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Sporting breeds: Labrador Retriever

Lab photo     The Labrador Retriever does not come from Labrador, but from Newfoundland. There were reports of a small water dog, well trained in fowl retrieving, brought back to England from travelers in that region around 1822. These reports sparked the interest of the Earl of Malmesbury and he arranged to have some imported for himself. Noted sportsman Col. Hawker referred to the dog he called a St. John's breed as "... by far the best for any kind of shooting. He is generally black and no bigger than a Pointer, very fine in legs, with short, smooth hair ..." The name Labrador came into use as the dog came to England by fishing boats that came through Labrador from Newfoundland. The first noted use of the name came in a letter written by the Earl of Malmesbury in 1887 in which he said, "We always call mine Labrador dogs, and I have kept the breed as pure as I could from the first I had from Poole, at that time carrying on a brisk trade with Newfoundland. The real breed may be known by its close coat, which turns water off like oil and, above all, a tail like an otter."
    The breed died out in its native Newfoundland because the heavy dog tax and stringent English quarantine laws almost totally stopped the exports to England. Breed type predominated, and fanciers wishing to stop the interbreeding with other retrievers drew up a breed standard.
    The English Kennel Club recognized the Labrador in 1903. The AKC registered the first Labradors in the United States in 1917. From the late 1920s through the 1930s, there were a great many English dogs imported into the United States. These dogs formed the backbone of the Labrador as it is known in the United States today. The Labrador Retriever Club (U.S.) was formed in 1931.
    A tribute to the value placed on the performance and workability of the breed in England, no Labrador can become a bench Champion without a working certificate.

General description

  • Height: 21.5-24.5 inches
  • Weight: 55-75 pounds
  • Color: The coat color may black, yellow or chocolate. A small white spot on the chest is allowable in all three colors.

    Grooming requirements
        A Labrador sheds a lot. They shed year-round, and unless you match your wardrobe with the color of your dog, this can be a problem for some. To help cut down on the shedding your Lab does, you can brush him with a shedding blade for the thicker-coated Labs, or a curry brush for the thinner-coated Labs. This will help reduce the shedding; however, it will not eliminate it. Conditioning with every bath will also help to reduce the shedding some. You will also need to clean their ears and clip their nails.

    Health considerations
        The Labrador is one of many breeds with autoimmune problems. He can have eye and skin problems, deafness, diabetes, HOD, OCD, hip and shoulder dysplasia and several other less common disorders. It is very important that a Labrador come from a reputable breeder with healthy tested dogs. The popularity of the breed lends itself to abuse of proper genetic concerns in breeding.

    Breed characteristics and personality
        The Labrador is very gentle with children. He's an active and powerful dog, needing a fenced yard and lots of exercise. He'll function well as a watchdog, but is not a good protection dog because of his gentleness. He's a barker. This is a high-energy dog, especially when young. He can live in or outside. Because of this breed's popularity, special care should be taken in choosing the breeder to get the pup from.
        The Labrador is lively, affectionate and loveable. He's intelligent, but slow to grow up.

        One of the prime breeds used for service as a guide dog for the blind, and for search and rescue work because of temperament and dependability. He's an outstanding water retriever from both marsh and open water. In his native country, he was a fisherman's helper, plunging into the water to help the fishermen draw in their nets.

    Web links

  • AKC Labrador Retriever page
  • The Labrador Club

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