Home Of Healthy Labrador Puppies
The Labrador Retriever is a retriever in the class of Sporting dogs. They are considered a ‘flushing’ dog that will retrieve the game for the hunter once down. They are generally used to hunt both upland game birds and waterfowl. More recently some have worked on perfecting a pointing characteristic with Labradors. No matter what it’s AKC classification, Labradors have come to be one of the favorite family house pets in America today due to its wonderful personality, gentle disposition and loyalty.
Labrador Retrievers were recognized in England as a Kennel Club breed in 1903 and first registered by the AKC in the United States of America in 1917. Labradors were originally called a St. John’s Dog or lesser Newfoundland dog. The breed was in Newfoundland in the 1700’s and imported to England beginning the early 1800’s. The Labrador’s exact origin unknown but some speculate the Greater Newfoundland dog or the French St. Hubert’s dog is part of the cross that made the St. John’s dog.
In 1887 the Earl of Malmesbury first coined the name Labrador in a letter he wrote referring the them as his Labrador Dogs. The Territory of Labrador is just Northwest of Newfoundland geographically. Richard Wolters in his book the “Labrador Retriever” writes that the 19th century Brits lumped that area together as the same land mass, so it could have referred to dogs from that area.
Newfoundland was settled by English fisherman as early as the 1500’s and the St. John’s dogs seemed to develop along with the fishing occupation . The English fisherman in Newfoundland used the St. John’s dog to retrieve fish that had fallen off their hooks as well to help haul in fishing lines through the water. The St. John’s dogs were considered “workaholics” and enjoyed the retrieving tasks given in the fishing environment. This breed was very eager to please and their retrieving abilities made them ideal for hunting companions and sporting dogs. In today’s world many see their hunting companion as living for the sport. He will break ice to retrieve birds only to return and wait for the next one to come down. You have to keep an eye on the dog in warm weather as he will gladly work beyond his physical abilities and even overheat if you don’t watch him. It was said that the dogs would work long hours with the fisherman in the cold waters, then be brought home to play with the fisherman’s children. The wonderful temperament of the Labrador Retriever is documented back to its early days in England and has made them ideal family pets as well as accomplished sporting dogs.
The Labrador has a dense, short coat that repels water and provides great resistance to the cold and water. Labradors come in 3 colors; black, yellow and chocolate. Black is the most well known color and it is dominant in Labradors. Black was also the color commonly preferred and bred for up until more recent times. It should be noted that the colors chocolate and yellow have been noted in the original St. John’s dogs from the Newfoundland. They are recessive genes and were referred to as the color ‘liver’ or sometimes ‘golden’. In 1807 a ship called brig Canton carried some St. John’s dogs destined for Poole, England as likely breeding stock for the Duke of Malmesbury’s Labrador Kennel. The Canton shipwrecked and two dogs, one black and one chocolate, were found and believed to have become part of the breeding program (along with other breeds) that created the Chesapeake Retriever. So we know that chocolates had been a color in the original St. John’s dogs which later became established under the name Labrador Retriever. As recessive colors the yellow and chocolate pups would occasionally appear in litters throughout time. During the earlier breeding programs these ‘off colors’ were often ‘culled’ until they were finally accepted by the British and the American Kennel Clubs and registered. Some people still favor blacks saying they are the best Labradors. We think it is more personal preference as long as you have a good well balanced pedigree and breeding program behind your dog.
Labradors almost became extinct a few times and the St. John’s dogs that Labs came from are now extinct in Newfoundland. It was only through some events and efforts of some key people that we have the wonderful companion we call the Labrador today.