The origin of the Labrador Retriever dog breed, just like that of the Newfoundlands and Landseers, is on the Canadian east coast. This breed is said to be descended from the so-called St. John’s water dog, which was a black dog with a thick coat and Co de castro laboreiro. In fact, English fishermen on the island of Newfoundland from the 17th century started breeding the Labrador Retriever breed, which landed in England in the early 1800s. These dogs helped with hunting and retrieving fish in drifting fishing nets. But also to send messages from one boat to another, given this breed’s propensity to stay in the water, even in freezing temperatures.
The first attempts at targeted breeding took place in England and Scotland in the second half of the 19th century, when British fishermen began bringing these intelligent and lively dogs home with them. It was due to the efforts of these Englishmen, including those of the second Earl of Malmesbury, that this breed became very popular among the English hunting nobility. Indeed, for a long time, selection sought to implement the hunting performance of the breeding specimens.
Regarding the name Labrador, there are several theories. One is that the name is borrowed from the Spanish word for worker – labrador – which is certainly an apt description, or that the breed is related to the dogs that accompanied Portuguese fishermen who later crossed with neighbouring Labradors and Newfoundlands. Another refers to the Canadian Labrador Peninsula, from where it originated.
Today, this breed is one of the most popular and widespread in the world and there are many breeders in both Europe and the United States. It is also used extensively for the civil defence service for its ability to search for missing persons. It is also used as a police dog to search for drugs. Due to its docile and always helpful character, it is a very suitable dog for pet therapy.
For a long time, only the black Labrador was considered purebred; the other colours were considered crossbreeds. It was later decided to include the other two versions in the standard, the one with the brown or chocolate coat and the yellow or honey/cream coat.
Character of the Labrador Retriever dog breed
The Labrador Retriever is a docile, playful and balanced dog, very intelligent and friendly. They become very attached to their family and especially to children. It always wants to be present in all situations and therefore suffers if left alone for a long time. This is the companion dog par excellence, the ideal companion for all family members. It is a very docile dog, but one that knows how to make itself respected, and knows how to protect its territory and the people it loves.
It is not, however, a guard dog, as it is very friendly with everyone. His thoughtful character also leads him to weigh his every choice after careful analysis. He does not like fights with other dogs and is never aggressive except in cases of real danger. He also gets along well with other types of animals in the house.
It adapts to living anywhere, even in a flat, as long as it has its own space and is given sufficient exercise. It is fairly easy to train, because its greatest desire is to please its owner; however, it must be socialised from an early age to avoid introverted behaviour. Above all, it is a good idea to teach him very early on to walk on the lead without pulling, as he is a very strong dog and it may be difficult to keep him when he grows up.
The only downside is that if these dogs are brought up to be bored, they can become great destroyers. They always have to do something and they also have a bad habit of eating whatever they think is edible, which is a serious health risk. We must therefore try to find him an occupation often and also provide him with many toys with which to spend time between walks.
He is famous for his passion for water; he is capable of taking a bath as soon as he finds even a puddle, even in winter. He takes great pleasure in playing toss and fetch. As a puppy he is very impetuous and never stands still; to reach maturity he takes at least a couple of years, but afterwards, if well socialised and trained, he becomes much more thoughtful and attentive.
Appearance of the Labrador Retriever dog breed
Labrador Retrievers are medium-sized, very muscular dogs. The height at the withers of a male ranges from 57 to 60 centimetres and weight from 30 to 42 kilograms. Females are usually shorter and weigh a maximum of 34 kilograms.
Its physical constitution is compact, massive, with a powerful neck and broad chest. The limbs are straight and muscular, with good loins. The tail is characteristic; it is carried high and is always in perpetual movement. It is very thick at the root, tapering off at the top, completely covered by the thick fur that gives it the ‘otter tail’ appearance. In the water, the Labrador uses it like a rudder.
The muzzle is powerful, but not pointed, ending in a broad truffle with well-developed nostrils. The ears are set rather far back and fall over the head. The eyes are round with a soft expression, varying from amber to dark brown.
The coat is soft and compact, with short hair and a dense undercoat that is very resistant to water and weather; in fact, the Labrador is one of the strongest and most vigorous swimmers of its kind. The Labrador is always single-coloured. There are three basic colours: black, yellow and brown. Apart from black, the other two colours have different gradations; yellow from light cream to foxy reddish. The brown from liver to chocolate. A small white spot can sometimes be found on the chest.
Health and care of the Labrador Retriever dog breed
The Labrador Retriever is a basically robust dog, but there are some recurring hereditary diseases, which can, however, be avoided through scrupulous and careful selection by breeders. These are mainly hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and osteochondrosis. There are also some hereditary eye diseases, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.
Its average life expectancy is 12-15 years.
Its diet must be particularly cared for, as one of the Labrador’s defects is its gluttony. He is always hungry and tends to gain weight. As the years go by, it tends to suffer from obesity and is therefore more prone to heart disease or joint problems.
As for the care of his coat, it is sufficient to brush him once a week. He suffers from heat, so it is good to keep him sheltered during the hottest hours of the day, while the cold does not bother him at all, given the excellent resistance and impermeability of his coat.