A picture of three Labrador Retrievers: a chocolate Lab, yellow Lab, and a black Lab.
A picture of three Labrador Retrievers: a chocolate Lab, yellow Lab, and a black Lab.

Labrador Retriever

avatarAlanna Mallory, BS, LVT, VTS (SAIM)

Height21 - 24"
Weight55 - 80 lbs
TypeSporting
Life Expectancy10 - 13 years
Area of OriginCanada

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The Labrador Retriever is among the world's most beloved breeds, renowned for their friendliness and exceptional retrieving skills (as suggested by their name). The breed originated in Newfoundland, the most eastern province of Canada, where they were known for helping fishermen haul in their nets. They are fantastic swimmers that also excel at retrieving shot game. Their gentle mouths allow them to present the game to their owners without the damage of a strong, clamping jaw. They also have an "otter" tail that helps steer their bodies while swimming. Labs are very eager to please and demand to be involved in all family activities. As natural retrievers, they love fetching toys and slippers for their owners. They have also been used as service dogs, therapy dogs, and police dogs due to their gentle temperament and excellent scenting abilities. Although the Labrador is a relatively mellow dog breed, they do require a lot of exercise, and enjoy running, swimming, and long games of fetch.

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

Where Is the Labrador Retriever From?

Dating back to the early 1800s, the Labrador Retriever was first linked to the Canadian province of Newfoundland, despite obvious ties to the neighboring island of Labrador. The breed helped fisherman by swimming out to retrieve nets. Their “otter” tail, weather-resistant coat, and webbed toes made them expert swimmers and able to brave cold temperatures.

The breed found their way to Europe when Canadian fishermen began selling them to locals at English ports. Their patience and excellent scenting abilities allowed them to become desirable gun dogs. As more and more Labradors were imported by the English, they began to develop their own breeding programs. The Earl of Malmesbury, a well-known sportsman, dubbed the breed “Labrador Retriever” in the 19th century.

A decline in popularity occurred at the tail end of the century, caused by a halt in transportation from Canada due to quarantine laws and taxes. This inspired the cross breeding of the Labrador with the Curly-coated Retriever, Flat-coated Retriever, and Tweed Water Spaniel. The appearance of the Labrador remained relatively unchanged following cross breeding, but hunting abilities were enhanced.

In the early 1900s, the Labrador Retriever was acknowledged by the English Kennel Club. By 1917, the Labrador Retriever had arrived in the United States and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Where Is the Labrador Retriever From?

Dating back to the early 1800s, the Labrador Retriever was first linked to the Canadian province of Newfoundland, despite obvious ties to the neighboring island of Labrador. The breed helped fisherman by swimming out to retrieve nets. Their “otter” tail, weather-resistant coat, and webbed toes made them expert swimmers and able to brave cold temperatures.

The breed found their way to Europe when Canadian fishermen began selling them to locals at English ports. Their patience and excellent scenting abilities allowed them to become desirable gun dogs. As more and more Labradors were imported by the English, they began to develop their own breeding programs. The Earl of Malmesbury, a well-known sportsman, dubbed the breed “Labrador Retriever” in the 19th century.

A decline in popularity occurred at the tail end of the century, caused by a halt in transportation from Canada due to quarantine laws and taxes. This inspired the cross breeding of the Labrador with the Curly-coated Retriever, Flat-coated Retriever, and Tweed Water Spaniel. The appearance of the Labrador remained relatively unchanged following cross breeding, but hunting abilities were enhanced.

In the early 1900s, the Labrador Retriever was acknowledged by the English Kennel Club. By 1917, the Labrador Retriever had arrived in the United States and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Care

What Kind of Diet Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

Labrador Retrievers need a diet fit for their level of activity and age group. Limiting treats and monitoring caloric intake is required, since they have a tendency to become overweight.

Caring for a Labrador Retriever

What Kind of Diet Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

How Much Grooming Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

Are Labrador Retrievers Healthy Dogs?

How Much Training Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

What Kind of Diet Does a Labrador Retriever Need?

Labrador Retrievers need a diet fit for their level of activity and age group. Limiting treats and monitoring caloric intake is required, since they have a tendency to become overweight.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of a Labrador Retriever?

The Labrador Retriever is a strong, medium to large breed that has a weather-resistant hair coat. They have a friendly expression and a characteristic “otter” tail. Their gait should be effortless. They stand 21 1/2 to 24 1/4 inches tall. Their weight ranges from 55 – 80 pounds.

Eye color varies based on coat color. Yellow and black Labrador Retrievers have brown eyes, while Chocolate Labs sport brown or hazel.

Chocolate Labs are also known for their brown noses, as opposed to the black noses possessed by yellow and black Labs.

Labrador Retrievers have short, muscular bodies with well-developed chests. Their backs are sturdy and loins are moderately muscular, allowing for quick movements while on the hunt.

A Labrador Retriever’s tail should be thick at the base and thin at the tip, bearing a slight resemblance to an otter’s tail. It is carried straight when on the hunt and may be held upright, but never curled.

Forelimbs are straight and toes are arched and webbed. Shoulders are sloped, well-muscled, and form a 90 degree angle with the forearms.

Labs come in three distinct colors: black, chocolate, and yellow.

Hindlimbs are straight, parallel, and athletic. Toes are well arched, with webbing in between. Paw pads are thick and durable.

Labrador Retriever Facts

1

Labradors are one of the top choices for guide and rescue work, due to their dependability, gentle temperament, and excellent scenting skills.

2

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States, per American Kennel Club registration statistics.

3

Labs love swimming, and their weather-resistant coat can keep them comfortable in harsh, subarctic waters.

Other Breeds to Explore

Golden Retriever
Choosing a Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Weimaraner

References

  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H Publications, Inc., 1995.
  • Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Information. American Kennel Club, 2021.
  • AIS/PennHIP FAQ. ANTECH Imaging Services, 2016.
  • What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. 2020