Labrador Retrievers, originally from Newfoundland, were initially used in work alongside fisherman, helping to pull in nets and catch fish that escaped from fishing lines. After being crossed with Setters, Spaniels and other Retrievers, the Labrador Retriever honed its skills as a true retriever. From this point in the breed’s history, “Labs”, as they are affectionately called, were bred primarily to perform as an efficient retriever of game, with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of activities beyond hunting.

The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled, dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog; the substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion.

The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an “otter” tail; a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its “kind,” friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.

Their height ranges from 21”-24”, and their weight is normally between 60 and 90 pounds. The coat is a distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever. It should be short, straight and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling to the hand. The Labrador should have a soft, weather-resistant undercoat that provides protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible.

The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not desirable. Black dogs are all black. Yellows may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and underparts of the dog. Chocolates can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate.

The Labrador Retriever has a mellow personality and gets along well with children, other dogs, and any household pets. We especially appreciate the way the Labradors behave with children. We have had children bounce on our dog’s backs, pull their ears, crawl on them, and so on … and the dog takes it all! If it becomes tired of the activity, it gets up and walks away. Some Labrador Retrievers may chew but they can be trained not to. Labradors generally do not make great watchdogs because they are friendly with strangers and are not territorial.

They have a very keen sense of smell. Most Labrador Retrievers are athletic; puppies are particularly active. Labrador Retrievers have a lifespan of 10-12 years, though some live to 15. They can live outdoors in warm weather, but prefer indoor life with the family. Their high intelligence makes them adept at staging elaborate escapes, so proper precautions should be taken.

The Labrador Retriever has been the number one breed in the USA for the past 22 years (1990-2012). They are unusually adaptable, obedient and kind-hearted. No wonder this breed is so popular! Labs are sociable, affectionate and loyal.