Dwarf Labrador,dwarfism in labs

Dwarf Labrador- All About Dwarfism In Labs

You came to read this article because you wanted to know about the dwarf Labrador or you brought a dwarf Lab to your home. Or else you might have heard some fancy words such as teacup Labrador, miniature Labrador and mini Labrador.

What are all these other versions of Labradors? Do they exist really? Are they different from the normal Labradors? How are they different from a dwarf Labrador?

Let us find answers to all these questions in the below article.



Dwarf Labrador- What is it actually?

A dwarf labrador is a Labrador with a particular genetic condition, but still a Labrador. Dwarfism in Labradors is a genetical condition that produces Labradors that are smaller than the standard Labrador size.

This usually occurs when the parents of a Labrador contain the dwarf genes. Many Labradors have this genetical condition and you may not notice it unless you observe the dog carefully.

Some Labradors are apparently visible as dwarfs, but some labradors which are dwarf Labradors look the same as a normal Labrador with little shorter legs and are very difficult to notice easily.


What is the standard Labrador size?

According to the AKC breed standard, a male Labrador dog should be between 22.5 and 24.5 inches at the withers, whereas a female Labrador should be between 21.5 and 23.5 inches at the withers.

Any deviation greater or lesser than half an inch than the standard size is a disqualification for not entering the show ring.

Hence a Labrador which is shorter than the standard size can be considered as a dwarf Labrador retriever.


Causes of Dwarfism in Labs

As i told you dwarfism is a genetical condition that can occur in Labradors when the parent labrador passes on the recessive gene to the Labrador puppy.

There are two kinds of dwarfism. The first one is called Osteochondrodysplasia or SD1 and the second kind is called Skeletal dysplasia or SD2.

SD1 is a genetic disorder that causes slowed growth of bones and cartilage and this causes bent legs in a dwarf Labrador.

Whereas, SD2 is another form of dysplasia that causes short legs in a dwarf lab with normal body length and width. This is the one that is difficult to identify.

Dwarf Labrador,dwarfism in labs

Other causes of dwarfism can include hypopituitarism which is an inherited deficiency of growth hormone. In this case, the dogs will not be able to produce enough growth hormone which causes a lesser growth rate in the Labrador puppies when compared with their littermates.

Hypothyroidism can also cause dwarfism in Labradors in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

Out of the many causes of dwarfism in Labradors, the most common type of dwarfism is Skeletal dysplasia(SD2).


Dwarf Labrador symptoms- Identifying a dwarf Lab

Here comes the question, how to identify a dwarf Labrador?

As i have told you before, a dwarf Labrador can be unnoticeable as a dwarf with a casual observation as the symptoms can either be easily visible or sometimes hard to notice.

But dwarf Labradors exhibit certain physical symptoms that are general in nature. Have a look at them…

 1. Short Legs

In a dwarf Labrador, you can observe that its legs are shorter in length when compared with the legs of a normal Labrador. This is one of the common symptoms visible in a dwarf Labrador.

But do not confuse this symptom with the legs of a normal English Labrador, as they tend to have slightly shorter legs than the American Labradors.

 2. Long body

Dwarf labradors have longer bodies in comparison to the length of their shorter legs.

 3. Bowed legs

 4. Larger and wider head than the normal size

 5. Enlarged joints near elbow, knees and ankle

 6. Feet turned outward which is more prominent especially in the front feet.

 7. Pituitary dwarfism symptoms

In cases of pituitary dwarfism, a dwarf labrador may exhibit some particular symptoms.

The symptoms include delay in dental eruption, patches of symmetrical hair loss that develop gradually, abnormalities of the dog’s skin such as hyperpigmentation and thinning can also be observed.

You might also observe scales and wrinkles on the dog’s skin.

You might also find improper development of its genitals. Due to the lack of proper growth hormone, testicles do not develop fully in male dogs and you observe the absence of heat cycles in female dogs.


What about the teacup labrador and miniature labrador?

These are the common terms that we hear from breeders who claim to be miniature Labrador breeders. Let us see what a teacup labrador is?

A teacup lab or a miniature lab is nothing but a word coined by breeders that produce Labrador puppies which tend to be smaller in size.

Breeders who claim to produce a mini Labrador retriever may be producing puppies that carry the dwarf gene that causes the Labradors to remain smaller in size or else the breeder may have cross-bred the labrador with smaller breeds to produce smaller puppies that look like a Labrador.

Or else the breeder might show you a puppy that is comparatively smaller in size among the litter and claim it to be a miniature Labrador.

Dwarf Labrador,dwarfism in labs

Many people try to encash the wants of the people to have a Labrador that could be smaller in size.

Officially there is no breed standard that mentions about the miniature Labrador.

Hence it is important to be careful when a breeder mentions fancy words such as miniature Labrador retriever or teacup Labrador retriever or teacup Lab etc.


Dwarf Labrador health problems

A dwarf Labrador may suffer from various health problems because of its condition. As dwarf genes are recessive genes, the presence of these genes can surely have a certain impact on the dog’s health.

1. The bowed legs and malformed joints can cause a possible amount of strain on your dog’s skeletal system. Hence the dog can have painful knee and joint problems along with difficulty in walking.

2. A dwarf Labrador is at a higher risk of developing intervertebral disc disease due to its improper skeletal structure.

3. Its abnormally-shaped bodies with short legs and abnormal skull can cause problems like difficulty in breathing and excessive panting.

4. There is also a higher risk of developing eye-related diseases.

5. It is difficult for a female labrador to give birth to puppies in a normal way and requires c section during whelping.

Even though a dwarf Labrador may look happy and loving like all other Labradors, they might suffer from pain due to all these health-related issues.


Taking care of your Dwarf Labrador

A dwarf labrador requires extra care when compared with a normal Labrador because of its genetical condition.

1. A dwarf Labrador needs to get his eyes checked yearly as there is a risk of eye-related problems.

2. Do not take a dwarf lab on an intense exercise, as it can cause breathing difficulties for him. Avoid using a choke chain, instead, use a harness that does not cause any kind of difficulty in breathing.

labrador harness

3. Getting on and down the furniture or a vehicle might be difficult for a dwarf dog and sometimes it can be painful. Hence it is necessary to take care of your dog while getting down from the furniture or a car. Investing in a good doggy ladder can help your Labrador.

doggy ladder

4. Providing supplements such as glucosamine and other supplements that provide enough nutrition to its joints can help.

5. Providing enough nutrition to its joints during its young age can reduce the effect of dwarfism-related joint issues in its old age.

6. Most importantly, know your dog’s behaviour properly. If your dog becomes stiff or lethargic or if it is limping or if it is crying in pain, it is necessary to take him to the vet to provide the necessary relief to your dog.


Buying a Dwarf Labrador

I do not say that buying a dwarf labrador is bad. But i say that one should not buy dwarf labradors, as it creates a situation in the market where breeders mate Labradors with the dwarf gene inorder to produce more and more dwarf Labrador puppies.

It is simply a supply-demand logic, if more people are comfortable with purchasing dwarf Labs, then breeders do not consider breeding Labradors with dwarf gene as a problem.

A responsible breeder should conduct various health tests of the Labradors which are to be bred. For this, dwarf Labrador health tests can be done to check if a Labrador contains the dwarf gene. The test is available for checking the presence of the gene of skeletal dysplasia (SD2).

When people stop purchasing dwarf Labradors, the breeders ensure that the parent Labradors do not carry the dwarf gene while breeding them.

Do you have a Dwarf labrador? What else do you know about a Dwarf labrador?

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1 thought on “Dwarf Labrador- All About Dwarfism In Labs”

  1. As a Labrador breeder for 48 years and an AKC licensed judge as well as a past Veterinary Technician and a professional handler, I would like to clear up somethings. There is a big different in a Labrador that is a dwarf and one that is just small. Certainly small Labs sometimes occur in a normal litter and that’ is fine, no problems there at all. Sometimes a breeder might also choose smaller Labs in their breeding program and inadvertently find that their line of dogs has become smaller. Most breeders try to correct that with future breedings since there is a height standard required for the Labrador in our AKC standard and to keep the breed true to type (looking like a Labrador is supposed to look and being built correctly to do the job for which they are bred). These smaller dogs are still great dogs and can make wonderful pets as well as service dogs. Then there are dwarfs and that is a whole different ball game. Any breeder that cares about the breed would refrain from breeding dwarfs whenever possible because of the health problems genetically linked to dwarfism such as painful joint problems and blindness. I am not saying you have to put these dogs to sleep but you have to be very truthful to the person who is receiving the dog which should not be sold but should be placed in a really good home where the owners are award and willing to pay the necessary vet bills ahead and give the pup a wonderful home as part of the family,living in the house. These dogs must be neutered and never bred. These homes can be very diffilcult to find, but a good breeder must stand behind the dogs they bring into this world assuring they have only the best of life.

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