How Long Do Labs Live? The Ins and Outs of Labrador Health and Lifespan

How long do Labs live?

Well, certainly not long enough for our liking. It is estimated that the average dog’s lifespan is around 12 years.

Of course, not all dogs age equally, and now that the 7 dog years for every one human year has recently been disproven, it’s got us wondering…

So, how long do Labs live and what are a few things we can do to help them not only live longer lives, but happier lives as well?

That’s what we are here to discuss!


The Labrador Retriever – A Brief Breed Overview

1 a chocolate lab looking at the camera
Labs are considered America’s favorite dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

Origin: Newfoundland, Canada

Height: 21.5 to 24.5 Inches

Weight: 55 to 80 Pounds

Temperament: Enthusiastic, Friendly, Intelligent, Playful

Lifespan: 10 to 12 Years

Common Health Issues: Cancer, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Heart Disease, Retinal Dysplasia, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Cruciate Ligament Injury, Exercise-Induced Collapse, Panosteitis, Arthritis, Bloat, Obesity, Allergies, Ear Infections, Cold Water Tail


The Lab is considered America’s most popular dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. This family-favorite canine was originally bred as a water retrieving dog in Newfoundland Canada and was considered to be a fisherman’s best friend.

Today, he lives a more relaxed lifestyle and is famous for his incredible intelligence, patience with children, and friendly nature.

Along with being one of the best furry companions you could ask for, the Labrador Retriever is also one of the world’s top picks when it comes to service dogs.

It’s just too bad that Labs, and other dogs, don’t live for 100 years! So, what’s behind that rapid aging and how long do Labs live?

Let’s find out.

How Long Do Labs Live – The Breakdown Behind Canine Lifespan

2 a number of dogs against a pink wall
Dogs of different sizes tend to age differently.

Dogs age more rapidly than people for a number of reasons. First, they have a higher metabolism and a faster heartbeat. Thus, their bodies are working harder than ours on everyday tasks, which leads to them deteriorating much more quickly.

That said, not all dogs age at the same rate of speed. Smaller dogs are known for having longer lifespans than larger breed dogs, though this is not true for every breed or mix.

It’s also suggested that hybrid dogs are healthier than purebred dogs, which can lead to mixed breeds living longer lives as well.

On average, however, there is a scale you should consider when it comes to canine lifespan, and especially when investigating how long do Labs live.

According to a study conducted in 2015, dogs of different weights had different average life expectancies.

Toy Breeds (Under 11 pounds) – 13.8 Years

Small Breeds (11 to 22 Pounds) – 14.2 Years

Medium Breeds (22 to 44 Pounds)- 13.6 Years

Large Breeds 44 to 88 Pounds) – 12.5 Years

Giant Breeds (Over 88 Pounds) – 10.6 Years

But how long do Labs live in comparison?

Because the Labrador Retriever is a medium sized dog, he should be estimated to live around 13.6 years. So then why is this breed’s actual life expectancy only 12 years, according to most sources?

Well, experts point out that, like people, each dog is different. Certain breeds may also be more susceptible to particular illnesses, which can further lead to a reduced lifespan.

Still, it is possible for Labrador Retrievers to outlive their 12 year timestamp. In fact, the oldest Labrador Retriever on record was a black Lab called Adjutant. Adjutant lived a whopping 27 years and 3 months, landing her a spot in the Guinness World Records in 1966.

Adjutant is not only the oldest living Labrador on record, she’s also one of seven of the oldest living dogs in the world.

Of course, it’s quite uncommon for any dog to live as long as Adjutant lived. Still, it’s obviously possible. Which is why we’re here today asking “how long do Labs live”?

Two Factors That Control A Lab’s Lifespan

3 a yellow lab puppy
Because they are large breed dogs, Labs age more quickly.

As large breed dogs, Labs do age a bit more quickly than their smaller canine counterparts. This is due to a number of factors, but there are two main factors you should know about when asking yourself “how long do Labs live?”.

These factors include your Labrador Retreiver’s genetic history and his unique lifestyle.

How Long Do Labs Live – Considering Genetics

Purebred dogs are unique to mutts and mixed breeds because they have been so carefully bred and perfected over time. This is what makes it so easy for us to estimate a purebred dog’s lifespan and to understand what diseases these dogs are most prone to suffering from.

Labrador Retrievers, like other purebreds, share a number of traits. These traits include their weight, height, body shape, coat colors, coat texture, temperament, and potential health issues.

This is where responsible breeding practices come into play when looking at how long do Labs live.

Because Labs can be prone to a variety of serious health issues that affect their lifespan, most reputable breeders work to reduce these common health issues by breeding the healthiest Labradors they can.

Of course, genetics are genetics and there is never any guarantee that your Labrador is going to be healthy and disease-free just because you got him from a reputable breeder. This is also why lifestyle is so important when it comes to answering the “how long do labs live?” question.

And this brings us to the second key factor in what determines your Labrador Retreiver’s lifespan.

How Long Do Labs Live – Looking at Lifestyle

Sometimes, your Labrador’s lifestyle can have an even greater impact on his health than his genetics. This is actually good news if you’re a Lab parent, because your dog’s lifestyle is (mostly) up to you.

Some lifestyle factors to consider will include your Lab’s diet, how often he sees the vet, how routinely he is exercised, whether or not you have had him health screened, and whether or not you are implementing preventative care.

Accidents, injuries, or non-inherited illnesses can also impact your Lab’s lifespan. Unfortunately, these are also a few lifestyle factors that will sometimes be out of your control.

What Are Some Common Health Issues Labrador Retrievers Are Known For?

4 a black Lab laying down
Like all dogs, Labs can be prone to a variety of health issues. However, some can be more serious than others and have an impact on

When compared to the average lifespan of canines in general, Labs are right on track. However, there are some serious illnesses they are susceptible to that can impact their lifespan and even shorten it greatly.

It’s important to be aware of these health issues in Labrador Retrievers so you can implement the preventive measures needed to help keep these issues at bay.

Some of the most common health issues in Labs include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Arthritis Hypothyroidism
  • Seizures
  • Cancer
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (AKA Bloat or GDV)

All of the above health issues can be serious and devastating for a Labrador Retriever, but there are some that are more dangerous than others.

In fact, one study suggested that cancer is a leading cause of death Labradors, followed closely by musculoskeletal disorders. Labs were also found to suffer a high rate of obesity, skin and coat issues, ear issues and joint problems.

Let’s take this time to get a closer look at some of the most common health issues that impact Labs to better answer your question of how long do labs live.

Hip And Elbow Dysplasia In Labrador Retrievers

5 a yellow lab on a fence
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia can be devastating for lager, athletic dog breeds like the Labrador.

When you think of hip and elbow dysplasia, you may immediately think of large or giant breed dogs. While it is true that these ailments are more common in dogs like Great Danes and Labrador Retrievers, they can also crop up in smaller dogs.

Unfortunately, these conditions are very common in Labrador Retrievers, and this is something you should consider when considering how long do Labs live.

Hip And Elbow Dysplasia

Both hip and elbow dysplasia are hereditary skeletal conditions that occur in the hip and elbow joints of dogs. It happens when the ball and socket of these joints either are not properly developed or do not fit properly within one another.

This causes wear and tear on the joint over time as the ball and socket bones grind together instead of rotating smoothly when the dog moves.

Dogs with hip and elbow dysplasia are typically born with the condition, though not all of them experience symptoms at the same time.

Young puppies have been known to show symptoms of hip and elbow dysplasia, while other Labs don’t show signs until they begin to age.

The good news is that, when asking “how long do labs live?”, you should know neither hip nor elbow dysplasia is life threatening.

Symptoms Of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

  • Lower range of movement
  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty standing, jumping, running or climbing
  • Lameness in the hind quarters
  • Obvious pain
  • Limping
  • Stiffness when walking
  • Enlarged muscles on other limbs (from overcompensating when walking)
  • And a sway-like walk or hoping when they move

Causes Of Hip Or Elbow Dysplasia

Although hip and elbow dysplasia are both inherited conditions, there are some lifestyle factors that could either trigger the condition or even lead to it becoming more severe over time.

It should also be noted that hip and elbow dysplasia are most common in large breed dogs due to these dogs’ rapid growth rate. Puppies who do not maintain a proper diet specified for large breed dogs are at higher risk of developing bone and joint issues as they age because they grow so large so quickly.

Some other factors that can lead to hip and elbow dysplasia or even make it worse include improper or overly strenuous exercise, an injury, obesity, and poor nutrition.

Treatments For Hip Or Elbow Dysplasia

There are a variety of treatments for these conditions that range from lifestyle shifts to surgical procedures.

You can also work to prevent hip dysplasia in your Labrador Retriever by ensuring he is properly exercised, eats a quality dog food specified for his age and weight, ensuring he is at a healthy weight, and by providing him glucosamine treats for dogs.

Arthritis In Labrador Retrievers

6 a black lab with a pink flower in her collar
Arthritis is most commonly found in older Labrador Retrievers.

Most of us are familiar with arthritis in people, but it is also a common condition in dogs. So, how long do labs live with arthritis?

Alone, arthritis is not considered a life threatening condition.

However, it can decrease your dog’s quality of life. It also progressively worsens as dogs age, which can lead some veterinarians to consider euthinasia if managing severe arthritis is not an option.

For this reason, it’s important to understand as much as you can about conditions like arthritis, especially when you’re asking how long do Labs live.


Like hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis is a painful condition that occurs in the joints, Arthritis occurs when the protective cartilage in your dog’s joints begins to deteriorate. This leads to a rubbing and grinding in the joint socket, which further damages the area.

Some types of arthritis can also cause inflammation, which can lead to spurs, which are abnormal growths of bone around the joint.

Damage caused by arthritis often goes unnoticed until the condition is severe. This is for a few reasons. First, most dogs are excellent at hiding pain and discomfort. Second, cartilage is free of any nerves, which means dogs often don’t feel it being destroyed until it is already severely damaged.

Symptoms Of Arthritis In Labrador Retrievers

  • Difficulty or reluctance getting up, running, jumping or climbing
  • Walking with a stiffness to the limbs
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Obvious pain
  • Lameness in certain limbs
  • Swollen joints
  • Stiff joints

Causes Of Arthritis

Arthritis has a variety of causes, but it is common in large breed dogs like Labradors mostly due to their size and oftentimes their lifestyle. Labs are high energy dogs that can be prone to obesity, which can further impact complications from arthritis.

Arthritis can also be made worse by other conditions in your Labrador, including hip or elbow dysplasia, underlying joint diseases, injuries, joint trauma, excessive activity, and even some metabolic diseases like Cushing’s disease and diabetes

Treatments For Arthritis

So, how long do Labs live with arthritis? Luckily, arthritis is not life threatening on its own. However, arthritis can become painful and devastating to a Lab’s quality of life.

There are plenty of treatments for arthritis that can be implemented. These treatments include managing your Lab’s weight, ensuring he eats a quality diet, avoiding overly strenuous exercise, and offering him physical rehabilitation therapy if he needs it.

There are even a number of medications your veterinarian can provide you with to help ease your dog’s pain by reducing inflammation in the joints.

You can also work to prevent and remedy arthritis and other joint issues when looking into how long do Labs live by providing your Labrador with glucosamine supplements.

Laryngeal Paralysis In Labrador Retrievers

7 a yellow lab with a bone
Laryngeal paralysis can be a life threatening condition in Labs.

Unlike the above joint issues, Laryngeal Paralysis is a life threatening condition in Labrador Retrievers. For this reason, it should be high on your “to-know” list when investigating how long do Labs live.

Laryngeal Paralysis

The larynx, sometimes called the voice box, is a structure made of cartilage in the dog’s throat. This structure performs a variety of functions, but it’s most important is to close access to the dog’s trachea when he is swallowing, eating or drinking.

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the muscles that support the larynx begin to weaken and collapse. When this occurs, it can cause a long list of symptoms for your dog, including an inability to properly breathe and swallow.

Laryngeal paralysis is common in several breeds, but it is especially common in the Labrador Retriever. But how long do Labs live with laryngeal paralysis?

The good news is that laryngeal paralysis is not always life threatening, though it can be very serious. For that reason, it’s important to know the symptoms so you can ensure your dog gets treatment.

Symptoms Of Laryngeal Paralysis

Symptoms of Laryngeal Paralysis in Labrador Retrievers range from mild to severe. In some cases, coughing or shortness of breath are the only symptoms you will notice. However, there are more severe cases where dogs will develop a sudden inability to breathe properly, which can lead to respiratory distress and collapse.

Causes Of Laryngeal Paralysis

Experts still don’t know all the causes of laryngeal paralysis. That said, sometimes trauma to the throat or neck can cause it.

You Labrador Retriever is at higher risk of suffering from this condition if he also has underlying issues like Cushin’s disease, hypothyroidism, endocrine, or even tumors in the throat.

Treatments For Laryngeal Paralysis

If you’re wondering how long do Labs live with Laryngeal Paralysis, you’ll be happy to know it is often treatable. More mild cases of the condition can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications, sedatives and antibiotics.

You can also manage the condition at home by keeping your dog out of the heat, ensuring you walk your dog on a proper no-pull harness as opposed to his leash and collar alone, and by avoiding strenuous activities or over exercise.

How long do Labs live with Laryngeal paralysis will also depend on the severity of the situation. In some severe cases, your vet may opt to operate on your dog to correct the paralysis.

Seizures In Labrador Retrievers

8 a yellow lab laying on bed
Seizures can be triggered by a number of things in a Labrador Retriever, though they can also be genetic.

How long do Labs live if they get seizures? This is a great question, especially considering that a sudden seizure in your dog can be a scary thing to experience. Luckily, most Labs can live relatively normal lives, even if they frequently get seizures.

Still, it’s best to understand these seizures so you can estimate how long do Labs live if they get them.

Seizures In Labradors

There are four common types of seizures in dogs. They include:

  • Partial Seizures
  • Generalized Seizures
  • Static Epilepticus Seizures
  • Cluster Seizures

When it comes to the Labrador, the most common seizures seen are cluster seizures. These seizures are classified when a dog experiences two or more seizures in under a 24 hour period. The most common type of condition that causes these seizures is known as Idiopathic Epilepsy.

And if you’re wondering how long do Labs live with cluster seizures, we should warn you they are considered life threatening.

Symptoms Of Seizures In Labs

Sadly, there can be no way to predict when your Labrador will suffer a seizure. That said, some Labs may begin behaving in strange ways if they feel a seizure coming on. If you pay attention to your Labrador and become familiar with these subtle changes, you may be able to hone-in on when a potential seizure is coming.

Causes Of Seizures

Most experts agree that, when it comes to the Labrador Retriever, seizures are inherited. This is because it has been found that Labs in particular have a much higher rate of idiopathic seizures when compared to other breeds.

Unfortunately, this means we have yet to know all the causes of seizures. However, some seizures in dogs can be caused by an accident, an injury, environmental toxins, or an underlying illness.

Treatments For Seizures In Labradors

When it comes to how long do Labs live with seizures, there are some treatments. It’s best that your veterinarian gets to the bottom of why your dog had a seizure. This will include taking several tests. Once the cause is determined, your vet will often prescribe medications to manage the seizures in the future.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus In Labrador Retrievers

9 a chocolate Lab looking up
Also known as Bloat, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus is a very serious and life threatening condition.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus, also known as Bloat or GDV, is a serious and life threatening condition. It is also common in Labrador Retrievers and can come on suddenly. How long do Labs live with GDV?

Unfortunately, when a Lab experiences GDV, it should be considered a medical emergency.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus occurs when gas or air fills your dog’s stomach, causing it to flip. When this happens, blood flow is cut off to the lower portion of your dog’s body, which leads to shock.

Symptoms Of Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

  • Excessive panting
  • Unproductive vomiting
  • Distended abdomen
  • Obvious pain
  • Excessive pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • And Eventual collapse

Causes Of Gastric Dilation- Volvulus

Asking how long do Labs live with Gastric Dilation-Volvulus is tricky, considering it can come on so suddenly and without warning. However, there are some causes that can increase the chances of your dog suffering from this condition, which include:

  • Eating or drinking too quickly
  • Eating something your dog shouldn’t have
  • Eating or drinking too quickly after exercise or play
  • Becoming overly excited or stressed

Treatments For Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

As we mentioned above, Gastric Dilation Volvulus is a life threatening medical emergency. If you’re wondering how long do Labs live if they come down with GDV, you should note that it has a mortality rate of about 50%.

The best way to treat a dog for Bloat is to get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are no home remedies that can reverse Bloat in dogs, and no medications to manage it without medical assistance.

However, there are ways you can work to prevent Bloat, which can alleviate your concerns about how long do Labs live if they get it.

You can work to prevent Bloat by ensuring your dog eats a quality diet, does not eat or drink too quickly after intensive activity, and by maintaining his healthy weight. You can also invest in puzzle feeders, which help slow your dog down when he eats.

Lymphoma In Labradors

10 two yellow labs in the woods
Ensuring your Labrador is on a healthy diet and lives a healthy life is key to a long lifespan.

According to experts, one of the most common causes of death in Labrador Retrievers is cancer. There are several types of cancer Labradors can be susceptible to, but the most prominent is Lymphoma.

So, how long do labs live with cancer? Cancer requires treatment, so it’s important to know the symptoms so you can catch it early.

Lymphoma In Labradors

Labs have been found to suffer at a higher rate from Lymphoma than many other breeds. Lymphoma is a group of specific cancers formed by an abnormal production of lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.

Lymphocytes are present throughout the body, so lymphoma in Labs can occur virtually anywhere.

Symptoms Of Lymphoma

If you want to know how long do Labs live with lymphoma, it’s important to know the symptoms. Unfortunately, symptoms of lymphoma can vary depending on where the cancer has appeared in your dog’s body.

It has been found that most dogs with lymphoma do present certain symptoms like very swollen lymph nodes, rapid weight loss, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and nodules or lesions on the skin that most commonly occur on the gums or inside the mouth of the dog.

Causes Of Lymphoma In Labs

Experts still don’t know all the causes of cancer in dogs or in people. However, there is a good chance that Lymphoma in Labradors may be hereditary. Other factors are likely environmental.

Treatments For Lymphoma In Labrador Retrievers

Chemotherapy has long been considered one of the most effective treatments for cancer in Labrador Retrievers. So, when wondering how long do Labs live with cancer, chemo is your best bet.

However, there are other options as well, and care can be customized based on your dog, your lifestyle and your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Tips On Helping Your Lab Live His Longest, Happiest Life

11 a black and white picture of a labrador puppy
Making sure your Lab lives a long and healthy life begins before you even get him.

When it comes to how long do Labs live, we found that the average Labrador lifespan is around 12 years. However, recent studies are suggesting that Labrador lifespan is getting longer, thanks to advances in medication and technology.

The new, yet unofficial average lifespan for Labs is slowly but surely creeping up to be around 14 years.


So, now that we’ve covered some of the most common health issues that can affect your Lab’s lifespan, let’s talk about how to make sure your Lab’s life is as long and happy as possible.

You can help keep your Lab healthy by:

Do you have more questions about how long do Labs live? We would love to hear from you! Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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