Labrador health issues

It can be very useful to know what the most commonly inherited diseases are in Labradors. Firstly, it will help you when choosing the right breeder, as you can ask if they have screened for these conditions before breeding. Secondly, it will help you if you see any untoward symptoms arise in your Labrador. Here are some conditions to watch out for in Labradors.


Seizures in Labradors are usually due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. So whilst epilepsy can be passed down genetically, it isn’t always the cause of seizures. The seizures themselves can be worrying but there is very little you can do for your dog while they are happening, apart from making sure he is away from hazardous obstacles and furniture. Epilepsy can be managed, rather than cured, with the help of medication.

Hip dysplasia

This inherited hip condition is common in a lot of breeds, but occurs particularly frequently in Labradors. It usually develops in dogs between 3 and 5 years old. Pain, lameness and an odd gait are signs of hip dysplasia, which can usually be diagnosed with an x-ray. Later on in life it can develop into arthritis. However, there are surgical options available as well as pain relief medication that can make the condition more manageable. Breeders usually have their dogs screened for hip dysplasia by obtaining something called a “hip score”. A reputable breeder will not breed from dogs that have this condition in their lineage.

Progressive renal atrophy

This eye condition develops over time and eventually causes dogs to go blind. Dogs with any family history of PRA in their bloodlines should never breed, as they can be carriers without having symptoms. However, good breeders should screen for this before breeding from their stock.

Weight gain

Whilst not strictly hereditary, Labrador owners do need to be sure they are giving their Labs enough exercise on a daily basis. Labradors are particularly prone to weight gain if they aren’t getting the exercise they need, and this can lead to all sorts of secondary health issues. Keep an eye on how many treats your Lab is given too – fatty cuts of meat and too many carbohydrates are likely to cause weight gain too.

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