The Labrador Retriever has topped the charts of the top breed in the U.S. for three decades. The strong links of the Labrador Retriever to the U.K. came after a history of working in the Canadian fishing industry came to an end. Labrador Retrievers are a working dog that is eager to please and maintains a loving nature towards their owners whether working or a beloved member of the family.
Working in the Fishing Industry
In the 18th-century, members of the fishing industry in Newfoundland tried to establish a breed of water dog. Members of the fishing industry in the Canadian territory wanted a dog to help swim between boats with nets and lines. The first step on the road to the Labrador Retriever was the St. John’s water dog, which looked similar to the modern-day Labrador Retriever apart from a white nose. The swimming ability of the Labrador Retriever comes from the St. John’s, which was bred with webbed feet and a short, double coat for water resistance.
Saved by the British
The close links between Canada and Great Britain saved the Labrador Retriever breed from extinction. The upper classes of English society established business interests in Canada, with the Labrador Retriever brought to England and Scotland by landowners returning from Canada. St. John’s water dog would eventually become extinct because of changes in tax laws and quarantine restrictions in Canada. Labrador Retrievers had become established in England and Scotland, with the Earl of Malmesbury credited with mistaking the Newfoundland-bred dog as being from the Labrador territory. The success of the breed resulted in the English Kennel Club recognizing the Labrador Retriever in 1903.
Color is not a Sign of Character Traits
A popular myth surrounding the Labrador Retriever is that color is a sign of specific character traits. When a Labrador Retriever bears a litter, the puppies can be any of three colors. The parentage of a puppy has no bearing on its color or temperament.
Working in the Modern World
The character traits of the Labrador Retriever breed include a loving and energetic dog that remains loyal to a family. The placid temperament of the Labrador Retriever breed has made them one of the most popular working dogs. The powerful nose of members of the breed has led to their role smelling out objects, including bombs and drugs. The Labrador Retriever has become the most popular breed for guide dogs for the blind because of their size and temperament.
Famous Labrador Retrievers
There have been several Labrador Retrievers in popular culture, including Downton Abbey’s Pharoah. The rock band, Led Zepplin, wrote the song “Black Dog” about a Labrador Retriever that roamed the corridors of their recording studio. Famous Labrador Retrievers include the curious story of the Pennsylvanian Labrador Retriever sentenced to life in jail for the murder of the cat of the state Governor.