Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever


The Labrador Retriever is friendly and full of life. They are one of three colors... black (most common), yellow (most popular for working police dogs) and chocolate (rarest). Their paws are webbed and they are one of the strongest canine swimmers. They have an otter-like tail that acts like a rudder in the water, and a layered, water repellent, double coat. Labs are known for their "soft" mouth, they enjoy holding and carrying items in their mouth and can carry an egg in their mouth without cracking the shell.


This breed actually originates from the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. In the late 1700s there were two Newfoundland breeds, the Greater Newfoundland and the Lesser Newfoundland. These dogs descended from the St. John's Water Dog. The Greater Newfoundland was a large, thick-coated dog that was used for hauling carts loaded with fish. The Lesser Newfoundland was the smaller of the two breeds that was developed by fisherman to retrieve fishing nets and sometimes fish that fell off hooks. They would jump into the icy water and grab the floating corks that held the nets and bring them to shore. The fishermen created a dog that loved to swim, and had great hardiness and stamina. The dog also had strong haunches to leap into the water, a short-haired coat that kept the water off like oil, and a tail like an otter. The dog was the constant companions of the fishermen of the Labrador Sea, which some believe is how the breed got the name Labrador.

In the 1800s the breed began to be imported to Great Britain where it became popular on large estates, and a breeding program by the estate owners was put into place to develop dogs for duck shooting. By 1903 the Labrador Retriever was established as a true breeding strain and was recognized by the English Kennel Club, and in 1917, the American Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a separate retriever breed.

Today there are two types of Labradors, the English Labrador (the "show" line), and the American Labrador (the "field" or "working" line). The English Labrador comes from English bred stock and tends to be heavier, thicker and blockier. The American Labrador comes from American bred stock and is tall and lanky.


The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the USA and is affectionate, loving, loyal and patient, which makes them great as family dogs. They are not usually territorial, insecure, aggressive or hypersensitive. They are highly intelligent, good natured, and willing to please. They are retrievers and will happily bring you items laying around the house or yard. They are among the top choices for service dog work. As a puppy, they tend to be very mouthy, and must be taught early to be careful with their razor sharp teeth. They have a high energy level, love to run, swim and play and need room to run. The Labrador Retriever has a friendly temperament and does excellent with children. They are not guard dogs and not typically overly vocal. Labs are people oriented and need to feel as though they are part of the family.


The standard size of the Labrador Retriever is 21-24 inches tall, with a weight of 65-90 pounds. Some males can grow to 100 pounds or more.


The Labrador Retriever is prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic eye defect called retinal eye dysplasia, and often have problems with knees and elbow joints. Labs tend to gain weight easily, don't overfeed.


About 10-12 years.


Grooming is minimal. The smooth, short haired, double coat requires only regular brushing or combing. Shampooing too often can strip the oils from the coat. They shed twice a year but are considered moderate shedders.


Labrador Retrievers make great family dogs, they love to participate in family activities. They are lively and energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise and both physical and mental activity to keep them from becoming bored and destructive. This is a breed that loves to work and play hard and needs to be taken for a daily brisk long walk or jog. Labs will do well in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised.


Labrador Retrievers are very smart, easy to train and eager to please. They need to be socialized early as puppies so they are not reserved around strangers. Adult Labs are very strong and should be trained early to heel on leash. They crave human leadership and are eager to please. The Labrador Retriever is highly trainable and excels in hunting, tracking, retrieving, police work, guide for the blind, service dog, and search and rescue dog, as well as other dog sports such as agillity.

Sources: Animal Planet's Video, Dogs 101: Labrador Retriever;;;