Dog-ology: Labrador Retriever

Basics

Labrador retriever, the most popular dog breed in the United States – but that’s not all! It’s also the most popular breed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. It’s easy to see why. They are intelligent, gentle, well-behaved, even-tempered, energetic, and playful. They are great with children, the elderly, are a favorite breed to train as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and law enforcement.

This exceptional dog was originally bred as a fishing companion, used to help pull in fishing nets and retrieve fish that had escaped the nets. The breed comes in three colors, yellow, black, and chocolate. A double-coated breed, it sheds seasonally and requires regular light grooming. Lab hair is usually short and straight, and the tail is quite broad and strong. The webbed toes of the Lab make them excellent swimmers. The webbing between their toes can also serve as a "snowshoe" in cold climates and keeps snow from balling up between their toes - a condition that can be painful to other breeds with hair between the toes. The males typically weight from 65 – 90 pounds and the females from 55-70 pounds.

Labradors mature around the age of 3 and up until then tend to have “puppy-like” energy. This means they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They will excel and enjoy training sessions; always learning and experiencing new things. Labradors like to eat, and without proper exercise can become obese. It is good to maintain the breed’s food intake and not free-feed. Also this do should be regularly exercised (at least two 30 minute walks a day) to prevent obesity.

History

The Labrador Retriever is native to Newfoundland, Canada, where it was originally known as the "St John's Dogs," where they worked side-by-side with fishermen catching fish that came loose from the lines and trained to jump into the icy waters to help pull in the nets. The first St Johns dogs were imported into England in the early 1800s by English ships coming from Labrador. St Johns dogs were established in England independently by two English aristocrats who were impressed by the abilities of these adaptable and hardy retrievers as gundogs. The breed was crossed with setters, spaniels, and other types of retrievers to improve its instincts as a hunter. These St. John's dogs became the most prized sporting dogs for the gentry who could afford to maintain kennels for controlled breeding.

Fun Facts

  • When the dogs were brought to England, they were named after the geographic area known as "the Labrador" from which they were exported from Canada. They were known as Labrador Retrievers because they "retrieved" in the Labrador Sea.

  • Endal, a service Lab in Britain is known as "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium" and the PDSA’s Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty). He was also the first dog to ride on the London Eye and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card.

  • Former President of the United States Bill Clinton owned two Labradors, Buddy and Seamus.

  • Brian Griffin from the animated TV sitcom Family Guy is a white Labrador Retriever.

  • There are two other popular colors of labs-charcoal and silver. However, these two colors have not been official recognized by breed registers or kennel associations because experts have not been able to verify the source of their color and pedigree of breeding.

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