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Welcome to the Labrador Retriever dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Labrador Retriever pages.

- Kitt Killion

Labrador Retriever Breed Information

Country of origin - Newfoundland (now part of Canada)

Common nicknames - Lab, Labrador

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 8 Section 1 #122|Stds
AKC:|Sporting|Stds
ANKC:|Group 3 (Gun dogs)|Stds
CKC:|Group 1 Sporting Dogs|Stds
KC (UK):|Gun dog|Stds
NZKC:|Gun dog|Stds
UKC:|Gun Dog|Stds

The Labrador Retriever (also Labrador or Lab for short), is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. The Labrador is widely considered the most popular breed of dog (by registered ownership) in the world, and is by a large margin the most popular breed by registration in the United States (since 1991), the United Kingdom, and several other countries. It is also the most popular breed of assistance dog in the United States, Australia, and many other countries, as well as being widely used by police and other official bodies for their detection and working abilities. They are exceptionally affable, gentle, intelligent, energetic and good natured, making them both excellent companions and working dogs. Although somewhat boisterous if untrained, Labrador Retrievers respond well to praise and positive attention, and are considerably "food and fun" oriented. With training, the Lab is one of the most dependable, obedient and multi-talented breeds in the world.

1. Quick Facts

Labrador Retriever Quick Facts

Weight: | 60-75 lb.s (27-34 kg.) |
Height: | 22-24 inches (56-61cm.) |
Coat: | Short, hard, easy-care, water-resistant double coat
Activity level: | Very high
Learning rate: | Very high
Temperament: |Friendly, reliable, loving, affectionate, lovable, patient, highly intelligent, loyal, willing, and high-spirited, lively and good-natured.
Guard dog ability: | Low
Watch-dog ability: | High
Litter size: | ?
Life span: | 10-12 years

2. History

The early Labrador originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The breed emerged over time from the St. John's Water Dog, also an ancestor of the Newfoundland dog (to which the Labrador is closely related), through ad-hoc breedings by early settlers in the mid to late 15th century. The original forebears of the St. John's dog have variously been suggested to be crossbreeds of the black St. Hubert's hound from France, working water dogs from Portugal, old European pointer breeds and dogs belonging to the indigenous peoples of the area. From the St. John's Dog, two breeds emerged; the larger was used for hauling, and evolved into the large and gentle Newfoundland dog, likely as a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 1400s. The smaller short-coat retrievers used for retrieval and pulling in nets from the water were the forebears of the Labrador Retriever. The white chest, feet, chin, and muzzle characteristic of the St. John's Dog will occasionally manifest in Labs, and often appear in Lab mixes.

The St. John's area of Newfoundland was settled mainly by the English. Local fishermen originally used the St. John's dog to assist in bringing nets to shore; the dog would grab the floating corks on the ends of the nets and pull them to shore. A number of these were brought back to the Poole area of England in the early 1800s, then the hub of the Newfoundland fishing trade, by the gentry, and became prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. A few kennels breeding these grew up in England; at the same time a combination of sheep protection policy (Newfoundland) and rabies quarantine (England) led to their gradual demise in their country of origin.

The first and second Earls of Malmesbury, who bred for duck shooting on his estate, and the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, and youngest son Lord George William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, were instrumental in establishing the Labrador breed in nineteenth century England. The dogs Avon ("Buccleuch Avon") and Ned given by Malmesbury to assist the Duke of Buccleuch's breeding program in the 1880s are usually considered the ancestors of all modern Labradors.

3. Appearance

3. 1. Overview

Labradors are relatively large with males typically weighing 30 to 36 kg (65 to 80 lb) and females 25 to 32 kg (55 to 70 lb) under AKC standards, but some labs do become overweight and may weigh significantly more. Their coats are short and smooth, and they possess a straight, powerful tail often likened to that of an otter. The majority of the characteristics of this breed, with the exception of colour, are the result of breeding to produce a working retriever.

As with some other breeds, the English (typically "show") and the American (typically "working" or "field") lines differ. Labs are bred in England as a medium-sized dog, shorter and stockier with fuller faces and a slightly calmer nature than their American counterparts which are bred as a larger lighter-built dog. No distinction is made by the AKC, but the two classifications come from different breeding. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the west, they are common in Asia. Other "local minor variants" may also exist in some areas.

The breed tends to shed hair twice annually, or regularly throughout the year in temperate climates. Some labs shed a lot, although individuals vary. Lab hair is usually fairly short and straight, and the tail quite broad and strong. The otter-like tail and webbed toes of the Labrador Retriever make them excellent swimmers. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming. The tail acts as a rudder for changing direction.

Labs tend to want a lot of attention from their owners. If the owner has another dog in the house the lab usually gets jealous and will strive for attention by moving the other dog out of the way so the owner can pet him. These dogs also love the water. They tend to play in the water if there are humans around playing in it. They love to be around humans and are usually very good with small children.

3. Temperament and activities

"Good-tempered, very agile. Excellent nose, soft mouth; keen love of water. Adaptable, devoted companion. Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness."

-UK Kennel Club standard

Labradors are a well-balanced and versatile breed, adaptable to a wide range of functions as well as making very good pets. As a rule they are not excessively prone to being territorial, pining, insecurity, aggression, destructiveness, hypersensitivity, or other difficult traits which sometimes manifest in a variety of breeds, and as the name suggests, they are excellent retrievers. As an extension of this, they instinctively enjoy holding objects and even hands or arms in their mouths, which they can do with great gentleness (a Labrador can carry an egg in its mouth without breaking it ). They are also known to have a very soft 'feel' to the mouth, as a result of being bred to retrieve game such as waterfowl. They are prone to chewing objects (though they can be trained out of this behavior). The Labrador Retriever's coat repels water to some extent, thus facilitating the extensive use of the dog in waterfowl hunting.

Labs, like other dogs, may often tend to dig like this 3 month old and are generally very friendly with other dogs, like this german shepherd.

Labs, like other dogs, may often tend to dig like this 3 month old and are generally very friendly with other dogs, like this german shepherd.

Labradors have a reputation as a very mellow breed and an excellent family dog (including a good reputation with children of all ages and other animals ), but some lines (particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field rather than for their appearance) are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand - an uncontrolled adult can be quite problematic. Females may be slightly more independent than males. Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppyish energy, often mislabeled as being hyperactive. Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown. Labs often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball). They are considerably "food and fun" oriented, very trainable, and open-minded to new things, and thrive on human attention, affection and interaction, of which they find it difficult to get enough. Reflecting their retrieving bloodlines, almost every Lab loves playing in water or swimming.

Although they will sometimes bark at noise, especially a degree of "alarm barking" when there is noise from unseen sources, Labs are not on the whole noisy or territorial, and are often very easygoing and trusting with strangers, and therefore are not very often used as guard dogs.

Labradors have a well-known reputation for appetite, and some individuals may be highly indiscriminate, eating digestible and non-food objects alike. They are persuasive and persistent in requesting food. For this reason, the Lab owner must carefully control his/her dog's food intake to avoid obesity and its associated health problems (see below).

The steady temperament of Labs and their ability to learn make them an ideal breed for search and rescue, detection, and therapy work. Their primary working role in the field continues to be that of a hunting retriever

4. Health and well-being

Many dogs, including Labs such as this ten year old, show distinct whitening of the coat as they grow older; especially around the muzzle.

Many dogs, including Labs such as this ten year old, show distinct whitening of the coat as they grow older; especially around the muzzle.

Labrador pups should not be bought before they are 7-10 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 12 to 13 years or a few years longer with good medical care, and it is a healthy breed with relatively few major problems. Notable issues related to health and wellbeing include:

4. 1. Inherited disorders

* Labs are somewhat prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, especially the larger dogs, though not as much as some other breeds. Hip scores are recommended before breeding.
* Labs also suffer from the risk of knee problems. A luxating patella is a common occurrence in the knee where the leg is often bow shaped.
* Eye problems are also possible in some Labs, particularly progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia. Dogs which are intended to be bred should be examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist for an eye score.
* Hereditary myopathy, a rare inherited disorder that causes a deficiency in type II muscle fibre.
* There is a small incidence of other conditions, such as autoimmune diseases and deafness in labs, either congenitally or later in life.

4. 2. Other disorders

Labs are sometimes prone to ear infection, because their floppy ears trap warm moist air. This is easy to control, but needs regular checking to ensure that a problem is not building up unseen. A healthy Lab ear should look clean and light pink (almost white) inside. Darker pink (or inflamed red), or brownish deposits, are a symptom of ear infection. The usual treatment is regular cleaning daily or twice daily (being careful not to force dirt into the sensitive inner ear) and sometimes medication (ear drops) for major cases. As a preventative measure, some owners clip the hair carefully around the ear and under the flap, to encourage better air flow. Labradors also get cases of allergic reactions to food or other environmental factors.

4. 3. Obesity

Labs are often overfed and are allowed to become overweight, due to their blatant enjoyment of treats, hearty appetites, and endearing behavior towards people. Lack of activity is also a contributing factor. A healthy Lab should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and light, rather than fat or heavy-set. Excessive weight is strongly implicated as a risk factor in the later development of hip dysplasia or other joint problems and diabetes, and also can contribute to general reduced health when older. Osteoarthritis is commonplace in older, especially overweight, Labs.

4. 4. Exploration

Labradors are not especially renowned for escapology. They do not typically jump high fences or dig. Because of their personalities, some Labs climb and/or jump for their own amusement. As a breed they are highly intelligent and capable of intense single-mindedness and focus if motivated or their interest is caught. Therefore, with the right conditions and stimuli, a bored Lab could "turn into an escape artist par excellence".

Labradors as a breed are curious, exploratory and love company, following both people and interesting scents for food, attention and novelty value. In this way, they can often "vanish" or otherwise become separated from their owners with little fanfare. They are also popular dogs if found, and at times may be stolen. Because of this a number of dog clubs and rescue organisations (including the UK's Kennel Club) consider it good practice that Labradors are microchipped, with the owner's name and address also on their collar and tags.


Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


Taken or modified, in whole or part, from Wikipedia.org