Breeders should sell puppies with a written contract guaranteeing they'll take back the dog at any time during his life if you become unable to keep him, and with written documentation that both the puppy's parents (and if possible, his other close relatives) have had their hips, eyes and elbows examined and certified by the appropriate health organizations. Seek out a breeder whose dogs are active in field trials, hunt tests, agility, obedience and other sports that require athleticism and good health, and not just ribbons from the show ring.
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.
Just like people, as dogs get a little longer in the tooth, climbing and jumping onto things gets less fun and a lot less advisable. Unfortunately, as good as dogs are at doing dog-related things – like fetching and greeting – they tend to struggle with “don’t jump into the car anymore”, and other ideas that make sense to us. A portable dog ramp will save Fido from himself and help him get a lot more miles out of those old bones.