History of the Labrador Retriever Breed
The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, not in Labrador as one might think. The Lab is actually an offshoot of the original Newfoundland breed. The first Newfoundlands came in different sizes, and the smaller variety was called the “St. John’s Newfoundland,” or “Lesser Newfoundland.” These were the earliest examples of the Labrador breed. These dogs were black and of medium size. Labs were very efficient at retrieving all sorts of game, both fowl and fish. They were also adept swimmers and took easily to the icy northern waters, often swimming after fishing nets and pulling small boats along in the water. The breed finally died out in Newfoundland due not in small part to a heavy dog tax. However, there had been a good many Labradors taken to England during the early 1800s. Thanks to these dogs, as well as a few other crossbreeds, the Labrador breed continued to evolve. The breed earned a reputation for upland game retrieving during this period in Great Britain. At first, breeders preferred only black colorations and weeded out yellow and chocolate varieties. The yellow and chocolate versions were eventually accepted though the black was more popular. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1917. The Labrador Retriever is a talented breed that is effective in drug detection, as a service animal, and in competition. The breed has always been popular in America becoming the most popular breed – an honor it retains to this day.
Size and Appearance of the Labrador Retriever Breed
The Labrador is slightly longer than it is tall with a medium to large bone structure. It is a muscular breed with a wide muzzle, broad head, and strong neck. Its ears are pendant, and its expression is open and kind. Its eyes are chestnut or hazel, and its nose should be black on the yellow and black varieties and brown on chocolate Labs. The breed has a free and easy gait without even a hint of clumsiness. It is known for its weather-resistant coat, webbed feet, and otter tail, effective traits for such a swimmer. The double coat is not curly or wavy and is short and dense. Mixed colors are unacceptable; the coat may be black, yellow, or chocolate only. A rare silver or gray color also exists, although that coloration is surrounded in controversy. Some say that it is the result of crossing with a Weimeriner; while others claim that it is a true to the breed. The AKC refers to the unusual hue as a shade of chocolate. English Labs are heavier and blockier, while American Labradors tend to be taller and lankier.
Labrador Retriever Temperament
The Labrador is popular for good reason. The breed is easy-going and great with children as well as other animals. This intelligent breed is devoted to its family and obedient to its master. Never aggressive or shy, the Lab craves the attention of his family and wants to be included in all activities. It loves to swim, retrieve, and play; but will be a calm house dog as well. The dog must be well exercised, or it may grow bored and become destructive. It may be reserved around strangers and makes an excellent watch dog. Some Labradors have been known to make good guard dogs. The breed tends to be more dominant than the Golden Retriever, and English Labs are calmer than the American lines.
Labrador Retriever Recommended Maintenance
The Labrador Retriever has a short, easy-to-groom double coat. Like most dogs, you should only bathe when it necessary. The Lab is an average shedder and should be brushed weekly with a bristle brush to remove dead hair. It is very energetic and requires regular exercise to remain happy, healthy, and entertained. The best activity choices for this breed include swimming and retrieving. The Lab has a hearty appetite. Monitor its portions so that it does not become obese and lazy. The Labrador Retriever is capable of living outdoors in temperate climate, but it needs so much human interaction that it would be better to allow it access to the family home. The Lab can enjoy apartment life if suitably exercised, however a house with access to a fenced yard is the wiser choice.
Labrador Retriever Health
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
• Major concerns: CHD, gastric torsion, retinal dysplasia/skeletal dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, elbow dysplasia
• Minor concerns: cataract, OCD, CPRA, pyotraumatic dermatitis
• Occasionally seen: diabetes, entropion, distichiasis
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye