The Labrador belongs to the family of the retrievers - we distinguish between 6 retriever breeds. The most famous breed among them is probably the Golden Retriever that in terms of popularity is closely followed by the Labrador Retriever. The Flat-Coated Retriever is the most elegant one, the least known are the Chesapeake-Bay Retriever, the Nova-Scotia-Duck-Trolling Retriever and the curly-haired Curly-Coated-Retriever.
In the past, retrievers were bred in pure working lines and mostly held for hunting and retrieving. Today, a distinction is made between two working lines that are also held alternatively in the field of Trial and Agility or kept as rescue dogs and pure show lines. Thanks to its excellent nose and its pronounced love for water, the retriever is a very good retrieving dog on any terrain.
Labradors are furthermore suitable for a variety of other tasks. They convince by their ability as guide dogs, wreckage dogs for disasters such as earthquakes, as avalanche search dogs and, last but not least, as tracker dogs for police and custom authorities.
Even though they were originally bred to be "working dogs", most Labradors live nowadays as pure family dogs. They have so many qualities that they virtually seem predestined for that purpose.
The Labrador's appearance
The Labrador is a a robust and muscular dog of medium height. It has a beautiful broad head with a pronounced stop.
Its chest and ribcage are equally muscular and deeply arched. Its loin is short and strongly distinctive. Its typical tail, described as "otter tail", is very thick and gradually tapering to the tip.
Another typical characteristic of the breed is their lovely, even, short and dense fur.
• Weight of male dogs: 30 - 36 kg she-dogs: 25 - 32 kg
• Height of male dogs: 56 - 62 cm she-dogs: 54 - 60 cm
The Labrador's character
Labrador retrievers are good-natured, friendly dogs that are very patient and balanced. Thanks to their tender, open and curious nature, Labradors are the ideal family dogs. A Labrador will be a worthy family member and a loyal companion that never abandons you. They know no aggression and are full of patience and perseverance.
You should take into consideration that Labradors have been bred for a highly active life full of demanding tasks and therefore want to be challenged. A Labrador can only show all of its good qualities if it is kept appropriately to the retriever species. Inspite of their rather calm nature, Labradors need to be mentally and physically active.
A Labrador shows a very pronounced will to please, as we call its need to please its owner.
Pure family dogs should at least not miss long and extensive walks, regardless of wind and weather conditions, changing retriever tasks and certainly swimming.
The history of the Labrador
Around 1835, the Labrador came over with fishermen from Newfoundland to England. The term "Labrador retriever" exists since the 19th century. The annex "retriever" was derived from the word "retrieve" that indicates their hunting abilities. In order to enhance its hunting abilities in the breeding lines, the Labrador was then interbred with the Pointer.
During a hunt, it's a retriever's nature to bring the prey to the hunter after the shooting. It is a typical retrieving dog that brings the prey as intact as possible to its master, which only works with a soft mouth. This process requires a lot of sensitivity and an enormous perseverance during the search on every terrain.
After being imported to England, the Labrador quickly found its mission among the hunting aristocracies and was henceforth bred in the ducal house of Malmsbury. The breeders there consciously focused on the hunting abilities and prevented the breed from extinction through inheritance to other aristocracies.
That's why all Labrador retrievers descend from Avon.
The English Kennel Club officially recognized the Labrador as a dog breed on 7 July 1903. In the following years, two breeding lines were developped. Therefore, a distinction is made between the specifically massive appearance (show line) and the slimmer appearance (the typical working line). In 1899, Ben of Hyde was the first blonde (yellow) Labrador of the breed to be recognized and not to be considered a defect.
The blonde colour was only inherited recessively, so it took a few generations to spread them. Before that, only the colours chocolate and black were acknowledged.
Blonde may vary from snow white up to dark foxy red and chocolate can vary from milky coffee-coloured up to hot chocolate (which means almost black).
Through activation of the dilution gene that is responsible for a uniform colour all over the body, the silvery colours such as charcoal, silver and champagne were created.
Champagne is a silvered blonde, silver is a silvered brown and charcoal is known as silvered black.