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Labrador Retriever

The physical and temperamental breed traits, so familiar today to millions of devotees around the world, recall the Lab’s original purpose. A short, dense, weather-resistant coat was preferred because during a Canadian winter longhaired retrievers would be encrusted with ice when coming out of the water. In its ancestral homeland, a Lab would be assigned to a fishing boat to retrieve the fish that came off the trawl. Accordingly, in addition to having natural instincts as a retriever, the dog required a coat suited to the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

The Lab’s thick, tapering tail—an “otter tail,” it’s called— serves as a powerful rudder, constantly moving back and forth as the dog swims and aids the dog in turning. As for the breed’s characteristic temperament, it is as much a hallmark of the breed as the otter tail. “The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and nonagressive towards man or animal,” the breed standard says. “The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog.” When defining a Lab’s primary attributes, the most important might be temperament since his utility depends on his disposition. “If a dog does not possess true breed temperament,” wrote a noted dog judge, “he is not a Labrador.”

The Kennel Club (England) recognized the Lab in 1903, and the AKC registered its first dog of the breed in 1917. Labs topped AKC registrations for the first time in 1991 and has reigned as America’s favorite breed ever since.



About the Fox Red

"Fox red is not a separate color of the Labrador but only a shade of yellow. In the early years of the breed development, fox red or dark yellow was the original yellow shade of the Labrador Retriever. The original yellows were in fact called Golden until the British Kennel Club came to register them. They argued that "gold" was not a colour, so yellow they became. One has to only look at the first yellow Labrador ever recorded, Ben of Hyde in 1899 sired by Major Radclyffe's "Neptune" out of Lord Wimborne's "Duchess" both blacks to see this original shade. These early Labradors were either dark golden or butterscotch tinged with red. Until and even to some point after World War 11, dark yellow was the norm."

"As the years went on, the lighter Labradors became far more popular and people have lost sight of the true origin of the color. Even today, it seems the lighter the shade of yellow, the better. Some "so called breeders" are now advertising White Labradors when in fact there is no such thing within our breed. They are following the trail of the lighter the better. Due to the lack of interest and popularity of the darkest shade of yellow in the Labrador standard, it had all but disappeared."


Picture: King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth with their dark yellow Labrador in the 1920's

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