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 St. John’s dog. retriever. Other origins suggested the name to have originated from Spanish or Portuguese word for workers, “Labradores”, and the village of Castro Laboreiro in Portugal whose herding and guard dogs bear a “striking resemblance” to Labradors. Many 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 Edwin Landseer painted a black dog with white markings titled “Cora. A Labrador Bitch,” by that 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.
This young Labrador’s coat is chocolate, which was not always recognized as an acceptable coat color.
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.
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 that 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 chewing 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.
Labradors are often used as guide dogs
Their fun-loving boisterousness 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. Most Labs enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity (such as dog agility or flyball), are “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. Reflecting their retrieving bloodlines, almost every Lab loves playing in water or swimming. Many Labs enjoy eating quite a bit of food, and it is imperative for owners to control food consumption, or your Lab may become slightly overweight. The steady temperament of Labs and their ability to learn quickly make them an ideal breed for assistance dogs.