Grady Our New Neighbor Labrador Retriever

Aha! Fun times in the neighborhood! We’ve got a new neighbor, his name is Grady. He’s just a young fella, but we’re thinking he’s going to get quite a bit bigger soon enough. Grady is a black labrador retriever puppy.
"black labrador retriever puppy"

Most Popular Dog Breed In The World

According to Wilkipedia, labrador retrievers are considered the most popular dog breed in the world, no small achievement and says something about the breed. As of 2006, labrador retrievers are the most popular dog by ownership in Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, and the United States. They are like Walmart, they’re everywhere!

Labrador Retrievers as a breed haven’t been around all that long. They are considered to have their origins in a dog from Newfoundland, Canada, called “The Saint John’s Water Dog” which was a smaller form of the “Newfoundland Dog”.

Avalon Penninsula Newfoundland

At least as far back as the early 1800’s, and maybe before that, St John’s Water Dogs were taken to England where they became popular in some circles. That led to the creation, through breeding, of the labrador retriever we know today.

Although they are called “Labrador” retrievers, they are actually from the Avalon Penninsula on Newfoundland, but they were called labradors to distinquish them from the Newfoundland Dog which had also gained a following in England.

Because of their excellent swimming ability the original St John’s Water Dogs, which became labrador retrievers, were often used for carrying ropes between boats, towing dories, and helping to retrieve fishnets.

St John’s Water Dog

The original St John’s Water Dog often had some white markings on the chest, feet, chin, and muzzle, these are known as tuxedo markings, and sometimes will turn up on labradors today.

The white spot on the chest is called a “medallion”. However, subsequent breeders tried to breed that out of the dogs resulting in the solid black, chocolate or yellow colors we associate with labs today.

The labrador retriever that visits us at the camp has a medallion on her chest and some white on a foot. I always thought it was a sign she might not be a pure labrador. Ya live and learn, it probably means she is really connected to the labrador retriever royal family.

Here is a picture of Mickey, the black lab that visits us at the cottage occasionally, if you look closely you can see the white “medallion” marking on her chest.
"black lab with white medallion"

Since The 1800’s

The black labrador retriever breed as we know it today, has been around since the 1800’s as they gradually overcame the St Johns Water Dog breed. The last of the original line recognized as the St John’s Water Dog died in the early 1980’s.

First Yellow and Chocolate Labrador Retrievers

According to Wilkipedia, the first yellow lab on record appeared in 1899 and the chocolate lab was first recorded in the 1930’s.

So in the dog world, the labrador retriever is a relatively new breed. Prior to that, if a chocolate or yellow lab puppy was born, they were often culled, (nice way of saying killed) as they were not considered a pure lab.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever

Chocolate labs may actually be the result of some fancy breeding between Flatcoat Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

Field Labradors and Show Labradors

Today there are considered to be two different types of labrador retrievers, field dogs, called American, and show dogs, referred to as English. There are a few differences between the two, mostly in appearance.

English labs are usually a little heavier with a shorter, flat face, as well as shorter legs. Field labs usually have slightly longer legs, narrow head and a more pointed muzzle and longer legs.

While both versions of labradors can excell at either the show ring or the field, over time it looks like two distinctive dogs are emerging. That may eventually mean that American and English labrador retrievers will have to be considered separately, or at least as sub-groups of the breed.

That is becoming more common among other breeds as well. Versions of show dogs and field dogs of the same breed seems are turning up in the dog world. English Springer Spaniels come to mind as do beagles and other hounds being bred for show or field, but not both. Unfortunately what makes a good field dog doesn’t always make a good show dog and vice versa.

In some cases, I daresay the tweedy types (sarcasm intended) in the show ring have all but destroyed the field ability of many dog breeds, or at least cause them to disappear. Standard Poodles for example, which were originally bred as water dogs, have essentially become show dogs. Finding a poodle that is a true field dog would be quite unusual today.

Speaking of field and cottage dogs, here’s a great pic of our Roving Correspondent Larry MacDonnell’s (aka Lonesome Larry) labrador retriever, “Abby” playing in the snow.
"labrador retriever with snow on her nose"

At the cottage labrador retrievers are almost the perfect dog. They tend not to wander to far, usually love the water, are good with children and families and if required, can be good guard dogs. At the camp the only creature happier than me is a labrador retriever.


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2 thoughts on “Grady Our New Neighbor Labrador Retriever”

  1. Nothing better than a labrador retriever. We have a black lab that loves the water and has more fun at the cottage than anyone. I enjoyed this post, thank you !

  2. Labradors make great pets, but they really excell when they are used for hunting, both flushing and retrieving game. There noses are fantastic and they make great companions in the field.