The modern Labrador's ancestors originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
The first and second Earls of Malmesbury, who bred for duck shooting on his estate, and the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, and youngest son Lord George William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, were instrumental in developing and establishing the modern Labrador breed in 19th century England. The dogs Avon ("Buccleuch Avon") and Ned given by Malmesbury to assist the Duke of Buccleuch's breeding program in the 1880s are considered the ancestors of modern Labradors.
The first St. John's dog was said to be brought to England around 1820; however, the breed's reputation had spread to England long before. There is a story that the Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. John's Dog on a fishing boat and immediately made arrangements with traders to have some of these dogs exported to England. These ancestors of the first labradors so impressed the Earl with their skill and ability for retrieving anything within the water and on shore that he devoted his entire kennel to developing and stabilising the breed.
The Labrador Retriever is a very active, excitable dog, bred for hunting and swimming and overall energy. This can make it an excellent family pet, and largely accounts for the breed's popularity--but it can also make the breed into a handful and a real challenge for inexperienced dog owners who don't know how to train and handle large, active dogs like the Lab. Although Labs are wonderful dogs once their owners understand how to deal with them, they can be the worst nightmare of people who think that a few pats on the head, a walk now and then, and lots of treats to keep the peace are a viable strategy for owning a dog of this breed. Labs are extremely friendly. This can be a very good thing--it's easy to introduce your Lab to a new person without lots of barking or aggressive behavior--or a very bad thing--since the eighty-pound Lab will often express his or her friendliness by jumping on that same new person, sometimes even knocking them down. Although Labs are highly intelligent, they often get a reputation for being fools of the canine world due to their overexuberance and even hyperactivity. Labs also remain mentally immature for the first three years of their life, exacerbating the problem of their overfriendliness considerably. Careful training can get these intelligent dogs to think twice about their actions, however, and can make them "safe for company."
Height: Males 22 - 24 inches (56 - 61cm) Females 21 - 23 inches (53 - 58 cm)
Weight: Males 60 - 75 pounds (27 - 34 kg) Females 55 - 70 pounds (25 - 32 kg)
Some males can grow to 100 pounds (45 kg) or more.
Labrador Retrievers will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They are moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard.
Exercise / Training :
This breed is easily trained. Early socialization and basic obedience are recommended. The Labrador Retriever is very strong and must be taught not to pull on their leash. They do not respond to harsh or heavy-handed methods. The Labrador Retriever needs fairness, firmness, consistency, reward, and respect. They excel in tracking, police work, search and rescue, agility, competitive obedience, guide for the blind, and as service dogs for the disabled.
Delightful, high-spirited, and energetic, the Labrador Retriever requires a great deal of exercise. They enjoy family play sessions, securely leashed walks, swimming, and a safely fenced yard to run and romp freely. This breed will do okay in an apartment dwelling provided they are given sufficient exercise, attention, and stimulation.
About 10-12 years
Grooming / Care:
The short coat of the Labrador Retriever only requires an occasional brushing. But because he sheds you may find yourself brushing him once or twice a week to remove loose hair. (What you get out with a brush doesn't fall out in your home!)
The Labrador is a moderate dog, not extreme in any way. It is square or slightly longer than tall, of fairly large bone and substance. Its broad head and strong jaws should enable it to carry the largest game birds, such as Canada geese. Its heavy body set and strong legs enable it to swim and run powerfully. Its coat, which is short, straight and dense with a soft undercoat, is weatherproof and helps to protect it from icy waters. The Lab is a working retriever and should possess style without over refinement and substance without clumsiness.
Few breeds so richly deserve their popularity as the Labrador retriever. Devoted, obedient and amiable, the Lab is good with children, other dogs and other pets. It will be a calm house dog, playful yard dog and intense field dog, all on the same day. It is eager to please, enjoys learning and excels in obedience. It is a powerful breed that loves to swim and retrieve. It needs daily physical and mental challenges to keep it occupied, however; a bored Lab can get into trouble.