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The Labrador Retriever originated from the Canadian province of Newfoundland, along the East Coast of Canada. Labradors were invented, so to speak, in the fifteenth century. They were originally used as fishing dogs by the villagers of Newfoundland. Labs attained resistance to the cold waters of the North Atlantic by developing two distinct layers of hair ‚Äî an inner layer of short fuzzy or “undercoat” hair for insulation, and a longer, coarse guard hair for shedding water. They also developed webbed paws for the better swimming.By the 1800’s Labs migrated to England and then on to the United States. Here, fishing was not the required task, but retrieving ducks and other water fowl was the desired task. Hunters loved to show off their Labs, and worked with them diligently to develop their retrieving skills. Selective breeding kept this desire to retrieve along with a good nose in the bloodlines. Hunters began to hold events where their Labs were graded according to their performance against a set standard. These were called Hunt Tests. Others began to show their wonderful Labradors  in Conformation. The Labrador retriever is a water dog with a thick weather resistant and waterproof coat and an “otter” tail or rudder as it is commonly referred to, which it uses it to steer like a boat’s rudder when swimming. Its heavy bone structure and body type and strong legs enable the Labrador retriever to be a powerful swimmer and strong runner-frequent exercise is needed to keep the Labrador healthy and happy. Both lovable and sociable, the Labrador retriever is an energetic and playful companion as well as a calm house dog. Labs are extremely obedient and eager to learn. They are used as guide dogs, explosive and drug detection dogs, hunting retrievers and most important companions. The Labrador can be trained as a therapy dog. These dogs bring joy in nursing homes and children’s healthcare facilities. Labradors have become the most popular breed worldwide and have been recognized as since 1991 and this remains true to this very day

Field Trial Labs

Developing the perfect Lab became such an obsession that a group of hunters took this to the next level. They developed standards where the Labs were graded according to their performance against other Labs, instead of against a set of written standards. This heightened the competition. As a result, breeders placed more emphasis on energy and intelligence, and usually less on looks. These Labs became long legged, hyper, and smarter. Heads and tails became a bit narrower. They are fantastic, but sometimes a bit too energetic for the family situation. Today these Labs are usually referred to as an “American” Lab.

LABRADOR STATS

Height

Males range from 22.5 inches to 24.5 inches. Females range from 21.5 inches to 23.5 inches.

Weight

Males range from 85 to 97 pounds. Females range from 70 to 80 pounds.

Colors

AKC accepted Labrador retriever colors are black, yellow or chocolate. Yellow can range from almost white to fox red. In the early days black Labs with a white diamond on their chest were the most desired. Yellow labs were tolerated. Chocolates, however, were not. They were first suspected as a genetic mistake. The accepted practice of the day was to drown them, therefore removing them from the gene pool.
By the early 1970s genetics had proven that chocolates were just as pure as blacks or yellows. Chocolates suddenly became one of the most desired dogs in the world. The problem was their recessive genes had nearly eradicated after 500 years of persecution, leaving very few Labs capable of producing chocolates. Breeders in their haste, to make good with this sudden market demand, began breeding anything that was brown and had four legs calling them “chocolate Labs”. (The Chesapeake Bay Retriever seemed to be the favored stand in.) AKC papers were a dime a dozen, and only as good as the breeder’s word. This led to dilution of the chocolate Lab gene pool, leading to the false impression that chocolates were dumb, hyper and temperamential. A pure chocolate is as smart and well temperered as the black or yellow Labradors.

Coat

Labrador Retrievers has a short, straight and dense coat. Their coat is easily cared for with once-a-week grooming. They do shed, usually twice a year in normal climates so be sure to brush your Labrador regularly during these “sheds” to keep this to a minimum.

Temperament

The Labrador Retriever is a kind, outgoing dog. They are easy to train, as they want to please. They are wonderful with children and other pets. When choosing your Labrador puppy, to be sure to check out the temperament of the parents. Although Labs tend to have great temperaments for being around a family home and children, pay special attention to how the puppy’s parents behave. Behavior traits can be inherited and good behavior in the parents can indicate the future temperament of your puppy. Lab puppies are very moldable. We like to say that when you pick up your puppy they are like a “lump” of clay, and you make them into what your perfect dog would be. They crave human companionship and attention and the need to feel like “part of the family” to be truly happy. Their loving nature and adoration of humans does not make them good watch dogs, however. Their bark is worse then their bite.

Health Concerns

The Labrador Retriever is succeptable to skin allergies, epilepsy, eye diseases and joint problems. Be sure to ask for CERF and/or optigen eye certification from the breeder. Labradors can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, which are potential crippling abnormalities of joint formation that can be inherited from the dogs parents or relatives. An x-ray examination of both parents and as many ancestors as possible indicating that they are free of this abnormality will help you avoid this condition in your pet. The breeder should present you with an OFA certification for both hips and elbows.

Life expectancy

The expected life of a Labrador Retriever is 10 to 12 years.

Living Environment

The Labrador Retriever needs frequent exercise to stay happy and healthy. Ideally a country setting with a fenced in yard works best for this high-energy dog. However, an urban setting with owners willing to walk and exercise them works just as well. Labrador Retrievers love the water and enjoy both swimming and retrieving. You and a tennis ball will be their best friend.