Whatever they were called, the dogs were known for their keen sense of smell, ability to find downed birds, and speed. British visitors to Newfoundland appreciated the dogs’ abilities and brought them back to England. There, they caught the eye of the Earl of Malmesbury, who acquired some of the water-loving dogs to hunt the swamplands surrounding his estate. The Earl’s son began breeding the dogs and it was he who gave them the name Labrador. The Kennel Club in England made the breed official in 1903.
The human-to-human reticence of the dog lover can be misinterpreted as anti-social behavior. But it’s usually nothing personal. The truth is, many days they only care to communicate through face licking and belly rubbing. In order to avoid any confusion or negative social consequences, allow them to communicate the critical message in plain English. The world isn’t such a hostile place when you wear your intentions on your sleeve – or even better, on your chest.
The Labrador Retriever is the descendant of the St. John's Water Dog, a working dog from the island of Newfoundland. The 2nd Earl of Malmesbury is said to have seen St. John’s Dogs retrieving nets for fishing boats, and then had the dogs imported to England. These dogs from Newfoundland were subsequently bred to develop the Labrador Retriever we know today.
Not every Labrador visit to the vet is for a genetic problem. Broken toes and torn toenails, cuts and scrapes, and foxtails embedded in the skin are just another day at the office for these big, active dogs. And like human athletes, Labrador Retrievers are prone to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. The cause of these types of injuries is not yet clear. Researchers are looking into whether anatomy or genetics are predisposing factors.
While individual dogs may vary, in general show-bred Labradors are heavier built, slightly shorter-bodied, and have a thicker coat and tail. Field Labradors are generally longer-legged, lighter, and more lithe in build, making them agile. In the head, show Labradors tend to have broader heads, better defined stops, and more powerful necks, while field Labradors have lighter and slightly narrower heads with longer muzzles. Field-bred Labradors are commonly higher energy and more high-strung compared to the Labrador bred for conformation showing while conformation breeds are calmer in energy, and as a consequence may be more suited to working relationships than being a "family pet". Some breeders, especially those specialising in the field type, feel that breed shows do not adequately recognise their type of dog, leading to occasional debate regarding officially splitting the breed into subtypes.