The Best Labrador Dog Backpack
Which dog backpack is most suitable for a Labrador retriever? If you are a serious hiker and you want one of the best backpacks for a Labrador or any other large breed dog, then you can choose the Kurgo Baxter or Ruffwear Approach Pack.
Otherwise, you can choose any backpack that suits your desires as long as it will fit your Lab and he can wear it comfortably. There is not one pack that is specially designed for Labradors.
Both the Kurgo Baxter and the Ruffwear Approach Pack have large bags to fit all the items your dog needs on a hike. They both have been designed with comfort in mind and are highly adjustable. The Kurgo even has padded back support so if you are worried about back problems this might be an option for you. Consult your vet first if you are worried.
Find a pack that is suited for the hikes you plan to take.
To find the right size you have to measure your dog’s girth. It is easy to measure your dog’s girth with a standard measuring tape. Wrap the tape around his chest just behind the elbows of his front legs. Then use the sizing chart of the manufacturer to find the right size.
You can read the post “the best dog backpacks reviewed” for more information about these packs. I have listed the manufacturers sizing chart with each backpack.
At What Age Can a Labrador Retriever Carry a Backpack?
You can start with an empty pack when you want. An empty pack is very lightweight and easy to carry for your pup. You can start when he is about six months old and get him to feel comfortable wearing a backpack.
If you want to start earlier then think about the size of the backpack. It’s not comfortable for your dog to carry bags that are too large for him so it might be a good idea to start with a small and cheap backpack. When your lab has outgrown his pack you can always try to sell it on eBay, Craigslist or another second-hand store that is more known in your country.
Your Lab becomes fully grown between the ages of 12 and 18 months. At this age, the muscles are strong enough to start doing exercise. By now you can gradually build up the weight of the pack.
When you add weight for the first time your pup needs to learn to balance himself with the weight on his back and build muscle strength while doing so. You can have him walk in circles and figures of eight by holding a treat in front of him that he likes to follow. This way he will learn to turn and balance the weight on his back.
How Much Weight Can a Labrador Retriever Carry
My advice is always a max of about 10 to 12 percent of the weight of their body. You don’t want to overdo it. The Labrador retriever breed averages around 66 pounds (30 kg) in weight. This comes down to about 6.6 pounds (3kg) of weight that he can carry.
This should be more than enough to carry his items for most of the hikes that you plan to take.
Labradors are bred for physical high demanding work. A young Labrador, up to about 6 years, is capable of carrying about double this amount around 20 to 25 percent of his body weight. But please consult a vet first and have him check your dog’s health first.
If you want your Lab to carry this kind of weight then train him and have him build up muscle strength. You can let him carry his backpack every day when you go outside for short walks of 15 to 20 minutes. Add a little bit more weight to the backpack each week. I use flour for this. It’s easy to measure and divide over the bags.
How Far Can a Labrador Retriever Walk With a Backpack
The Labrador retriever is bred for physical high demanding tasks like retrieving for hunters. An adult Labrador can have the stamina to hike three to four times longer than you can, so you don’t have to worry about your him getting tired and not being able to walk the distances that you want.
Panting is a good indication that he needs a break. When you see him panting often than stop for a break and take off his backpack to give him some rest.
What About a Labrador Pup?
For pups, you have to be more careful. There is a rule of thumb saying 5 minutes of exercise for each month old your dog is, with a maximum of 2 times a day. Pups can easily over exercise when they are an enthusiast.
You can have your pup wear a backpack when you go outside to get him comfortable wearing one.
What About Older Labs?
When they are young they enjoy all the exercise they can get, but as dogs get older health issues can start to arise. Some Labs have to slow down when they reach the age of 6 or 7 years, while others can continue even after the age of 10. You will know which category your dog fit in because lower stamina and energy or health issues won’t go unnoticed. Every health issue or disease has a different impact on your dog. Have your vet inform you about how much exercise your dog can have because exercise is important for his health.
Of Course, we must not forget that dogs need training, just like us, if you want to take them on a whole day hike. When you want him to carry his own items for the hike then exercise your Lab every day with a backpack. He has to get a comfortable feeling with it and he needs to build the muscles.
Adult Labradors need about 1 hour of exercise a day. For Labs with more than average energy levels, it might be 1.5 up to 2 hours of exercise a day. They are a working breed and need plenty of playing and hard work each day. There are plenty of exercise plans available online you can google for it or you can use this one.
- Take him for at least 30 minutes off walking once a day. You can strap on his backpack to make it a one hour walk. Add a little more weight to his backpack every week. He can be off the leash during these walks.
- Play fetch with him each day. Preferably in an open area where you can throw a tennis ball or a frisbee and he can run full speed.
- Take multiple short walks every day that allow him to socialize with other dogs and humans.
After you have reached a target weight, that you have set for yourself and your Lab, you can add more time to your walks. Add 5 or 10 minutes extra time a week to the 30 minutes walk.
If your dog is still panting, he might need more time to build up his strength before you continue to the next step. Wait another week before adding more weight or minutes to your walk.
Labrador Retriever Specific Injuries
The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds around the world and without question a very suitable pet, because of his loyalty and friendly temperament.
Common health issues for most purebred dogs are less of a problem than with some other breeds. There are a couple of know health issues identified for Labradors that will slow you down from walking him with a backpack or even prevent you from walking with a backpack. Consult your vet about walking with a backpack if your dog has or if you suspect he has an injury.
Dogs can have many of the same injuries that humans can get. Joint problems are one of those very common injuries that are also common for Labradors. Their nerve connection to the skin is similar to us at the point of our elbows so you can imagine what they must feel when they have hip or elbow dysplasia.
This malformation to the hip or elbow joint is more common under larger breed dogs, although it can also affect smaller breeds. The illness seems to be linked to nature and nurture. In other words, it could be genetic, it can be from nutrition and the environment they grow up in, or both. There is no research that tells us exactly how they develop these painful problems.
It is best that you have your dog examined by a veterinarian. He or she can best determine what kind of joint injury your dog has. Do not have your dog carry any weight in his backpack until your vet tells it is ok.
Obesity is an issue for all breeds too many dogs around the world suffer from obese. Dogs have the quality of overeating. Some Labradors swallow down their food so fast that you think they are still hungry. They look at you with those sad puppy eyes asking for more, it is hard not to fall for the trap.
It’s up to us to prevent our dog from getting obese. Luckily this is not an all too difficult task if you can stop yourself from weakening when your dog looks at you with those sad puppy eyes.
Simply portion your dog’s food so overeating is not an option anymore and don’t give them too many snacks in between his meals. And more exercise helps him lose weight and prevent obese.
A backpack for your dog can help him burn more energy faster and lose weight.