How Long Do Black Labs Live?

Dogs bring us a lot of joy, so it’s only natural that you’d want to put as much consideration into your choice of dog as possible when you are thinking of adopting one.

Lifespan is one of the main things that people think about when getting a new pooch – after all, you want to spend as much time as you can with your new pet.

You need to take the time to consider the long-term impacts and what potential health issues are likely to crop up in your new pet.

how long do black labs live

There’s one big problem – Labradors are known for their high likelihood of getting certain medical conditions, and these medical conditions can cut their lives short. Are black Labradors different?

As such, we’re here to share how long your Labrador is likely to live, and what sorts of health concerns can crop up in these beautiful dogs. How long do black Labs live? Can you prolong their life? These are the questions we’re here to answer today.

The Average Labrador Lifespans

So, you’re wondering how long do black Labs live? It’s worth noting that Labradors don’t exactly have the shortest lifespan out there, but they don’t live for a super long time either.

If you look on the American Kennel Club website, it is noted that Labradors usually tend to live from 10 to 12 years on average. One Labrador lived for more than 27 years though, which is the oldest Labrador that we know of.

A lot of different things can influence the lifespan of your Labrador, such as their breeding, weight, and their general health. As such, we’re going to do a deep dive into the different specifics.

What Will Usually Be The Cause of Death for a Labrador?

The answer to this largely depends on the Labrador in question, but Labradors most commonly die of conditions such as cancer and musculoskeletal disorders.

These musculoskeletal disorders that Labradors tend to experience usually aren’t fatal on their own, but they can result in a lot of painful symptoms for the dog.

As such, many dog owners choose to euthanize their pets rather than putting their pet through any more pain. Regardless of whether it’s treated, cancer tends to have a high death toll. This is the same as in humans, to some degree.

It’s worth noting that the Labrador with the shortest lifespan on average is the chocolate lab. Yellow and black labs appear to live for slightly longer.

One particular study has suggested this to be the case. It’s not the color that causes a shorter lifespan. Rather, it’s as a result of selective breeding that is used in order to get more chocolate Labradors in one particular litter.

This study was conducted with more than 33000 British Veterinary records in Sydney and London. The study found that labradors with black and yellow coats would have a 10% longer lifespan than their chocolate counterparts.

The most dominant labrador coat color is black, and they are the kinds of labradors that have been around for the longest duration of time. As such, they are usually more healthy.

What Are the Most Common Health Problems for Labradors?

There are 67 diseases that Labradors are predisposed to getting. Some of these diseases are much more commonplace than many of the others. With that in mind, these are the main conditions that tend to affect Labrador Retrievers.


In the eyes of many people, obesity isn’t technically a disease. With that being said though, obesity can have a massive impact on the quality of your Labrador’s life, and it can make symptoms of other diseases a lot worse, such as musculoskeletal disorders. As we have already mentioned, these carry a big risk of fatality for labradors, including black labs.

As it turns out, roughly 9% of labradors are obese. This is partially because Labradors are notorious for eating more food than they technically need to, which is potentially the result of genetics.

This can ultimately result in orthopedic issues such as dysplasia of the hips and elbows.

Otitis Externa

This condition means that the external ear canal becomes inflamed. This results in a lot of pain and a higher disposition for ear infections. More than 10% of the Labrador population tends to contract this disease, making it by far one of the most common diseases to impact the breed.

Certain colors of Labrador are more likely to get this condition too. Roughly 12.8% of black labradors will get this disease, with an increase in yellow labs that get it 17% of the time.

As you can probably imagine, the chocolate labs are most commonly affected, being 23.4% more likely to get otitis externa.

You may be wondering why exactly it’s so common in Labradors. Well, this is likely down to the fact that the breed enjoys swimming in the water, which can make the condition more likely to crop up.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Unfortunately, many labradors will contract some form of degenerative joint disease. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are particularly common in this breed.

The problem is that the cartilage around your dog’s joints will gradually start to disintegrate as they age. This can cause some serious problems since the bones will rub against each other, resulting in pain and inflammation.

They may even have less movement in the joints if the cartilage starts to slip away from the bone. As the bones continuously rub together through time, arthritis can set in. This is a very common illness for dogs that are obese, but it can also happen regardless of weight.

The Benefits of DNA Testing

One action you can take to help answer the question – how long do black Labs live is a dog DNA test. This test will help you know more about your dog’s health and wellbeing. So it’s definitely worth your while to look into DNA testing for your dog.

After all, knowledge is power, and prevention can be a pretty powerful thing. Companies such as Embark offer thorough DNA testing for dogs if you want to know where to start.

Are Labradors More Likely to Get Cancer?

Sadly, Labradors are quite likely to develop cancer. In fact, some studies have even proven that 70% of Labs and Golden Retrievers are in possession of genes that make it more likely that mast cell tumors will develop in their bodies.

If a dog has two of these risk factor genes in their bodies then there is a 4 times higher probability that they will end up developing a mast cell tumor.

As such, one in four Labradors is likely to get cancer at some point in their life. Thanks to this research, many sensible breeders have gone out of their way to try to reduce the likelihood of these genes in a dog’s bloodline, but it’s still quite likely that a dog will develop this illness either way.

What Is the Oldest Purebred Lab?

Check out the Guinness Book of World Records! It’ll show you that the oldest purebred Lab that we know of lived to the age of 27 years and 3 months.

His name was Adjutant and he lives in Lincolnshire in England. He was beaten for the top spots of the oldest dogs known by an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey who lived for 29 years and 160 days.

How To Improve The Lifespan Of Your Lab

Everyone wants their dogs to live for as long as they can. Thankfully, there are a few things that can help to prolong their life. These are just a couple of the things that may help you to add a few years onto your Labrador’s lifespan.

Have a conversation with the breeder

Before you buy the dog, it’s worth speaking to the breeder about whether there is a family history of joint disease and cancer. This is because the genes can be passed on through families.

If your breeder screens for these conditions before breeding then there’s a higher likelihood that your dog isn’t going to get joint diseases and cancer.

Make sure that you ask all of the necessary questions. Your dog is far less likely to develop cancer and joint conditions if they come from a long line of dogs without either of these conditions.

Don’t neuter straight away

There’s some data to suggest that spaying or neutering Golden Retrievers when they are younger than a year old can result in a higher likelihood of cancer and joint issues.

In terms of breeds, Goldens are quite similar to Labradors in many respects and thus tend to have many of the same health worries.

As such, it is possible that the data suggests that Labradors may also be more likely to get cancer and joint problems if they are neutered too young.

There are also studies on a number of dog breeds that have discerned that a dog that is neutered too early is more likely to get bladder and prostate cancer, in addition to bone cancer osteosarcoma.

Make sure their weight is in check

Labradors are known for their voracious appetite, but keeping their weight in check is crucial for prolonging their lifespan. It means that they are far less likely to develop serious issues with their joints.

Give them supplements

Certain supplements can be great for your dog’s joints, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These are safe to use and are even recommended by vets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Labrador live to 15?

They most certainly can! There are many labradors that can live to 15 and beyond, so long as they are given the right care throughout their life. They will usually live from around 10-12 years, however.

Do dogs live longer if they are loved?

Yes! If you love your dog and care for them properly, then they are going to live much longer than dogs that have been neglected. Make sure that you give them lots of affection, walk them and give them a healthy diet. It can work wonders in prolonging their lifespan.

How Long Do Black Labs Live?

The answer is variable, but if they’re well taken care of then you’ll have your pooch around for a lot more time! We’ve provided lots of suggestions to optimize their health.

We Love Labradors Like You Do

Labradors make such wonderful outdoor companions and that’s why we’ve written many articles about them on our blog.

Author - Melissa

Melissa is a dog mom to her Labrador Bella and German Shepherd Bear. Her dogs love swimming in Lake Michigan and nearby beaches. Bear is a big dog who loves to fetch. Melissa will sometimes throw a stick into the woods for Bear and he will come running back towards her with a huge fallen down tree branch! Bear also loves frisbee. Melissa is planning on taking both her dogs to agility camps to burn off some unrelenting energy! Even though they wrestle each other, both her dogs are extremely gentle and playful with her kids. Her four-year-old thinks both dogs are her personal pillows!

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