It is difficult to find a person who doesn’t know what the Labrador Retriever looks like. This is no surprise – the Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the world and the most popular breed in America. Few people know how, but once, a long time ago, those dogs faithfully served fishermen. They helped pull nets ashore from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. They also guarded the catch and were reliable, and faithful companions.
It is believed that the Labrador Retriever has served man since about the beginning of the 18th century. Modern researchers disagree on the origin of this breed but the generally accepted version is that the Newfoundland was crossed with the St. John’s dog, as well as with several other local waterfowl breeds. However, when exactly they came to be has not yet been established.
In 1830, these dogs were brought to England – the second Earl of Malmesbury was extremely imbued with their excellent companion qualities, intelligence, and willingness to work hard. In addition, the Labrador is a rather beautiful and powerful-looking dog. Since then, the pedigree of this breed has been linked with the Malmesbury family, as they have been breeding them. The third Earl of Malmesbury gave these dogs the name Labrador, after the area where they were popular and where they were bought from.
In those distant times, Canada did not yet exist, and the territories of Newfoundland and Labrador belonged to America (it gained independence almost 100 years earlier, in 1776). If the English Earl of Malmesbury had not brought a few individuals to England, perhaps today we would not even know about the existence of this breed.
Indeed, in their homeland, due to high taxes and restrictions (no more than 1 dog per family), they practically ceased to breed, which is why they almost went extinct by the end of the 19th century. Labradors first received their official recognition as a separate breed in England, in 1903. In the US, they were recognized only in 1917. Today these dogs are used all over the world not only as pets but also as rescue dogs, helpers for people with disabilities, to serve at airports and customs, as well as to detect drugs and explosives.
The Labrador Retriever is a large dog with a muscular physique and a pronounced chest. The limbs are of medium length. Their tail is not docked and their coat is long. The muzzle is square, and the ears hang down on the sides of the head on the cheekbones. The Labrador has a solid color – white, straw (the same yellow dog), brown, chocolate, and black.
The Labrador Retriever is a dog breed widely known not only for its usefulness but also for its kindness. These are very open, loving, and friendly animals that primarily appreciate good relationships within their family. They are extremely devoted to their owner and family and are happy to spend all their time with them.
In addition, Labradors are great with strangers – if a person does not pose a threat, the dog will try to make friends with him, rather than walk away. This breed has a very high intellect, and perfectly understands a person. Moreover, the dog not only understands what is wanted from it at a particular moment but also feels the emotional situation around him. Therefore, do not be surprised if your pet tries to interfere in a family quarrel and defuse the situation with his kindness.
Another distinctive feature of the Labrador is its excellent, and legendary attitude toward children. These dogs might as well be considered nannies. They not only love to play with children but they are also aware of the depth of responsibility which allows you to protect your baby from committing any rash acts.
The Labrador Retriever has a high energy level and needs regular walks, games, and mental stimulation. Their developed intellect requires this. They seek to please their masters and are known for their exceptional obedience. Other pets are well-received, they have a balanced and gentle nature. They almost never show aggression.
The Labrador Retriever is excellent for training and is happy to take part in the learning process. These dogs can be trained to perform a variety of functions – helping the elderly and people with disabilities (guide dogs), being with a child, and even searching for explosives and drugs.
In any case, the Labrador is just a good, kind, smart friend. He does not need to be forced to learn – if you train every day at about the same time, the dog will look forward to this moment with joy. Labrador training must be consistent.
Consistency is key, you should never get nervous if something doesn’t go your way, and arm yourself with patience. Although, usually these dogs grasp everything pretty quickly. If you want to teach your pet some special commands or actions, such as helping an elderly person, it may be best to get a professional.
The Labrador Retriever needs brushing twice a week. The eyes should be cleaned of deposits every day, and the ears usually require cleaning two to three times a week. It is recommended to bathe the dog once or twice a week, as well as cut its claws three times a month.
The Labrador Retriever is generally in good health and rarely needs to see a veterinarian. However, there still are certain problems:
- Hip dysplasia;
- Elbow dysplasia;
- Progressive retinal atrophy;
- Tricuspid valve dysplasia – a congenital heart disease that is on the rise in Labradors;
- Gastric dilatational volvulus;
- Acute wet dermatitis;
- Cold tail – a common condition for Labradors and other retrievers. It is assumed to be a muscle problem between the vertebrae in the tail. This usually goes away on its own after a couple of days;
- Ear infections.