When we think of a Labrador Retriever, we typically picture a good-natured dog with a golden coat. The coat of a Lab tends to be short, thick, and straight, but every once in a while, a Labrador with long silky hair shows up. Why is this, and what does a longer coated Labrador mean to dog owners and breeders?
Short hair is the normal breed standard for a Labrador, and according to the American Kennel Club, coats that are waving, wooly, sparse, or silky “are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.”
Sounds kind of harsh.
But that’s only if you plan on showing your long-haired Labrador in a dog show, though. If you just want a playful and affectionate family pet, there’s no reason to balk at the length of the dog’s coat. A fluffy Labrador makes just as good a pet as a standard short-haired one.
In this article, we’ll explore;
- Why some Labrador Retrievers have long hair
- Shedding and grooming requirements of the long haired Lab
- Temperament and personality
- Cost and where to buy a fluffy Lab
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So, if you want to know all about the long-haired Labrador Retriever to see if this gorgeous breed is right for you, you won’t be disappointed. Let’s get started!
Are There Long Haired Labs?
There are long-haired Labradors that typically have a longer coat than other types. This is caused by a recessive gene and is less common than short coats. The fluffy coat type is present in all three colors of purebreds, yellow, chocolate, and black.
Labradors were used as gun dogs in the past, and their thick, short coat was ideal for working on a hunt in inclement weather. The long, wavy, glossy coat of the long-haired Lab is less suited for this kind of work.
Nowadays, your typical Lab owner doesn’t take their dog out shooting with them, and this practical preference for short hair has dwindled somewhat.
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Why Do Some Labs Have Long Hair?
To explain where long-haired Labradors come from, we have to talk about heredity, dominant traits, and recessive traits.
Some Labradors have long hair due to a recessive trait of a gene called fibroblast growth factor 5, abbreviated to FGF5. Two copies of the genes, one from each parent, are required to express the long coat. Carrier puppies that inherit one copy of the gene will have normal short coats.
To elucidate further, a Labrador pup receives one version of the hair length gene from each parent. Each version of the gene is called an allele. In the FGF5 gene, short hair is a dominant trait, and long hair is a recessive trait.
Because short hair is dominant, that trait appears whenever one or more copies of that allele are present in the Lab’s genetic makeup. If the pup has one short hair allele and one long hair allele, the dominant short hair trait cancels out the recessive long hair. The long hair trait only appears when both of a pup’s alleles have the recessive trait.
This pup will also pass the recessive trait on to their offspring. If they mate with another dog that has at least one copy of the recessive trait, there is a good chance the offspring will also be a long-haired Lab.
Dog Coat Types – How Genetics Affect Coat Types…
Do Long-Haired Labs Shed?
Long-haired Labs shed a shocking amount of fur, just like their short-haired counterparts, due to having a double coat. They shed year-round and shed more than usual twice a year, typically in spring and winter, when they will change their coat ready for the season ahead.
The Labradors topcoat is longer and slower-growing. This is the coat that you typically see. The undercoat is softer, grows quickly, and keeps the dog warm. If you’ve ever run your fingers through a dog’s fur and grabbed a fistful of fluff, that’s the undercoat coming off!
Labrador’s shed even more than most double-coated breeds because they have a thicker undercoat. During shedding seasons (spring and winter), the dog will “blow” the undercoat. You will always notice your Labrador shedding, but during these times, you’ll find prodigious tumbleweeds of fur around your house. Investing in a Roomba is my advice!
To learn more about shedding, you might want to check out this article, Labrador Shedding: Here’s How To Reduce Lab Shedding.
Are Long-Haired Labradors Purebreds?
Long-haired Labradors are purebreds. Except for the length of their hair, they have exactly the same pedigree as short-haired Labs. Although the American Kennel Club recognizes them, they are severely penalized for conformation, but a slight wave down the back is acceptable.
For dog shows, dogs have to adhere to very specific standards appearance-wise. Breeders even go as far as to deliberately breed Labs to eliminate this genetic trait. This is one of the reasons why most Labradors have short coats.
The UK Kennel Club breed standard of the purebred Labrador Retriever also takes a similar stance. Coats should be “short dense without wave or feathering.”
How Much Do Breeders Charge for Long-Haired Labs?
The average cost of a Labrador puppy is $400-$2000, depending on the seller and the bloodline of the pup in question. Adopting your Lab from a rescue center is cheaper, anywhere between $50-$600.
If you go the breeder route, make sure you buy from a reputable breeder. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. This tip mainly applies to dog owners who buy from breeders. The stakes are a lot higher in the purebred dog game.
Unfortunately, some breeders have been accused of selling mixed-breed puppies as Labradors simply because they have the long-coat trait. Anyone unsure of the parentage of a puppy with such a coat should have it DNA tested. These are readily available from most reputable pet stores or Amazon, such as the Embark Dog DNA Test developed by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
If you’re adopting from a rescue center, however, you are less likely to be cheated. This is because most people who adopt from a rescue do so to give a dog a home rather than own a dog with a valuable pedigree.
When adopting a Lab puppy, you should budget not only for the initial purchase but also for the costs of taking care of your dog. This includes food, puppy training, and vet bills for vaccinations and checkups. Veterinary care will be the most expensive part of dog ownership. Owning a dog can cost anywhere between $1000 and $10,000 annually, depending.
Long-Haired Labs as Good Family Dogs
Besides the different hair lengths, long-haired Labs are the same as other Labs in physical size, shape, and temperament. They are friendly, enthusiastic dogs who are extremely gentle toward children. For this reason, the Labrador is a favorite breed among families.
Labradors are also good for seniors as long as the owner is quite healthy and active. Seniors will also usually have more time to spend with their dogs, especially if retired.
If breeders have worked so hard to bury the recessive long-hair gene, why does it continue to show up? The answer is pretty simple. Everyday dog owners don’t care if their Lab’s coat is longer when a dog is as sweet-natured as a Labrador. They just want a fluffy addition to their family.
You can read more about the Lab being an excellent family dog here, Are Labradors Good Family Dogs?
If you are contemplating this breed – whether the popular short-haired or the rarer long-haired variety, all Labradors make good first dogs.
Overall, Labradors are viewed positively by pet owners. They are friendly, non-aggressive, affectionate, and easy-going. The length or texture of their coat does not affect this.
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