Roxy the English Lab at our Dixon Clinic.

Roxy is an English Lab who brought her human with her to our Dixon vaccination clinic and she gives us a perfect opportunity to talk about the different Lab types: The Labrador Retriever is a derivitave of the the St John’s Water Dog which comes from the Canadian island of Newfoundland which lies close off the coast of Labrador in eastern Canada. The first known description of the dogs and their waterfowl retrieving ability dates to 1822 and the current dogs were developed by interbreeding and crossbreeding since then. When the dogs were first brought to England in the 1830s they were called the Greater Newfoundland and later refined and named the Labrador Retriever for their history of retrieving waterfowl in the Sea of Labrador. The smaller or Lesser Newfoundland has persisted as the water-rescue dog we now know as the Newfoundland and the original St John’s Dog has gone extinct. The remaining Labrador Retrievers have become phenomenally popular in both England and America and there has been a bifurcation of the breeding types. In both countries the dogs bred for show have a heavier and stockier appearance with a stout head and have been commonly refered to as the ‘English Lab’. Also, in both countries, the dogs which have been bred for practical use as gun dogs for retrieving shot waterfowl are lighter, finer boned, have a lighter more pointed head, are more agile and more active. These latter dogs are called ‘American’ type but in reality both working and show types exist in both countries. Practically speaking, all Labs of either type make wonderful pets and of course they are still serve as effecting hunting retrievers. The owners of the ‘English Lab’ type report that their dogs are more calm and thoughtful than are the typical Labs. The two subtypes are not differentiated breeds but it is not out of the question that in the near future some efforts may be made to stabilize and document the difference and apply for separate breed recognition.

– Geoffrey Antipa


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