The Labrador Retriever.
The Labrador retriever is one of our favourite breeds and we have plenty of carers who have have a special place in their hearts for Labradors. In our series of breed profiles, Holidays4Dogs takes a look at this much loved and popular companion.
Admired the world over, the Labrador dog originated in Newfoundland over 200 years ago. They worked alongside fishermen, helping to pull in nets and retrieving ropes. They were originally known as ‘St Johns’ dogs because of the area of Newfoundland from which they came.
However, it is not known what sort of dogs originally made up this breed. Some believe the Labrador’s ancestors were a mix of Irish, English and Portuguese working type dogs.
They were also often referred to as the ‘Lesser Newfoundland’. The smaller St Johns dogs were crossed with Mastiffs, which resulted in the much larger Newfoundland type dog we see today.
During the early 19th Century Poole Harbour, in England, was a major port for the Newfoundland fishing trade. Many of these dogs were brought to England and favoured by the upper classes who trained them as sporting and waterfowl dogs.
It is said that the Earl of Malmesbury first saw these dogs on a shipping vessel. He was so impressed with the dog’s capability to retrieve on land and water, he arranged for the export of some of these dogs for himself. Later, he set about developing the breed which we now see today.
What is it like living with a Labrador?
These hardy and adaptable dogs make wonderful family pets and excel as working dogs in the field. Additionally, they are one of the most able and useful breeds working as assistance dogs worldwide.
Labradors grab life with both paws and they will always be ready for an activity. However unlike some other working breeds such as sheepdogs. or spaniels, adult Labradors do seem to have the capacity to ‘switch off’.
As a result, once they are back home after an outing they do tend to settle well without constantly demanding attention. They are usually super friendly with people and other animals and make very steady and dependable family companions that can be taken anywhere.
One aspect to consider, however, is that the working strain dogs tend to be much ‘busier’ with a very strong desire to retrieve. Therefore, they may not be the best choice for the novice dog owner.
As puppies, their retrieving instinct can make the chewing stage a little more challenging since they are often very enthusiastic about picking up anything in their path. This over-eagerness often results in more broken and chewed items than your average puppy might ordinarily get through!
On a practical level, although not terribly large, they can sometimes seem to take up quite a bit of space. They can be clumsy and their strong, thick tails are just made for sweeping magazines and drinks from coffee tables.
Sadly, Labradors do have a few health issues. It is important to purchase puppies from reputable breeders who carry out health testing. The main health issues that Labrador’s are prone to are:-
- Hip dysplasia.
- Elbow dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy.
Canine health testing is run by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club. This allows breeders to screen their dogs for any inherited diseases.
Labradors are popular dogs worldwide and for good reason. They are charming and clever dogs with an ability to turn their hand to anything. From family companion, to seeing-eye dog – the Labrador can do it all and more.