When you picture a dog, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is a pup that closely resembles a Labrador Retriever — and for good reason. The Lab has been voted the most popular dog in America for more than 30 years in a row, so it's no wonder why they seem like the quintessential canine companion.
Let's dig in to 8 incredible and surprising facts about Labrador Retrievers.
Labradors originate from northwest Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and take their name from the province. Descended from St. John's Water Dogs, Labradors were well known for their love of water.
Fishermen used Labs to help retrieve cod that escaped capture — and these four-footed fishers were great at their jobs. Anglers would even show off their Lab's skills at ports to passersby, throwing stones and other objects into the water for their dogs to retrieve.
While it may seem impossible to picture a world with Labradors, the breed has only been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1917. By comparison, the first dishwasher was patented in 1886. While the Lab's ancestor, the St. John's Water Dog, is no longer around, the St. John's Water Dog did produce several other popular dog breeds.
While all dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell, Labs have especially strong schnozzes. These dogs can sniff out avalanche victims buried several feet beneath the snow, and they can detect odors that even some of our most advanced technology can't. This incredible skill, combined with their tireless work ethic, is why Labs are employed in everything from search-and-rescue to law enforcement.
Related: A Day in the Life of a Police Dog
A British Labrador named Endal holds the record for most canine commendations, including being named "Dog of the Millennium" by Dogs Today magazine. That's pretty high praise! Endal was a service dog assigned to help British navy veteran Allen Parton with his daily tasks.
Endal could recognize over 100 verbal commands, as well as sign language. Endal was able to accomplish an astonishing number of tasks for his handler. If Parton fell unconscious while bathing, for example, Endal could pull the plug on the tub, drag Parton into a recovery position, and then dial the phone for help! Beyond that, he was also able to help out with shopping, laundry, and could even operate an ATM. That's one incredible canine!
Labradors are renowned for their kind and outgoing temperament — something the AKC considers as much a breed standard as their size and color. This makes them great family dogs, especially for people with small children. In fact, because Labs have been bred to retrieve water fowl and other game, they have an incredibly soft "bite", and they're less likely to snap at a family member compared to some other breeds.
Of course, when you work as hard as these dogs do, you build up quite the appetite. Labradors are known for being voracious eaters, and will eat almost anything they can — even if it's not something most people would consider food. This means that Labs are more likely than many other breeds to suffer from obesity.
Despite their appetites, Labs can display high levels of restraint when it comes to food. With the proper training, these doggos can carry an egg in their mouth without breaking it! Don't try this at home, though — raw eggs are a choking hazard and could give your dog salmonella.
If you don't keep your Lab mentally and physically stimulated, they'll find ways to amuse themselves. For many dogs, this means devising ways to escape and explore the world. Labs are extremely smart, so if left to their own devices, they'll sneak out like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.
The good news is, they're not great jumpers, so a 6-foot fence is usually enough to keep them in your backyard. However, they have also been known to open latches and chew through wood slats, so take extra care to make sure that your yard is escape-proof. If it's not, your Lab will be more than happy to demonstrate their escape act.
In 1981, the voters of Sunol, CA, headed to the polls to choose their next mayor. While the two human candidates were undoubtedly fine in their own right, the people overwhelmingly the their support behind Bosco, a black Lab. A registered "Re-pup-lican", Bosco served as honorary mayor of the town until 1994, where he did his best to deliver on his campaign promise of "a bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner."
Sadly, Bosco passed away in 1994, but there's still a statue in town to honor him — and nobody has been crazy enough to try to follow in his pawsteps. You know, maybe it's time to put a Labrador in the White House...
Got questions about your Labrador's health and temperament? Chat with a veterinary professional today to get the lowdown on your canine compadre.
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