I’ve been meaning to do a ‘breed focus’ for a while, but trying to decide which breed was a challenge as I love so many breeds! Whatever breed of puppy you choose to bring into your home, it’s SO important to know the history, the temperament, and the needs of that breed. I was lucky enough to work with an adorable Labrador recently so thought I would start off with the wonderful Labrador Retriever. If you are considering a Labrador as your breed of choice, have a read about the history of the breed, where they came from and what they’re really like!
The Labrador Retriever……conjures up images of a loyal and faithful friend, a family dog who is able to go out on shoots during the day and happily cuddle up with the children in the evening…..doesn’t it? But what is the history of this popular breed?
Well….by all accounts, they originate from a little place called Newfoundland, off the east coast of Canada. Ironically, near a place called Labrador. They were not called ‘Labradors’ at the time, but known as ‘St Johns’ dogs, and they worked alongside fishermen retrieving lost fish and lines. Then, they would go home and be ‘family dogs’ in the evening. They were, as you will recognise from today’s Labradors, eager to please, hard working, loyal with a sweet nature. English aristocracy began importing these ‘St Johns’ dogs in the 19th century, and the name Labrador came about around 1865.
They were ALL black until around 1892, the first yellows started to appear more around 1899, and the first chocolates weren’t until the 1930’s. The picture above shows Nell, and this is the earliest photo of a Labrador (St Johns dog) dated 1856!
The poor old St Johns dogs became extinct in Newfoundland, but in England the Labrador breed was taken on by Duke Buccleuch and Duke Home, they actually started a breeding programme here and the Buccleuch Kennels are still going now, apparently producing fantastic field trial winning Labradors!
The Labrador breed was recognised by the English Kennel Club in 1917, followed by the American Kennel Club not long after. They gained increasing popularity among the sporting community in the UK, mainly down to their fantastic retrieving abilities and wonderful nature. There was a division in blood lines, which we can easily recognise today, between the show Labradors and the working Labradors. When you compare pictures of the two it’s easy to tell the difference! The working Labradors have a far leaner appearance, the show Labradors are a tad more……stocky.
Labradors are generally loyal, intelligent, patient and have fairly easy going natures. They are highly trainable and great working dogs, working as police, rescue and assistance dogs. All that from a little fishing job in Newfoundland!! They are LARGE dogs though, and have a lot of energy, they need plenty of outdoor activities to entertain them and keep them busy. These dogs were typically bred as hunting dogs, so don’t do well sitting about at home all day, they are prone to obesity! Black Labradors are still now the colour of choice for the hunting community, although this is gradually changing and yellows and chocolates are appearing more often.
They are the most popular breed of dog in the UK and USA, and the most popular working retrievers in the world. Due to their trainability, biddable nature and playful temperament they make fantastic companions. If you are an outdoorsy person, enjoy long walks or feel like taking up some field work with your dog, consider the lovely Lab! We love you Labradors!
For more information on breeds and what is involved in the care and training of specific breeds, just get in touch,