It’s no surprise that the All-American, family-favorite, Labrador Retriever is by far the most popular dog in the United States. This likeable breed is known for its loyalty, easy-to train abilities, athletic prowess and its affability with children. But there are a few things about this well-loved breed that may take you by surprise.
Before its popularity in the United States the Labrador almost went extinct.
In Newfoundland, where the breed originated, the government taxed families for owning more than one dog. Females, considered “breeders” were taxed more heavily, so female puppies were often killed at birth. By the mid 1880s, the breed was nearly extinct.
Thankfully, English breeders still favored the dog for its hunting abilities and in 1903 were able to have the breed recognized through the English Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1907 and the dogs have grown in popularity ever since.
Labrador retrievers are practically waterproof.
Labrador retrievers are made for the water, in fact, they’re called “Labrador Retriever” because they were used as working/rescue dogs in the Labrador Sea. From their tireless work ethic, webbed toes to their rudder-like tail, they are perfectly designed to spend long amounts of time in the water. But what makes them ready for even the chilliest water is their distinctive double-layer coat made of an outer layer of dense, straight longer hairs and an under layer of soft downy-like fur that acts as an insulating layer. This undercoat traps heat and keeps water out as it allows the dog’s natural oils to repel water, making the coat essentially waterproof.
While their coat is perfect for can water, anyone who has owned a Lab can attest to the seemingly never ending piles of fur that gather during its twice yearly shedding. Male Labs have thicker and coarser coats than females and thus they require more grooming. Try to stay on top of the shed by brushing at least once per day.
Labs have a bit of an oral fixation.
Labs have a tendency to put things in their mouths and are even known to hold onto their owners by gently grabbing their arms and as a way of holding on to them. They have such fine motor skill control of their mouths, largely as a result of breeding so that they could gently pick up game birds shot by their owners without damaging the meat but genetically this trait goes back much further when Labs were required to use their mouths for a variety of working tasks every day.
Labs have such control that they’re able to pick up an egg with their mouths and carry it for miles without breaking it.
Labs make great search and rescue dogs.
Labradors have an extremely high pain threshold, making them excellent dogs for rescue work. It also means if your Lab is in pain it can be harder to spot than other breeds. Their highly developed sense of smell can also help them detect nuanced blood disorders. The first dog to detect diabetic episodes was a Lab named Armstrong, according to Guinness World Records.
Black, Yellow and Chocolate are not the only colors of Labs.
Silver Labradors are chocolate Labs with a dilution gene that causes their coat to be a lighter color. Black and yellow labs may also have these dilution genes, but the difference in their coat color isn’t as dramatic as it is with the chocolate.
The idea of silver Labs is still controversial among breeders, as no kennel clubs recognize it as an acceptable color. Still, some breeders passionately advocate for silver Labs to be recognized and allowed to compete in shows. It may be a problem for some breeders, but for those folks who care more about disposition and health than about color, the silver is a unique and lovely coat color to have!
- Twenty-two different dogs were used to play the title character in the movie “Marley and Me.”
- More than one color of puppy can be born in the same litter.
- The first dog ever to appear on the cover of Life magazine was a Lab named “Blind of Arden” in 1938.
- Labs have been the most popular dog breed in the US for 24 straight years.
- Labs can eat and eat and eat. They will never turn down food that you put in front of them except when they’re not feeling well.
- Labs mature slowly compared to other dogs. They usually reach the age of four years before they are considered mature. Even if your Lab has already reached its adult size, it will still behave like a puppy for a longer time.