The ancestor of the Labrador Retriever was the St. John’s Retriever, a smaller version of the Newfoundland. These dogs were brought to England, probably on fishing boats. Gamekeepers crossed these Canadian imports with various breeds of gun dogs, always striving to improve the breed’s hunting and retrieving instincts. By the middle of the 19th century, the Labrador’s characteristic water-resistant coat and otter tail were already apparent. By the late 1880s, the breed was sufficiently distinctive that “Labrador Retriever” became the generally accepted name of the breed. Originally black in color, the first recorded yellow Labrador appeared in a litter born in 1899. Chocolates were also recorded at about the same time, but never achieved the same level of popularity as the blacks and yellows. Originally bred to retrieve from water, the modern Labrador Retriever has proven to be one of the most versatile breeds, excelling in hunt tests and field trials, in obedience and agility events, and also as service dogs.
The Labrador Retriever is a medium to large-sized, short-coupled, powerfully-built dog with a short, dense, water-resistant coat; small, drop ears; and a short, thick otter-like tail carried level with the back or with a slight upward curve. The length of body is equal to or only slightly longer than the height at the withers, and the distance from the elbows to the ground is equal to one-half the height at the withers. Balance, outline, intelligence, temperament and movement are of overriding importance. The Labrador Retriever is a breed of moderation, thoroughly sound, and willing and able to do its work. The Labrador Retriever is a dog without exaggeration, so light, weedy dogs; long, low-stationed dogs; and cloddy, lumbering dogs are to be equally penalized. The Labrador Retriever should be evaluated as a working gun dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.
The Labrador Retriever is an enthusiastic hunter with a good nose and a soft mouth. They excel in all performance activities. Another essential characteristic of the Labrador Retriever is the short, dense, double coat that protects the dog when retrieving from water. The short, “otter” tail is another distinctive feature of this breed. Labrador Retrievers are noted for their excellent temperaments. This breed is friendly, outgoing and eager to please. They are extremely intelligent and easily trained to perform a variety of complex tasks.
Features of Labrador Dog
Labrador Retrievers love, love, love to eat, and become obese very quickly if overfed. Limit treats, give your Lab plenty of exercise, and measure out regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time. And be warned that the Lab’s large appetite extends to people food and even inedible items. Labradors will forage in garbage, counter surf, and can make a meal out of chewed-up items like children’s toys.
Labrador Retrievers were bred for physically demanding jobs, and they have the high energy that goes along with being a working breed. They need at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Without it, they can vent their pent-up energy in destructive ways, such as barking and chewing.
Labs have such a good reputation that many people think they don’t need to bother with training. But Labs are large, energetic animals, and like all dogs, they need to be taught good canine manners. Sign up for puppy and obedience classes as soon as you bring your Lab home.
Many people think of Labs as a hyperactive breed. Lab puppies are definitely lively, but most will slow down a bit as they grow up. However, they usually remain fairly active throughout their lives.
Labrador Retrievers are not known to be escape artists, but with the right motivation–such as a whiff of something yummy–a Lab will take off. Make sure your Lab has current identification tags and a microchip.
Specification of Labrador Dog
large (61-100 lbs.)
children seniors dogs cats families
friendly outgoing playful
brown / chocolate / livergold / yellowblack
easy to traineasy to groomtendency to chewprone to health issueshigh potential for weight gainloves watercold weather toleranthot weather tolerantgood for first-time pet ownersstrong loyalty tendenciesgood hiking companion