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch; weather-resistant undercoat

Colour Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate

Size Ideal height at withers:

dogs—22in–22½in,

bitches—21½in–22in

Courtesy of www.thekennelclub.org.uk