Trout may seem an odd name for a Labrador Retriever pup, but this pup was definitely not a standard Lab.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Web site describes the breed’s standard: “The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog…Physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog bred to perform as an efficient retriever of game with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting environment. The most distinguishing characteristics … are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an ‘otter’ tail; a clean-cut head… powerful jaws; and its ‘kind,’ friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.”
Furthermore, the AKC site states that the size of a fully grown female lab should be 21.5 to 23.5 inches at the withers. This is where it became apparent that Trout inherited her small structure from, say, a dachshund. More like a miniature black Labrador, this mixed-breed pup nevertheless had the friendly personality that retrievers are well-known for, even if she hadn’t the papers to compete in a show. Her owners weren’t looking for a registered dog, so Trout was added to their family without bias, and yet she developed a fairly pleasing personality, like a Lab might.
A Retriever is known for its gentle disposition, but it doesn’t achieve this personality without some training. As puppies, Labs can have boundless energy and want more attention than their owners can provide, especially if left alone for hours while you’re at work, school, or shopping.
Trout’s owners soon learned that loneliness could inspire it to chew on household items. Guide your pup’s energy into chewing rawhide toys instead of teething on your favorite loafers. Establishing a routine would also be wise. The more structure you give your dog to follow, the more likely you are to raise a puppy to adulthood and be satisfied with the result.
The Labrador Retriever is mainly bred as a working gun dog. If you intend to train your pup to aid you in hunting, you might consider seeking a trainer in your area before you even bring a puppy home. Observe a well-trained animal first, if possible, and consider if you’re ready for the commitment to training your pup for hunting pursuits.
Nothing says you have to train a Lab to be anything more than your family’s dog. The breed is a sturdy one, and can reach a weight of 70-80 pounds in adulthood, so you might train the basic commands of sit, heel, and stay, to prevent it from knocking over small children or the elderly in your family circle.
Trout’s specialty was greeting strangers with a bark that sounded like a much-larger dog was behind the door. But, if she knew you, Trout’s “otter” tail would wag so hard her whole body shook. That greeting comes from a pet who knows love: the special ingredient your whole family can provide!