Labrador Retriever


The breed originated not in Labrador, but on the coast of Newfoundland in the 17th century. They were trained to bring in the fishing-nets through the icy waters for the fishermen and, in the early 19th century, were brought to Poole Harbour in Great Britain. These dogs were short-limbed, sturdy swimmers with short dense coats and an otter-like tail. They were so attractive that the fishermen had umpteen offers from Englishmen to buy them. The breed was instantly successful as a gundog. The Earl of Malmesbury was fascinated by these dogs, known at that time as Saint John's breed of water dogs and he started breeding them, calling them Labrador dogs. A heavy dog tax in Canada and the new quarantine laws in Great Britain caused a great reduction in the breed, limiting further breeding to be done without any more imports. Thankfully the ones already in Britain were of excellent quality and in the hands of serious breeders. The Kennel Club of Great Britain first recognised the breed in 1903.



Labs are very active, strongly built dogs with good bone and substance. Their heads are broad with soft, intelligent eyes. They have a double coat: the undercoat being weather-resistant and the outer coat being short and dense with no feathering. Their tails are totally unique being 'otter' like and their movement is straight and true both front and back, covering the ground freely.

Size Large
Colour Labs come in solid black, yellow and chocolate brown/liver.
Coat Length Short Medium
Weight/Height Range Bitches measure 54 to 56cms at the withers, dogs between 56 to 57cms. Bitches weigh around 28kgs and dogs around 30kgs.
Ailments The problems the Lab has to contend with are largely due to overbreeding so care should be taken when purchasing a puppy to ensure the breeder has screened for these hereditary problems: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and epilepsy. If this is done the likelihood of your puppy being susceptible to these diseases is greatly reduced.
Breed Classification Labradors belong to the gundog group and are used as companions, in field trials, assistance dogs (hearing and sight), gundogs and seen in the show-ring.

Feeding & Ownership

Labradors are not fussy eaters and, as such, need not be expensive to feed. They are greedy dogs and therefore care must be taken to ensure they do not get the chance to raid the rubbish bin! Careful watch over their diet is a must as they are prone to obesity.
Food Cost $15 to $20
Other Expenses This is a relatively healthy breed therefore there should not be excessive veterinary bills.


This breed is definitely in the top three when it comes to choosing a family pet! They are friendly, good-natured dogs who are affectionate with everyone. They are adaptable dogs and are naturally social animals. They bond well with children, being patient and forgiving. Other household animals are not at risk. They are extremely loyal and love to be included in all aspects of family life. They will bark to draw your attention to strangers but will welcome them with open arms.


Intelligence Intelligent dogs, Labradors are easily trained, making them ideal for use in field sports, obedience competitions, as search dogs, as guide dogs and as hearing dogs. These dogs take a great pleasure in any of these activities.
Energy High
Suitability for Children High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Overall Exercise Requirement These dogs will adapt quite readily to the amount of time you can allocate for their exercise but do remember they should be given quite a reasonable amount. They love fairly long walks with a chance to run and play off the lead. They adore retrieving and water, so do take care when near the latter to ensure their safety. They will adapt to town living but come into their own in rural surroundings.
Suitability as a Guard Dog Low
Ease of Transportation High
Level of Aggression Low
Other Animal Compatibility High

Their coats are easy to maintain. The coat is thick and dense with a weather-resistant undercoat. Brush them once a week with more attention during moulting.
Grooming Requirements Once a week
Amount of Hair Shed Moderate