HISTORY OF THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER
Despite the contradiction in name, the Labrador Retriever origins can be found in Canada. Early in the 19th century an Englishman, Lord Malmsbury, purchased several Labradors (or Lesser Newfoundland or St. John Dogs as they were called) from Newfoundland. He was attracted to the dogs because of their highly developed retrieving instinct and their willingness to please, and he developed a breeding program to preserve those characteristics. From this early beginning the dog developed into the Labrador of today, one that excels in a variety of uses beyond the hunting field. The adaptability and trainability of the breed finds it utilized in many dog guide and assistance programs, as well as excelling in substance detection or search and rescue work. And, of course, with proper training and socializing, Labrador Retrievers are wonderful family companions. Because the Labrador was a dual-purpose dog, the breed soon attracted the attention of sportsmen in this country and it came back to this continent in the early part of the 20th century. Today the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the United States and it has held that position since 1992.
The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-size, short-coupled dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog. It has the substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions. The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever are its short, dense weather-resistant coat; an "otter" tail, a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its "kind" friendly eyes that express character, intelligence and good temperament.
A key part of your responsibility as the owner of a Labrador Retriever is to make sure that your Labrador is not only trained, but also supervised. If left outside, your dog should be in a fenced yard or kennel run, not roaming the neighborhood. Loose dogs run the risk of being hit by a vehicle, causing an accident, annoying the neighbors or even being stolen. Your dog should always be on lead when walking with you unless you are hunting or training. In urban and suburban areas, the responsible owner never fails to curb and pick up after his dog.
Basic obedience training is an essential part of responsible dog ownership. It helps to establish a bond between you and your Labrador and makes him a welcome part of the family and the neighborhood. In urban areas, there are obedience training clubs that offer classes where you and your dog can learn the fundamentals of basic obedience training. These classes can range in scope from puppy socializing to advanced training for obedience competition. If training classes are unavailable in your area, there are numerous books and videotapes that can be purchased on the subject and many are available through your local library. Early training and consistency are the keys to having a well-behaved dog. If you plan to hunt your Labrador, basic obedience training is essential.