buying a red lab

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Red Lab

It is always an exciting adventure when you are in the market for a new puppy. There are many things you must take into consideration before choosing which type of dog you want to bring into your household. You must analyze your situation and pick a pet that fits into your family dynamics with ease and helps balance what you already have.

With that being said, you may be unsure what type of dog is next on your list of breeds to try. May I suggest a red Labrador retriever? If you are unfamiliar with this strikingly beautiful dog, then look no further! This article will tell you everything you need to know about this amazing dog.

What is a Red Lab?

Red Lab
Image by Prashanth G from Pixabay

A red lab, also known as a fox red lab or the red Labrador, is a type of Labrador retriever. They are not a unique breed, their name simply indicates their color! This breed is a deep red shade that is both beautiful, adaptable, and smart.

A Labrador retriever is an incredibly loyal dog breed that makes great companions. They have a friendly demeanor and outgoing personalities, which many people love and cherish. Labs are a very smart breed that can easily learn new commands and tricks. They are gentle and kind dogs, but also make great protectors.

Where Did the Red Lab Originate From? 

Red Lab Origin
Image by Gregory Bradford from Pixabay

The red lab, as well as all other lab colors, is thought to have originated in Canada, off of the Northern Atlantic coast. 

What Was the Red Lab Bred For? 

Red labs were bred to help hunters in the wild search and hunt down prey. Their deep coloring helped camouflage them from wild birds and other animals. 

Red labs are also great protectors and can become very vocal when threatened, along with their immense loyalty and companionship they were also bred to be the guardians of homes and properties. 

What Does A Red Lab Look Like?

Red Lab Looks
Image by Photo by Graham Ellis on Pexels

The red lab has a stunning deep reddish-yellow coat that is both rare and beautiful. Their double coat is thick and short, the outer layer helps to repel moisture, sunlight, dirt, and debris. The inner layer is soft and insulating, it assists with regulating their body temperature.

The red lab has a lean and muscular body that is well-balanced and sturdy. They are not broad or husky, but rather trim and fit. 

Unique Physical Characteristics


The red lab has large round eyes that can be various shades of brown or hazel. They have a dark trim around the edges and are wide set.


The tail of a red lab is straight, thin, and short. Their tails are important if they are swimming and it helps them turn around while they are in the water.


Their ears are big, furry, and floppy! The red lab’s ear canal is long and vertical which gives them the traditional L-shape. 

Because of their downward ear shape, their ears can collect water, bacteria, and wax which can lead to ear infections and other diseases. Always be sure to lift your lab ears and thoroughly dry them after bathing or swimming, and clean them out on a regular basis.


The snout of the red lab is generally long. They have a narrow head that leads into a pointed muzzle that is long enough to hunt their prey. 

Red labs have a very soft bite when retrieving items that have been instinctively bred into them. They use their gentle bite to retrieve prey, but it is also a great quality for therapy dogs who help out their owners with daily tasks. 

How Big Does a Full-Grown Red Lab Get?

Full-Grown Red Lab
Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay

The red lab stands between 21 and 24 inches tall and weighs between 55 and 80 pounds. 

Male vs Female

Just like with most dog breeds, male labs tend to be larger in both height and weight than their female counterparts. 

How to Take Care of a Red Lab?

Well Groomed Red Lab
Image by NowIsntItTime via

Caring for your red lab isn’t too high maintenance, but there are specific needs that should be considered for this specific type of dog. 


The red lab requires a lot of daily exercises, especially during their first three years of age. Allow your red lab to run free in a fenced-in backyard or dog park for at least an hour per day. Whenever possible play games such as fetch, take them swimming and go for walks to help them stay active and healthy.

Red labs have an abundance of energy that will be released, one way or another! If they are not given the right amount of exercise, they become bored. Their boredom often results in destructive behavior such as chewing, 


Due to their thick double coat, the red lab must be groomed regularly. They are known to shed a lot! Daily brushing helps reduce the amount of hair released from their body and distributes their natural oils which allow their coat to stay glossy.  You will also need to bathe them once or twice per month to help keep their coat shiny and fresh, always use a high-end shampoo that is made with quality ingredients to help avoid allergies. 

Other grooming needs the red lab requires are nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning. Each of these much needed grooming requirements helps reduce body odor, illness, and the risk of infection.


Your red lab should eat a diet full of high-quality ingredients. Choose to feed your red lab either premium kibble with trusted reviews or a homemade diet that is approved by your veterinarian. 

How Much to Feed

You should feed your red fox lab about 3 cups of food per day to help keep them fit and full. Red labs are prone to obesity and should always have a strict diet to help them stay slim and trim. Obesity is a very serious problem with labs and causes joint problems, mobility issues, and diabetes. 

How Often to Feed

Timing is important when feeding your red lab, they are prone to a condition known as bloat which can be deadly. To help avoid this condition, always spread your dog’s feeding up throughout the day. Feed your lab 2 to 3 small meals per day, preferably once in the morning, afternoon, and evening. 

Common Food Allergies

The red lab, like many Labrador retrievers, can suffer from food allergies. Common food allergies for a red lab are the proteins that are found in eggs, chicken, beef, dairy, soy, and wheat. Each of these ingredients can cause various allergic reactions including hives, itchiness, hair loss, redness, swelling, and more. 

If you suspect that your red lab has food allergies, contact your vet as soon as possible. They will help you figure out what is triggering the allergy and formulate a plan to keep the allergies at bay. It may be as simple as switching their kibble to one without the troublesome trigger.

Are Red Labs Easy to Train?

Easy To Train Red Labs
Image by thefoxredfamily via Instagram

Red labs are very easy to train. They have a high level of intelligence which makes training them a breeze. Red labs can learn a wide range of different commands, which makes them incredible therapy dogs. These dogs are known to be able to turn on lights, open refrigerators, and assist with daily tasks. 

Are they Easy to Potty Train?

Red labs are very easy to potty train, especially when they are trained while they are still young. Their eagerness to please makes the potty training process easier than many other breeds.

What is the Red Lab Temperament?

Friendly Red Lab Temperament
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The red lab is a friendly dog that is typically loving and welcoming to everyone. They are working dogs who are always eager to please the people they love. Some red labs can take a little longer to warm up around others, but once they do they will surely be extra lovable. 

The red lab can be high-strung, especially during their first few years, but this quality can be trained out of them with proper training, ample amounts of exercise, and socialization.

Red labs can be very vocal! While not all red labs use their voices on a regular basis, this quality may depend on their genes, training, and temperament.

Does This Breed Do Well With Children?

The red lab is an excellent dog choice for families with children. People of all ages can love this amazing dog breed. They are patient, aware of their surroundings, and extremely gentle. 

Always teach your children how to properly exist with other animals. Never allow your children to tease, poke, hurt, or taunt your red lab. Even though they are an extremely gentle breed, a dog that is in pain, or is afraid can become dangerous.

Does This Breed Do Well With Other Pets?

The red lab is a great dog breed to add to a home that has other pets. They are not typically aggressive towards other dogs or cats. Early socialization is the key to having your pets do well with each other. 

Are Red Labs Aggressive?

The red lab is rarely aggressive. They naturally are loving, gentle, and friendly. But, always remember that a dog is a dog, and under certain circumstances, all dogs can become aggressive. Sudden illness, pain from an injury, or immense fear can all trigger aggressive behavior in your dog. 

What Environment is Ideal for a Red Lab?

Red Lab Playing in an Ideal Environment
Image by Brett Ward from Pixabay

The red lab is a high-energy dog that needs to be given a place where it can release its daily amounts of energy. They thrive in households that have family members that can match their energy levels and provide them with constant attention! They don’t like to be alone and get bored easily. 

City vs Rural

Red labs have a lot of energy, especially when they are puppies. This breed does best when they have enough space to play and run free. While they do best in a home with ample space and large fenced-in backyards where they can play and release their energy, they can also do okay in smaller homes or apartments. 

If you choose to have a red lab and live in an apartment, be sure to keep them active by taking them on walks, playing games with them, and visiting local parks for daily exercise.

Cold or Hot

Red labs have a dense coat that helps them stay warm during the cold months. They have no problems in cold climates, but should never be left outside without supervision in extremely frigid temperatures.

During the summer months be sure to allow your lab to have a shaded place to rest and provide them with plenty of water to help them stay cool and hydrated.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Red Lab?

Red Lab Lifespan
Image by the_lab_life_of_kobe via Instagram

The average lifespan of a well taken care of red labrador is between 12 and 14 years. 

Red Lab Common Health Issues

This breed is generally healthy, especially if the breeder used healthy top-tier dogs during the breeding process. Red labs, as well as other types of labradors, can suffer from a number of health issues such as hip dysplasia, bloat, muscular dystrophy, allergies, and eye problems. We will take a more in-depth look at each issue below. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs while your dog is still growing, often showing symptoms in the first few months of age. During the growth cycle of your puppy, a deformity may occur in the hip known as hip dysplasia. When the thigh bone improperly aligns with the socket of the hip, creating a loose hip joint. 

Hip dysplasia often results in degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, and other painful complications due to the body trying to overcompensate for the laxity.


Bloat is an extremely serious complication that is known to occur in red labs. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV, occurs when the stomach fills with an excessive amount of gas. 

The gas creates a build-up of pressure that causes the stomach to become twisted in a way that creates a blockage at the entrance and exit of the stomach. This blockage causes the dog to go into shock, thus creating a life-threatening concern that must be handled by a veterinarian.

It is very important that you feed your red lab small meals throughout the day to help avoid this deadly condition.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is often seen in retriever type dogs and it affects the dogs muscles. Muscular dystrophy is a chromosomal disorder that causes the muscles to lose mass and decrease their ability to be strong and healthy.


Allergies are very serious and can be mild to life-threatening. Some allergies are caused by environmental factors such as pollen in the air, grass, or dust while other allergies are caused by food such as meat, soy, or wheat.

Eye Problems

Red labs can suffer from various eye problems such as conjunctivitis, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. Each of these eye problems should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible to help prevent further complications or blindness. 

How Much Does a Red Lab Cost?

Red Lab Cost
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The average price of a red fox lab is between $1,000 and $1,300 depending on where you live and the breeder you choose. Breeders who raise top tier dogs will charge more for their puppies, and since the red coloring is rarer than others, you will pay more. 

Other Costs

When you are purchasing a dog, don’t forget to factor in all of the miscellaneous costs that go into pet ownership. You will have to pay for scheduled and emergency vet appointments, medications, deworming pills, dog food, toys, bedding, leashes, harnesses, and other necessities. 

The cost of owning a dog can add up to a few hundred dollars per month or more depending on the size of your dog, its health, and how quickly they grow.

Other Similar Dog Breeds

The Golden Retriever is a Similar Breed
Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Golden Retriever 

A golden retriever is a great alternative to a red lab. They are both types of retrievers and they share the same sweet and affectionate personality. Goldens are great family dogs, they love children and other pets. This breed is known for being extremely obedient and easy to train. Golden retrievers can weigh up to 75 pounds and live an average lifespan of 12 years.


The Newfoundland is a great alternative to a red lab, especially if you want a giant dog that is great at cuddling and devoted to its owner. Newfies are great with everyone, including kids and other animals. They are extremely sweet dogs that are like giant teddy bears! Newfies can weigh up to 150 pounds, so if you want a very large dog, this breed may be the one for you!

Flat-Coated Retriever

The flat-coated retriever is a happy dog breed that is equally as beautiful with long feathery hair. They are family oriented and love to please their owners. These dogs can weigh up to 70 pounds and live to be around 10 years of age. 

Tips For Finding The Right Breeder

Red Lab Puppies
Image by skye_and_blue_the_fox_red_labs via Instagram

Tip 1. Ask Friends And Family

When you are ready to buy a puppy you may not be sure where to start. Friends and family are often great places to begin when looking for a reputable breeder that is trustworthy and real. Find out where the people you know and trust got their puppies. Ask them if their puppy was healthy when they bought it and if it has had any medical issues once they brought it home. 

Friends and family will always give you honest and true information that can help you narrow down your search for a new puppy!

Tip 2. Request Documentation and Paperwork

Once you have picked a breeder that you know is trustworthy and sells top-quality puppies, you will want to talk with the breeder about the puppy’s documentation. The breeder will verify the information about the puppy that you choose with a certificate of documentation that has the names of the puppy’s parents, dates of birth, and the name of the breeder.

Related: Best Places Where Puppies Are Sold Online

Tip 3. Meet The Parents

One of the best ways to get to know and understand how your puppy will act, look, and behave is to meet the parents. The parents are a great indicator of how your puppy will look. It is also good to examine how well the dogs have been raised, how they are treated, how trainable they are, and if they look sick or diseased.

Tip 4. Go With Your Instincts

If at any time you don’t feel right about the sale, go with your instincts. The puppy should look healthy, alert, and strong. Never buy a puppy that is in poor health or looks injured or sick. Not only does it cost a lot of money to help a puppy get back in good health,  but you also take the risk of it dying. Which is not only a waste of your time and money, but it is something very heavy on your heart as well. 

What To Avoid

Always avoid puppy mills or facilities that mistreat or abuse their dogs. Puppy mills keep their female dogs in tiny cages without providing adequate medical care, companionship, or a healthy lifestyle. Oftentimes these places are dirty, crowded, and unfit for any animal, they should not be supported for any reason. 

Also, avoid any breeder who claims to only breed red labs, this is impossible as the coloring of these dogs is not a guarantee. As your lab grows, its color will change. 

Is a Red Lab The Right Dog For You?

Red fox labradors are striking, intelligent, and truly are man’s best friend. They are great companion pets and thrive in homes with large families. Other than the fact that they are frequent shedders, this breed is quite perfect to add to almost any home. If you are looking for a loving, smart, and easy-going pet, the red fox lab may be the perfect choice for you!

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