Friendly, gentle, intelligent and eager to please, the Labrador Retriever is an ideal hunting companion and family dog. Developed in 19th-century Newfoundland as a water dog, the Labrador Retriever has a stable temperament and a kindly, outgoing nature. He is highly adaptable and trainable and thrives with active owners. His dense, water-resistant coat sheds seasonally and needs regular grooming.
The intensity of black pigment on yellow Labradors is controlled by a separate gene independent of the fur colouring. Yellow Labradors usually have black noses, which may gradually turn pink with age (called "snow nose" or "winter nose"). This is due to a reduction in the enzyme tyrosinase which indirectly controls the production of melanin, a dark colouring. Tyrosinase is temperature dependent—hence light colouration can be seasonal, due to cold weather—and is less produced with increasing age two years old onwards. As a result, the nose colour of most yellow Labradors becomes a somewhat pink shade as they grow older.
Although the Newfoundland dogs suffered a loss of popularity for a time owing to a taxation on dogs in Canada, they had been frequent companions to Britain bound travelers during the 18th and 19th centuries and had, over that time, become a firmly entrenched member of the estate classes. It was the lesser of the Newfoundland breed that rose most in popularity, and in 1903, this trimmer and more energetic Newfoundland had made its way into the English Kennel Club, gaining a name all its own along the way: the Labrador Retriever. There, the breed was refined, particularly for retrieving game for hunters, becoming well regarded for its care in not damaging the game, for its devotion to human, and for its good manners.
Several early descriptions of the St. John's water dog exist. In 1822, explorer W.E. Cormack crossed the island of Newfoundland by foot. In his journal he wrote "The dogs are admirably trained as retrievers in fowling, and are otherwise useful.....The smooth or short haired dog is preferred because in frosty weather the long haired kind become encumbered with ice on coming out of the water."
The high intelligence, initiative and self-direction of Labradors in working roles is exemplified by dogs such as Endal, who is trained to, if need be, put his wheelchair-bound human in the recovery position, cover him with a blanket, and activate an emergency phone. A number of Labradors have also been taught to assist their owner in removing money and credit cards from ATMs with prior training.
Although not a new product, Canine Journal team members have used Embark and other dog DNA tests to better understand their rescue pups and are big fans. We think it’s the wave of the future and encourage you to give the gift of knowledge and health to your favorite furry friend this season. Embark is our #1 pick for best dog DNA kit (and they are having a big holiday sale through the end of the year!).