" History of the Labrador Retriever "

The main characteristics of Labradors are their coat, tail, head and temperament. They have a double coat: a soft downy undercoat that keeps them dry and warm in cold water and a hard outer coat that helps them repel water. Even though their coat is short it is very dense, Labs shed a lot of hair when they molt. Their tail, best described as an otter tail, is thick at the base and tapers to a narrower point. Their head is clean cut and somewhat broad, with hanging ears. Their expression is alert and intelligent and conveys a kind, friendly temperament.

Labradors come in three colours: black, liver/chocolate and yellow. Yellow Labradors are often mistakenly called Golden Labradors. The term yellow refers to a range of colour from nearly white to gold to fox red. The Golden Retriever is a separate breed from the Labrador Retriever although there are similarities.

Labradors were originally found, not in Labrador as the name implies, but in Newfoundland, where they were used in many capacities by cod-fishermen. With their short but exceptionally dense coat, they were well suited to cope with freezing salt spray, snowy and icy near-Arctic winds, and with their willingness to help and please which persists to this day, they must have been the most useful helpers.

They were expected to retrieve the fish that slipped out of the net and flapped on the icy surface of the sea. They had to carry the rope end from the boat to the shore in the strongest of tides and stormiest weather. They were strongly built so that they could pull a heavy sled carrying firewood, barrels of fish, and other necessities of life in a place where horses would be useless.

They had to survive and indeed thrive and breed, on the scantiest of food - probably half frozen fish guts, a piece of dried meat, and a surreptitious chew at their own leather harness.All these activities took place in terrible weather conditions, needing the dense waterproof coat which had to be short enough not to ball up in the snow and freezing salt spray. As the work was done in water and on land, in forests, snow drifts and over slippery rocks, an extremely active, well made and balanced dog was required without any structural weakness in its frame, and free from exaggeration anywhere.

The Labrador of today still works in strong tides, and on slippery rocks, in woods and on snow and ice, and exactly the same type of dogs are required today as was used by the fisherman of the cod banks.

In the early 1880's, in the north of England, a few landowners mated together a handful of Labradors that had survived from an earlier importation. These landowners were quick to realize the value of the dogs as a sporting and working dog, and a breeding strain was soon established.

Most early Labradors were black, the yellow making its appearance when, in 1889, Hyde Ben was whelped in a litter of blacks from black parents. The odd yellow continued to turn up in black litters, but were regarded with great suspicion by breeders and were mostly drowned until one or two people saw their possibilities and proceeded to establish the colour, and did it to such effect that today yellows outnumber blacks. Chocolates were well known in England at the turn of the century and today form an integral part of the breed.

In 1916 the Labrador Club (Eng) was formed to ensure purity of the breed, and it was they who drew up the Standard.

The Standard as it is today, has as its keynote soundness and activity, coupled with strength and build. Great stress is placed on three points: the head, the coat and the tail. These are not fancy points but in a subtle way lead to the correct type of dog.

In England in 1924 the Yellow Labrador Club was formed to protect the colour and provide classes and Trials for the yellows.

In the early 1930's, a Mrs Austin imported the first Labradors into Australia.

Labs are loving, people oriented dogs. They are happiest when they are with you. Labs are retrievers and will bring you things they find lying about your house and yard.

They tend to be quite patient with children and wonderful family dogs. They are not guard dogs. They may bark protectively but will generally not act more aggressively.

"More on" 

"The History of the Labradors Retriever"

They came from Newfoundland Canada and came from the well Newfoundland. During the 1800's people were using newfoundlands as fishing dogs but they were so large and furry they simply bred a smaller version of the Newfoundland and they used the Labrador more. Unfortunately the Labrador was dying out and was shipped out to great Brittan. There they were used still for fishing dogs but not as much back in Canada they were used more as hunting dogs for small or medium sized birds. Before the 1900s people discovered the friendly and playful side of this breed and they quickly became very, very popular.
And more than a hundred years later they are now recognised as the most affectionate and popular breed. today there job as fishing dogs is possibly extinct and are now used for companionship, watch dog, police dogs, and still used for hunting dogs.

The Labrador Retriever (also Labrador, or Lab for short) is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. A breed characteristic is webbed paws for swimming, useful for the breed's original purpose of retrieving fishing nets. This and their subsequent use as hunting companions, gave them the name retriever. The dogs of this breed are very loving, kind and compassionate to their masters. 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 Canada, the United States (since 1991), and the United Kingdom. It is also the most popular breed of assistance dog in Canada, the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and many other countries, as well as being widely used by police and other official bodies for their detection and working abilities. Typically, Labradors are athletic, and love to swim, play catch and retrieve games, and are good with young children.

Historical landmarks

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

History of subtypes

By the 1880s a limited breeding programme was underway in Britain. All Labradors were black until 1892when the Duke of Buccleuch bred the first liver coloured Labs though the first real chocolate’s wouldn’t appear in any number until the 1930s. The first yellow Lab, the legendary Ben of Hyde, was born in 1899. I suppose the history of the Labrador Retriever officially began in 1903 when the breed was recognised by English Kennel Club with the American Kennel Club following suit in 1917.

Yellow and chocolate pups, would occasionally appear (although often culled), until finally gaining acceptance in the 20th century.

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.

Interest in the darker shades of gold and fox red were re-established by English breeders in the 1980s, and three 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", and his great-grandson, the likewise famous Wynfaul Tabasco (b.1986), 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 passing on the genes into more than one renowned bloodline.

Chocolate labradors

Jack Vanderwyk traces the origins of all Chocolate labradors listed on the Labrador Net database (some 34,000 Labrador 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 Flat coat 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.

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, and Malmesbury June. 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).

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.) Common working roles for Labradors include: hunting, tracking and detection (they have a great sense of smell which helps when working in these areas),disabled-assistance, carting, and therapy work. Approximately 60–70% of all guide dogs in Canada are Labradors; other common breeds are Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs.

The high intelligence, initiative and self-direction of Labradors in working roles is exemplified by dogs such as Endal, who during a 2001 emergency placed an unconscious human being in the recovery position, retrieved his mobile phone from beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby dwellings for assistance, and then ran to a nearby hotel to obtain help. A number of Labradors have also been taught to assist their owner in removing money and credit cards from ATMs with prior training.

Photos of the first Labrador's can be found if you type in http://www.labrador-retriever-guide.com/historyofthelabradorretriever.html Nell was the earliest ever photo of a Labrador in 1856. HE HAD WHITE FEET AND MUZZLE.

Ben of Hide was the first yellow Labrador in1899.

Contact Details

Miss Sharan Burnley
Braemar - [Southern Highlands] 2575, NSW, Australia
Phone : 0427888887
Email : [email protected]