Labrador’s Back Legs Longer Than Front: Is It Normal?

Our writers & fact checkers independently research, test, analyze, and recommend the best motorcycle products. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links.

Labradors are incredibly athletic dogs that love to run, play, and swim. Since they're such an active breed, their legs and muscles are their most significant attributes. If you notice that your Lab's legs are uneven, should you be concerned? 

Dogs with longer back legs should be presumed normal and healthy unless the dog is showing signs of pain or discomfort. If your dog reacts when you touch their back leg joints or changes their behavior, you should speak with your vet about your concerns. 

There are several reasons why your dog's back legs might be shorter in the back. Some aren't so concerning, but there are some potential health concerns that may occur. You should be aware of those and signs to look out for.

Factors Contributing to Longer Back Legs 

Multiple factors may lead to uneven length lengths in Labradors. 

As long as your dog is acting normally, there should be no reason to be concerned. However, if your dog can no longer do some of its favorite activities due to the imbalance, such as jumping, running, or walking upstairs, it’s a good idea to bring the issue up at the next vet appointment. 

Even though it may look uncomfortable to you, there are some completely normal instances where this may occur. 

Your Labrador’s Legs Are Still Growing

The most common reason why a Labrador’s back legs are longer than the front is that they’re not finished growing

Puppies often go through awkward months as they develop into the fully grown pets we know and love. Some parts of their body grow faster than others. This often results in some very uneven body compositions. 

If your dog is less than two years old, it’ll most likely grow into its hind legs.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do during this time frame is to puppy-proof the house. The goal of doing this is to try and decrease the likelihood of an injury. Some ways to prevent accidents include blocking off any staircases and keeping an eye out for items that could become jumping hazards.   

Your Lab Might Suffer From Hip Dysplasia

A common condition in dogs is hip dysplasia. It can be very uncomfortable and debilitating to dogs. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joints become loose or deformed, causing various health conditions. This disease can be found in dogs of any age or breed but is very common in breeds like Labradors and other large breed dogs. 

Some of the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include the following: 

  • Inability to walk or stand up
  • Limping
  • Inability to jump or climb
  • Sitting in abnormal positions 
  • Hopping while running
  • Reduced activity level
  • Stiffness in the back legs, which causes the back legs to appear longer than the front.

A hip dysplasia diagnosis can be scary for pet owners, but there’s no evidence that it’ll affect their dog’s length of life. If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia or Arthritis, talk with your vet for more information and suggestions to help your dog feel more comfortable. 

Also, you might want to talk with other Lab owners who might have gone through the same thing with their dogs to see what they did.

Your Lab Might Have Dwarfism

Are you noticing other body composition abnormalities in your dog? If there’s a possibility that your dog has other dwarf dog characteristics, that may also explain the back leg length.

Dwarf dogs result from breeders choosing to breed popular dog breeds with small dogs to create a smaller "cute" version of the dog and create an illusion of a permanent puppy. Dwarf dogs have many health concerns since they tend to be very different from their original breed. 

Dwarfism in dogs characteristics include the following: 

  • Smaller than other dogs of the same age and breed.
  • Slow growth
  • A disproportionate head
  • Bone structure abnormalities that are inconsistent with the breed.
  • Spotty coats

If you suspect your dog has dwarfism, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Dwarfism isn’t a life or death situation but requires accommodations to ensure your dog stays as healthy as possible. 

Your Labrador May Be A Mixed Breed

Some breeds are expected to have taller back legs according to their breed standards. If your Labrador is mixed with an unknown dog, another breed may influence its body structure. 

If you think that your dog could be mixed with an unknown breed, a DNA kit may be a worthy investment.

The information you get from this product will help you gain some valuable insight into what other breeds are present in your dog.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are expected to have longer hind legs than front, and they’re highly athletic dogs that are used as hunting dogs. They can also swim and retrieve birds and ducks for their owners. Their muscular hind legs are a valuable tool as they swim tirelessly through frigid waters and can push ice out of their way. 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs have a sloping topline, meaning their back is at a slight slope due to their high rear legs. They’re used for herding animals such as reindeer and cattle and need those back leg muscles to keep them agile and ahead of the rest of the herd. 

Your Lab May Have Health Problems

If you have a full-grown dog that’s seemingly high in the rear but acting normally, there are still a few health concerns that you should keep an eye out for. 

As mentioned earlier, it’s still an excellent idea to dog-proof the house if the length difference causes balance issues. Even if your dog isn’t uncomfortable, its outlook on the world may cause an injury in the future.

Depending on how severe the case is, it may cause extra strain on the legs that are taking most of their weight. Although this may not be debilitating, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their legs to make sure your dog is staying healthy. 

Due to the body composition, it’s possible that your dog will get tired faster than average. If you are an active person who spends time running or biking with your dog, be sure to pay attention to how your dog is feeling and stop for breaks if necessary. 

Standard Body Measurements in Labradors

Labradors are medium-sized and can reach around 21.5” and 24.5” (54.61 and 62.23 cm) in height, and will weigh up to 80 lb (36.29 kg) as adults. The back should be level, while not sloping up towards its rear legs. 

Their hind legs should be level with their front and be very muscular.  

Even though there are general measurements and body compositions for Labradors, there’s a substantial size variation, and there’s no reason for concern if your Labrador is growing beyond what is considered standard

The most important thing is that your dog is healthy, happy, and well taken care of. 

Conclusion

Overall, if your dog shows no signs of discomfort, the difference in leg size shouldn't be an issue unless you plan to put your dog in shows. If your dog is still growing, that's most likely the cause of appearing high in the rear. 

However, if you’re worried about your dog's body structure, it’s always beneficial to speak to your vet about your concerns. They can help you rule out some possible causes, such as hip dysplasia, dwarfism, and Arthritis. 

Be sure to look out for hazards around the house and yard to prevent any future injury. 

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson