Are Labradors High Maintenance? Test Whether You Can Handle Them


If you have watched or read “Marley & Me”, we bet that the Labrador pup that taught us life lessons stole your heart and made you want to get yourself a lab partner.

But before you take the action, of course, you need to that it’s not always fun and games, and you’d want to know the level of maintenance of labradors and whether it would match your lifestyle and habits or not.

So are labradors high maintenance dogs? Labradors are high maintenance dogs because they shed heavily, need daily physical exercise, regular grooming, and their vet and food costs can be higher because they’re big dogs. More importantly, they need your time, love, and affection to become the lovely labs we all adore.

So, yes, they are high-maintenance dogs, but let me tell you something that all Lab owners will tell you; it’s all worth it. If you are thinking of getting a Labrador, let’s dive deep into what it takes to care for a Labrador so you can be ready.

Are labradors high maintenance? 

lab laying on the back to show why are labradors high maintenance dogs

Labradors are a heart-melting breed; but also high maintenance. When you think of a labrador you should think of it as similar to having a baby, a responsibility that needs attention and care.

From Dietary needs, medical and emotional attention, to training and need for space, these all save Labradors a place between the top high maintenance dog breeds.

6 Reasons why Labradors are high maintenance dogs 

Labs have their spot saved between high maintenance dog breeds in multiple aspects, including:

Their Energetic Personality

When it comes to energy, labradors have a lot to offer, they’d be running around the whole day and still asking for more!

An hour (minimum) of exercise daily is necessary to keep your dog engaged in activities instead of ruining things around your house.

Proneness to health issues

Labs tend to be prone to some health problems, including:

  • Hip dysplasia: This happens when the hip joint grows improperly, resulting in an erroneous fit of the femur in the hip socket, leading to joint deterioration and inflammation.
  • Allergies: Food allergies, flea allergies, contact allergies, bacterial allergies, and inhalant allergies are all common in Labs.
  • Cancer: Lymphoma is a cancer that affects Labrador Retrievers by causing the body to produce abnormal lymphocytes, which are a kind of white blood cell.
  • Separation Anxiety: Labradors are social creatures that can get distressed when left alone especially if it happens regularly and/or for a long period of time.

They Shed a lot

Prepare to find hair flying everywhere because Labradors shed more than other shorter-haired breeds due to their hair being extremely thick and having a double coat. They also shed all-year-long plus their seasonal shedding, so you need to be ready for this to be an ongoing thing in your life.

This double coat is made up of a smooth outer layer of hair and a fluffy undercoat to keep the Lab warm no matter what the weather is like.

Thankfully, managing the shedding is not that difficult anymore. You can learn how to manage your dog’s shedding here. You can also check other retrievers that shed less than Labs here.

They come with costs (a lot of them)

The average cost of a Labrador Retriever puppy is $800, with the majority of prices ranging from $400 to $1,500. The price of some purebreds can reach close to $5,000.You can expect to spend at least $1,100 per year on your Labrador Retriever, most of which will be spent on health care and food.

Here is the breakdown of the costs of owning a Labrador Retriever;

  • Around $200 for General Equipment like a Collar, Leash/Harness, Food and Water bowls, Toys, and Chews
  • $350 to $750 per year for Food and Treats
  • $270 to $450 per year for Grooming
  • $50 per visit for General Checkup vet visits
  • $20 2-4 times a year for Vaccines boosters
  • $50 per year for heartworm testing
  • $35 per year for Fecal test
  • Insurance costs around $510.
  • Unexpected expenditures may sometimes emerge, such as dental cleaning, which can range from $100 to $400 depending on the circumstances.
  • If you suspect an allergy, you will need to pay between $200 and $300 for a blood test or a skin test.
  • In addition to the Geriatric Screening, which costs $100, senior dogs must have it done after the age of seven.
  • These prices do not include surgery or any other unusual conditions.

To save some money, you can check my recommendations here, or you can jump to check these foods recommendations here and these toys recommendations here.

They are a Vigorous breed

Labradors are energetic dogs who may strain on the leash, jump on anything and everything, attempt to plow past obstacles, and even eat and drink in large gulps and with speed. As a result, learning good manners requires significant instruction from a lab owner.

They Need Companionship

Labs are known for their need for human companionship, so basically the amount of time you intend to spend with your Lab each day, the number of hours per day your new Labrador will be alone, Are you willing to hire a pet sitter, dog walker, or take your lab to a doggie daycare if it will be alone for more than 6 to 8 hours?

Are you also a frequent traveler? If so, how will you care for the Lab while you’re gone?

Labs require attention and care, so you must decide who will be the primary caregiver for your dog, whether you or someone else.

They need a Matching Routine

A question you should consider: what is your daily routine like? Are you a physically active person yourself who would love to have a jogging partner? Or a stay-home person who’d rather not go out – you need to pay attention to how a labrador will fit into your lifestyle, and whether you’re so busy that you don’t have time or energy to properly care for a Lab.

You have to arrange place for them to stay

You must also consider where your Lab will spend the day and sleep at night, and keep in mind that Labs are large, energetic creatures who love their space. Will you have enough space to keep your Lab inside the house the majority of the time, or a backyard where it can run around and do a variety of activities?

Getting them on their best behavior

There’s no denying that labs, with their high levels of energy, require extensive training, especially in their early stages, so how much time and effort are you willing to devote to training him?

Are you willing to provide training to your dog in order to resolve any behavioral issues that may arise?

These probably cover all maintenance aspects of a Labrador, they’re a handful I know, but the question remains, are you willing to abide by them?

Training your dog while young will also make it easier to adjust and fix any behavioral problems later. Yes, even Labs can suffer from behavioral problems. You can learn about Lab aggression here, for example.

The 20 most high maintenance dog breeds 

Believe it or not, but high-maintenance dog breeds are not one of two, but almost 30, and Labradors rank the 6th on this list, so it’s no wonder they’re considered high-maintenance dogs.

Here is a list of the most high maintenance dogs:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Labrador Retriever 
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Husky
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Irish Setter
  • German Shepherd
  • Akita
  • Boxer
  • Chow Chow
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Poodle
  • Dalmatian
  • English Bulldog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • German Shorthaired Pointer

You can learn why Golden Retrievers are high maintenance dogs here, and why Labradoodles are high maintenance here.

Related Questions 

Are Labradors easy to maintain? 

Labradors are one of the high maintenance dog breeds, this goes back to their frequent shedding, their energetic character which requires training, basic obedience education, diet and health care, and veterinary care.

Are Labradors expensive to maintain? 

Yes, Labradors are expensive to maintain, you would know that if you calculated the grooming, vaccination, training, feeding, and living space costs, a Labrador retriever will cost you around $1,060 to $10,000 per year or $88 to $833 a month. 

What is the most high-maintenance dog? 

Australian Shepherds are classified as the most high maintenance dogs, followed by the Akita, these breeds are not easy to handle as they never run out of energy, stubborn, and can get aggressive if not trained and socialized.

Helpful Resources 

Management and personality in Labrador Retriever dogs, Sarah E. Lofgren, Pamela Wiener, Sarah C. Blott, Enrique Sanchez-Molano, John A. Woolliams, Dylan N. Clements, Marie J. Haskell, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 156, 2014, Pages 44-53, ISSN 0168-1591

Labrador Retrievers for Dummies by Joel Walton, Eve Adamson (which you can also check on Amazon here)

The Complete Labrador Handbook: The Essential Guide for New & Prospective Labrador Retriever Owners

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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