Yellow Labrador Retriever
|Country of origin||Originated Canada;
developed as a breed in the UK
The Labrador Retriever (also Labrador, or Lab for short) is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. They have webbed paws for swimming, useful when they retrieve their prey, hence the name retriever. The Labrador, once known as the Lesser Newfoundland, 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.
The modern labrador's ancestors originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. 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. The original forebears of the St. John's dog are not known, but are likely a random-bred mix of English, Irish, and Portuguese working breeds. 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 1600s. The smaller short-coat retrievers used for retrieval and pulling in nets from the water were the forebears of the English-bred Labrador Retriever. The white chest, feet, chin, and muzzle - known as tuxedo markings - characteristic of the St. John's Dog often appear in Lab mixes, and will occasionally manifest in Labs as a small white spot on the chest (known as a medallion) 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, then the hub of the Newfoundland fishing trade, by the gentry, and became prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. 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.
The first and second Earls of Malmesbury, who bred for duck shooting on his estate, and the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, and youngest son Lord George William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, were instrumental in developing and establishing the modern 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.
Several early descriptions of the St. John's Water Dog 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."
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...."
In his book Excursions In and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840, the geologist Joseph Beete Jukes describes the St. John's Water Dog. "A thin, short-haired, black dog came off-shore to us to-day. The animal was of a breed very different from what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin, tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin, but powerful legs, with a lank body, – the hair short and smooth." wrote Jukes. "These are the most abundant dogs in the country...They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others...I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to "toil" or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind."
There is some confusion surrounding the naming of the early breed. The breed originated in Newfoundland, but there was already a dog called the Newfoundland, so they called the dog a Labrador, because the province is called Newfoundland and Labrador. The foundational breed of what is now the Labrador Retriever was the St. John's Water Dog or St. John's Dog. When the dogs were later brought to England, they were named after the geographic area known as "the Labrador" or simply Labrador, even though the breed was from the more southern Avalon Peninsula. The area was named after Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador who, together with Pêro de Barcelos, were the second party of European explorers (after the Vikings) to sight it in 1498. There may also be a connection to the town of Castro Laboreiro in Portugal, where herding and guard dogs bear a striking resemblance to Labradors.
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 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 dog survived until the early 1980s, the last two individuals being photographed in old age around 1981.
Ancestral chocolate (sometimes called "liver") was 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. 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.
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 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", 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 greatly passing on the genes into more than one renowned bloodline.
Jack Vanderwyk traces the origins of all Chocolate labradors listed on the LabradorNet 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 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.
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).
Labradors are relatively large, with males typically weighing 29–41 kg (65-90 pounds) and females 25–32 kg (55–71 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. 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 Conformation (typically "English", "show" or "bench") and the Field (typically "American" or "working") lines differ, although both lines are bred in both countries. In general, however, Conformation Labs tend to be bred as medium-sized dogs, shorter and stockier with fuller faces and a slightly calmer nature than their Field counterparts, which are often bred as taller, lighter-framed dogs, with slightly less broad faces and a slightly longer nose; however Field labs should still be proportional and fit within AKC standards. With field labs, excessively long noses, thin heads, long legs and lanky frames are not considered standard. 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. Some labs shed a lot; however, individual labs vary. 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. The webbing between their toes can also serve as a "snowshoe" in colder climes and keep snow from balling up between their toes- a condition that can be painful to other breeds with hair between the toes. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming.
There is a great deal of variety among Labs. The following 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. Significant differences between US and UK standards are noted.
The tail and coat are designated "distinctive [or distinguishing] features" of the Labrador by both the Kennel Club and AKC. The AKC adds that "true Labrador Retriever temperament is as much a hallmark of the breed as the 'otter' tail."
As well, Labradors should not have droopy eyes (like a Basset Hound). The skin should be relatively tight, and you should not be able to see the pinks on the inside of their lids.
Labrador Retrievers are registered in three colors: black (a solid black color), yellow (anything from light cream to "fox-red"), chocolate (medium to dark brown). Some Labrador retrievers can have markings such as white patches on their chest and other areas, but most commonly they are one solid color.
Puppies of all colors can potentially occur in the same litter. Color 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 (D) locus determines whether the pigment is produced at all. A dog with the recessive d allele will produce little pigment and will be yellow regardless of its genotype at the B locus. Variations in numerous other genes control the subtler details of the coat's coloration, which in yellow Labs varies from white to light gold to a fox red. Chocolate and black Labs' noses will match the coat color.
Because Labrador coloration 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), or several other colors. A Labrador can carry genes for a different color, for example a black Labrador can carry recessive chocolate and yellow genes, and a yellow Labrador can carry recessive genes for the other two colors. 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. The intensity of black pigment on yellow Labs is controlled by a separate gene independent of the fur colouring. 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.
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 colored" in addition to having the same color around the rims of the eye, rather than having black or dark brown pigmentation. 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 colored rims around the eyes. True Dudleys are extremely rare.
Breeding in order to correct pigmentation often lacks dependability. Because color 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.
There are significant differences between field and trial-bred (sometimes referred to as "American") and show-bred (or "English") lines of Labradors, arising as a result of specialised breeding. Dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, where dogs bred to compete in conformation shows are selected for their conformation to the standards and characteristics sought by judges in the show ring.
While individual dogs may vary, in general show-bred Labradors are heavier built, slightly shorter-bodied, and have a thicker coat and tail. Field Labradors are generally longer legged, lighter, and more lithe in build. In the head, show Labradors tend to have broader heads, better defined stops, and more powerful necks, while field Labradors have lighter and slightly narrower heads with longer muzzles. Field-bred Labradors are commonly higher energy and more high-strung compared to the Labrador bred for conformation showing, and as a consequence may be more suited to working relationships than being a "family pet". Some breeders, especially those specialising in the field type, feel that breed shows do not adequately recognise their type of dog, leading to occasional debate regarding officially splitting the breed into subtypes.
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. However, dual champions, or dogs that excel in both the field and the show ring, are becoming more unusual.
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. As the name suggests, they are excellent retrievers. Labradors 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). 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 behavior). The Labrador Retriever's coat repels water to some extent, thus facilitating the extensive use of the dog in waterfowl hunting.
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), 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. Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppy-like energy, often mislabelled as being hyperactive. Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown. Labs often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball).
Although they will sometimes bark at noise, especially noise from an unseen source ("alarm barking"), Labs are usually not noisy or territorial. They are often very easygoing and trusting with strangers, and therefore are not usually suitable as guard dogs.
Labradors have a well-known reputation for appetite, and some individuals may be highly indiscriminate, eating digestible and non-food objects alike. 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).
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.
They do not typically jump high fences or dig. Because of their personalities,(like swimming, playing, running, sleeping, and eating) 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".
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. They are also popular dogs if found, and at times may be stolen. Because of this a number of dog clubs and rescue organisations (including the UK's Kennel Club) consider it good practice that Labradors be microchipped, with the owner's name and address also on their collar and tags.
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.
Labrador pups should not be brought home before they are 7–10 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 10 to 12 years, and it is a healthy breed with relatively few major problems. Notable issues related to health and well-being include:
Labs are sometimes prone to ear infection, because their floppy ears trap warm moist air. Labs who spend a lot of time in water are additionally prone to infection. 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.
Labradors can easily become overweight, due to their 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 common in older, especially overweight, Labradors. 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.
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, in part because US and UK hunting styles had different requirements. 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.
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. 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; at the start of the 1980s, home-born dogs were still regularly supplemented by further imports from overseas. Difficulties such as these initially led to Labradors being tacitly cross-bred to other types of retriever. In the 1990s, improved access to overseas shows and bloodlines is said to have helped this situation become regularised.
The Labrador is an exceptionally popular dog. For example as of 2006:
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 Kingdom 2: United States and France (approximately equal), 4: Sweden, 5: Finland. 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:
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:
The "Labradoodle" is a popular "designer dog" that is a cross-bred Labrador and Poodle. Originating in Australia, the intent of breeding this cross was to try and create a service dog suitable for allergy sufferers. However the current fashionability of labradoodles has resulted in indiscriminate breeding, and there is no guarantee such a cross will inherit the hypo-allergenic poodle coat.
Some assistant-dog groups use Golden Retriever / Labrador Retriever hybrids (unofficially called a Golden Labrador Retriever) because they believe this cross produces dogs with a excellent temperaments. However, such crossbreeds are not immune to many of the problems suffered by purebreds, as Golden Retrievers and Labradors have similar health problems.
[[File:|thumb|Female yellow Labrador]] The Labrador Retriever (or Lab and Labrador for short) is a breed of dog.
Labrador Retrievers are very gentle dogs with family-friendly personalities. They enjoy attention and exercise with their owner. This dog is great with children. They love to run around in big, open spaces, have a natural love of bringing things back, and learn to retrieve easily. They love to be active. They like the water no matter what temperature outside as their coat protects them. They are strong swimmers as they have webbing between the toes on their paws. They come in five colors: black, yellow, and chocolate or brown. There are many different shades of "yellow" Labrador, including a type that looks bronze or dark orange.
This tough, hardy breed of retriever is a great choice as a family pet. They are playful, easy to train, and naturally obedient. Labrador Retrievers do require regular amounts of daily exercise and are prone to obesity. As a pet, they can be demanding of attention and are best suited in a home where they can have a daily workout. They like water and have a unique otter-like tail, which they use like a rudder when they swim.
The origin of the Labrador Retriever is unsure due to the many different theories to how the Labrador, as we know it, came to exist. A popular theory is that the Labrador's ancestors were brought to Newfoundland by English fisherman. These dogs were descendants of Newfoundland dogs brought to Europe and bred with Portuguese Water Dogs and other sports dogs.
Although there is only one type of Labrador Retriever recognized by the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), many Labrador enthusiasts will argue that there are actually two types of Labradors. These can be broken down into the categories of English (Show) Dogs and American (Field) Dogs.Labs are fairly easy to train(with gentleness and patience), and make great family pets,but need to be acquainted with kids at an early age.They are very energetic dogs.
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