The first written reference to the breed was in 1814 ("Instructions to Young Sportsmen" by Colonel Peter Hawker), the first painting in 1823 ("Cora. A Labrador Bitch" by Edwin Landseer), and the first photograph in 1856 (the Earl of Home's dog "Nell", described both as a Labrador and a St. Johns dog). By 1870 the name Labrador Retriever became common in England. The first yellow Labrador on record was born in 1899 (Ben of Hyde, kennels of Major C.J. Radclyffe), and the breed was recognised by The Kennel Club in 1903. The first American Kennel Club (AKC) registration was in 1917. The chocolate Labrador emerged in the 1930s, although liver spotted pups were documented being born at the Buccleuch kennels in 1892. The first dog to appear on the cover of Life Magazine was a black Labrador Retriever called "Blind of Arden" in the December, 12th, 1938 issue. The St. John's dog survived until the early 1980s, the last two individuals being photographed in old age around 1981.
As is evidenced by their name, Labrador retrievers were bred and selected for their outstanding retrieving abilities, particularly in water. They have worked as partners with duck hunters in all kinds of weather and conditions. Their intelligence and desire to work as a partner with man has led to many other jobs, and to their current status as popular pets. Today, Labradors excel as service and guide dogs, family pets, scenting dogs for the military, customs and arson task force dogs, search and rescue dogs as well as hunting companions and performance dogs.
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.
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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).
Latch on this light-up collar the next time you are letting your pooch out for a late night bathroom break. The LED collar by Illumiseen is USB rechargeable (five hours of light after a one-hour charge) and has three modes of use: steady light mode, rapid flashing, and slow flashing. Colors include red, green, blue, orange, pink and yellow. Sizes range from extra-extra-small to extra-large.
Fitness trackers are all the rage these days, but did you know they make them for dogs too? You can even sync them up with human activity trackers to have everyone’s data all in one place. The small tracker clips onto the collar (or comes as part of a collar). Then it syncs with your smartphone’s app to transmit data including the dog’s activity level and sleep patterns. Other tracked health information may include heart rate and more. Not only is it fun to compete and make sure they reach their activity levels, but it can also help dog owners detect potential illnesses when there is a change in behavior. Our top pick is the FitBark which comes in a cute little bone shape in a variety of colors. This is a great idea for the active dog lover in your life.
As with some other breeds, the Conformation (typically "Show", "English" or "bench") and the Field (typically "Working" or "American") lines differ, although both lines are bred in both countries. In general, however, Conformation Labradors tend to be bred as medium-sized dogs, shorter and stockier with fuller faces and a slightly calmer nature than their Field counterparts, which are often bred as taller, lighter-framed dogs, with slightly less broad faces and a slightly longer nose. However, Field Labradors should still be proportional and fit within American Kennel Club standards. With Field Labradors, excessively long noses, thin heads, long legs, and lanky frames are not considered standard. These two types are informal and not codified or standardised; no distinction is made by the AKC or other kennel clubs, but the two types come from different breeding lines. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the West, they are common in Asia. These dogs are also very good with children.
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.
"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."
The physical and temperamental breed traits, so familiar today to millions of devotees around the world, recall the Lab’s original purpose. A short, dense, weather-resistant coat was preferred because during a Canadian winter longhaired retrievers would be encrusted with ice when coming out of the water. In its ancestral homeland, a Lab would be assigned to a fishing boat to retrieve the fish that came off the trawl. Accordingly, in addition to having natural instincts as a retriever, the dog required a coat suited to the icy waters of the North Atlantic.
If yours is the type of dog that can’t sit still, a hearty game of fetch is just what the doctor (er, veterinarian) ordered, and the Chuckit ball is a great upgrade from your ratty tennis balls. This unique fetch toy comes in small and large sizes, with color options of either glow-in-the-dark green or bright orange, but the basics remain the same. Made from canvas, rubber and foam, the Chuckit has a grooved design that is both aerodynamic and allows your dog to easily pick it up and bring it right back to you. It floats in water and rolls as well.
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’.
In the field world, people will tell you “If you want a machine that mows over every blade of grass to find the bird, get a lab. If you want a dog to stop and think about the best route to find the bird, get a golden.” That’s really the difference–if you want a high energy dog that never stops and can take a lot of distress, labs are your dog. If you want a high energy dog that is strategic, and won’t make the same mistake twice, then you’re a golden person.
There is literally nothing a dog loves more than going for walks — even in the worst weather. Get your pup a nice new leash that looks great and will last you over many strolls through the park. The Max and Neo Reflective Nylon Leash is the perfect choice for an everyday dog leash and, it is covered by a lifetime warranty. It's so good, it's our top pick for best dog leash.
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.
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 or five men: the handler, an observer, one or two cover men, and the team leader. 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.
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!
What could be better for a dog mom than the chance to watch her furbaby when they're home alone? Busy fur mamas often worry about their furbabies while they're at work all day or on the go. Furbo Dog Camera allows a dog mom to keep an eye on her furbaby no matter where she is. Furbo also enables dog moms to interact with their pup, so their furbaby never has to feel alone, which is sometimes the most essential thing in the world to a dog mom.
Another can’t-miss: A stylish and comfortable dog bed. We love this one’s chevron design and plush material—and since the fabric is treated, it’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Available in a slew of different colors and sizes, it’s sure to be appreciated by dogs who could use a comfy place to nap (and owners who are tired of looking at a soggy old dog bed).
Labrador Retrievers hail from the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called St. John's dogs, after the capital city of Newfoundland, Labs served as companions and helpers to the local fishermen beginning in the 1700s. The dogs spent their days working alongside their owners, retrieving fish who had escaped hooks and towing in lines, and then returned home to spend the evening with the fishermen's family. Although his heritage is unknown, many believe the St. John's dog was interbred with the Newfoundland Dog and other small local water dogs. Outsiders noticed the dog's usefulness and good disposition, and English sportsmen imported a few Labs to England to serve as retrievers for hunting. The second Earl of Malmesbury was one of the first, and had St. John's dogs shipped to England sometime around 1830. The third Earl of Malmesbury was the first person to refer to the dogs as Labradors. Amazingly, Labs — now America's most popular dog — were almost extinct by the 1880s, and the Malmesbury family and other English fans are credited with saving the breed. In Newfoundland, the breed disappeared because of government restrictions and tax laws. Families were allowed to keep no more than one dog, and owning a female was highly taxed, so girl puppies were culled from litters. In England, however, the breed survived, and the Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a distinct breed in 1903. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1917, and in the '20s and '30s, British Labs were imported to establish the breed in the U.S. The breed's popularity really began to take off after World War II, and in 1991, the Labrador Retriever became the most popular dog registered with the American Kennel Club — and he's held that distinction ever since. He also tops the list in Canada and England. Today, Labs work in drug and explosive detection, search and rescue, therapy, assistance to the handicapped, and as retrievers for hunters. They also excel in all forms of dog competitions: show, field, agility, and obedience.
Coloring books are a fun way to de-stress after a long day. Your friend can doodle away while curled up with a cup of tea with their pet (or wine — we’re not judging). And they can even frame their artwork or put it on the fridge! The Doodle Dogs adult coloring book features 68 pages of hand-drawn designs for all difficulty levels (perfect for kiddos too!). And with a low price tag, you can brighten your friend’s day without spending a lot of green. This option may even leave room in the budget to throw in some markers to go with it!
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.
The Labrador Retriever must be brushed once a week, twice when shedding. Like other large breeds, it is susceptible to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Some Labs are prone to PRA (an eye disorder) or ear infections. Ever the food connoisseurs, Labradors are prone to obesity, so don’t let their charming personality connive you out of maintaining a healthy diet for them. Labrador Retrievers have a lifespan of 10-12 years. They can live outdoors in warm weather, but prefer indoor life with the family. Their high intelligence makes them adept at staging elaborate escapes, so proper precautions should be taken.
If the dog parent is the self-help type, Sonia Nathan, owner of Sonia’s Pet Grooming, recommends The Other End of the Leash by Patricia M. McConnell. “Better than any other writer, McConnell helps us appreciate that our relationships with our dogs are enriched by an understanding of ourselves — knowing how we differ from dogs and how we are comparable. It’s more than a ‘how-to’ book. It’s a ‘why-to’ book: why we behave in certain ways around dogs, and why understanding that will help us engage in a more gratifying manner.”