A Family Favourite in Gold, Black, Chocolate or Silver
A perennial family favourite and beloved amongst dog lovers and dog enthusiasts the world over, the Labrador retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds and one who is known for loyalty, a sweet disposition, incredible trainability and a sleek, attractive appearance. As a way of expressing our appreciation of this remarkable breed, we wanted to share information on this breed’s beginnings as well as some of the things that make this breed wonderful, great and unique.
Labradors: A Brief History of the Breed
Labrador Retrievers hail from a cold and formidable part of the world called Newfoundland, which is located off the north eastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called St. John's dogs, after the capital city of Newfoundland, Labs served as companions and helpers to the local fishermen beginning in the 1700s.
Originally, labs spent their days working alongside their owners on fishing boats, retrieving fish who had escaped hooks and helping to tow in fishing lines. What is unique about this working dog is that the Labrador would then accompany their owners back to their home to spend the evening with the family. This lead to the development of a breed that is extremely intelligent, hardworking but exceptionally family-friendly as well.
By the late 1800’s the breed, now known by its modern name of Labrador Retriever, was very popular in England as a gun dog, used largely by hunter for retrieving downed water birds and other small game.
Golden, Black, Chocolate or Silver: The Labrador’s Appearance
Labradors are a medium-large dog breed. The males typically weigh 29 to 36 kg and stand 56 to 61 cm at the shoulder. Female labs typically weigh 25 to 32 kg and stand 55 to 60 cm at the shoulder. The Labrador Retriever's coat is short and dense, but not wiry. As a fishing dog, the Labrador has developed a coat that is water-resistant, so the dog does not get cold when taking to water, even in the cold winter months that are typical of eastern Canada. Because their coat is water resistant, labs naturally has a slightly dry, oily coat.
Labs come in a variety of colours including: golden labradors, black Labradors, chocolate Labradors and silver Labradors. Labrador’s heads are broad with slightly pronounced eyebrows. Their eyes are expressive and are usually brown or hazel in colour. Their ears hang close to the head and are set slightly above the eyes. They have a muscular build and powerful jaws reminiscent of their working-dog roots and typically live from 10 to 12 years.
A Family Friendly Working Dog: The Temperament of a Lab
Labrador Retrievers typically have a very sweet, gentle and kind nature, and are very good with small children. This makes them excellent family pets and is why they are the most popular family dog in both England and the United States.
Labradors are also very intelligent ranking 7th on the list of dog intelligence related to trainability by Professor Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia. Their intelligence and gentle nature makes them perfectly suited to working as assistance dogs for people with impaired sight, disabilities and the elderly.
In addition to their intelligence they have excellent olfactory senses, and for this reason they are extensively used by military and law enforcement agencies as tracking dogs. Once a Labrador picks up a scent they can be very single minded and persistent, and this make them perfectly suited for tracking humans which is useful for both law enforcement and search and rescue teams.
The Good, the Bad & the Obese: What you Need to Know About Labradors
Labrador Retrievers love, love, love to eat, and become obese very quickly if overfed. Because of this they need limited treats and if you’re thinking of bringing a lab home you need to be sure you’ll be able to give your new family member plenty of exercise. Meals should be measured out rather than food placed out all the time, and care must be taken to leave out human food or anything the Labrador might consider edible. This can extend to houseplants, children's toys and garbage.
Labradors can suffer from Hip dysplasia. This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness in one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
Labrador Retrievers make excellent family pets because of their gentle nature and high trainability, however they are active dogs who require substantial amounts of exercise and are not well suited to apartment living. Before adopting a Labrador, or any dog, make sure the breed is suited to your particular situation and you will have a faithful and loving companion for years to come.