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.
Those traits are the foundation of the Lab’s personality, but each dog puts his own spin on them. Some are serious, some are clowns, some are reserved, some never meet a stranger. You might hear that Lab personalities vary by color, but it’s more likely that a dog’s temperament is affected by the breeder’s goals. Labs from breeders who produce top-winning field-trial dogs are more demanding when it comes to exercise and training. They are unsuited to lying around the house all day while everyone is at work or school. More laid back Labs typically come from a breeder who shows dogs in conformation.

My dog loves this! She gets super stoked when she sees me take it out for her to play with. I combine a level 1, level 2 & this level 3 Trixie game, & it keeps her busy for a bit. I am a professional dog trainer & recommend interactive games to my clients, and Trixie makes by far the coolest & most durable (unless you have serious chewers or highly destructive dogs). This one is pretty difficult, so unless your dog is beyond food motivated, opt for a level 1 or 2 to pique your dog's interest in puzzle games first, otherwise your dog may give up. A super fun toy, especially if your dog enjoys nose work.
But let's face it, there are so many gifts to choose from that a lot of them simply aren't that great. Maybe they're too ugly, too poorly made, or just downright cheesy. Some bones are just bad for a dog's teeth and digestive track, while others might not be environmentally sustainable enough. Some toys might break apart after just one night, and don't get us started on things you can make your dog wear. Have you seen some of the sweaters out there that can make dogs look like Muppets? These are difficult choices because the dog simply can't tell you what it wants. You have to decide, and hopefully these options will help. 
The breed tends to shed hair twice annually or regularly throughout the year in temperate climates.[15] Some Labradors shed considerably; however, individual Labradors vary.[29] Labrador hair is usually short and straight, and the tail is quite broad and strong. The webbed toes of the Labrador Retriever make them excellent swimmers. The webbing between their toes can also serve as a "snowshoe" in colder climates and keep snow from balling up between their toes—a condition that can be painful to other breeds with hair between the toes. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming.
Sarah Fraser, co-founder of Instinct Dog Behavior and Training in New York City, likes to give younger or adolescent dogs what’s called a flirt pole, which is “like a giant cat toy. For many dogs, it quickly becomes their favorite — a fantastic substitute for chasing real squirrels. Plus, it’s a great form of exercise that doesn’t require the owner to do much.” There’s one for small-to-medium dogs from Outward Hound that she likes.
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.
Now that Easter is behind us, Mother’s Day is right around the corner on May 13. Just because some children have fur doesn’t make somebody any less of a mother. Have you thought about what to get your favorite dog moms this Mother’s Day? If not, there’s no need to panic. We have plenty of ideas on how to show the dog moms in your life that they are appreciated. Have any ideas that we didn’t include here? Let us know in the comments!
Jack Vanderwyk traces the origins of all Chocolate Labradors listed on the LabradorNet database (some 34,000 Labrador dogs of all shades) to eight original bloodlines. However, the shade was not seen as a distinct colour until the 20th century; before then, according to Vanderwyk, such dogs can be traced but were not registered. A degree of crossbreeding with Flatcoat or Chesapeake Bay retrievers was also documented in the early 20th century, prior to recognition. Chocolate Labradors were also well established in the early 20th century at the kennels of the Earl of Feversham, and Lady Ward of Chiltonfoliat.[27]
For those who aren’t athleisure people but still want loungewear personalized with their dog’s face on it, there’s always this luxe, customized pet caftan. As the caftan’s designer, and the grande dame of Bravo’s Southern Charm, Patricia Altschul told us last year: “They combine crystal and pearl embellishments in a custom caftan featuring your very own pet (dog, cat, horse, bird, even fish) — mine is the one with Chauncey, my pug. It’s handcrafted in India, and can be worn from the beach to a barbecue to a cocktail party or black-tie event.”
Labrador Retrievers are registered in three colours:[28] black (a solid black colour), yellow (considered from cream to fox-red), and chocolate (medium to dark brown). Some dogs are sold as silver pure-bred Labradors, but purity of those bloodlines is currently disputed by breed experts including breed clubs and breed councils.[32][33] Some major kennel clubs around the world allow silver Labradors to be registered, but not as silver. The Kennel Club (England) requires that they be registered as "Non-recognised."[34] Occasionally, Labradors will exhibit small amounts of white fur on their chest, paws, or tail, and rarely a purebred Lab will exhibit brindling stripes or tan points similar to a Rottweiler.[35] These markings are a disqualification for show dogs but do not have any bearing on the dog's temperament or ability to be a good working or pet dog.
The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump.
But let's face it, there are so many gifts to choose from that a lot of them simply aren't that great. Maybe they're too ugly, too poorly made, or just downright cheesy. Some bones are just bad for a dog's teeth and digestive track, while others might not be environmentally sustainable enough. Some toys might break apart after just one night, and don't get us started on things you can make your dog wear. Have you seen some of the sweaters out there that can make dogs look like Muppets? These are difficult choices because the dog simply can't tell you what it wants. You have to decide, and hopefully these options will help. 
Pet hair? Don’t care!? But guests just might. Well, you know what doesn’t suck is a vacuum that is specialized to suck up pet hair and debris. This is just the thing your pet loving friend needs in their life (but probably would never buy for themselves). We reviewed several vacuums for pet hair, but the Bissell PowerEdge 81L2A is a great pick for the price. It has a swivel head, easy to empty dirt cup, 20-foot cord and comes with a 1-year warranty. While not the most glamorous gift, your friends will thank you for helping them later. And, next time you visit, you might be thankful too!
Turn normal meals into an exciting challenge with this interactive toy from ONSON, which encourages positive play and healthy eating. Simply drop your dog’s dry food into the toy’s egg-shaped frame, and watch as your dog pushes and prods to release kibble through the holes in the top or bottom (and get a tasty reward). Let’s be honest—some of our dogs have a tendency to gorge, and this gift is the perfect way to keep them entertained while curbing unhealthy eating habits.
The Labrador should be short-coupled, with good spring of ribs tapering to a moderately wide chest. The Labrador should not be narrow chested; giving the appearance of hollowness between the front legs, nor should it have a wide spreading, bulldog-like front. Correct chest conformation will result in tapering between the front legs that allows unrestricted forelimb movement. Chest breadth that is either too wide or too narrow for efficient movement and stamina is incorrect. Slab-sided individuals are not typical of the breed; equally objectionable are rotund or barrel chested specimens. The underline is almost straight, with little or no tuck-up in mature animals. Loins should be short, wide and strong; extending to well developed, powerful hindquarters. When viewed from the side, the Labrador Retriever shows a well-developed, but not exaggerated forechest.

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.


I love the idea of this toy but unfortunately even the small was too large and intimidating for my 10lb, food-motivated chihuahua. The small size stands about 6" tall and 4.5" wide, the treat hole is 1.5", and the toy as a whole is fairly heavy considering the size of dog it's intended for (it's not that easy for a small dog to wobble). Even after trying to teach her how to use it, she was unable to figure it out. She won't nudge it to make it wobble but instead tries to dig under it. The material is a hard plastic and she tends to back away for fear of it hitting her (when I wobble it for her). I think this would probably suit a larger dog or one with better problem-solving skills, but mine seemed very uninterested which is a shame because I was hoping it might ... full review


As a result of specialised breeding there are significant differences between field and trial-bred and show-bred lines of Labradors. In the United States the former are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "American" and the latter as "English" although both field and show types are bred in both countries.[41] In the United Kingdom they are called "Field" and "Show". Dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, where dogs bred to compete in conformation shows are selected for their conformation to the standards and characteristics sought by judges in the show ring.
The human-to-human reticence of the dog lover can be misinterpreted as anti-social behavior. But it’s usually nothing personal. The truth is, many days they only care to communicate through face licking and belly rubbing. In order to avoid any confusion or negative social consequences, allow them to communicate the critical message in plain English. The world isn’t such a hostile place when you wear your intentions on your sleeve – or even better, on your chest.

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.

The Whistle GPS Tracker is a simple clip on device that notifies you (via app and text) if your pet ever escapes from the designated area you create. It also lets you track their location using cellular and GPS technology and monitor their activity and health. Plus, it's water proof... just in case they decide to go for a swim. Just clip it on to the collar they already wear.

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]
This cake toy is fun for taking pictures on your dog's birthday. We got some adorable pics of our little guy when he turned 1, but as soon as the song started playing, I realized that it was going to be a short-lived toy (because if he didn't destroy it, I would). It plays the Happy Birthday song in a high-pitched tone over and over again - like 4 times in a row. I have no idea what the manufacturers were thinking, because one time would have been more than enough, especially since it keeps getting triggered as the dog plays with it. I'm not even sure if there's a way to get the batteries out - I looked but couldn't figure it out (although that may have been because I was doing it one-handed, as I covered my ears with the other hand).

Where dogs are concerned, you can’t go wrong with a bone. This all-natural beef bone from Pet ’n Shape is sure to please, even if it looks a bit morbid under the tree. It’s ideal for larger dogs, especially those with a slightly aggressive chew, and is completely digestible. With no artificial additives and plenty of protein (but little fat), it’s a healthy treat owners say is a big hit with big pups.
Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
The human-to-human reticence of the dog lover can be misinterpreted as anti-social behavior. But it’s usually nothing personal. The truth is, many days they only care to communicate through face licking and belly rubbing. In order to avoid any confusion or negative social consequences, allow them to communicate the critical message in plain English. The world isn’t such a hostile place when you wear your intentions on your sleeve – or even better, on your chest.
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
A dog could sure use a fitness tracker this time of year. All holiday season, ham and turkey has been mysteriously “falling to the floor,” right in front of an all-too-willing doggo. The Whistle 3 Pet Tracker tracks your portly pup’s steps and whereabouts, and it displays it all to you on the Whistle app. It’s an easy way to keep track of Pooh Bear’s fitness—whether or not you’re also tracking your own.

Exercise Because of their high energy level, Labs require plenty of exercise—overeating and obesity can be a concern for this breed, and regular exercise will help maintain a proper weight. Running, swimming, fetch, and hiking are examples of activities the Lab enjoys. And of course, treks into the field are a wonderful form of exercise for this ideal gundog.
Labs are easily trained, being naturally patient and obedient, but they are probably not the best guard dogs. Despite an alert instinct and an excellent sense of smell, they tend to be more friendly than aggressive with people they don’t know. Also, Labs are not particularly noisy, barking only at unknown sounds, yet they’ll often bark protectively when someone approaches your home.
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Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with Oscar).
It has been shown that out of all dog breeds, it is the Labrador Retriever that is most likely to be obese.[73] In a 2016 published study it was shown that out of 310 Labradors, most were missing all or parts of the POMC gene. This gene plays a part in appetite regulation as well as indication of the amount of one's stored fat. The study concluded that the absence of that gene had a significant impact on Labrador weight and appetite.[70][73] The POMC gene mutation is present in only one other breed – the Flat-Coated Retriever.[70]
During the 1880s, the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, the 6th Duke of Buccleuch and the 12th Earl of Home collaborated to develop and establish the modern Labrador breed. The dogs Buccleuch Avon and Buccleuch Ned, given by Malmesbury to Buccleuch, were mated with female dogs carrying blood from those originally imported by the 5th Duke and the 10th Earl of Home. The offspring are considered to be the ancestors of modern Labradors.[14][15]
The first St. John's dog was said to be brought to England in or around 1820, but the breed's reputation had already spread to England; there is a story that the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. John's dog on a fishing boat and immediately made arrangements with traders to have some of these dogs imported to England. These ancestors of the first labradors so impressed the Earl with their skill and ability for retrieving anything within the water and on shore that he devoted his entire kennel to developing and stabilising the breed.[18]

I bought this for my mom last year and it's held up nicely since then. From what I recall, it arrived on or before the estimated shipping date and in good condition. It has survived countless rounds in the dishwasher and there has been absolutely no problem with the lettering or the mug itself. As for size, it can comfortably hold about 10 ounces of liquid
Dog people are a different breed. Sure, you like animals, and so does everyone else – even if some people only like the way they taste. But there is a class of people who identify with their pets so deeply that it takes over their personality. Beware: if you plan to buy a gift, whether birthday, holiday, or other, for someone who belongs to this rare phylum: giving something to a dog lover that has nothing to do with their dog will likely register as an insult. Your relationship may well sour, and you’ll probably never know why.

Dog people are a different breed. Sure, you like animals, and so does everyone else – even if some people only like the way they taste. But there is a class of people who identify with their pets so deeply that it takes over their personality. Beware: if you plan to buy a gift, whether birthday, holiday, or other, for someone who belongs to this rare phylum: giving something to a dog lover that has nothing to do with their dog will likely register as an insult. Your relationship may well sour, and you’ll probably never know why.
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Pet hair? Don’t care!? But guests just might. Well, you know what doesn’t suck is a vacuum that is specialized to suck up pet hair and debris. This is just the thing your pet loving friend needs in their life (but probably would never buy for themselves). We reviewed several vacuums for pet hair, but the Bissell PowerEdge 81L2A is a great pick for the price. It has a swivel head, easy to empty dirt cup, 20-foot cord and comes with a 1-year warranty. While not the most glamorous gift, your friends will thank you for helping them later. And, next time you visit, you might be thankful too!
6. Momenti di Vita Personalized Pet Mug ($17+): Even if your bestie has to leave their precious puppy at home during the workday, they can still gaze at this charming mug as they sip their morning coffee and remember what they’re working so hard for. These mugs can be personalized with their dog’s name and come in 20 different dog breed illustration styles.

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.
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."
Better Dog Beds Through Science: Casper has taken the human mattress industry by storm with its futuristic and scientific spring free designs, which have won endless awards and acclaim, including high praise from Consumer Reports, Wired and Good Housekeeping, while Time Magazine named Casper’s mattress one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2015 and Architectural Digest called it “the perfect mattress, according to science.” Dogs spend half their lives sleeping, and the folks at Casper claim to have done 11 months of canine sleep studies and developed over one hundred protypes. The resulting Casper Dog Mattress was designed by the same engineering team behind all of Casper’s mattress products, crafted with a combination of pressure-relieving memory foam and durable support foam. It immediately got the same kind of rave reviews the big versions did, from Gizmodo, Fast Company and CNN, which called it “the perfect mattress for every dog.” Dogs like the feeling of protection and for this reason many prefer bolstered beds - this one gives them four-sided peace of mind. It is also owner friendly, very durable and bite and scratch resistant, the durable cover repels fur, it is easily removable and machine washable, and for dog safety, zippers are hidden. Because dogs often like to scratch or dig before laying down, an inherited instinct of digging up dirt to find cooler ground, they designed the bed’s surface with excess material on top to mimic the sensation of pawing at loose earth. And just like Casper’s human products, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial. In three colors and four sizes, $125-$225
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