The Labrador Retriever is the traditional waterdog of Newfoundland, long employed as a duck retriever and fisherman’s mate. The breed began its steady climb to supreme popularity in the early 1800s, when Labs were spotted by English nobles visiting Canada. These sporting earls and lords returned to England with fine specimens of “Labrador dogs.” (Exactly how these dogs of Newfoundland became associated with Labrador is unclear, but the name stuck.) During the latter half of the 19th century, British breeders refined and standardized the breed.
The predominate canine selected by the US Military during the Vietnam War was the German Shepherd Dog, which was used in the roles of Scout Dogs, Sentry Dogs, Mine Detection Dogs, and the US Navy used Water Dogs to detect enemy under water divers in South Vietnam. The Labrador Retriever was the military's choice for their Combat Tracker Teams (CTTs). Combat Tracker Teams consisted of one Labrador and four[91] or five[92] men: the handler, an observer, one or two cover men, and the team leader.[92][93] Labradors were selected by the military for tracking because of their distinct smelling qualities, and were used to locate wounded US servicemen, enemy patrols, and downed allied airmen in Vietnam. The US Army Labrador Retrievers received their combat training at the British Army's Jungle Warfare School in Malaysia.[91]
Maggie May the chocolate Labrador Retriever at 4 years old—"This is my Valentine Puppy, Maggie May. She was born in 2010 on February 14, Valentine's Day, which is funny because she is a chocolate labby:) I got Maggie in the spring of 2010. She was 4 1/2 months old. And totally crazy. For the first few months I had her, I had a tough-love relationship with her. Because she was pretty much out of control, along with being a very dominate puppy, I had to make sure from the beginning that she knew that I was the pack boss. As she got older she also showed some signs of aggression to dogs and people outside of our pack (family). I did not mind the aggression very much, as people don't expect Labs to be aggressive and that was good security thing to me, but I had to make sure that she knew that when I said "Stop it", "No", or "Knock it off", she would immediately cease her barking and/or growling. Maggie took to training like a pro. She loved to "work", as I called it. Her attention and focus on me was, and still is, out of this world. When she is playing with her doggie friends, I can call her out and she will practically fly to me, completely forgetting the other dogs and instead focusing on me. Her focus on me was so great that she was off leash trustworthy in nearly any situation by 11 months. Now at almost 5 years old, she is perfect. It takes a lot to get a dog close to perfection, and Maggie is as close to it as a dog can get in my opinion. Maggie has 3 canine siblings: Sugar, a 14 year old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, is her best friend. Angus (3 year old mix breed) and Tippy (1 year old Pit Bull/Corgi) are her partners in crime. I call them The Three Hoods."
Breeders should sell puppies with a written contract guaranteeing they'll take back the dog at any time during his life if you become unable to keep him, and with written documentation that both the puppy's parents (and if possible, his other close relatives) have had their hips, eyes and elbows examined and certified by the appropriate health organizations. Seek out a breeder whose dogs are active in field trials, hunt tests, agility, obedience and other sports that require athleticism and good health, and not just ribbons from the show ring.
The Labrador Retriever is generally categorized by lines that are destined for slightly different purposes. The show Labradors are bred for beauty and carriage -- for perfection in appearance, in other words. The hunting dogs follows the more traditional bloodlines, with usefulness being the key to perfection. The hunting Retriever has the physical characteristics that make it impervious to frigid water, an extraordinary sense of smell, and the agility to bag game with speed, along with companionable devotion to its human counterpart. Champion, or field trial Labradors, are bred for speed, energy, and intelligence, with appearance being the last consideration. Their appearance strays somewhat from the traditional Labrador -- they are quite trimmer, with smaller heads, and it is generally agreed that this line may be a bit too enthusiastic for the average dog owner. They require a much higher degree of exercise, and considerably more space to move around. Not least is the most popular category, the family Labrador.
The foundational breed of what is now the Labrador Retriever[20] was known as the St. John's water dog, St. John's dog, or Lesser Newfoundland. When the dogs were later brought to England, they were named after the geographic area known as "the Labrador" (they were known as Labrador Retrievers because they "retrieved" in the Labrador Sea) or simply Labrador to distinguish them from the larger Newfoundland breed, even though the breed was from the more southern Avalon Peninsula.
The Buddha’s one flaw is that he wasn’t a dog. If he was, then you would know for sure that you could trust him. Same with those monkeys advising you to see, hear, and speak no evil. Monkeys have been jerking us around for centuries, so you never know what to make of what they tell you. If they were dogs, you would just listen. No need to ask questions. The owner of these lawn statues displays a profound and all-encompassing wisdom.

Ah, the classic dog sweater. It’s undoubtedly one of the go-to Christmas gifts for pups, and with good reason: They’re adorable. We especially love this one from Lanyar, which has a holiday-ready pattern featuring reindeer and snowflakes against a bright red that all but shouts “Christmas!” Available in sizes from extra small to extra large, it’s easy to find the right fit for your dog (just follow the measurements on the listing). Made of 100% acrylic fiber, it has a wool-like feel that’s sure to keep your pooch warm all winter long.
None of the chew proof toys I buy for my Maximus, last more than 3 days. This toy is something he plays with every evening, for long periods of time. In a week there is no damage at all. I put a small milk bone inside the large toy and he works on it for ages. He actually still has not removed the main bit of milk bone, so I dont need to worry about added calories. This is a good find. I am happy to endorse. Currently he is curled up next to me on the sofa with his head on his toy.
This lightweight sleeping bag will act as a perfect light dog bed after a day exploring the trails. When the temperatures drop, you can actually zip your pup up inside the bag to retain heat. The polyester fabric shell is stain resistant, quick drying, easy to clean, and, best of all, the whole thing packs small enough to fit on the outside of your pack. [$99; ruffwear.com]

The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, he earned his keep as a fisherman’s helper: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic. Today’s Labrador Retriever is as good-natured and hard working as his ancestors, and he’s America’s most popular breed. These days the Lab works as a retriever for hunters, assistance dog to the handicapped, show competitor, and search and rescue dog, among other canine jobs.


Our final gift idea on this list acknowledges a dog mama's h2est urge – to make her furbaby happy. A BarkBox subscription is sure to do just that. Starting at less than $25 a month, BarkBox brings a themed box of dog toys and all-natural treats to a dog mama's door once a month. This way, a dog mom can make her pup happy and engaged with new toys every month, and it's convenient for her.


A weekly combing is all that is needed for a Labrador Retriever, since their water resistant coat is also designed to be soil and rubbish resistant. While brushing is a luxury rather than a necessity since its coat is designed to naturally care for itself, it does go along way to improving your Lab's natural beauty and overall health. Regular exercise, on the other hand, is of the utmost importance. The Labrador is a high-energy dog that loves to play, and it should be given the opportunity to do this on a daily basis. When possible, Labrador Retrievers should be allowed to swim, as it is one of their favorite activities. Pools, beaches, rivers, lakes; all are sporting fun for a Lab. Just as with a child, you will want to safeguard your young Lab while it is in the water, to make sure it feels safe and has a way of getting out of the water. Over time, and with confidence, it will learn, but young swimmers can panic or tire quickly.
"We watch The Dog Whisperer frequently, and we know what he means when he says to pick the pup out of the litter that is the most laid back. Most people go and pick out a dog based on their playful attitude because if a pup runs up to them they think the pup "chose them" when really it is just probably going to be a more challenging, hyper pup. We know this information now, but we did not know it when we went to get Bruno (or when we picked out our first two dogs), however he was the last male puppy left so we did not have a choice. I asked my husband why he thought Bruno was the last male left out of the litter and we later realized it was probably because he did not come leaping and bounding up to the other callers. The people that owned the pups had to go pick him up and bring him to us because he just sat at a distance observing the activity. When we first brought him home he went and sat in the corner all by himself after allowing the other dogs to greet him. We thought it was because he was so young and he was in a new environment. As the weeks passed Bruno was easily housetrained, never chewed anything up, and never "got in our face" for attention as the other dogs that we have liked to do. To this day if he wants attention he will just come and lie at our feet or sit by our side calmly. If we do not acknowledge his presence he will go lie by the door. When we took Bruno for his first set of shots, the vet said that he was extremely calm for a Lab puppy and said that he "was 1 in 100." Bruno will be 1 year old in January and we still have one of the best behaved dogs in the world with him."
Labradors as a breed are curious and 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.[49] 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 Labrador could "turn into an escape artist par excellence".[15][50] Many dogs are also stolen.[51] Because of their curious nature and ability to "vanish," along with the risk of being stolen, a number of dog clubs and rescue organisations (including the UK's Kennel Club) consider it good practice that Labradors be microchipped, with the owner's name and address also on their collar and tags.[49][52]
Making a donation on behalf of your friend in her dog’s honor is an excellent alternative to standard gift-giving. Consider local shelters or the ASPCA (read our interview with ASPCA’s CEO to learn about some of the great work they’re doing to help shelter animals all over the country). Most animal rescue organizations have online donation forms that allow you to pick the amount. As an added bonus, the ASPCA even lets you pick out a card design to be emailed or mailed to the recipient!
This holiday season, don't forget about your four-legged friend—nor the two-legged friends who are passionate about their pets. Shop our Christmas gifts for dog lovers, including pet houses, bowls, and beds that are actually stylish. Along with gifts for dog owners, we also included gifts for dogs (hello chew toys and tasty treats!) that will get a few tail wags. Plus, check out these purr-fect gifts for cat lovers and cats.
But what to buy for the dog lover in your life? We’ve made your search a little simpler by rounding up 53 top-rated gifts every dog lover will appreciate, from dog-themed photo frames and mugs to useful items that will benefit your gift recipient and their favorite pup alike. Our picks are listed below in alphabetical order for easy reference. Ratings information is based on Amazon.com reviews and is current at the time of this writing. Happy shopping!
The Secret Agent Leash by Paww is made with soft webbing that's surprisingly durable and has reflective fabric woven into the length of the leash to improve nighttime visibility. The best part is the quick-tether clip that allows you to securely attach your four-legged friend to fence posts and parking signs without ever having to unleash him. [$20; paww.com]
OK, so maybe you’ll never get fully in your dog’s head, but you can at least see the world through her eyes. Drop your GoPro in the Fetch mount, strap the harness around their midsection, and you’ll get to see what it’s like to be on the other end of the tug-of-war or in full romp on the beach. It’s the next best thing to knowing what in the world they’re smelling on the sidewalk.
Labs love to eat, and they will try to eat anything. They are professional countersurfers, and they will eat anything that looks like it might be food. If nothing else, living with a Lab will teach you, your spouse and your kids to put things away if they don’t want them to be chewed up or eaten. Veterinarians call these dogs “Flabradors” because obesity is common once they hit their middle-age mellowing out stage. A measured diet, good supervision and plenty of exercise are a must to keep these happy retrievers healthy and out of trouble.
"This is our newly adopted black Lab named Dozer. He is one and a half years old in this picture and we adopted him from the pound. Like most Labs he loves the water (as you can see in the picture); in fact, he loves it a little too much. We need to work with him on not obsessing over the water so much, but he is so eager to please that it shouldn't be too hard. We take him on two walks a day with him carrying a doggy backpack, one being a three-mile walk with at least a half hour of swimming. I watch the Dog Whisperer all the time so I know that with following his methods and with Dozer being so eager to please that whatever issues he has we will be able to improve them."
Getting your pup a leather collar for Christmas is the equivalent of getting him a fancy new watch, adding a subtle hint of luxury to his daily outings. This collar from AOLOVE comes in ten colors, including fun ones like rose and purple, and made from high-quality leather and attractive, nickel-plated hardware. There’s a size for every breed, so your pup can spend the holidays in style whether you have a B ichon ​Frise or a Great Dane (just measure their neck to determine the correct size).
"We watch The Dog Whisperer frequently, and we know what he means when he says to pick the pup out of the litter that is the most laid back. Most people go and pick out a dog based on their playful attitude because if a pup runs up to them they think the pup "chose them" when really it is just probably going to be a more challenging, hyper pup. We know this information now, but we did not know it when we went to get Bruno (or when we picked out our first two dogs), however he was the last male puppy left so we did not have a choice. I asked my husband why he thought Bruno was the last male left out of the litter and we later realized it was probably because he did not come leaping and bounding up to the other callers. The people that owned the pups had to go pick him up and bring him to us because he just sat at a distance observing the activity. When we first brought him home he went and sat in the corner all by himself after allowing the other dogs to greet him. We thought it was because he was so young and he was in a new environment. As the weeks passed Bruno was easily housetrained, never chewed anything up, and never "got in our face" for attention as the other dogs that we have liked to do. To this day if he wants attention he will just come and lie at our feet or sit by our side calmly. If we do not acknowledge his presence he will go lie by the door. When we took Bruno for his first set of shots, the vet said that he was extremely calm for a Lab puppy and said that he "was 1 in 100." Bruno will be 1 year old in January and we still have one of the best behaved dogs in the world with him."
Experts have a couple of different theories about how the breed came to be called the Labrador. One is that the name is borrowed from the Spanish word for laborer — labrador — which is certainly a fitting description, or that the breed is related to the dogs that accompanied Portuguese fishermen who trawled the Grand Banks off the coast of Labrador and its neighbor Newfoundland. Those dogs, known as cani di castro laboreiro, performed such tasks as retrieving items from the water, including fish-laden nets, and swimming messages from boat to boat. Sounds like a Lab, all right.

If your dog is allowed to roam freely in your yard, but you are still nervous about him or her escaping, invest in the LINK Smart Dog Collar by the American Kennel Club. The smart collar has GPS tracking to locate your dog within the range of your home or yard via the base station, or if they are lost outside of your borders. Just place the base station in your home, which also charges the collar, and get updated on your dog’s temperature, location in the house, and how many minutes a day they are active. Plus, the sleek collar also comes with a light that you can control from the app. The collar comes in small, medium, large, and extra large. The app is available for iOS and Android. LINK AKC subscription plans are sold separately.
This is the spitting image of my dog! I had her give them away as gifts this year! Resin, so will hold-up for many years to come. The bone is, indeed, a great surface to use a Sharpie to write a name. I chose to write "I (heart)..." messages. The word "I"...then a red heart...then the recipient's name. Here is DAZEY and her ornament she's giving away... (see photo)

Ah, the classic dog sweater. It’s undoubtedly one of the go-to Christmas gifts for pups, and with good reason: They’re adorable. We especially love this one from Lanyar, which has a holiday-ready pattern featuring reindeer and snowflakes against a bright red that all but shouts “Christmas!” Available in sizes from extra small to extra large, it’s easy to find the right fit for your dog (just follow the measurements on the listing). Made of 100% acrylic fiber, it has a wool-like feel that’s sure to keep your pooch warm all winter long.

The StarMark Bob-A-Lot treat-dispensing toy rolls around as your dog tries to get treats out of it. It's great for play and exercise, plus your pup gets a great reward every time. With a 3-cup capacity, you can fill this toy with your dog's kibble or a handful of his favorite treats to keep your pup entertained for hours. It's one of our favorite dog toys.
The steady temperament of Labradors and their ability to learn make them an ideal breed for search and rescue, detection, and therapy work. They are a very intelligent breed. They are ranked No. 7 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs. The AKC describes the breed as an ideal family and sporting dog. Their primary working role in the field continues to be that of a hunting retriever.
All of those characteristics make the Labrador well-suited to a variety of active families. He’s perfect for homes with rowdy older children, but may be a little rambunctious around toddlers, especially as a puppy or young dog. Singles and couples who love the outdoors also match up well with this breed, and his size and even temperament make the Labrador a great companion for active seniors who love to walk and would appreciate a dog who looks intimidating, even if he is more of a lover than a fighter.
We all live on the go these days. That includes dogs. So if a dog lover doesn’t want Sparky drinking out of that filthy, gasoline-swirled puddle, they better have a good alternative on hand. And while dog owners have been known to be quite up-close and personal with their pets, most people draw the line at sticking their own water bottle in Sparky’s mouth. This is one of those simple, obvious gifts that will come to seem so indispensable that they won’t believe they ever got on without it.
When you get a dog, everyone’s like, “You’re going to have hair everywhere!” You think, whatever, it’ll be fine, they’re just exaggerating. Then two weeks in, everything you own is covered in a thick coat just like the dog’s. You can avoid it all with this groomer. It snaps onto Dyson vacuums and goes straight to the source, sucking all the loose hair off the pup without yanking on anything that’s still attached.
Wherever you acquire your Labrador Retriever, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter.In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

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Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Labradors do tend to be protective of their families and homes but are usually happy to greet company, too. With the strong retrieving instinct, they can develop into destructive chewers if not given appropriate toys and guidance. Labs may tend to "mouth" people and the solution is often simply to give them a toy to carry around, so their mouths are already full! These are very strong dogs and early training is necessary to have a dog that walks nicely on lead.
In his book Excursions in and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840,[19] the geologist Joseph Beete Jukes describes the St. John's water dog. "A thin, short-haired, black dog came off-shore to us to-day. The animal was of a breed very different from what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin, tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin, but powerful legs, with a lank body, – the hair short and smooth." wrote Jukes. "These are the most abundant dogs in the country...They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others...I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to "toil" or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind."
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

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Few breeds so richly deserve their popularity as does the Labrador Retriever. When trained, the breed is obedient and amiable, and tolerates the antics of children, other dogs, and other pets. The Lab is a calm house dog, playful yard dog, and intense field dog, all on the same day. Labs are eager to please, enjoyslearning, and excel in obedience. It is a powerful breed that loves to swim and retrieve. Labradors needs daily physical and mental challenges to keep occupied. A bored Lab can get into trouble! The Labrador’s hunting instinct can drive a dog to roam, so training and a safe yard are needed.

Chewy is like Amazon, but for pets (and also better). Like Amazon, you can get pretty much anything your pet might need delivered in just one or two days. Unlike Amazon, the experiences are tailored for your pet, so you can even get prescription medications and set up recurring refill deliveries. Membership is free, and orders ship at a flat rate—for a shopping experience that's tailored for pet owners, we think it's a pretty doggone good deal.


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The StarMark Bob-A-Lot treat-dispensing toy rolls around as your dog tries to get treats out of it. It's great for play and exercise, plus your pup gets a great reward every time. With a 3-cup capacity, you can fill this toy with your dog's kibble or a handful of his favorite treats to keep your pup entertained for hours. It's one of our favorite dog toys.
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