Published On: Fri, Aug 30th, 2019

Labrador color may determine lifespan

Research has revealed that there is a connection between a dog’s color and its lifespan. This also affects its tendency to develop life-threatening diseases.

The study which was carried out on Labradors by a team of experts from the University of Sydney focused on the susceptibility of this popular breed to certain health concerns. They were surprised to discover that the black and yellow canines lived longer than their chocolate-colored counterparts.

photo/ PK-Fotografie

The study examined 33,000 Labradors

The Australian researchers examined the health records for 33,000 dogs which included Labradors of all colors from the United Kingdom. Ear and skin issues were discovered to be prevalent in those that have chocolate-colored coats. 

The finding came as a surprise to most people as further analysis showed that the chocolate Labradors had an average life expectancy of 10.7 years. This is over 10 percent shorter than that of the non-chocolate dogs at 12.1 years.

1,077 respondents of a web-based survey carried out by finder.com.au said that their pets often make at least one visit to the vet each year, which can be a big expense. The cost of pet insurance for all the available dog breeds in the country was also analyzed. It was discovered that underwriters have been quoting higher premiums for Labradors based on risk perception. 

The lead researcher, Professor Paul McGreevey stated that the prevalent health issues observed in this dog breed may have been as a result of selective breeding. Dog breeders who seek the recessive chocolate coat genes may have bred dogs with gene defects, causing the puppies to inherit the skin and ear problems.

Although the common health problems of Labradors are joint and ear infections, the major cause of death for those with chocolate coats were cancer and musculoskeletal disorders. Similarly, research conducted by RSPCA pet insurance found that the most commonly cited insurance claim for Labradors was cruciate ligament rupture. The findings will give you detailed insights on what to expect after adopting this breed of dog. 

It is recommended that dog owners perform routine health checks to discover what you can about your pet’s physical state. It will give you a better understanding of what is normal as well as unusual changes that may be a cause for concern. You should contact your vet for further examination and treatment when you notice anything that looks unfamiliar.

We spoke to the Labrador experts at Totally Goldens who recommended a few checks that can be performed at home:


You can run your hands through the coat of your dog to feel for any change in texture. Look out for any redness, lumps and bumps, ticks and flea bites as well as other scratches that may cause skin irritation. Excessive hair loss should be taken seriously. Take the dog to your veterinarian for a thorough examination.


The ears rarely show symptoms of any disease. You should take your pet to the veterinarian if you notice any discharge from the inner ear, foul odors, swelling or excessive itching. These ear infections may be treated using simple medication that will be prescribed by your vet.


Dogs usually have bright eyes and may have blackish crusts in the corners of the eyes. This is normally as a result of mucus that is secreted with tears which eventually dries up. 

When you begin to notice redness of the eyes, consistent squinting, or uncontrolled watering; then, it is time to pay a visit to the vet. A yellow or green discharge also signals a serious health condition.


Look for changes in the texture of your dog’s nose. It is usually a bit dry or wet from mucous and licking. Some dog breeds have very dry and scaly noses. Unusual discharge or soreness could indicate an underlying health issue.


This could be very difficult as most dogs will resist. If you are able to get your pet to sit still, you can move the lips apart with two fingers to reveal its teeth and gums. A discolored tooth, nasty odors and swelling or lumps around the gums are usually from an infection which could result in tooth decay. Use online resources like the ones found here, or speak to your vet about the best diet for your dog, plus ways to care for your dog’s teeth using special toothbrushes. 


Try to check the paws of your dog for cuts and abrasions. Treat wounds and clip overgrown nails to keep your pet in good shape.

Starting proper obedience training for dogs at a young age would make it easier for you to examine them. Treats may be used to reinforce good behavior. Book an appointment with your vet once you notice any changes in your dog’s health to facilitate diagnosis and early treatment.

Author: Emma Williams

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