History of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador (officially: LABRADOR RETRIEVER), which has been recognized as an own breed for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century, comes originally from the canadian east coast, specifically from the area of Newfoundland. For centuries the local inhabitants had working dogs, who helped the humans during work and hunting. From these at the beginning very different dogs developed two different types during the years:
– the big and strong Newfoundland Dog with a thick coat for protecting him against the cold and wet. He was usually used as a draft animal and had the advantage that during winter he could be fed with fishwaste which was easier for the inhabitants than having a pony
– the smaller dog who was called at first „small Newfoundland“, who was brought several times to England from fishermen during the 19th century and then got his name „Labrador-Dog“
Due to selected breeding with the best working dogs, in canada was already developed a dog type who also helped during fishing, especially for bringing back nets and dead fish but also water birds and other kinds of wild animals, especially ground game („retrieve“). This dogs were characterized by high retentiveness so they were able to remind themselves even after a long time where some pieces of quarry had fallen, so they can avoid useless searching in the cold for a long time. Besides this, also a „soft mouth“ was needed so they could bring back the quarry intact for using them in the kitchen as food.
After their arriving in England some of the imported dogs came to noble families who owned a lot of land with hunting possibilities. They were bred and selected further on for their hunting skills. Over the time a uniform type developed: a middle sized and strong build dog with a broad skull, short rough hair and thick water-repellent undercoat and a characteristic hairy otter-tail withouth feathering (long hair) on the underside of the tail.
The standard for this breed was also first constructed in England. It describes an „ideal“ Labrador according to its physiologic and psychologic characteristics. Nowadays goal of serious breeders worldwide is to get dogs as close as it can be to this standard. The current standard (of 1986) is found on this side of the LCD.
The classic use of a labrador during hunting is following: The dog sits or walkes quit besides his master during herding and reminds himself where shot quarry falls down and retrieves it carefully after getting the order. A calm and concentrated dog is needed who watches carefully the hunting events, uses his fine nose for retrieving and does not follow uninjured wild animals. He has to be obedient and faithful while getting orders over long distances from his owner via hand or whistle signs. This way he can even find quarry he did not see to fall down. Another important feature is to be absolutely placid during contact with foreign humans and other dogs.
In lots of countries have been Labrador-Clubs for centuries and their members developed the goal to keep this breed with its special characteristics and skills alive. This is the reason why conformation shows as well as training courses and achievement tests are organized.
Meanwhile the labrador is not used especially as a retriever or for ground game hunting. Nowadays because of his good and varied characeristics you can find him not just as hunting dog but also as guide dog, drug-searching dog, rescue dog or sports mate for dummy training, agility or flyball. Furthermore he is a patient, strong-nerved, pleasant and really friendly family dog who enjoys living together with his humans and who contributes to a balanced life with each other.