The Labrador Retriever is one of the best dog breeds in the world. They are fun, funny, friendly, intelligent, reliable, outgoing, and affectionate.
For the 28th consecutive year, Labradors have captured the hearts of America by becoming the most popular dog in the United States. With a strong desire to please anyone, Labradors are a joy to have in your home and are destined to become your family’s lifelong companions.
Today we will explore the history of Labradors and shed light on the differences between English and American Labradors.
A bit of Labrador Retriever history.
With a name like “Labrador,” you might think that this breed of dog came from Labrador (Canada), but the breed originated in Newfoundland in the 1500s. The smaller water dogs were bred with Newfoundlands, These puppies, known as the “St. John’s water dog” (or “little Newfoundland”), became dogs that would dive into the icy water and help fishermen retrieve fishing nets or bring fish that had almost escaped the hook to shore.
Their fur-repelled water and their webbed feet made them excellent swimmers.
Years later, in the early 19th century, an Englishman, the Earl of Malmesbury, brought some of these dogs to Poole, England. Their work ethic and a soft mouth made them valuable companions in shooting sports, and the English called these dogs their “Labrador dogs.”
In 1917, the American Kennel Club began recognizing Labradors as a breed.
English Labradors are valued for their friendly, active, and outgoing personalities. They are trendy. Based on breed popularity, the Labrador Retriever ranks first out of 195 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s breed popularity rankings.
What are the colors of Labradors?
Labradors have a surprisingly wide range of colors.
You may be familiar with black Labradors (all black), yellow Labradors (fox-red to light cream or even cream), or chocolate Labradors (light to dark chocolate).
Have you ever seen a white Labrador in person? If so, you’ve met a Labrador polar bear! (Polar bears and white Labradors have in common their pure, iridescent white fur and black pigmentation around the nose, mouth, and eyes.
Want to see Polar Bear English Labs in action? Check out our puppy Livestream here to brighten up your day.
To be clear, there is no official distinction between English Labradors and American Labradors. They are both Labrador Retrievers. But if you compare these dogs side by side, there is a slight difference in temperament.
American Labradors are known as hunting and field trial dogs. English Labradors are known to be a bit calmer and more relaxed. If you add an English Labrador to your family, this does not mean your English Labrador puppy will sleep around the house all day. Labradors love to exercise and have a great deal of energy, whether hiking in the woods with you and your children or playing ball in the garden.
As mentioned above, there are structural differences between American and English Labs. American Labradors are leaner and slightly larger. They have finer, thinner coat, and their body is more hunting dog-like. Their long legs give them the appearance of agility. English Labradors have a more massive head, a shorter, stockier body, and a thicker coat. Their muzzle is slightly shorter, and their face is broader. The barrel chest for which they are known gives them a noble and powerful appearance. English Labradors also have a thicker, water-resistant coat and an otter-like tail that propels them through the water. When they’re happy to see you, that otter tail can give you a good slap.
These two different strains of dogs came about through specialized breeding. One type (the English Labrador) was bred for shows, where appearance was paramount. They were not required to work, and their bodies changed over the decades. Labradors that worked or competed (field trials) were encouraged to move quickly and with great agility. It is these dogs that we now call American Labradors.
Since American Labradors were initially bred to work or compete in field trials, think of them as elite athletes. They are built for speed, are known for returning “game” to their master in eating conditions, and have tremendous endurance. English Labradors are a bit more relaxed and less excitable than their American cousins.