The Loyal Labrador
The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia, and throughout the world. We turn the spotlight on the loyal Labrador retriever and discover why it is the most popular breed choice for families all over the globe.
The Labrador retriever is gentle by nature, and incredibly smart. Of the seven dog groups, Labradors and other retrievers fall under the gundog category. Utilising gundog training techniques is worth considering for Labrador owners, even in the absence of plans to take up hunting.
A busy retriever is a happy retriever, and this style of training satisfies their innate hunting instincts. Gundog training is like an extension of basic puppy training with a game of fetch thrown in. Bear in mind: the purpose is for your pup to obey commands such that they have the opportunity to behave as a gundog. Gundogs are trained to stay by their owner’s side until commanded to fetch and retrieve a catch, being ready to ‘stay’ or ‘drop’; commands to keep them out of harm’s way.
Gundogs learn at all times, on and off the lead, to obey the commands ‘heal’, ‘come’, ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘drop’, ‘fetch’ and ‘give’. Labradors are highly intelligent, hence their employment as guide dogs, search and rescue, and emotional support animals. Gundog training can prevent these gifted dogs becoming obsessive, possessive and overly territorial.
Labrador vs Golden Retriever
Often thought of as a long-haired golden retriever, the two dogs are not directly related, and differ in many ways. Labradors and golden retrievers are both retrievers, and they do grow to a similar mature height. According to the Australian National Kennel Council, the ideal height for both the Labrador and the golden retriever is around 56cm at the withers.
As far as colour goes, golden retrievers are either gold or cream. Labradors, however, can be black, chocolate or yellow (ranging from cream to auburn). Silver is not a recognised breed colour. In fact, the National Labrador Retriever Breed Council (NLRBC) have issued a Buyer Beware statement about ‘silver’ Labs. The NLRBC claims the silver colour is the result of crossbreeding with untested dogs, and of inbreeding in an effort to establish the silver colour. It also claims that as such, these dogs often suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, among other health conditions, which reputable breeders screen for.
Labradors and golden retrievers are both great choices for a family. And being retrievers, both breeds love a game of fetch. They are also well known for getting along well with other pets. But while the golden retriever was developed in the UK, the Labrador retriever had its beginnings in Canada.
Descendent of St. John’s Water Dog
Labradors were named after the region, Labrador, in Canada. Labradors love the water, much like their now extinct ancestor, the St. John’s Water Dog.
The Labrador was exported to England when it was clear that this was a useful water-loving retriever. Unlike a Newfoundland, another water-loving retriever, Labradors have a thick but short coat. They do shed, but this coat prevents them from soaking up the icy Canadian and English waters.
Adapted for swimming, Labradors possess assets such as a strong tail, which is a little like that of an otter. Though it may inadvertently knock over toddlers and precious ornaments, their tail performs an amazing function in the water. According to Dr. Marty Becker, the Labrador’s tail acts as a rudder, helping them turn swiftly as they swim. Labradors also have webbing between their toes, further aiding rapid movement in the water. It is little wonder this amazing pooch loves nothing more than jumping into a pool of water, swimming after ‘the catch’ and bringing it back for lots of pats and praise.
Everyone knows the joyful, loving nature Labradors possess. It deserves a mention, nonetheless. Because they are energetic, Labradors do need exercise to help them remain at their best without resorting to naughty behaviour. They will get bored if left to their own devices for too long. Labradors live happily with other animals, making them the perfect companion for other dogs and cats in the home. They are great with children, too. Just watch that tail with the little ones.
The Final Word
The Labrador retriever is a highly intelligent, gentle, loving family dog with an amazing natural ability in the water. Keep this dog trained and exercised, and you will be rewarded with years of poochy pleasure. For these reasons, the Labrador retriever gets our tick of approval.