Here’s why everybody loves Labrador Retriever dogs
I came across an article written by Daniel Hayes explaining a number of facts about Labrador Retrievers that most people are not familiar with, at least according to the author. Having said that, the article touches (lightly) on the history of the breed and reveals some interesting things about the fantastic dogs we now know (and love) as Labrador retrievers,
So, all in all reason enough to share parts of the original article here with you and if you want to read the full article there’s a link close to the bottom of this post that will take you there.
It takes a certain something to be voted the most favoritest dog in all of America for twenty four years straight while simultaneously capturing hearts worldwide. Here’s just a few facts about the Lab that you may not know.
1. The Labrador Retriever is a pretty young breed of dog. Bred into its current form primarily by English royalty, the first “official” recognized member of the breed appeared in 1899 and was named ‘Ben’. However, there are records of dogs referred to as Labradors going back decades previous to that. [Source]
2. Prior to being bred into its current form, the Lab was known as the St. John’s water dog and was used as a sporting dog in Newfoundland in Canada. They look like this.
3. The St. John’s Water Dog was what’s known as a ‘land race’ meaning it was never an official breed but was created using selective breeding. I say was because the St. John’s Water Dog is now extinct as a breed and has been since the 1980s.
4. However, it has tons of descendants. The St. John’s Water Dog was used as a foundational breed for a number of other common and beloved dog breeds including the Newfoundland, the Cape Shore Water Dog, and the Chesapeake Bay Retriever
5. The St. John’s Water Dog’s ancestry can also be seen in some modern labs in the form of a white patch of hair on the chest which was characteristic of many St. John’s Water Dogs. The dogs were used to retrieve fish and fishing nets and loved to swim just like Labradors. [Source]
6. Here’s how the St. John’s Water Dog was described by one new observer:
“These are the most abundant dogs in the country…They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others… I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to ‘toil’ or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind.”
7. Here’s a video homage to the St. John’s Water Dog and all the wonderful breeds that came from it.
8. The Lab itself, as I said, isn’t from Labrador at all but Newfoundland. It’s called the Labrador Retriever because they were used as working dogs in the Labrador Sea. Here’s a map of it complete with ocean current maps. [Source]
9. The Lab is an extremely social breed and basically loves everyone. The one thing it’s not great at is spending a lot of time alone which, if you’ve ever owned a Lab, you probably already know. [Source]
10. The Lab and its ancestors were originally “working breeds” as were most dogs. This is different from “sporting dogs” which is what Labradors are mainly used as today. Today, Labs, in addition to being great pets, are used as sporting dogs to retrieve waterfowl and even flush out game. However, their ancestors were used to literally make a living, helping do the actual work of gathering fish for sale which was no leisure activity.
11. From those “sporting breed” beginnings, the Labrador Retriever has moved into other areas that firmly reassert it’s “working breed” legacy such as working as bomb sniffers in war zones.
12. They also make amazing search and rescue dogs. A Black Lab named “Jake,” one of only 200 certified rescue dogs in the nation, became famous after aiding the search for survivors at Ground Zero post September 11th for 17 days. He also aided in recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and spent his later years as a therapy dog for the elderly and for burn victims.
This is amazing but it’s even more amazing considering Jake was abandoned as a pup and was found with both a dislocated hip and a broken leg. [Source]
13. The British Lab “Endal” is considered to be the most “decorated” dog in the world due to the number of commendations he’s received for his role as a service dog to British Naval veteran Allen Parton and was able to recognize and follow hundreds of commands in sign language. Endal could do almost anything including rolling his master into a recovery position if needed, shopping in the supermarket, and even doing the laundry in washer and dryer like a person.
Endal was another Lab who beat the odds. Despite suffering from a joint condition from birth he was able to become the model of a perfect service dog through “sheer intellect. and problem solving ability.” [Source]
14. 10-year-old Sabi, a Black Lab and Australian bomb disposal dog, disappeared in Afghanistan during her second tour of duty when the unit she was with was ambushed. During the battle she disappeared. A year later she wandered up to a U.S. soldier who knew the Australians were missing a bomb dog. After giving it some commands which it followed, the soldier contacted the Australian military who were elated to have Sabi back, especially her handler who claims he always believed she was still alive. Here’s the reason why Sabi managed to stay alive during that year on her own: