Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed to own in the United States. The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, where they were bred to be not only a fisherman's mate but also a duck retriever. In the 1800's the positive qualities of the Labrador were noticed by the English nobles, whom were visiting Canada, upon returning back to England the visitors imported many Labradors, starting the journey on the road of popularity for the Labrador Retriever. Recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1903 and shortly their after, in 1917, by the American Kennel Club the Labrador Retriever has gained immense popularity over the years, in the United States, and since 1991 has been the most popular breed.
Labradors are generally about 50 to 80 lbs. Their coats are short, dense, and water resistant. Labs come in a range of shapes, colors and varieties. Colors can be sorted most simply into yellow, chocolate, and black varieties although some pigmentation variations exist within these groups. Body shape and function can also vary quite a bit within the breed. “Show” varieties are generally stockier in appearance with a lower center of gravity. “Field varieties are generally sleeker in appearance with higher energy levels best suited for active families. Labs have a short, dense coat that does not require cutting or trimming. However, regular baths limit shedding and prevent building up of dirt and oil near the skin which can lead to pet odors.
The even temper and willingness to please, of the Labrador, make them compatible with most homes and a variety of lifestyles. Labs are known for being playful, yet gentle and patient when given enough exercise. Like all dogs, exercise is a key component in the physical and mental health of the Labrador, daily walks and mental stimulation will go a long way in fulfilling its traditional job as a fisherman's mate.
Labrador Retrievers are a highly intelligent breed. Their willingness to work combined with their intelligence and tracking abilities make them a popular breed for assistance work for the disabled, therapy dogs, and tracking dogs for the police and airport security. Labs are smart and gently by nature, but training is still essential even if you just have one as a household companion. Due to their size, Labs should be taught proper manners from puppyhood to avoid pulling and jumping as they get older and larger.