The Labrador Retriever was bred for hunting and excelled in retrieving game after it was shot down. Known for its gentle disposition and loyalty, the Labrador Retriever has become a favorite of families and breeders alike.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
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We’re pretty sure Labradors came from the island of Newfoundland, and many experts believe that the Newfoundland breed was developed in neighboring Labrador! By our calculations, there are 10 times as many Labradors in North America than there are people living in Labrador and Newfoundland.
About this Breed
The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular AKC breed in the United States every year for the past 25 years. Their origins have been traced to the St. John’s dog, named for the capital city of the Canadian province “Newfoundland and Labrador.” The St. John’s was developed from imported European dogs for fishing and hunting on the island of Newfoundland in the 18th century. During the 19th century St John’s were bred in England and developed into the Labradors we know and love. Labradors were recognized as a breed by the British Kennel Club in 1903 and by the AKC in 1917.
With their friendly dispositions and weatherproof build, they are terrific family dogs and outdoor companions. Most Labradors are very active with an appetite to match, and need plenty of exercise. Labradors often love to swim. Their double-coated weather-resistant fur can cause heavy shedding. Great hunting dogs and popular household companions, Labrador Retrievers are also employed as guide dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.
In terms of physical characteristics, Labrador Retrievers have a strong body, square proportions, strong jaw, and broad head. They come in three colors: yellow, black, and chocolate.
When it comes to Labradors, you’ll want to watch out for overeating! Labradors are very likely to have a mutation in the POMC gene that increases their propensity for overeating. So keep that in mind as you get to know your new best friend: They may not be a good candidate for free feeding, and might require some serious portion control.
The Labrador Retriever is an easy dog to groom. They have a thick, water-repellant double coat, which sheds, according to the AKC.
“Give occasional baths to keep them clean. As with all breeds, the Lab’s nails should be trimmed regularly and his teeth brushed frequently,” the AKC reported.
You can groom your dog at home if you’d like or simply take that pup to the groomers for regular sessions.
“Routine grooming sessions also allow you to examine your dog’s coat, teeth, eyes, ears, and nails for signs of problems,” according to the AKC.
Labrador Retrievers need at least one hour of exercise each day, according to Labrador Training HQ. If your pup is very energetic, you may want to have your furry friend play a bit longer so they’ll get a better night’s sleep.
An Embark Dog DNA Test looks at the following health conditions in Labrador Retrievers:
Labrador Retriever breeder information
Should I breed my dog with health variants?
Many breeders receive their dog’s Embark results and discover that their dog is a carrier or at-risk for a genetic health disease. This begs the question, “Should dogs with one or two copies of a deleterious variant be used in a breeding program?” In this video, Embark’s Chief Science Officer explains what to consider when answering that question.
Inbreeding is a measure of how closely related your dog’s parents were. The higher the number, the more closely related the parents. Embark scientists, along with our research partners at Cornell University, have shown that a dog’s level of inbreeding is scientifically known to impact dog health and longevity. Learn more.
Factoring in genetics to breeding decisions
Embark’s Matchmaker tool enables breeders to evaluate dogs for prospective breedings by comparing their genetic profiles. You can access Matchmaker for Labrador Retrievers by using the Embark for Breeders kit.
Active research for Labrador Retrievers
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD) is a heritable heart malformation that affects many breeds but is over-represented in Labs. Embark is working to determine which genes are involved in the development of this condition with the hopes of creating a genetic test for TVD. Learn more.
Osteoarthritis and Obesity: These are highly complex conditions impacted by medical history, environment, and nutrition. In collaboration with the scientists at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, we are working to understand the role of genetics in risk for these traits.