The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds of dog in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are very recognisable; most people know a Labrador when they see one.
Origins of the Labrador Retriever
The breed originated in Newfoundland, Canada, in the 1500's. At the time, small water dogs were bred with Newfoundlands to create a breed called the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. Fishermen would use these dogs to bring back fish that had fallen off the fishing hooks. Their coat repelled water and their webbed paws made them excellent swimmers. The dogs continued to live exclusively in Newfoundland until the early 1800's when they were imported to Poole, England.
The Earl and Duke of Malmesbury used them in shooting sports and began to call them their “Labrador Dogs.” It was then discovered that the dogs were excellent gun dogs, quick at running, swimming and fighting. The name, "Labrador" stuck and Earl's son started breeding the dogs. By 1903, Labradors were recognised by the English Kennel Club.
In the early 1900's, hunters and farmers from the United States began incorporating “Labs” into their daily lives because of the breed's known work ethic. The American Kennel Club recognised Labrador Retrievers in 1917 and the breed became a loving pet to many families.
The Labrador Retriever is a medium to large dog (standing between 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder) and can weigh around 25 to 40 kilos, depending on the breed and the gender. They are strongly built and athletic. Labs have stocky and well-muscled bodies that are usually slightly longer than they are tall. The females tend not to be as heavily boned or muscular as the males.
The Labrador has a short and dense double coat. The top coat helps to repel water and the bottom helps to protect them from the cold. It sheds seasonally and needs to be brushed regularly. The coat can come in different colours: Yellow, Black and Chocolate.
Fun Fact: all Labradors used to be black until the first yellow coated lab appeared in a litter of black puppies!
Chocolate Labradors can be anything from a light to a dark chocolate brown. The colour came about by breeding Labradors with other chocolate coloured breeds. They can also have a white patch on their chests.
Labrador Retrievers have wide skulls, strong muzzles and medium sized ears. Yellow and Black Labs have black noses while the Chocolate Labs have brown. They have muscular necks and strong straight backs. The Labrador's tail is also called an "Otter tail". They appear rounded, where they're thickly covered with their dense coat.
Labradors are incredibly loyal, friendly, loving and make fantastic companions. Training shouldn't be too difficult as they are very intelligent and they will soon pick up exactly what you are trying to teach them. Generally a Lab is a very sociable dog. They are truly “man's best friend,” and can be at their happiest when engaged in family activities. They are known to be extremely patient with children of all ages.
Labs are full of energy and will most probably run to the door to greet you. They usually love running, hiking, swimming and playing fetch for hours on end. They can also be rather clumsy, so apartments are not the best living arrangements for this breed. Homes with yards and lots of room to romp are the most ideal setting to raise a Lab.
Walking a Lab is a good start for daily exercise, but a simple stroll won't be enough to use up their energy. These dogs need to run every day in order to burn off excess energy. Why not let your lab accompany you on your daily jog? Or run alongside you while on a bike ride! Labs usually love to swim, so if you own a pool, good luck trying to get your pooch out of the water!
Do you have a Labrador?