Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Retriever

This yellow Labrador's nose is pink rather than black, a feature called "snow nose" or "winter nose."
Nicknames Lab
Country of origin Canada
Weight Male 27–36 kg (60–80 lb)
Female 25–32 kg (55–70 lb)
Height Male 56–63 cm (22–25 in)
Female 54–60 cm (21–24 in)
Coat Smooth and oily
Color Black, chocolate, or yellow.
Litter size 10–12 pups
Life span 10–13 years

The Labrador Retriever (also Labrador, Labby, or Lab for short) is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog (by registered ownership) in the world, and is by a large margin the most popular breed by registration in the United States (since 1991),[1] and the United Kingdom,[2]. It is also the most popular breed of assistance dog in the United States, Australia, and many other countries, as well as being widely used by police and other official bodies for their detection and working abilities.[3] They are exceptionally affable, gentle, intelligent, energetic and good natured,[4][3] and Labradors are generally considered good companions for people of all ages (including a high level of patience and tolerance for children),[5][6] making them both excellent companions and working dogs. With training, the Labrador is one of the most dependable, obedient and multi-talented breeds in the world.[4][3][7]


[edit] Description

A black lab

[edit] Appearance

Labradors are relatively large, with males typically weighing 30–36 kg (65–80 lb) and females 25–32 kg (55–70 lb). Labs weighing close to or over 100 lbs are considered obese or having a major fault under American Kennel Club standards, although some labs weigh significantly more.[8] The majority of the characteristics of this breed, with the exception of colour, are the result of breeding to produce a working retriever.

As with some other breeds, the English (typically "show" or "bench") and the American (typically "working" or "field") lines differ. Today, "English" and "American" lines exist in both the United Kingdom and in North America. In general, however, in the United Kingdom, Labs tend to be bred as medium-sized dogs, shorter and stockier with fuller faces and a slightly calmer nature than their American counterparts, which are regionally often bred as taller, lighter-built dogs. These two types are informal and not codified or standardised; no distinction is made by the AKC or other kennel clubs, but the two types come from different breeding lines. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the west, they are common in Asia.

The breed tends to shed hair twice annually, or regularly throughout the year in temperate climates.[9] Some labs shed a lot; however, individual labs vary.[6] Labrador hair is usually fairly short and straight, and the tail quite broad and strong. The otter-like tail and webbed toes of the Labrador Retriever make them excellent swimmers. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming.

[edit] Show standards

Like any animal, there is a great deal of variety among Labs. These characteristics are typical of the conformation show bred (bench-bred) lines of this breed in the United States, and are based on the AKC standard.[8] Significant differences between US and UK standards are noted.

  • Size: Labs are a medium-large but compact breed. They should have an appearance of proportionality. They should be as long from the shoulders back as they are from the floor to the withers. Males should stand 22.5-24.5 inch (55.9-62.5 cm) tall at the withers and weigh 65–80 lb (30–36 kg). Females should stand 21.5–23.5 inch (54.5–60 cm) and weigh 55–70 lb (25–32 kg). By comparison under UK Kennel Club standards, height should be 22–22.5 inch (55.9–57.2 cm) for males, and 21.5–22 inch (54.6–55.9 cm) for bitches.[10]
  • Coat: The Lab's coat should be short and dense, but not wiry. The coat is described as 'water-resistant' or more accurately 'water-repellent' so that the dog does not get cold when taking to water in the winter. That means the dog naturally has a slightly dry, oily coat. Acceptable colours are chocolate, black, and yellow. A small white spot on the chest on black labs is the only acceptable variance from a solid coloured coat, but it is not ideal. There is much variance within yellow Labs. Colours should be solid, though varying shades of yellow on the same dog are acceptable in yellow labs.
  • Head: The head should be broad with a pronounced stop and slightly pronounced brow. The eyes should be kind and expressive. Appropriate eye colours are brown and hazel. The lining around the eyes should be black. The ears should hang close to the head and are set slightly above the eyes.
  • Jaws: The jaws should be strong and powerful. The muzzle should be of medium length, and should not be too tapered. The jaws should hang slightly and curve gracefully back.
  • Body: The body should be strong and muscular with a level top line.
Chocolate Labrador

The tail and coat are designated "distinctive [or distinguishing] features" of the Labrador by both the Kennel Club and AKC.[10][8] The AKC adds that "true Labrador Retriever temperament is as much a hallmark of the breed as the 'otter' tail."[8]

[edit] Colour

There are three recognised colours for Labs:[8] black (a solid black colour), yellow (anything from light cream to gold to "fox-red"), and chocolate (medium to dark brown). There are no such things as silver or golden Labradors, a common mistake for the Yellow variant. There is also a black-and-tan coat type, but this coat colour is the least popular as it renders the Labrador un-showable except in the UK.

Fox Red Labrador

Puppies of all colours can potentially occur in the same litter. Colour is determined primarily by two genes. The first gene (the B locus) determines the density of the coat's pigment granules: dense granules result in a black coat, sparse ones give a chocolate coat. The second (E) locus determines whether the pigment is produced at all. A dog with the recessive e allele will produce little pigment and will be yellow regardless of its genotype at the B locus.[11] Variations in numerous other genes control the subtler details of the coat's colouration, which in yellow Labs varies from white to light gold to a fox red. Chocolate and black Labs' noses will match the coat colour.

[edit] Nose and skin pigmentation

Because Labrador colouration is controlled by multiple genes, it is possible for recessive genes to emerge some generations later and also there can sometimes be unexpected pigmentation effects to different parts of the body. Pigmentation effects appear in regard to yellow Labradors, and sometimes chocolate, and hence the majority of this section covers pigmentation within the yellow Labrador. The most common places where pigmentation is visible are the nose, lips, gums, feet, tail, and the rims of the eyes, which may be black, brown, light yellow-brown ("liver", caused by having two genes for chocolate),[12] or several other colours. A Labrador can carry genes for a different colour, for example a black Labrador can carry recessive chocolate and yellow genes, and a yellow Labrador can carry recessive genes for the other two colours. DNA testing can reveal some aspects of these. Less common pigmentations (other than pink) are a fault, not a disqualification, and hence such dogs are still permitted to be shown.[12] The intensity of black pigment on yellow Labs is controlled by a separate gene independent of the fur colouring.[12] Yellow Labradors usually have black noses, which may gradually turn pink with age (called "snow nose" or "winter nose"). This is due to a reduction in the enzyme tyrosinase which indirectly controls the production of melanin, a dark colouring. Tyrosinase is temperature dependent—hence light colouration can be seasonal, due to cold weather—and is less produced with increasing age two years old onwards. As a result, the nose colour of most yellow Labs becomes a somewhat pink shade as they grow older.[12]

A Yellow Labrador with a pink nose.
A seven-week-old Dudley Labrador Retriever. The nose and lips are pink or flesh-coloured, the defining aspect of Dudley pigmentation, as compared to the more standard brown or black.

A colouration known as "Dudley" is also possible. Dudleys are variously defined as yellow Labs which have no pigmented (pink) noses (LRC), yellow with liver/chocolate pigmentation (AKC), or "flesh coloured" in addition to having the same colour around the rims of the eye, rather than having black or dark brown pigmentation.[12][9] A yellow Labrador with brown or chocolate pigmentation, for example, a brown or chocolate nose, is not necessarily a Dudley, though according to the AKC's current standard it would be if it has chocolate rims around the eyes (or more accurately of the genotype eebb). Breed standards for Labradors considers a true Dudley to be a disqualifying feature in a conformation show Lab, such as one with a thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment along with flesh coloured rims around the eyes. True Dudleys are extremely rare.[12][13]

Breeding in order to correct pigmentation often lacks dependability. Because colour is determined by many genes, some of which are recessive, crossbreeding a pigmentation non-standard yellow Labrador to a black Labrador may not correct the matter or prevent future generations carrying the same recessive genes. For similar reasons, crossbreeding chocolate to yellow labs is also often avoided.

[edit] Variant lines

These chocolate Labradors from field-bred stock are typically lighter in build and have a shorter coat than conformation show Labrador.

Differences in the physical build of the dog have arisen as a result of specialised breeding. Dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, whereas dogs bred to compete in the sport of conformation showing are selected for the characteristics sought by judges in the show ring. There are significant differences between field and trial-bred (sometimes referred to as "American") and show-bred (or "English") lines of Labradors. In general, show-bred Labs are heavier, slightly shorter-bodied, and have a thicker coat and tail. Field Labs are generally longer legged, lighter, and more lithe in build. In the head, show Labs tend to have broader heads, better defined stops, and more powerful necks, while field Labs have lighter and slightly narrower heads with longer muzzles.[14][15] Field-bred Labs are commonly higher energy and more high-strung compared to the Lab bred for conformation showing, and as a consequence may be more suited to working relationships rather than being a "family pet."[14][15] Of course, each individual dog differs. Some breeders, especially those specialising in the field type, feel that breed shows do not adequately recognise their type of dog. There is also occasional debate regarding officially splitting the breed.[16] In the United States, the AKC and the Labrador's breed club have set the breed standard to accommodate the field-bred Labrador somewhat. For instance, the AKC withers-height standards allow conformation dogs to be slightly taller than the equivalent British standard.[17] However, dual champions, or dogs that excel in both the field and the show ring, are becoming more unusual.[18]

[edit] Non-variants

Terms such as "golden", "silver", "blue", "white", "red" or "grey" as variants are not recognised. The term "Golden Labrador" has been used both as an incorrect term for yellow labradors of a golden shade,[19] and also for any Labrador-Golden Retriever crossbreed of any colour, including black.[20] White is a light shade of yellow (officially referred to as 'light cream' or 'pale yellow' in the standard),[21][22][23] and silver is either not recognised or registered as chocolate (officially registered by the AKC as chocolate labs with variant colour).[8][21] Claims that some "rare" variants exist or have been verified by DNA testing, or the like, are widely considered to be a 'scam'.[21][24]

[edit] Temperament

A Labrador participating in dog agility

Labradors are a well-balanced, friendly and versatile breed, adaptable to a wide range of functions as well as making very good pets. As a rule they are not excessively prone to being territorial, pining, insecure, aggressive, destructive, hypersensitive, or other difficult traits which sometimes manifest in a variety of breeds, and as the name suggests, they are excellent retrievers. As an extension of this, they instinctively enjoy holding objects and even hands or arms in their mouths, which they can do with great gentleness (a Labrador can carry an egg in its mouth without breaking it).[25] They are also known to have a very soft feel to the mouth, as a result of being bred to retrieve game such as waterfowl. They are prone to chewing objects (though they can be trained out of this behaviour). The Labrador Retriever's coat repels water to some extent, thus facilitating the extensive use of the dog in waterfowl hunting.

Labs, like other dogs, may dig holes, like this 3 month old pictured next to a German Shepherd.
Labradors enjoy playing with water

Labradors have a reputation as a very mellow breed and an excellent family dog (including a good reputation with children of all ages and other animals),[9] but some lines (particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field rather than for their appearance) are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand—an uncontrolled adult can be quite problematic. Females may be slightly more independent than males.[9] Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppyish energy, often mislabelled as being hyperactive.[26][9] Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown.[27] Labs often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball). They are considerably "food and fun" oriented, very trainable, and open-minded to new things, and thrive on human attention, affection and interaction, of which they find it difficult to get enough. Reflecting their retrieving bloodlines, almost every Lab loves playing in water or swimming.

This sociable Labrador pup has become acquainted with a kitten.

Although they will sometimes bark at noise, especially a degree of "alarm barking" when there is noise from unseen sources, Labs are not on the whole noisy[9] or territorial, and are often very easygoing and trusting with strangers, and therefore are not usually suitable as guard dogs.[9]

Labradors have a well-known reputation for appetite, and some individuals may be highly indiscriminate, eating digestible and non-food objects alike.[25] They are persuasive and persistent in requesting food. For this reason, the Labrador owner must carefully control his/her dog's food intake to avoid obesity and its associated health problems (see below).[25]

The steady temperament of Labs and their ability to learn make them an ideal breed for search and rescue, detection, and therapy work. Their primary working role in the field continues to be that of a hunting retriever.

[edit] Use as working dogs

Labradors are a very popular selection for use as guide dogs.

Labradors are an intelligent breed with a good work ethic and generally good temperaments (breed statistics show that 91.5% of Labradors who were tested passed the American Temperament Test.[28]) Common working roles for Labradors include: hunting, tracking and detection, disabled-assistance, carting, and therapy work.[29] Approximately 60–70% of all guide dogs in the United States are Labradors; other common breeds are Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs.[30]

The high intelligence, initiative and self-direction of Labradors in working roles is evinced by individuals such as Endal, who during a 2001 emergency is believed to be the first dog to have placed an unconscious human being in the recovery position without prior training, then obtaining the human's mobile phone, "thrusting" it by their ear on the ground, then fetching their blanket, before barking at nearby dwellings for assistance.[31] A number of labradors have also taught themselves to assist their owner in removing money and credit cards from ATMs without prior training.[32]

[edit] Health and well-being

A Lab standing with hind legs close together to compensate for hip dysplasia.
Many dogs, including Labs such as this twelve year old, show distinct whitening of the coat as they grow older; especially around the muzzle.
An old Labrador, showing problem in eyes, and signs of obesity

Labrador pups should not be brought home before they are 7–10 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 12 to 13 years,[33] and it is a healthy breed with relatively few major problems. Notable issues related to health and wellbeing include:

[edit] Inherited disorders

[edit] Other disorders

Labs are sometimes prone to ear infection, because their floppy ears trap warm moist air. This is easy to control, but needs regular checking to ensure that a problem is not building up unseen. A healthy Labrador ear should look clean and light pink (almost white) inside. Darker pink (or inflamed red), or brownish deposits, are a symptom of ear infection. The usual treatment is regular cleaning daily or twice daily (being careful not to force dirt into the sensitive inner ear) and sometimes medication (ear drops) for major cases. As a preventative measure, some owners clip the hair carefully around the ear and under the flap, to encourage better air flow. Labradors also get cases of allergic reactions to food or other environmental factors.

[edit] Obesity

Labs can easily become overweight, due to their blatant enjoyment of treats, hearty appetites, and endearing behaviour towards people. Lack of activity is also a contributing factor. A healthy Labrador should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and light, rather than fat or heavy-set. Excessive weight is strongly implicated as a risk factor in the later development of hip dysplasia or other joint problems and diabetes, and also can contribute to general reduced health when older. Osteoarthritis is commonplace in older, especially overweight, Labs. A 14 year study covering 48 dogs by food manufacturer Purina showed that labs fed to maintain a lean body shape outlived those fed freely, by around two years, emphasizing the importance of not over-feeding.[39]

[edit] Exploration

Labradors are not especially renowned for escapology. They do not typically jump high fences or dig. Because of their personalities, some Labs climb and/or jump for their own amusement. As a breed they are highly intelligent and capable of intense single-mindedness and focus if motivated or their interest is caught. Therefore, with the right conditions and stimuli, a bored Labrador could "turn into an escape artist par excellence".[40][9]

Labradors as a breed are curious, exploratory and love company, following both people and interesting scents for food, attention and novelty value. In this way, they can often "vanish" or otherwise become separated from their owners with little fanfare.[41] They are also popular dogs if found, and at times may be stolen.[42] Because of this a number of dog clubs and rescue organisations (including the UK's Kennel Club) consider it good practice that Labradors are microchipped, with the owner's name and address also on their collar and tags.[43][41]

[edit] Significant crossbreeds

The "Labradoodle" is a popular "designer dog" that combines a Labrador with a Poodle, to create a hybrid that is more suited to allergy sufferers.

Some assistant-dog groups use Golden Retriever / Labrador Retriever hybrids (officially called a Golden Labrador Retriever) as they have found it can produce a dog with a more suitable temperament[44].It is important to use dogs from good stocks since crossbreeds are not immune to such problems and since Golden Retrievers and Labradors have similar health problems.

The assistance dog organization Mira utilises Labrador-Bernese Mountain Dog crosses ("Labernese") with success.[45]

[edit] Demography

The Labrador is an exceptionally popular dog. For example as of 2006:

  • Widely considered the most popular breed in the world.[46][47][4]
  • Most popular dog by ownership in USA (since 1991),[48][49] UK,[50] Australia,[51] New Zealand[52] and Canada.[53]
  • In both the UK and USA, there are well over twice as many Labradors registered as the next most popular breed.[48][50] If the comparison is limited to dog breeds of a similar size, then there are around 3 - 5 times as many Labradors registered in both countries as the next most popular breeds, the German Shepherd and Golden Retriever.[48][50]
  • Most popular breed of assistance dog in the United States, Australia and many other countries, as well as being widely used by police and other official bodies for their detection and working abilities.[3] Approximately 60–70% of all guide dogs in the United States are Labradors (see below).[30]
  • Seven out of 13 of the Australian National Kennel Council "Outstanding Gundogs" Hall of Fame appointees are Labradors (list covers 2000-2005).[54]

There is no global registry of Labradors, nor detailed information on numbers of Labradors living in each country. The countries with the five largest numbers of Labrador registrations as of 2005 are: 1: United States 2: United Kingdom and France (approximately equal), 4: Sweden, 5: Finland.[55][56] Sweden and Finland have far lower populations than the other three countries, suggesting that as of 2005 these two countries have the highest proportion of labs per million people:

Country Population
Registrations per
million pop.
Finland 5.2 2236 426.0
France 60.5 9281 153.4
Sweden 9.0 5158 570.5
United Kingdom 59.7 18554 311.0
USA 298.2 10833 36.3

Yellow and black labs are registered in very similar numbers; chocolate in lesser numbers.[55][56]

Note: number of registrations is not necessarily the same as number of living dogs at any given time.

[edit] History

Nell - A St. John's Dog circa 1856.

The early Labrador originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.[57] The breed emerged over time from the St. John's Water Dog, also an ancestor of the Newfoundland dog (to which the Labrador is closely related), through ad-hoc breedings by early settlers in the mid to late 16th century.[57] The original forebears of the St. John's dog have variously been suggested to be crossbreeds of the black St. Hubert's hound from France, working water dogs from Portugal, old European pointer breeds and dogs belonging to the indigenous peoples of the area.[57] From the St. John's Dog, two breeds emerged; the larger was used for hauling, and evolved into the large and gentle Newfoundland dog, likely as a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 1400s. The smaller short-coat retrievers used for retrieval and pulling in nets from the water were the forebears of the Labrador Retriever. The white chest, feet, chin, and muzzle characteristic of the St. John's Dog often appears in Lab mixes, and will occasionally manifest in Labs as a small white spot on the chest or stray white hairs on the feet or muzzle.

The St. John's area of Newfoundland was settled mainly by the English and Irish. Local fishermen originally used the St. John's dog to assist in bringing nets to shore; the dog would grab the floating corks on the ends of the nets and pull them to shore. A number of these were brought back to the Poole area of England in the early 1800s,[57] then the hub of the Newfoundland fishing trade, by the gentry, and became prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs.[57] A few kennels breeding these grew up in England; at the same time a combination of sheep protection policy (Newfoundland) and rabies quarantine (England) led to their gradual demise in their country of origin.[58]

A surviving picture of Buccleuch Avon (b.1885), the foundational dog of many modern Labradors.

The first and second Earls of Malmesbury, who bred for duck shooting on his estate,[59] and the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, and youngest son Lord George William Montagu-Douglas-Scott,[59] were instrumental in establishing the Labrador breed in nineteenth century England. The dogs Avon ("Buccleuch Avon") and Ned given by Malmesbury to assist the Duke of Buccleuch's breeding program in the 1880s are usually considered the ancestors of all modern Labradors.[9]

[edit] Early descriptions

Two early descriptions exist. In 1822, explorer W.E. Cormack crossed the island of Newfoundland by foot. In his journal he wrote "The dogs are admirably trained as retrievers in fowling, and are otherwise useful.....The smooth or short haired dog is preferred because in frosty weather the long haired kind become encumbered with ice on coming out of the water."[60]

Another early report by a Colonel Hawker described the dog as "by far the best for any kind of shooting. He is generally black and no bigger than a Pointer, very fine in legs, with short, smooth hair and does not carry his tail so much curled as the other; is extremely quick, running, swimming and fighting....and their sense of smell is hardly to be credited...."[60]

[edit] Name

There is some confusion in the naming of the early breed; the Labrador Retriever was originally called the St. John's dog (from which it emerged), or lesser Newfoundland, but these were also considered distinct breeds by other sources. Other origins suggested for the name include the Spanish or Portuguese word for rural/agricultural workers, Portuguese "lavradores" or Spanish "labradores," and the village of Castro Laboreiro in Portugal whose herding and guard dogs bear a "striking resemblance" to Labradors.[57]

[edit] Historical landmarks

The first written reference to the breed was in 1814 ("Instructions to Young Sportsmen" by Colonel Peter Hawker),[57] the first painting in 1823 ("Cora. A Labrador Bitch" by Edwin Landseer),[57] and the first photograph in 1856 (the Earl of Home's dog "Nell", described both as a Labrador and a St. Johns dog).[58] By 1870 the name Labrador Retriever became common in England.[57] The first yellow Labrador on record was born in 1899 (Ben of Hyde, kennels of Major C.J. Radclyffe),[57] and the breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1903. The first American Kennel Club (AKC) registration was in 1917.[57] The chocolate Labrador emerged in the 1930s,[57] although liver spotted pups were documented being born at the Buccleuch kennels in 1892.[57] The St. John's dog survived until the early 1980s, the last two individuals being photographed in old age around 1981.[58]

[edit] History of subtypes

Ancestral chocolate and butterscotch-yellow colours (sometimes called "liver" or "golden") were noted in the original St. John's dogs as early as 1807, when the Canton shipwrecked carrying a number of St. John's dogs for the Earl of Malmesbury. Two dogs were later found, one black and one chocolate, evidence that chocolate had been a colour in the original St. John's dogs.[58] Yellow and chocolate pups, and occasional black and tan or brindling,[21][61] would occasionally reappear (although often culled), until finally gaining acceptance in the cases of chocolate and yellow or being mostly bred out of the breed in the cases of black-and-tan and brindled, although until the 20th century black was the preferred colour.

The first recognised yellow Labrador was Ben of Hyde, born 1899, and chocolate labs became more established in the 1930s.

Ben of Hyde (b.1899), the first recognised yellow Labrador.
Yellow (and related shades)

In the early years of the breed through to the mid-20th century, Labradors of a shade we would now call "yellow" were in fact a dark, almost butterscotch, colour (visible in early yellow Labrador photographs). The shade was known as "Golden" until required to be changed by the UK Kennel Club, on the grounds that "Gold" was not actually a colour. Over the 20th century a preference for far lighter shades of yellow through to cream prevailed, until today most yellow labs are of this shade.[62]

Interest in the darker shades of gold and fox red were re-established by English breeders in the 1980s, and two dogs were instrumental in this change: Balrion King Frost (black, born approx. 1976) who consistently sired "very dark yellow" offspring and is credited as having "the biggest influence in the re-development of the fox red shade",[62] and his great-grandson, the likewise famous Wynfaul Tabasco (b.1986),[63] described as "the father of the modern fox red Labrador", and the only modern fox red Show Champion in the UK. Other dogs, such as Red Alert and Scrimshaw Placido Flamingo, are also credited with greatly passing on the genes into more than one renowned bloodline.[62]

Chocolate labradors

Jack Vanderwyk traces the origins of all Chocolate labradors listed on the LabradorNet database (some 34,000 labradors dogs of all shades) to eight original bloodlines. However the shade was not seen as a distinct colour until the 20th century; before then according to Vanderwyk, such dogs can be traced but were not registered. A degree of crossbreeding with Flatcoat or Chesapeake Bay retrievers was also documented in the early 20th century, prior to recognition. Chocolate labradors were also well established in the early 20th century at the kennels of the Earl of Feversham, and Lady Ward of Chiltonfoliat.[64]

The bloodlines as traced by Vanderwyk each lead back to three black labradors in the 1880s—Buccleuch Avon (m), and his sire and dam, Malmesbury Tramp (m), and Malmesbury June (f). Morningtown Tobla is also named as an important intermediary, and according to the studbook of Buccleuch Kennels, the chocolates in that kennel came through FTW Peter of Faskally (1908).[64]

[edit] Appearance in other countries

In the United States, the breed gained wider recognition following a 1928 American Kennel Gazette article, "Meet the Labrador Retriever". Before this time, the AKC had only registered 23 Labradors in the country,[58] in part because US and UK hunting styles had different requirements.[65] Labradors acquired popularity as hunting dogs during the 1920s and especially after World War II, as they gained recognition as combining some of the best traits of the two favourite United States breeds as both game finders and water dogs.[65]

Outside North America and Western Europe, the Labrador arrived later. For example, the Russian Retriever Club traces the arrival of Labradors to the late 1960s, as household pets of diplomats and others in the foreign ministry.[66] The establishment of the breed in the Commonwealth of Independent States (ex-USSR) was initially hindered by the relatively small numbers of Labradors and great distances involved, leading to difficulty establishing breedings and bloodlines;[66] at the start of the 1980s, home-born dogs were still regularly supplemented by further imports from overseas.[66] Difficulties such as these initially led to Labradors being tacitly cross-bred to other types of retriever.[66] In the 1990s, improved access to overseas shows and bloodlines is said to have helped this situation become regularised.[66]

[edit] Famous labradors

As both the most popular breed by registered ownership and also the most popular breed for assistance dogs in several countries, there have been many notable and famous labradors since the breed was recognised.

A selection of a few of the most famous labradors within various categories includes:

Assistance dogs
  • Endal, a service dog in England. Among other distinctions, "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium"[67] and the PDSA’s Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty),[68] the first dog to ride on the London Eye and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card. As of 2007 some three hundred camera crews from several countries have interviewed Endal and his owner/handler Allen Parton, and a film of a year in his life is in production.[69][70]
Police, military, rescue and detection dogs
  • Lucky and Flo, twin Black Labrador counterfeit detection dogs who became famous in 2007 for "sniffing out nearly 2 million pirated counterfeit DVDs" on a six-month secondment to Malaysia in 2007.[71] Following the multi-million dollar, 6-arrest Malaysian detection, they became the first dogs to be awarded Malaysia's, "outstanding service award",[72] and software pirates were stated to have put a £30,000 contract out for their lives.[73][74]
Vladimir Putin with Koni at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
Fiction and media
  • Labradors have featured variously as pets and significant characters in sitcoms and other TV shows, as well as other portrayals in the media. Bouncer in Neighbours, and Luath in The Incredible Journey, are two TV examples.
  • Marley is an American Labrador portrayed in Marley & Me, a book by John Grogan in which Grogan recounts his life and times with Marley.
Mascots and advertising
  • Since 1972, a yellow Labrador pup known as the Andrex Puppy has been an advertising symbol for Andrex (Cottonelle) toilet tissue.
  • Michigan State has an ongoing tradition of Zeke the Wonder Dog. The original "Zeke" and "Zeke III" were yellow labs and "Zeke II" was a black lab.

[edit] References

  1. ^ AKC Dog Registration Statistics
  2. ^ 2006 Top 20 Breed Registrations - The Kennel Club
  3. ^ a b c d Tassieyy, Raye. "A Lab is". Labrador Retriever Club of South Australia Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-09-12. 
  4. ^ a b c "Labrador Retriever". Retrieved on 2007-09-12. 
  5. ^ Labrador Retriever
  6. ^ a b c "Sporting breeds: Labrador Retriever." (c) 1998-2007. Retrieved on September 17, 2007.
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[edit] Further reading

  • Cunliffe, Juliette (2004). The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. Parragon Publishing. ISBN 0-7525-8276-3. 
  • Fergus, Charles (2002). Gun Dog Breeds, a Guide to Spaniels, Retrievers, and Pointing Dogs. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-618-5. 

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