|A Few Facts About the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a water dog, with a thick weather
resistant and waterproof coat and an "otter" tail or rudder as it is
commonly referred to, as it uses it to steer like a boat's rudder
when swimming. Its heavy bone structure and body type and
strong legs enable the Labrador Retriever to be a powerful
swimmer and strong runner - frequent exercise is needed to keep
the Labrador healthy and happy. Both lovable and sociable, the
Labrador Retriever is an energetic and playful companion as well
as a calm house dog. Labs are extremely obedient and eager to
learn. They are used as guide dogs, explosive and drug detection
dogs, hunting retrievers and most important companions. The
Labrador Retriever can be trained to be an excellent therapy dog.
These dogs bring company and joy in nursing homes and
children's health care facilities. Labradors have become the most
popular breed worldwide, and have been since 1991 and this
remains true to this day.
The Labrador Retriever originated from the Canadian province of
Newfoundland, along the East Coast of Canada. Labradors were
invented, so to speak, in the fifteenth century. They were
originally used as fishing dogs by the villagers of Newfoundland.
Their two distinct layers of hair - an inner layer of short fuzzy or
"undercoat" hair for insulation, and a longer, coarse guard hair
for shedding water made them resilient to the icy waters. Their
webbed paws allow for effective swimming.
By the 1800's Labs migrated to England and then on to the
United States. Here, fishing was not the required task, but
retrieving ducks and other water fowl was the desired task.
Hunters loved to show off their Labs, and worked with them
diligently to develop their retrieving skills. Selective breeding kept
this desire to retrieve along with a good nose in the bloodlines.
Hunters began to hold events where their Labs were graded
according to their performance against a set standard. These
were called Hunt Tests.
Field Trial Labs
Developing the perfect hunting Lab became such an obsession
that a group of hunters took this to the next level. They
developed standards where the Labs were graded according to
their performance against other Labs, instead of against a set of
written standards. This heightened the competition. As a result,
breeders placed more emphasis on energy and intelligence, and
usually less on looks. These Labs became long legged, hyper,
and smarter. Heads and tails became a bit narrower. They are
fantastic, but sometimes a bit too energetic for the family
situation. Today these Labs are usually referred to as an
Another group of individuals became interested in the looks of
the Lab over the field trials, and set forth to develop the perfect
looking dog. Tail and ear lengths, poundage, size, heads, coats,
and other physical aspects were considered more desirable than
Hunt or Field Trial requirements. Generally speaking, these Labs
developed stocky bodies, shorter legs, and mammoth heads.
They are paraded in Show events all over the world, and
sometimes end up at the Westminster or Krufts. Intelligence and
temperament can sometimes take a backseat to looks, though
this is not true for all Show Labs today.
In the 1980's, a new category was added - this was known as the
Family Lab. They were bred for health, temperament, intelligence,
looks, and the desire to retrieve, in that order. This led to a less
hyper, very intelligent Lab that was better suited for the family
situation. They did not have the monster heads of the show labs,
or the smaller field trial heads, but developed proportional
moderate block heads. Good temperament meant the Labs were
great with children. They had enough energy to swim or play
Frisbee, but were calm enough to crash at your feet or sleep by
the fireplace. These Labs lost the desire to roam, and were much
more comfortable at home.
Male Labrador Retrievers range from 22.5 inches to 24.5 inches.
Female Labrador Retrievers range from 21.5 inches to 23.5
Male Labrador Retrievers range from 85 to 97 pounds. Female
Labrador Retrievers range from 70 to 80 pounds. Labs are
frequently allowed to become overweight, significantly increasing
health risks for any canine.
AKC accepted Labrador Retriever colors are black, yellow or
chocolate. Yellow can range from almost white to what is know
as red fox (dark). In the early days, black Labs with a white
diamond on their chest were the most desired. (This has been
mostly bred out by the Show Lab breeders). Yellow Labs were
tolerated. Chocolates, however, were not. They were first
suspected as a genetic mistake. The accepted practice of the day
was to drown them, therefore removing them from the gene pool.
By the early 1970's, genetics had proven that chocolates were
just as pure as blacks or yellows. Chocolates suddenly became
one of the most desired dogs in the world. The problem was
their recessive genes had nearly been eradicated after 500 years
of persecution, leaving very few Labs capable of producing
chocolates. Breeders, in their haste to make good with this
sudden market demand, began breeding anything that was
brown and had four legs, calling them "Chocolate Labs". (The
Chesapeake Bay Retriever seemed to be the favored stand in.)
AKC papers were a dime a dozen, and only as good as the
breeder's word. This led to dilution of the chocolate Lab gene
pool, leading to the false impression that chocolates were dumb,
hyper and temperamental. A pure chocolate is as smart and well
tempered as the black or yellow Labradors.
Labrador Retrievers have a short, straight and dense coat. Their
coat is easily cared for with once a week grooming. They do
shed, usually twice a year in normal climates so be sure to brush
your Labrador regularly during these "sheds" to keep this to a
The Labrador Retriever is a kind, outgoing dog. They are easy to
train, as they want to please. They are wonderful with children,
and other pets. When choosing your Labrador puppy, be sure to
check out the temperament of the parents. Although Lab’s tend
to have great temperaments for being around a family home and
children, pay special attention to how the puppy’s parents
behave. Behavior traits can be inherited and good behavior in the
parents can indicate the future temperament of your puppy. Lab
puppies are very moldable. We like to say that when you pick up
your puppy they are like a "lump" of clay, and you make them into
what your perfect dog would be. They crave human
companionship and attention and need to feel like they are "part
of the family" to be truly happy. Their loving nature and adoration
of humans does not make them good watchdogs, however.
Their bark is worse then their bite.
The Labrador Retriever is susceptible to skin allergies, epilepsy,
eye diseases and joint problems. Be sure to ask for CERF and/or
optigen eye certification from the breeder. Labradors can be
prone to hip and elbow dysplasia which are potentially crippling
abnormalities of joint formation that can be inherited from the
dog’s parents or relatives. An x-ray examination of both parents
and as many ancestors as possible indicating that they are free
of this abnormality will help you avoid this condition in your pet.
The breeder should present you with OFA certification for both
hips and elbows.
The expected life span of the Labrador Retriever is 10-12 years.
Labrador Retrievers need frequent exercise to stay happy and
healthy. Ideally a country setting with a fenced yard works best
for this high energy dog. However an urban setting with owners
willing to walk and exercise them works just as well. Labrador
Retrievers love the water and enjoy both swimming and
retrieving. You and a tennis ball will be their best friends.
As they have a need for space and exercise, they are not ideal
apartment dogs. To put your dog in a crate while going to work,
or tethering one to a chain is unthinkable. They require space to
move around. A lockable backyard kennel is ideal.
If you have decided that a Labrador Retriever puppy may be the
right dog for your family, there are a few other things that you
need to consider. You need to be aware that your Lab puppy will
grow and will require proper exercise on a daily basis.
* Do you have the space in your house to have this size dog, or a
fenced in yard so that your dog can go out safely for exercise and
* Will you have enough time to devote to grooming, loving,
exercising, and also on the training that may be required? (short
*Are you willing to spend the money the keep your pet happy and
If the answer is YES, then it may be time to start your reseach for
your new Labrador puppy. Good Luck .........