Named the “Labrador” in 1887 by the Earl of Malmesbury—an English hunter and breeder—the Lab actually originated in 18th-century Newfoundland, Canada. At the time two breeds emerged from the St. John’s Water Dog: the Greater Newfoundland and the Lesser Newfoundland. The Greater Newfoundland dogs worked in teams hauling fish, but the Lesser Newfoundland had a rugged friendliness that fishermen valued. Fishermen marveled that these smaller Newfoundlands kept their can-do attitude even after long days retrieving nets from the sea, playing happily with children back when returning to shore. Soon, these dogs came to Poole, England—the Newfoundland fishing-trade hub—where hunters and sportsmen honed them into skilled hunters and retrievers. In 1903 the English Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as an official breed. The American Kennel Club certified the breed in 1917.
Lab mixes are one of the most popular mixed breeds available from shelters and rescues. Labrador Retriever mixes can share common traits with any number of other breeds, but resemble Labs in physical characteristics and personality traits. However, many shelters do not have genetic evidence of a Lab mix’s background, so breed heritage and personality traits cannot be stated with certainty.
The Labrador Retriever (also known as the ‘Labrador’ or ’Lab’) descends from the Newfoundland Dog and the St. John’s Water Dog in Newfoundland, Canada. It was bred to hunt in water and pull boats, which is evident to this day in its natural love for water. Contrary to popular opinion, the Labrador Retriever’s name likely derives from the Portuguese ‘lavradores’ or Spanish ‘labradores’, both of which mean ‘farm worker’, rather than the ‘Labrador’ region of Canada. The Labrador Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917 and thereafter rose slowly but steadily in popularity due to its incredible versatility, obedience, and rugged good looks. It is now considered the world’s most popular breed. The Labrador Retriever has been the most registered dog in America and England since 1991; the American Kennel Club had almost three times as many Labrador Retriever registrations in 2006 (124,000) as the second most popular breed. Famous Labrador Retrievers include the title character from the film version of ‘Old Yeller’ (though the book version was a Mountain Cur), Marley, from the bestselling memoir ‘Marley and Me’, and Tawny, a yellow Lab who gave birth to 18 puppies with her first litter in 1999 and was named the ‘Iams Mother of the Year’.
Yeti Dog Bowl: You probably already know that Yeti makes the world’s best coolers (hard and soft), and the company has quickly built an expanded product line of backpacks, drinkware and other accessories, all leveraging its reputation for products that are over-engineered and nearly indestructible. Well, they took the same approach to dog bowls, with the company’s single model, the Boomer 8, so named because it is large and holds up to eight cups of water (or food) enough for any dog (or more than one). It is built with double-walled, non-insulated, food safe 18/8 stainless steel, and is just bombproof rugged, very easy to clean, resistant to rust, and impervious to even the roughest roughhousing. It has a non-slip ring on the bottom, is heavy enough to not get knocked over, can even go in the dishwasher, and comes in four colors ($50).
Early in the 1800s, some of the multipurpose dogs used in North America (mostly Canada) by hunters were shipped back to England. Many of these "water dogs" were of the Newfoundland type, but the smaller ones were often designated "St John's" dogs. In England, the breed was developed and refined (probably with some flat-coated retriever input) into the breed we recognize today.
^ Candille, Sophie I.; Kaelin, Christopher B.; Cattanach, Bruce M.; Yu, Bin; Thompson, Darren A.; Nix, Matthew A.; Kerns, Julie A.; Schmutz, Sheila M.; Millhauser, Glenn L.; Barsh, Gregory S. (2007). "A β-Defensin Mutation Causes Black Coat Colour in Domestic Dogs". Science. 318 (5855): 1418–23. doi:10.1126/science.1147880. PMC 2906624. PMID 17947548.
Over the past few years a limited number of breeders have advertised and sold dogs they represent to be purebred Labrador Retrievers with a dilute or gray coat color—hence the term “silver labs.” The AKC has accepted some of these “silver labs” for registration. Apparently, the rationale for this decision is that the silver coat color is a shade of chocolate. Interestingly, the original breeders of “silver” Labradors were also involved in the Weimaraner breed. Although we cannot conclusively prove that the silver Labrador is a product of crossbreeding the Weimaraner to a Labrador, there is good evidence in scientific literature indicating that the Labrador has never been identified as carrying the dilute gene “dd.” The Weimaraner is the only known breed in which the universality of “dd” is a characteristic.
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.
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