About Labrador Retrievers
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Country of origin
Newfoundland, (now part of) Canada
Classification and breed standards
Group 8 Section 1 #122
Group 3 (Gundogs)
Group 1 - Sporting Dogs
Gun Dog Breeds
The Labrador Retriever ("Labrador" or "Lab" for short), is one of several kinds of retriever, and are the most popular breeds of dog (by registered ownership) in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The breed is exceptionally friendly, intelligent and good natured, and as a rule these qualities mean that Labs love people, handle children well, and therefore make excellent family and service dogs.
The Lab's head is broad and clean-cut, with ears that hang close to the head.
For yellow Labradors, the nose can be black or pinkish.
Labradors are relatively large with males typically weighing 60 to 80 lb (27 to 36 kg) and females 50 to 70 lb (23 to 32kg). They are energetic outgoing dogs, and are black, yellow, or brown (called "chocolate") in color, in that order of frequency. Puppies of all colors can potentially occur in the same litter. The color is determined by two sets of genes - one determining coat color (black and yellow) and the other determining nose color (black and pink/brown). The black coat gene is dominant in both cases. Chocolate Labs are the result of the black coat color gene and a pink/brown nose color gene. Chocolate Labradors were not considered to be purebred until very recently, when it was proved that the color was a gene mutation. Yellow Labs vary in color from white to light gold to a fox red. Their fur 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 him an excellent swimmer. Their interwoven coat is also waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming. The tail acts as a rudder for changing directions. Yellow labs can have black or pink noses; chocolate and black labs's noses match the coat color.
As with some other breeds, the English and the America lines differ slightly. Labs are bred in England as a medium size dog, shorter and stockier with fuller faces than their American counterparts which are bred as a larger dog. No distinction is made by the AKC, but the two classification come from different breeding. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the west, they are common in Asia.
Many people unfamiliar with retrievers find that the Lab is quite similar to the Golden Retriever in size, general shape, and general color, especially when young and especially to those Goldens with lighter coats. The most obvious difference is the short straight coat of the Labrador Retriever (the Golden has long wavy fur) and the Lab's thick, otter-like tail compared to the Golden's plumed tail. To confuse the two breeds would be a serious faux pas to a fancier of either, of course.
The coat of the black Labrador, like this puppy's, is solid black.
This young Labrador's coat is chocolate, which has not always been recognized as an acceptable coat color.
The Labrador is believed to have originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is thought to have descended from the St. John's Water Dog (no longer in existence), a crossbreed of native water dogs and the Newfoundland to which the Labrador is closely related. The name Labrador was given to this dog by the Earl of Malmesbury and other breeders in England in order to differentiate them from the Newfoundland dog. The Labrador Retriever was originally called the lesser Newfoundland or the St. John's dog. Other origins suggested for the name include the Spanish or Portuguese word for workers, "labradores", and the village of Castro Laboreiro in Portugal whose herding and guard dogs bear a "striking resemblence" to Labradors .
Fishermen originally used the Lab 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.
The first known written reference to the Labrador is in 1814 in "Instructions to Young Sportsmen". In 1823 sporting artist Edward Landseer painted a black dog with white markings titled "Cora. A Labrador Bitch," by which time it appears the breed was already firmly established, with several of the nobility either owning or breeding them by the end of that century. The first Yellow Lab on record, named Ben of Hyde, was born in 1899.
The modern Labrador Retriever is among the oldest of the modern "recognized" breeds; according to the American Kennel Club, pedigrees exist back to 1878. The Kennel Club recognized the Lab in 1903. The first registration of Labradors by the AKC was in 1917; many English dogs were imported post World War I and these formed the foundation of the American variety.
(More information on the Labrador Retriever history page at alllabs.com)
Temperament and activities
Labradors are a well-balanced and remarkably 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 territorialism, pining, insecurity, aggression, destructiveness, hypersensitivity, or other difficult traits which 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. They are, however, prone to chew objects (though they can easily 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.
Labradors are often used as guide dogs
Labradors have a reputation as a very mellow breed and an excellent family dog (including a good reputation with children of all ages), 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 boistrousness and lack of fear can result in mischief, and may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand. Anecdotally, between the different subtypes, black Labs may have a tendency to be slightly more dominant, and yellow to be slightly less so (more mellow). Most Labs enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity, such as dog agility or flyball, are considerably "food and fun" oriented, very trainable and open minded to new things, and thrive on human attention and interaction, which they find hard to get enough of.
The steady temperament of Labs and their ability to learn quickly make them an ideal breed for assistance dogs.
Some lines of Labs are fast and athletic, as demonstrated by this Lab doing the weave poles in dog agility.
Labradors typically live into their teens and are a healthy breed with relatively few major problems. Common Lab health issues are:
Labs are somewhat prone to hip dysplasia, especially the larger dogs, though not as much as some other breeds. Hip scores are recommended before breeding.
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.
Labs are often overfed and are allowed to become overweight, due to their blatant enjoyment of treats, hearty appetites, and endearing behavior towards people. A healthy Lab should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and lithe, rather than fat or heavy-set. Excessive weight is strongly implicated as a risk factor in the later development of hip dysplasia and diabetes, and also can contribute to general reduced health when older.
A black Labrador is structurally the same as a yellow Lab but the coat color makes them look quite different.
Puppy mills and dog theft
Because the Labrador is such a popular breed, they are often reared in puppy mills where the people responsible care primarily for profit, and not for the dog's well being.
Labs and Lab owners also commonly fall victim to dog theft, where any purebred-looking Labradors may be sold to puppy mills or unknowing prospective owners for a high profit to the thief. Microchipping for Labradors—as for any dog—increases the possiblity of finding lost or stolen dogs, because the microchip cannot be removed in the way that a collar and dog tags can.
Every potential Lab owner must know that the Labrador comes in only three colours, these are:Black, Yellow and Chocolate. It has become common for unscrupulous and irrisponsible breeders to attempt to sell light coloured yellow labrador puppies as a "very rare" white labrador, for a much higher price then the other puppies in the litter.
U.S. President Bill Clinton's pet labrador was called Buddy.