The forebears of the Lab we know today were in existence in Newfoundland, Canada, from at least as early as the 1700s. At that time there were two breeds of dogs, the Greater and the Lesser Newfoundland. Both breeds were excellent in water and worked alongside the fishermen, the Greater Newfoundlands with their long thick coats and powerful build were mostly used to pull carts of fish, while the smaller smooth coated Lesser Newfoundlands were trained to bring in the nets, working undaunted for many hours at a time in the icy Labrador Sea. In the 1800s British ships, traders and fishermen, coming from Labrador began to bring some of the Lesser Newfoundlands home with them and they rapidly became popular, particularly with land owners who discovered them to be not only excellent retrievers of fish and game but also very loving and loyal. Before long they had come to be known as Labrador dogs. In 1903 the Lesser Newfoundland, now officially known as the Labrador Retriever, was accepted for registration by the British Kennel Club.
10-12 years.
Average size for the male is 60 cms (24 inches) at the shoulder.
Bitches measure in at 53-58 cms (21 to 23 inches) at the shoulder.
Dogs: 30 to 40 kgs
Bitches: 25 to 35 kgs
Smooth, course and short. A special feature is that it has two layers, a short dense top layer with a second waterproof undercoat.
A Lab has a solid muscular body, a broad head and a thick nose. The tail is thick at the base and tapering at the end, covered in thick fur and is often described as otter like. The Lab’s eyes are very distinctive, usually brown or hazel, expressing kindness and intelligence. Their jaws are strong, but they have exceptionally soft mouths – one of the reasons why they make such good gundogs.
From their origins as fishermen’s companions in the icy Canadian seas these friendly, loyal and resilient dogs have evolved into one of our favourite breeds. Its happy, outgoing and loving character coupled with its enjoyment of family life and its desire to please, makes the Lab a perfect family pet. It is however a boisterous breed, and that sweet naughty little roly-poly puppy you bring home may well have turned into a rather large thug by the time it reaches six months.
Labs come in three colours, black, yellow or chocolate; the early Labs are thought to have been all black, but yellows and chocolates have been in the breed for almost as long, evidence of which can be seen in an account of a shipwreck in Canada in 1807 involving two St John’s dogs (as Labradors were also known at that time) one black and one brown. The chocolate Lab is a liver colour while the coat of the golden variety can range from pale cream to a fox-red.
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