It’s likely you’ve met at least one Lab in your life, as they have long reigned as America’s most popular dog breed. They’ve won the dog personality popularity contest for so many years, as Labs are devoted to their owners—always willing to show you their affection and receive your adoration in return—are highly intelligent, and are happiest doing any and all family activities. Their enthusiasm not only makes them fun to be around but also makes them a hard-working breed.
Labs are companionable, bonding with all family members, and famously friendly to every person and pup they meet. While they have high energy and require lots of activity, they are eager to please and highly trainable.
|LIFE SPAN||10–12 years|
|BREED SIZE||large (61-100 lbs.)|
|GOOD WITH||children seniors dogs cats families|
|TEMPERAMENT||friendly outgoing playful|
|COAT LENGTH/TEXTURE||short medium|
|COLORS||brown / chocolate / livergold / yellowblack|
|OTHER TRAITS||easy to train, easy to groom, tendency to chew, prone to health issues, high potential for weight gain, loves water, cold weather tolerant, hot weather tolerant, good for first-time pet owners, strong loyalty tendencies, good hiking companion|
A bit misnamed, Labs actually come from Newfoundland—off the northeastern coast of Canada—not Labrador, according to the Labrador Retriever Club. Descended from St. John’s water dogs, Labradors are a traditional waterdog used to retrieve ducks and keep fishermen company. At the end of the work day, Labs were then happy to head home to spend the night with the fishermen’s families. They became increasingly popular starting in the early 1800s, when they were brought to England by nobles who appreciated their work ethic and disposition.
It may be hard to believe, but by the 1880s, Labs were almost extinct because of government restrictions and tax laws—the same laws that led to the St. John’s water dogs’ extinction, according to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Thankfully saved by English breeders, they were introduced to the U.S., where the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1917. After World War II, the Lab’s popularity took over and grew for decades until they ultimately achieved the status of America’s—and England and Canada’s—most popular pooch.
- In 2020, for the 29th year in a row, the Lab was voted the number one most popular breed.
- King Buck was the model Labrador retriever featured on a U.S. postage stamp created in 1959.
- Another famous Lab is Ben of Hyde, born in 1899. Considered the first documented yellow Lab, today most lines of yellow Labs can be traced to his bloodline.
- Perhaps the most notable movie about a Lab is 2008’s Marley & Me. The star of the show, Marley, is actually several different Labs who played the role to reflect the various age stages of Marley during the film.
- President Bill Clinton had a Lab, Buddy, during his time in the White House. His family adopted another chocolate Lab, Seamus, after Clinton’s presidency ended.