Labrador-Retriever Dog Breed Guide

Labrador-Retriever Dog Breed Guide

The Labrador is one of the nation’s favourite dog breeds, and often ranked as the most popular breed of all. You'll spot plenty of Labradors out and about, and you won't be able to resist their lovable charm. Want to know more about Labradors and their history? Read on to find out all about their temperament and characteristics…

Breed group: Gundog

There are four subcategories of the gundog group, the popular Labrador is classed as a gundog retriever - though many of the traits will overlap. This class of pooch historically worked alongside fishermen and hunters retrieving nets, live game or animals which had been shot.

They're also keenly used in waterfowl hunting, which means retriever dogs are expected to wait patiently in small boats until given the command to retrieve. A Labrador's alertness, high intelligence and patience have made them perfect for this.

Breed history

The pedigree Labrador breed we see today originates from the coast of Newfoundland in Canada. They're thought to have been cross-bred with St. John's Water Dogs, smaller water dogs and possibly even Mastiffs throughout the 16th and 17th century.

It's likely that the first Labradors were introduced to the UK in the late 17th century by the Earl of Malmesbury; one of which he gifted to Duke of Buccleuch in Scotland in 1890 - thought to be the main ancestor of today’s Chocolate Labs. As numbers began to fall in Newfoundland, the breeding programmes in the UK went from strength to strength and Labradors are now the fourth most popular breed of dog over here thanks to their reliable, loyal and versatile character.

Breed characteristics

Labradors are incredibly diverse, intelligent and all-around friendly dogs that make great family pets and working pups.

At a glance, Labradors are:

  • Affectionate
  • Highly intelligent
  • Alert
  • Quick learners
  • Child & animal-friendly
  • Friendly & approachable
  • Talkative
  • Energetic
  • Playful

What are they bred for?

Whilst historically Labradors where bred as gundogs for their expert hunting instincts and great swimming strength, the modern-day Labrador can be seen apprising many additional roles. Their obedience and alertness have made them one of the most popular breeds for taking on assistance roles as guide dogs and therapy dogs.

Having developed their steady temperament, intelligence and sense of smell over the years has also made them ideal for search-and-rescue jobs as well as other military and police enforcement roles. It's interesting to note that alongside their original role with hunters, Labrador's were also bred to be great companions to their handlers, definitely something which continues to today.

What sort of owner would they suit?

Labradors are a great dog for first time owners; they're incredibly reliable, easy to train and very loving. They are, however, big dogs with a lot of energy so they need a good few hours of walks or exercise a day whether this is out and about or in a decent sized garden where they can run and play.

Their good nature and steady temperament means they'd be an ideal introductory dog for homes with children too, though as with any dog, early socialisation is always key. They are very intelligent dogs and boredom can lead to chewing or boisterousness if left home alone all day - an easy remedy is plenty of brain training and attention-grabbing toys. All in all, Labradors are a pretty well-rounded and adaptable dogs suited to both novice and experienced owners.

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