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Posted: 15th July 2021

Labrador retrievers at significant risk of arthritis, research finds
The study found that Labrador retrievers are at greater risk of arthritis, lipoma and kennel cough.
Study uncovers most common conditions affecting this popular breed.

Labrador retrievers have a significantly increased risk of developing arthritis, according to new research published by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

The VetCompass study of 1,462 Labrador retrievers and 20,786 non-Labrador retrievers, reveals the 35 most common disorders across both groups of dogs, including ear infection and obesity.

Through their analysis, the team found that Labrador Retrievers have a higher risk of 12 out of 35 of the disorders, and a lower risk of seven out of 25 of the disorders. 

It is hoped that the findings, published in Scientific Reports, will help owners understand what health conditions to look for to seek veterinary advice.

Welcoming the study, Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at The Kennel Club, said: “There are estimated to be well over one million Labradors in the UK, and whilst it’s important to remember that this study is just a small percentage of these dogs that have visited a vet, it remains a valuable addition to our Kennel Club breed-specific research base which protects Labrador health, both now and in the future.” 

Labrador retrievers are one of the UK’s most popular dog breeds, but up to now, vets have had a limited understanding about their general health compared to other dogs.

In the study, researchers compared the risk in Labrador Retrievers to the risk in all other dogs for a range of common disorders, to identify those to which they are predisposed or protected.

They found that Labradors are fairly unique when compared to other dog breeds - with a significantly increased risk of arthritis, lipoma, kennel cough and laceration. Stiffness, papilloma and moist dermatitis were also noted as significant concerns for Labradors, as were obesity, lameness, post-operative wounds, ear infections and diarrhoea.

The disorders that Labradors were found to have a lower risk of were patellar luxation heart murmur, flea infestation, retained deciduous tooth, dental disease, aggression and anal sac impaction.

Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology, at the RVC said: “As we move into the knowledge economy where information has become the new oil or gold, we can now empower owners to care better for their dogs by sharing knowledge freely. The results of this VetCompass study provide owners of Labrador Retrievers with key information to spot diseases earlier in their dogs. Truly, sharing is caring.”

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