How Long Do Labs Live? Labrador Retriever Lifespan & Breed History

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds. So how long do labs live? Known for their friendly, energetic nature and intelligence, Labs live for around 12 years. Originally from Newfoundland, Labs were bred as hunting dogs but are now popular family pets. One of the longest-living dog breeds, these dogs were bred to retriever waterfowl or act as guide dogs.

Table of Contents

Labrador Retriever Breed Development Stages

Let’s first understand the development stages of the labrador breed. Just like humans, labs also go through different stages of development that impact their body, mind, and other aspects.

Newborns

When a lab is born, it cannot see or hear. So during the initial days, they depend entirely on their mother. Then, after the first two weeks, they start seeing and hearing things. And they also begin interacting more with their mother, surrounding, and others.

After four weeks, the pups socialize further and get used to humans. It would be best never to adopt a dog younger than eight weeks. They must live with their mother and siblings to learn vital skills like interacting with other dogs.

Puppyhood

Between 8 to 12 weeks, labs will start going to their new homes. While it is an exciting time, it can also overwhelm them.

Begin basic training at around three months of age while using positive reinforcement. Remember that puppyhood can last until your pet is between one and two years of age. You must use this time to discipline your dog with different training methods.

Adulthood

Labs between the age of one and two years are considered adult dogs. So pups will stop growing further in height at one year old.

But they might continue filling until they reach the age of two. These are the two primary years of your dog’s life. They should use this time to stay fit by playing around and walking.

Senior Years

Labs are considered senior dogs after crossing the age of seven years. They might continue to remain healthy and active but can start having health issues like arthritis, hearing problems, and others.

Adult dogs are at an 80% risk of getting arthritis. While they can continue living happy lives, they can have trouble exercising, walking, or jumping. Give them senior wet food fit for their age.

labrador retriever life span
labrador retriever lifespan

Role of canine genetics and epidemiology in labrador lifespan

Labrador retrievers have an average lifespan of 10-12 years, but there is variation within the breed due to genetics and selective breeding. Studies have shown that genetics account for 25-40% of the differences seen in Labrador lifespan, while environmental factors like nutrition and exercise make up the remainder.

Heritability estimates and molecular genetics techniques have helped identify genetic variants predisposing Labradors to diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, and obesity. Epidemiological research on these common health conditions provides data on disease susceptibility and incidence within the breed.

Responsible breeders can use this information to select pairings that produce puppies with decreased risk for certain conditions. They can also focus on breeding from long-lived bloodlines. For an individual dog, lifestyle and preventative care play a key role as well.

Following nutritional and exercise recommendations specific to Labradors can help reduce obesity. Screening for eye diseases and musculoskeletal problems allows for early treatment.

With a combination of genetic testing, conscientious breeding practices, and proactive healthcare, we can maximize the lifespan and quality of life for Labrador retrievers. The ongoing collection of epidemiological data will continue to advance our understanding and inform efforts.

Health Problems Commonly Causing Labrador Retriever Death

To know how long a Labrador dog lives, you should continuously take your senior lab to a veterinarian for regular checkups. Some of the most common causes why labs usually die are as follows.

Tumors

Unfortunately, when it comes to labs, tumors are prevalent. Female Labradors are more susceptible to tumors than a male labrador, with skin cancer on the legs and chest being standard. While tumors are not always cancerous, there are chances that your senior lab can start having lumps as they start aging.

Regularly consulting a vet is essential as they can help with the proper treatment. Unfortunately, cancer is one of the most common causes of death in labs, so you must be careful in these cases.

Arthritis

Labs are very prone to developing arthritis as they start aging. Arthritis can cause a lot of pain in labs. Though it does not cause death, it impacts their movement.

During the initial stages, you can treat arthritis using painkillers and supplements (consult a veterinarian). However, if it starts impacting the dog’s life where they cannot function their legs, the owner and the veterinarian can consider euthanasia.

Heart Disease

Heart disease can result from multiple factors, including your pet’s diet, genetics, weight, etc. Though you can maintain a balanced diet to reduce the risk, eliminating it is impossible. You should take your pup to a veterinarian immediately if you notice symptoms like coughing, breathlessness, or tiredness.

Kidney Failure

Acute and chronic kidney failure is also highly prevalent in Labradors. Acute kidney failures occur when the dog consumes something toxic, resulting in the shutting down of its kidney.

Chronic kidney failure happens with time and can result from poor dental hygiene. You can reduce the risk of kidney failure by ensuring proper dental hygiene and dog-proofing your accommodation.

Joint and Hip Issues Due to Overfeeding

Labradors are prone to a condition called hip dysplasia. It is a degenerative joint disease that affects over 5% of the complete Labradors. The additional weight that labs have also severely impacts their joints. Even causes elbow dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia occurs because of age or weight, and the labs can find it difficult to run or play once it happens. Therefore, it is critical to maintain the fitness of your lab.

Diabetes

Diabetes among puppies is rare, but it can happen. Therefore, it is always best to get complete details about the pup’s health history from the breeders, as this can be inherited.

Similar to humans, diabetes can result in many further implications. It all comes down to the balance between insulin and glucose. In addition, your dog’s diet, genetics, weight, and inflammatory skin can increase the chances of diabetes.

Bloating and Flipped Stomach

Labs love their food and will only stop eating if you make them. This puts them at severe risk of gastric issues. Overeating results in excess gas in the stomach resulting in bloating. A swollen stomach can impact the nearby blood vessels and tissues.

Moreover, it can block blood and oxygen from the other parts of the body. So, you’ll need to take extra care of what your dog consumes throughout the day.

labrador life span
labrador life expectancy

Labrador Lifespan Compared to Other Dogs

So how long can a Labrador live, and how does the labrador lifespan compare to other dogs? Small animals have a shorter life span than larger animals in the animal kingdom. But this is the reverse when it comes to specific animals and dogs.

A large dog breed like the Labrador grow faster than smaller dogs. So breeding for large dogs can be the reason behind the shorter lifespan. While Labradors have a shorter lifespan than other smaller dog breeds, they enjoy a similar lifespan to other large breed dogs.

Do Inherited Diseases Impact Labradors’ Longevity?

While Labradors are usually healthy, they often can inherit diseases in their breed. This can impact their overall lifespan and every dog’s health during its complete lifetime.

Diseases like hip dysplasia can be inherited, and thus before breeding, you should go to a veterinarian and conduct tests to understand your pet’s health. Many diseases are more prevalent in Labradors than in any other breeds.

For example, cancer is one disease that has a higher occurrence in Labradors than in other dogs. This is primarily attributed to the inheritance of cancerous cells.

Labrador Retriever Lifespan and Inbreeding

Like any other dog breed, many genetic diseases are prevalent in labs. This is owing to breeding between closely related dogs. A recent study shows that the average coefficient of inbreeding within labs is over 6%. But the level at which we start seeing adverse effects of inbreeding is 5%.

Another major factor that impacts the lifespan of dogs is their size. And labs being bigger, have a slight disadvantage compared to other dogs.

Effect of Size

Though there are exceptions, little dogs usually live longer than bigger dogs. So, in general, the lifespan of dogs depends on their size. Therefore, size is a critical limiting factor in determining the lifespan of your lab. So, in general, an average size lab will have a relatively shorter lifespan than a toy poodle.

Effect Of Color

Labrador retrievers have three main coat colors – black, yellow, and chocolate. :

1. Black Labs – Tend to have the longest lifespans on average, living 10-12 years or more. The genetics of the black coat color are the most straightforward and associated with fewer health issues.

2. Yellow Labradors – Average about 10-11 years in lifespan. Some studies have associated the yellow color with a slightly higher incidence of cancer, though findings are mixed. The yellow color is recessive and may be linked to more limited genetic diversity.

3. Chocolate Labradors – Labradors carrying the chocolate coat have a lifespan of 10.7 years. Chocolate labs may be associated with skin problems, immune disorders, and orthopedic issues. The genetics behind the chocolate color are complex and may predispose dogs to health conditions.

However, coat color alone does not determine an individual Lab’s lifespan. Proper health screening, lifestyle management, and responsible breeding are crucial for dogs of all colors.

Breeding programs should aim to maintain genetic diversity and select against detrimental traits associated with certain colors. 

average lifespan of a labrador
labrador average life

How Long Do Labradors Live If It Is Purebred?

For pedigree dogs, the upper limit of their lifespan is very limited to an extent. A recent study published in The Veterinary Journal shows that purebred labs live 1.2 years less than mongrels. Note that these are averages and might be different in each case.

Pedigree Dogs Lifespan Comparison

Pedigree dogs have different lifespans across breeds. Their lifespan doesn’t only vary in size, but there are other critical factors.

Dogs of the same size but different breeds will also have different lifespans. Many small dogs have hormone problems and issues in their central nervous system, resulting in a shorter lifespan. The conformation in labs is pretty healthy and thus positively impacts the lifespan.

Impact of Coat Color on Lifespan

Here you learn the answer to how long do yellow labs live or how long do lab mixes live? For a long time, there was a perception that coat color influences the lifespan of the labs. It was a common belief that inherited diseases impacted particular colors or types of labs.

However many recent studies prove that the life expectancy of the yellow and black lab is higher than that of chocolate labs. Chocolate coat labradors are more prone to skin conditions and hearing issues.

Overfeeding Decreases Average Labrador Lifespan

Obesity and an increase in the size of the labs is a common reason behind early labrador death. This is directly linked to overfeeding by the pet parent. Labs are friendly and greedy dogs who like having multiple treats by persuading their pet parents.

Many lab parents find it challenging to understand the amount of food their dog should eat. Furthermore, they need to be made aware of their overweight dog. Check your pet’s weight and monitor their diet. It would be best if you didn’t feed your dog as per the food packets’ guidelines. Instead, prepare a diet for your dog as per its nutritional requirements.

How to Ensure That Your Labs Live Longer?

No one wants to lose their furry pets. But to ensure they have a happy, healthy, and prolonged life, you should take proper care of them as dog parents. Several things are within your control, which can help reduce the risk and increase your lab’s lifespan.

1. Choose a Reputable Breeder

When you are going to get a lab, there is no doubt that you will be excited. But in this excitement, many people forget to take care of one crucial step. Only choose the right breeder with information about any potential inherited diseases your pet might have.

Regarding labs, they can inherit many conditions like eye issues, Cushing’s disease, heart problems, and muscle diseases. When you go to a breeder, try to get all the available information, including the dog’s health history and the possibility of any diseases.

Best Labrador Breeders in Maryland, Texas, Colorado, and California right here.

2. Maintain Your Dog’s Ideal Healthy Weight

As highlighted, one major factor that directly impacts the life expectancy of a lab is its size. You should continuously monitor and overview their diet so your fluffy partner can maintain the ideal weight.

You can consult a veterinarian to find the right balance for your lab’s diet and get a proper diet routine. Moreover, choosing an age-appropriate diet is critical as the lab’s body needs the correct nutritional values.

Like humans, a labrador retriever needs all the nutrition to stay healthy. However, when it comes to Labradors, less is more. You can feed them once daily, satisfying their body’s nutritional requirements.

3. Exercise — For A Working Dog

Like humans, dogs also need to exercise regularly to stay fit, healthy, and active. However, exercising regularly is critical to monitor your lab’s weight.

Be careful not to overdo it. There are many instances where too many exercises result in additional strain on their joints. Labs are bigger and hence are at a higher risk of harming themselves while exercising because of their weight.

There are many cases where young pups are born with EIC or exercise-induced collapse.

4. Add Supplements to a Healthy Diet

Unfortunately, while the formulated dog food usually contains everything their body might require, nutrition is not that simple. Every dog is different, and their nutritional requirements might be complex. Therefore, you should use a supplement to approach their condition from all angles.

It will help in ensuring that your dog gets everything that you need. Moreover, it will prevent your pet from any health disorders while keeping them healthy and happy.

5. Vaccination

Vaccinating your pet should be of the utmost importance to you. Unfortunately, across the globe, many serious diseases still result in the death of adult dogs and lab puppies.

Therefore, keeping your dogs unvaccinated can adversely impact them and make them susceptible to severe conditions.

These infections can even lead to the death of dogs and affect the health of labs, contributing to a lower lifespan. So no matter where you live, not getting your pup vaccinated can also result in a shorter lifespan.

However, it is one of the factors within your control, and thus you should take action soon.

6. Neuter

There was a common perception that neutering helps increase lab life expectancy. Moreover, there is a different school of thought that dogs who get neutered have a higher death rate. Recent scientific studies have shown that neutering results in significant health issues like cancer.

It can result in the death of the lab, thus cutting short the long life of your dog. You must ensure that you train and control your dog generously, so they live their lives to the fullest. A proper recall mechanism is something that can help them extensively.

Moreover, you should ensure they respond to you every time you call them, no matter the distractions. The concept of neutering and its impact on Labrador’s life expectancy is still unclear, owing to various schools of thought. While it reduces the chances of unwanted pregnancy, particularly in young dogs, it can adversely impact their lives.

life expectancy of labrador
labrador lifespan

FAQ

Can Labrador retrievers live to 15?

Yes, it’s possible for a Labrador to live to 15 years old, but it’s relatively uncommon. The average lifespan of a labrador is 10-12 years. Some well cared for Labs can reach 13-15 years. 

What is the common cause of death for Labradors?

The most common causes of death in Labradors are cancer, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders like hip dysplasia. Labs are prone to certain cancers like lymphoma and bone cancer.

What color lab lives the longest? 

There is no evidence that coat color affects longevity in Labradors. Factors like genetics, diet, exercise and veterinary care are more important for lifespan than coat color. Black or yellow lab lives for about 12 to 12.5 years. 

Is 13 old for a lab?

Thirteen years old is definitely considered senior age for a Labrador Retriever. While Labs can sometimes live to 15, most will be considered geriatric by age 10-12 as the breed has an average lifespan of 10-12 years.

What percent of Labradors live to 15?

Only about 5-10% of Labradors live to age 15. Most Labs have a lifespan of 10-12 years, with some exceptional dogs reaching 13-15 years. But 15 is past the average lifespan for the breed.

Can labs live to be 16?

It is very rare, but possible for a Labrador Retriever to live to age 16. The oldest known Lab lived to 27 years, but this is an extreme outlier. Most Labs live to be 10-12 years on average, with only about 5-10% reaching age 15. Age 16 is extremely uncommon.

What is the longest a lab has lived?

The longest verified lifespan for a Labrador Retriever is 27 years. But this is an extreme outlier, with most Labs living 10-12 years on average. Only 5-10% reach age 15. Average maximum lifespan is 13-14 years.

What color Lab puppy is the healthiest?

There is no evidence that one Labrador color is healthier than another. Factors like genetics, diet, exercise and vet care influence health and lifespan much more than coat color. All colors of Labs can be equally healthy with proper care.

What color Lab is most sought after?

The most popular and sought-after Labrador color is black. Black Labs make up about 60% of all Lab litters. After black, yellow/light chocolate Labs are the next most popular at around 30% of litters. Chocolate Labs are sought after but less common at 10% of litters. Labradors in particular, are really popular. In fact American Kennel Club rates it as 2nd most popular breed as of 2022.

What age do most Labradors die?

The average lifespan for Labradors is 10-12 years. Most Labs die of old age somewhere between 10-13 years old, with a few living to 14-15 years old. Cancer and organ failure are common causes of death.

How long do English labs live? 

There is no difference in lifespan between American and English Labradors. They are simply name distinctions, not separate breeds. All Labrador lines have an average lifespan of 10-12 years. As long as they receive proper care, English and American Labs have similar expected lifespans.

how long do labs live with cancer?

With treatment, the average survival time for Labs with lymphoma, one of the most common cancers, is 1-2 years past diagnosis. Without treatment, survival time with lymphoma is only 1-3 months. With bone cancer, another common cancer, treated dogs can live 6-12 months past diagnosis.

how long do labs live male?

Gender does not affect Labrador lifespan significantly. Male and female Labs have similar expected lifespans of 10-12 years on average. Some studies show neutered males live slightly longer than intact males. But overall, male and female Labs have similar average lifespans when given proper care.

How many human years do labs live? 

The commonly used formula to calculate dog years to human years is: 1 year for a dog equals 7 human years. Based on this, the 10-12 year average Lab lifespan equals about 70-84 human years. However, this is just a rough estimate, as dog aging slows after the first 2 years.

Are Labradors aggressive dogs?

No, Labrador Retrievers are not considered aggressive dogs. Well-bred and properly socialized Labs have very friendly, gentle temperaments. They were bred as hunting dogs and do not typically show aggression toward people or other dogs. As with any breed, Labs may be aggressive if poorly bred, abused, or neglected.

How many puppies can a Labrador have?

The average litter size for Labradors is 7-10 puppies. Litters can range from as few as 1-2 labrador puppies up to as many as 12-14 puppies. Litter size depends on the mother dog’s age, health, nutrition and genetics. Older and larger Labs tend to have slightly smaller litters on average.

Is Longevity In Dogs Inherited?

Yes, there is evidence that longevity and lifespan in dogs have a genetic component. Certain breeds, like Toy Poodles, inherently tend to live longer, likely due to genetics. Even within a breed, studies show offspring from longer-lived parents also live longer, indicating heritability of longevity traits.

When is a Labrador fully grown?

Labradors may grow between 12-24 months of age. Most Labs reach their full adult height by 12 months old, but can take up to 2 years to fully fill out muscle and reach their mature weight. While Labs are fully grown at 2 years old, they can keep mentally maturing until age 3.

Author Profile

Sarah Sheikh
Sarah SheikhProduct Reviews Specialist and Cofounder
Labradors have an extraordinary capacity for love and companionship, and my mission is to help you unlock their full potential. Hi there! I'm Sarah, a proud contributor to Labradorandyou, the go-to online resource for all Labrador Retriever enthusiasts. As a lifelong owner and avid admirer of these remarkable dogs, I bring a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to our readers.

One of my strongest beliefs is in the power of positive reinforcement training. I'm truly passionate about helping our readers build strong, positive relationships with their Labradors. Whether you're a first-time owner or a seasoned Labrador enthusiast, I aim to provide you with the resources and guidance to cultivate a bond that will endure a lifetime.