I’ve had Lucy since she was an 8 week old puppy. When I brought her home, she joined my old dog Lola who was 9 years old at the time. It was really fun to have a little lab puppy and a senior lab at the same time. Lucy gave Lola a new lease on life and they had a great time playing together. But as Lola aged, it became difficult to have such a big age difference. We had to go on two separate walks – a short, slow one for Lola, then 2 more miles with Lucy!
So when I had the chance to adopt Burt when he was 6 or 7 years old – and Lucy was 6 and a half – I thought it would be great to try having two dogs who are the same age for a change! Labradors are considered senior dogs when they turn 7, so Burt was actually a senior rescue!
It’s great to have two labs with a similar level of energy. The hard part is seeing them slow down together. But, Burt and Lucy still have a ton of energy and a thriving sense of adventure as senior labs! And now I think I love senior dogs even more than puppies!
10 Great Things About Senior Labradors
Maybe you already have a senior Labrador that you love, or you have a lab who will grow into a distinguished senior dog! Either way, we can all agree that older dogs deserve all our love. Here are the top 10 things that I love about my senior labradors.
1. Senior Labs Know Things
It’s true that dogs become wiser with age. They’ve seen some things and know how to handle themselves in situations at home and out in the world (for the most part!). Labs continue to be goofy until their golden years, but that goofiness comes with a little more self-awareness. Your senior dog is familiar with your routine, your family and your friends so they just know how to act.
2. You Might Convince Your Senior Lab to Sleep In
Ok, for this one I say might! I love meeting lab puppy parents and having them ask me when their dog will sleep in or start to chill out. I think maybe at 5 years old your lab will chill out a bit! But when they get to be seniors an reach double digits like Lucy and Burt, they might be convinced to sleep in (at least until the sun comes up!).
3. Senior Labradors Are Less Destructive
While my 10 year old labs both love to rip apart stuffed toys, in general they don’t break things any more. When Lucy was a puppy she used to chew on baseboards and the occasional shoe. She grew out of that pretty quickly. But when I adopted Burt, he was brand new to my house and got into a lot of things! Now that he’s older, he’s happier and more confidant at home and doesn’t destroy anything anymore (paws crossed!).
4. Adult Labs Tell Your When They Need to Go Outside
How much puppy pee have I cleaned up? A lot! But now that my dogs are older, they know how to tell me when they need to go out side and go potty. I’ve learned how to read the dogs’ communication style better, too! That’s the best part of having senior labs – you’ve lived together for so many years, you can communicate with each other. Don’t you agree?
5. Senior Labs Love to Cuddle
As you dog gets older they might be more likely to get cold. This means you need to be careful when taking them out on a cold winter walk, But it also means they might like to cuddle with you more than they did when they were younger. Lucy was never a cuddler, but now that she’s 10 years old, she loves to snuggle (until she gets too hot and leaves me!).
6. Senior Labs Are Great Stand-up Paddle Board Companions
This reason is maybe a little specific to me and Lucy, but if you’ve every tried paddle boarding with your lab then you know why senior dogs are the best for this activity! Younger labs are so tempted to jump in the water, knock you off the board and be a little wild on the water. Now that Lucy is a senior, I let her swim when we first get to the water, then she’s pretty much on the board with me, laying down and enjoying the views. I also love that stand up paddle boarding helps Lucy’s balance and muscles without being strenuous on her joints.
7. Senior Labs Have the Cutest Floofy Toes
As my labs get older the fur between their toes seems to grow floofier, plus that fur it turning white which makes it look even more Dr. Suess-style! Trimming that floofy hair has become part of our regular grooming routine because it can make their paws slip on our hardwood floors. When I trim it about once a month I just think its the cutest thing! If you need a good trimmer, I have this one from Wahl.
8. Your Senior Lab Helps You Live in the Moment
I know we all get a little sad when our dogs get older. But what if you look at aging with a positive mindset? Now it’s important to live in the moment and make the most of every day with your labrador. When the sun is out, I’m outside with Lucy and Burt doing something fun with them. If it weren’t for my senior labs I would waste a lot more time sitting inside or skipping an adventure. My senior dogs encourage me to make memories with them every day!
9. Senior Labs will Sit Still for Photos
Along with living in the moment and making the most of every day with my senior labradors, I also love to document all the fun we have together so I can look back at photos later. Taking puppy photos is not easy! But as your dog gets older they can lear to sit and stay for longer so you can grab that perfect photo. Take better photos of your senior dog with my tips (including advice from professional pet photographers I’ve interviewed on my podcast).
10. Senior Labs Love to Learn New Tricks
I love a good mythbuster! It’s not true that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In fact, that saying couldn’t be more wrong! Since my dogs have been seniors, they have learned so many new things. Burt has become a Barn Hunt champ, Lucy earned her AKC Novice Trick Dog Title and we play new games around the house all the time.
There’s nothing like the joy in a dog’s eyes when they learn something new. For labs, that might have something to do with the fact that teach new tricks comes with lots of treats. But they’re also such people pleasers that they will learn new things just to see how excited I get about it.
I also love to see the look on people’s faces when I tell them how old my dogs are and what kinds of things we do together. I hope you’ll join us in breaking the mold and encouraging more people to love senior labs as much as we do!
What a Senior Dog Mom Needs to Know
I think I will always love labradors of all ages! But now that I have two senior labs together and adopted Burt as a senior, I’m not sure I can go back to being a puppy mama. I just get my fix looking at these lab puppy photos!
It’s hard to see them age and deal with lumps, bumps and arthritis. But once you raise a few healthy senior labs, you learn how to take care of them and can appreciate all the love they have to give.
I recently talked to Dr. Monica Tarantino, a vet who specializes in senior dogs, and she shared three things that she wishes every senior pet parent knew! Listen to our conversation on the Wear Wag Repeat Podcast Episode 202.
Did you enjoy this post? I have a lot more to say about labradors:
How to Treat a Hot Spot on Your Labrador
How to Safely Switch Your Labrador to a New Food
85+ Names for Chocolate Labradors
Healthy Kong Stuffing Recipes My Labradors Love