The Labrador retriever, or Lab for short, is a hunting dog bred for retrieving prey from the water, according to the American Kennel Club. While still used for hunting by some, the Lab is also favoured as a family dog because of its gentle nature and eagerness to please. The Lab's short coat makes for easy grooming, although it does shed and would not do well in a family with allergies.
Although the name suggests the breed comes from the Labrador region of Canada, the Labrador retriever originates from the island of Newfoundland, according to the AKC. The area's wild water dogs bred with Newfoundlands to create a now-extinct breed known as the St. John's water dog. This was the father of the Labrador retriever. The English discovered and imported the breed in the 19th century, and the AKC recognised the Lab in 1917.
The Labrador retriever is a large dog, weighing approximately 27.2 to 36.3 Kilogram at adulthood, says dog breeder and trainer Norma Bennett Woolf. The Lab has a dense, waterproof coat that typically is black, chocolate or yellow. The Lab's large jaws allow it to retrieve large birds, such as the Canada goose.
With a gentle disposition, the Labrador retriever does well as a family dog. The Lab is social, intelligent and friendly, and enjoys the company of children, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. While the Lab is a large dog, it is very affectionate and often thinks of itself as a lapdog. Training is easy because the Lab is eager to please.
The Labrador retriever often becomes destructive with a lack of exercise and a lack of training, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. If trained early, the Lab will learn manners before it develops in size and strength and will be easier to manage, says Bennett Woolf. An under-exercised Lab often develops bad and undesirable behaviours, such as chewing, digging and wandering.
A well-bred and well-trained Labrador retriever has the potential for a career as a guide dog, service dog or sniffer dog, says Bennett Woolf. Labs also excel at competitive sports and events such as agility, rally obedience, hunting trials or traditional obedience. The Lab is still used by many hunters to retrieve prey.
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