Once known as the "St John's Dogs," the Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. The Lab is native to Newfoundland, where it worked side by side with fishermen catching fish that came loose from the lines and trained to jump into the icy waters to help pull in the nets. Specimens were brought to England in the 1800s by English ships coming from Labrador. The breed was crossed with setters, spaniels and other types of retrievers to improve its instincts as a hunter. The Labrador is highly trainable and is not only popular as a family companion but also excels in: hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdog, police work, narcotics detection, guide for the blind, service dog for the disabled, search and rescue, sledding, carting, agility, field trial competitor and competitive obedience.
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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.
“My favorite dog-related item that I personally own is a gift I gave myself when I got into the business of dog training: a specially sized Bone Toggle Collar from Wagwear, an New York City–based doggy accessories boutique,” says Anthony Newman, a certified canine-behavior consultant who founded Calm Energy Dog Training. “I’ve worn it on my wrist now for nearly ten years, all day every day; it expresses my love for dogs and it’s truly unique, with beautiful hand-stitched leather and brass. Though I suppose you can also use it as an actual dog collar, as founder and designer Amy intended it.”
The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, he earned his keep as a fisherman’s helper: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic. Today’s Labrador Retriever is as good-natured and hard working as his ancestors, and he’s America’s most popular breed. These days the Lab works as a retriever for hunters, assistance dog to the handicapped, show competitor, and search and rescue dog, among other canine jobs.
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.
Lab mixes are one of the most popular mixed breeds available from shelters and rescues. Labrador Retriever mixes can share common traits with any number of other breeds, but resemble Labs in physical characteristics and personality traits. However, many shelters do not have genetic evidence of a Lab mix’s background, so breed heritage and personality traits cannot be stated with certainty.
Endal, a service dog in Britain. Among other distinctions, "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium" and the PDSA's Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty), the first dog to ride on the London Eye and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card. By Endal's death in March 2009, he and his owner/handler Allen Parton had been filmed almost 350 times by crews from several countries, and a film of a year in Endal's life was in production.
As a result of specialised breeding there are significant differences between field and trial-bred and show-bred lines of Labradors. In the United States the former are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "American" and the latter as "English" although both field and show types are bred in both countries. In the United Kingdom they are called "Field" and "Show". Dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, where dogs bred to compete in conformation shows are selected for their conformation to the standards and characteristics sought by judges in the show ring.
Don’t let your tiny dog turn into one of those hoity-toity fashion accessories Paris Hilton used to carry around. Toss it into this heavy-duty canvas tote instead, which is both better-looking than your mesh carrier and not nearly as eye roll-inducing as a purse. There’s even a cutout on the side, so Finn can stick his head out without getting caught in the zipper.
DFW Lab rescue is proud of our stewardship of the trust our donors and volunteers have in us. Rescued dogs are often not in the best of shape. Some will take a few weeks to recover and some will take months. Our donors allow us to provide excellent care and rescue dogs that otherwise would never receive that chance.