The Labrador Retriever was recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1917, but pedigrees for this breed can be traced to 1878. The breed is split into two main types: field-bred, or American Labrador, and show-bred, or English Labrador. While both types come from the original Labradors bred in England, there are differences between them. Show-bred Labradors tend to be stocky, with a calm demeanor, while field-bred Labs are leaner and more energetic.
The modern Labrador's ancestors originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The founding breed of the Labrador was the St. John's water dog, a breed that emerged through ad-hoc breedings by early settlers of the island in the 16th century. The forebears of the St. John's Dog are not known, but were likely a random-bred mix of English, Irish, and Portuguese working breeds. The Newfoundland (known then as the Greater Newfoundland) is likely a result of the St. John's Dog breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 16th century. The smaller short-coated St. John's Dog (also known then as the Lesser Newfoundland) was used for retrieval and pulling in nets from the water. These smaller dogs were the forebears of the Labrador Retriever. The white chest, feet, chin, and muzzle – known as tuxedo markings – characteristic of the St. John's Dog often appear in modern Lab mixes, and will occasionally manifest in Labradors as a small white spot on the chest (known as a medallion) or stray white hairs on the feet or muzzle.
It’s worth noting that these tests can provide really valuable info on your dog’s behaviors – for example, it may explain why your pooch barks so much – perhaps he has some hound in him! This kind of info can then let you create a more customized training plan tailored to your dog’s inherent instincts. And who knows – if you find out that you have a dog with some hound in him, you could make it big taking up truffle hunting!
Don't listen to all those people who say it’s weird to dress your dog up in fancy clothes, or tote them around in a stroller approximately the price of a Prius. Those people are all just jealous. This holiday season, go nuts. Get your best friend something they’ll love (or, I guess, love to shred with their teeth). And make it something you’ll love as well—any good gift for your pet should be at least half for you anyway. That’s what your dog really wants. She loves you unconditionally, after all. Looking for other ideas? Check out our other gift guides.
In the United States, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Labrador's breed club have set the breed standard to accommodate the field-bred Labrador somewhat. For instance, the AKC withers-height standards allow conformation dogs to be slightly taller than the equivalent British standard. However, dual champions, or dogs that excel in both the field and the show ring, are becoming more unusual.
Labradors like to eat, and without proper exercise can become obese. Laziness is a contribution to this. Obesity is a serious condition and can be considered the number one nutritional problem with dogs. A study shows that at least 25% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Therefore, Labradors must be properly exercised and stimulated. A healthy Labrador can do swimming wind sprints for two hours, and should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and light, rather than fat or heavy-set. Obesity can exacerbate conditions such as hip dysplasia and joint problems, and can lead to secondary diseases, including diabetes. Osteoarthritis is very common in older, especially overweight, Labradors. A 14-year study covering 48 dogs by food manufacturer Purina showed that Labradors fed to maintain a lean body shape outlived those fed freely by around two years, emphasising the importance of not over-feeding. Labradors should be walked twice a day for at least half an hour.
With a strong, heavy built body and square proportions, the Labrador Retriever is classified as a working dog. One of their trademark characteristic features is a strong jaw set in a broad head. These dogs also have strong legs and shoulders, which add to their fast pace. At full adult size, they stand at about 21 to 24 inches in height at the withers (the highest part of the back), with a weight of 50 to 80 pounds. The coat is straight, dense, and short, with the outer coat being a bit coarse, and the undercoat thick and soft. This makes the Labrador all but completely waterproof, with the thick undercoat protecting the skin, and the outer guard coat whisking water away. Labradors have a certain distinct elegance, carrying themselves with an upright, proud demeanor, but with a friendly facial expression that invites new acquaintances and endears them to their human families.
Endal, a service dog in Britain. Among other distinctions, "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium" and the PDSA's Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty), the first dog to ride on the London Eye and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card. By Endal's death in March 2009, he and his owner/handler Allen Parton had been filmed almost 350 times by crews from several countries, and a film of a year in Endal's life was in production.
Dog people are a different breed. Sure, you like animals, and so does everyone else – even if some people only like the way they taste. But there is a class of people who identify with their pets so deeply that it takes over their personality. Beware: if you plan to buy a gift, whether birthday, holiday, or other, for someone who belongs to this rare phylum: giving something to a dog lover that has nothing to do with their dog will likely register as an insult. Your relationship may well sour, and you’ll probably never know why.
Does the dog mama in your life constantly do everything she can to make her furbaby healthier, happier and live a lot longer? Get her "Dog Obsessed: The Honest Kitchen's Complete Guide to a Happier, Healthier Life for the Pup You Love," by Lucy Postins. This handy guide features more than50 easy recipes for dog treats and meals, and it also includes health tips, advice and dashes of humor. This book also includes a section about holiday health and safety for dogs – perfect for the season.
For those who aren’t athleisure people but still want loungewear personalized with their dog’s face on it, there’s always this luxe, customized pet caftan. As the caftan’s designer, and the grande dame of Bravo’s Southern Charm, Patricia Altschul told us last year: “They combine crystal and pearl embellishments in a custom caftan featuring your very own pet (dog, cat, horse, bird, even fish) — mine is the one with Chauncey, my pug. It’s handcrafted in India, and can be worn from the beach to a barbecue to a cocktail party or black-tie event.”
Labs typically have litters of six to eight puppies. Most breeders like to keep puppies until they are at least eight weeks old. This gives the puppies time to learn how to behave toward other dogs and gives the breeder time to evaluate the puppies’ personalities so she can place each one in just the right home. A bonus is that puppies of this age are more mature and more easily housetrained.