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sheephead24

How many years does a lab usually hunt?

7 posts in this topic

We have a black lab, 8 years old now. We have noticed a pretty big difference in her from last year to this year, she has problems kicking up birds, and problems finding them after they have been shot. Is that just because of her age? How long do they usually hunt before they retire?

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With a lab considering temperment desire and drive are equal it has a lot to do with genetics and size of the dog. I can get 12-14 years out of some of my cockers and springers but have never got much more then 10 out of a american lab. Some of my British labs (45lbs) have gone to 12 or so. If you have a larger american lab you may be aproaching the end of the road for long days in the field.

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This lab was 12 when the picture was taken.

hunt.jpg

She busted cattails all day long. Going on 15 or 16 years old with stiff joints and mussel loss she wouldn't be able to hunt even light cover on a pheasant hunt but she still comes along when I hunt grouse close to home. The desire to hunt is still there, the nose is still there. She didn't noticeably slow down till age 13, thats well beyond what most Labs live to much less hunt hard too. Once they get to the age of slowing down they deteriorate fast. If this dog didn't have burning desire to live and hunt she'd have been put down by now. Her kennel mate lived to 16 years old and hunted till she was 14. Those Labs are the exception.

Maybe I'm lucky but I'll say one thing. I've never had a dog that was overweight or out of shape. The extra weight alone will take years off their hunting life.

A dog that is wore out from a of day hunting, sore joints, or just out of shape will come alive when theres scent. If your dog has that desire but has trouble with its nose there might be something medically going on besides its age.

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Genetics, fitness level, inside vs outside, health issues. All of these play into the answer to your question. Ten to twelve years is probably an average, but there are always exceptions on both sides of those numbers. They will start to decline around 8 to 10 years old. They are sad times, especially when you remember the years in their prime. Help your dog in and out of the vehicle and don't be afraid to give them a field or two off during a hunting day. The desire is most ofter still there, but the physical skills start to decline, just like people.

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The lab in my Av hunted 12 great seasons. He was slowing down the last couple, but at 8 years you really should have a dog still pretty much in their prime.

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All seriousness aside, a lab will hunt as long as you let them. Every lab I've ever been with doesn't know that they are slowing down when it comes to hunting. Our last one hunted till 13yrs old and that dog would sleep for 12-15hrs after a day hunting. Its hard to have to make the decision when to leave them home, especially when they see you getting ready and know where you're going.

Definately keep your vet involved as they will have a fuller picture of the health of your pet.

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I dont think that anybody can say "X" years with any degree of certainty. But if you dont over feed them and get them off the couch they will certainly last longer.Most people feed their dogs way too much. A lab shouldnt have a cylinder shaped body, it should go up from the chest back to the rear. Also it doesnt hurt to give them some glucosamine and chondroiton with their food, it works wonders on older dogs ( and their owners too smile.gif )

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