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Labrador Lifespan: Life Expectancy And How To Prolong It

Key Takeaways

  • The lifespan of yellow and black Labradors is longer than chocolate Labs by 10%.
  • While yellow and black Labradors have an average lifespan of about 12 years, chocolate Labs only have 10.
  • Although a dog owner cannot control the genetic factors to Labrador lifespan, there are many events throughout the dog’s life that can contribute to a longer fuller life which the owner can influence.

On average, a Labrador Retriever will have a lifespan of about 12 to 12 1/2 years. Recent studies have suggested the yellow and black Labs will live longer than chocolate Labradors, which only live to 10.7 years on average. As with any dog, his diet, as well as inherited diseases and healthcare, will influence his lifespan.

Labs are one of the most popular dog breeds and I perfectly understand why. They are friendly, loyal, and highly intelligent, so it’s no wonder that many pet parents want to know how how long their furry friends are going to be in their lives. Remember that this lifespan isn’t a guarantee for every Lab since some live a lot longer than just 12 while some don’t even make it to 10. As I alway remind pet parents, there are two important factors that help to influence how long dogs live—and they impact a Labrador’s life expectancy as well as the lifespan of any canine. These factors include the genetic information that your dog has inherited from his parents as well as all the other events that will happen to your dog over his life including disease, accidents, and injury.

How Long Will A Labrador Retriever Live?

The statistics for lifespans are often pretty inaccurate and sometimes based on information that is outdated. Fortunately, now we have a lot more data than we used to from scientific studies. Studies have placed the average Labrador lifespan at 12 years, but this information is also evolving with some evidence that the Labrador Retriever lifespan might be increasing.

How Do You Help Your Labrador Retriever Live A Long Life?


All purebred Labradors will inherit several Labrador characteristics that he shares with other Labs. While they control the length of a dog’s tail, his ear shape, and coat color, it also determines the dog’s susceptibility to disease and temperament.

Labrador Body Shape

Labradors are pretty lucky in that they inherit a pretty sound body shape. They don’t have to deal with short legs or long spines that cause a dog to have back problems. With nicely proportioned bodies, they are designed well for jumping and running.

A Labrador will also not have to deal with breathing issues that result in shortened faces or a small skull that may cause damage to their brains. Plus, they don’t have a lot of fur or excess skin, which helps to promote an overall healthier dog.


Black lab with black plushy on head.

Temperament is also somewhat controlled by genes. Not only does it affect some aspects of a Lab’s behavior, but it also determines his ability to complete specific tasks like fetching things, hunting, and running.

A Dog’s tendency to be fearful is also influenced by his genes as well as environmental factors. Studies have shown that anxiety and fear can actually shorten a dog’s lifespan. If a dog has behavior issues or is aggressive, he may also be euthanized if he can’t be controlled. 

Temperament is a big factor when you are considering a dog’s lifespan. It’s also possible for a dog to inherit several favorable genes, which will improve the possibility of having overall good health like a reduced risk of cancer. They then, in turn, can pass on these favorable genes to their own Labrador puppies.

Inherited Diseases

Even though Labradors are a relatively healthy breed, some diseases can influence just how long your Labrador Retriever will live. And, it also affects how healthy that dog will be during his lifetime. Certain diseases like CNM, degenerative joint disease, and hip dysplasia can be tested before you use the dog for breeding. However, other diseases, like cancer, do not have tests available, and Labrador Retrievers tend to be more susceptible to some cancers than other breeds. A dog DNA test can often be revealing in terms of genetic predispositions your dog may have.


Like any pedigree dog breed, specific genetic disorders have established themselves within the Labrador Retriever breed, which is largely due to breeding dogs that are closely related. Typically, the inbreeding coefficient for Labrador Retrievers is 6 ½ percent, which is higher than the five percent level at which we start to see adverse effects of dog’s inbreeding.


Typically, a little dog will live longer than a big dog, which is a quirk of nature that is not entirely understood. In general, a dog’s longevity is very strongly linked to his body size. But the reverse happens when you compare large mammal species like the elephant. For a domesticated dog, having a large size is a bit of a disadvantage. As a large to medium-sized dog, a Labrador will probably not live as long as a Chihuahua.  

Comparing Pedigree Dogs

When we think about pedigree dogs overall, you will notice differences in lifespans between all of the breeds. And we’re not just talking about size, although that is important. There are also differences between breeds that are the same size.

Typically, breeds with short life spans can attribute it to poor conformation [1]. Some super tiny dogs have brain problems as the result of skull compression, hormone problems, and a wide range of other health problems. So, in comparison, a Labrador’s conformation is fairly healthy.

Coat Color

Previously, the color of your dog’s coat was not thought to have any bearing on the lifespan of a Labrador Retriever. Basically, it was not thought that inherited diseases were linked to a particular type or color of Labrador Retriever.

Two brown labs.

However, studies have found that the lifespan of a black and yellow Lab is just over 12 years while a chocolate Labrador has a shorter lifespan of 10.7 years. It’s not exactly known why, but chocolate coat of brown Labs make them prone to more skin and ear issues, which includes reaction to irritants like fleas.

How Long Will Labrador Retrievers Live?

The genetic factors are pretty much outside of your control unless you are able to select the dog’s parents yourself. However, as your dog matures and grows, he will have life events which will influence his lifespan. Many of these events you will be able to control.

Roaming and Accidents

Since a lot of dogs die every year in an accident, it’s possible that many of these accidents could be avoided. Especially since accidents tend to be more common in those dogs that are left outside unsupervised. It’s important to fence in your property securely or install an invisible dog fence to keep your dog from roaming. Also train your dog to come when called, which will help in case of an emergency.


It was believed at one time that neutering helped to increase a dog’s life expectancy. Older studies have shown a high death rate for dogs that are not neutered and attributed it to the dog’s urge to mate causing him to roam farther away from home and possibly having more accidents.

However, more recent studies have actually linked neutering to a few serious health issues that include cancer and disease, which can are both leading causes of Labrador death and illness. So, neutering is no longer a clear-cut issue. Instead, control and training will be more helpful when ensuring that your dog lives a long time.


Depending on where you live, there are a lot of very serious diseases that will kill unvaccinated puppies and dogs regularly. Serious diseases and infections that can potentially kill your dog may also make him less healthy overall if he survives them. So, not vaccinating your dog can also affect his lifespan.


An increasingly common issue in dogs, obesity is particularly an issue with Labrador Retrieves as a direct result of overfeeding. Friendly and greedy, Labs are super good at persuading you to give him treats and refill his food bowl. Many Lab owners also don’t know how to judge how much to feed their dog, whether or not he is already overweight.

Labrador and woman with sandwich.

Always feed your dog according to how he feels and looks and don’t always follow the guidelines on the food packaging. Greedy Labs can also benefit from a slower feeding food bowl – an automatic dog feeder with a timer can help.

Keep in mind that studies show that when you reduce the calorie intake in your dog, you can increase your dog’s life expectancy by a significant amount. When you consider the impact of obesity on a dog’s health, this really isn’t very surprising, but it is not something that many dog owners pay attention to. Plus, Labradors are able to maintain their lean body mass consistently all through their lives.

Many people mistakenly believe that some breeds have a tendency to get fat, but, in reality, there are breeds that tend to eat a lot of food and are good at persuading their owners to feed them more. So, it’s important to resist your dog’s puppy dog eyes and remember that if your dog’s a slim physique, he will live a comfortable and long life.

Watching your dog’s weight can defer the onset of or at least reduce the impact of conditions such as arthritis in an older dog. Older dogs that can retain a youthful weight tend to have a more happy and active retirement. When you are firm about how much food that your dog can eat each day, you will also ensure that you have the benefit of his company for a very long time. It also greatly helps to watch what your dog eats, so keep him on a healthy diet.

Long Labrador Lifespan: Is It Inherited?

To a certain extent, yes, a long lifespan is inherited in that there are some dogs that have an inherent potential for a longer lifespan than others do. So how does your Labrador lifespan compare to other dogs? Since a purebred Labrador is a larger dog, it can go against your Lab having a really long lifespan. However, if he is good-tempered, athletic, and well-structured, he will have better odds of living longer. So, a Lab will fall into the medium range of life expectancy when you compare him to other dogs.

How Do You Help Labrador Retrievers Live Longer?

While there are a few dog breeds that will live longer than a Labrador Retriever, there are also some that will have a much shorter lifespan. Remember that you can help to influence your pup’s lifespan to a certain extent. If you can, choose your Labrador puppy’s parents wisely, make sure he is bred by a responsible breeder, and make sure that they get health tested. Also, make sure to look for an inbreeding co-efficient that is under five percent.

If you are choosing between a yellow or black Labrador Retriever, ensure that your pup’s parents have good temperaments that have also been well cared for. Make sure to socialize your Lab completely when you get your pup home to make sure that he views his world as a friendly and happy place and to make sure he is also confident. Plus, you need to make sure your Lab retains a slim physique and does not fall for your dog when he begs for another helping of food. It’s best to do this while they’re still puppies, so they’ll be much more used to healthier portions and proper feeding times.


What is the average age for a Labrador to die?

The average age for a Labrador Retriever to die is 12 years old. However, it depends on his color as brown Labs tend to live until 10.7 years old while yellow and black Labs will live until 12 years old. 

What do labs usually die from?

Typically, the most common cause of death for a Labrador Retriever is either cancer or musculoskeletal disorders. While most musculoskeletal disorders that Labrador Retrievers suffer from are not actually fatal, they often create such painful and severe symptoms that some owners choose to euthanize them.

Can a lab live 20 years?

Technically, a Labrador Retriever may live to 20 years old. However, on average, most black and yellow Labs live only up to 12 years old.

Is 13 old for a lab?

Since an average Labrador retriever only lives until 12 years old, 13 is only slightly old. Some Labs do live longer than 12 years old, so it’s not impossible for one to live until he is 13.

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6 thoughts on “Labrador Lifespan: Life Expectancy And How To Prolong It”

  1. I am in tears reading all this. I have a beautiful yellow lab, MJ and she is 15. She is my heart. So amazing. She is slow now and still walks and eats lots daily. We go on short walks to keep her going and I try to give all the love I can. She has my yorkie that keeps her company and he is 16. They are both everything to me, I have had them both since they were 8 weeks old. My loves.

  2. I had a chocalate lab that lived 16.5 years and tge secret was 2 ml walk almost daily and home cooked dog food. Best dog we ever had and we both cried for days when she did die.

  3. The article regurgitated a lot of readily available information but was sorely lacking in the fundamentals of “how can I prolong my Labs life?” I was hoping for information on exercise but the only reference was in one of the comments. Diet was mentioned but nothing on the amount of food. Going on line I can find two cups as the requirement for an 85lb dog but I can also find it to be based on a percentage of body weight which would equate to 2 1/2 pounds. Which is it? I’ve been told as long as their waist has a taper, they’re not overweight. Is that true?
    I wish influencers would concentrate more on information and less on word count.

    • I agree! My vet made the comment about waist to my inquiry but that still did not satisfy me. I have taken an approach that seems to be working based on metabolic processes. I feed kibble (carbs) only once at 10:00 after a morning walk. In the afternoon, after another walk/romp it is only protein/fats from hardboiled eggs or raw meat. I get inexpensive beef ribs that are less expensive than dog treats. The principal is ketosis as it works for dogs just as for people! Their energy and endurance are noticeablely improved.


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