13 Labrador Retriever Facts That You Should Know

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Nowadays Labrador Retriever is more of a family dog, than a working one. However, that wasn't the case a few centuries ago. Discover why this breed is good at retrieving and how many colors one litter can have.

Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed. Moreover, this breed holds the number one position for decades so far. Labrador Retriever is actually all about being a popular family dog. As it seems, Labrador Retriever is here to rule the popularity charts for decades to come. Let’s go through 13 facts about this breed that you might never hear before.

1. They Love Water

Did you know that Labrador Retriever is a perfect water dog? The truth is that you can see during the summer, or even colder days, Labrador Retriever just chilling in the water and having the time of his life. But, originally they were bred to work in water, not chill. This is the main reason why they have a water-resistant double coat.

Their coat is specially designed to provide insulation and to keep them warm when it gets wet. Moreover, if you take a look at their paws you will see that they have webbed toes, specially designed to facilitate speedy swimming. Labrador Retrievers were used by fishermen to pull ropes between boats, bring in nets, and recover (retrieve) escaped fish.

2. They Are Not From Labrador

This may surprise you but Labrador Retriever is not from Labrador. However, his original birthplace is near Labrador. This adorable breed is originally from Newfoundland. Back in the 18th century, big Newfoundland dogs were bred with smaller dogs. Why? People bred them in order to create St. John’s water dogs.

These smaller dogs were actually rather similar to today’s Labs, with a small difference. These canines had white paws and white muzzles. Unfortunately, St. John’s water dog did extinct. However, the breed served as the ancestor for the lovable Labrador Retriever.

3. We Don’t Know Who Named Them

Although it’s not sure who named them, there is a belief that the Earl of Malmesbury named them. According to this legend, Earl went for a trip to Canada in 1887 and took something with him from that trip.

Erl was from England, so on his way back to his homeland, he took some puppies with him. He called this pups ‘labrador dogs’. Historians believe that this might be the truth since Labrador and Newfoundland are geographically close.

British were commonly putting/naming colonies together, so the chance of Newfoundland and Labrador naming just Labrador is real. On the other hand, some believe that the name was simply a nod to the fact that the dogs (probably) were seen swimming in the Labrador Sea.

4. Labs Are Almost Extinct In Canada

The numerous laws and regulations, plus strong taxes, lead to a decrease in this breed in Canada. In addition, a strong quarantine for animals imported into England didn’t help with the preservation of the breed of St. John’s water dogs. Altogether, it leads to the extinction of the original Labs in Canada. Luckily, the breed survived in Great Britain thanks to kennels in Scotland.

In 1903, Labs were officially recognized by the English Kennel Club.

5. Labrador Retrievers Are Fast

People often see them as an easy-back dog, following the owner around. But what people often forget is that although your Lab may be cute, silly, and clingy, he is a dog. And this dog can run really fast. Therefore, make sure that you always have your Labrador Retriever on a leash every time, and provide enough exercise during the day.

If your dog doesn’t get enough training and exercise he may develop issues with his back legs and joints. Labrador Retrievers may seem like big dogs, but they can easily sprint. Actually, they can easily reach 12 miles an hour in just three seconds. This is not something that every dog can be proud of.

6. They Come In Three Colors

This is probably one of the most interesting facts about Labrador Retriever – their color. Just one litter can give Labs in different colors, and parents’ color doesn’t have anything to do with that.

So, regardless of the parent’s color, you can get in one litter yellow, chocolate, or even black Labrador. The reason for this lies in two genes that can cause the pigmentation of the coat. You can compare this with hair color in humans. There is also a fourth color – silver, but it’s not recognized as official breed color, by major kennel clubs.

7. They Can Sniff Cancer

Like the majority of dogs, Labrador Retrievers have great noses and explore the world around them by sniffing everything. This is how they memorize people – by smell. Moreover, this is how they manage to find their way home when they are lost, bu sniffing their way back home. But compared to other dogs, Labrador Retrievers have a better sense of smell. Simply said, they have powerful noses. Thanks to those noses, they have been trained to sniff out and identify the early stages of cancer. How do they learn to do this? They are with cancer cell samples. That’s how they learn to smell the disease.

They can recognize cancer by smelling a patient’s blood, stool, and breath. Recently, Labs had high success rates by sniffing out ovarian cancer. According to scientists, Labs can sniff out changes in volatile organic compounds that actually suggest cancer. But… what if someone afraid of dogs? Luckily, that has been solved. At the moment, researchers are developing a machine that will do the sniffing.

Dogs have their limits, just like humans. They can smell only a certain number of samples a day and they are expensive to train for this skill. So, the automated process should help more people for a longer run.

8. They Are Great Service Dogs

Labrador Retrievers have an instinct for being great with people. Moreover, they are one of the few breeds that get along with humans so easily, from day one. Their intelligence, adaptivity and need to please people made them great choices for service dogs. As you probably know already, service dogs are used for different jobs with humans, and they mostly help with mental issues, such as depression and anxiety. Actually, the most commonly used breeds for these jobs are Labs and German Shepherd.

Good to know: Labradors are often used to create new dog breeds such as Labrastaff

Labradors are also easily adaptable, easily trained, and last but not least – they are the right size. Every trait combined makes them perfect service dogs.

9. They Have Gentle Mouth

If you love seeing dog videos online, you have probably noticed that from time to time you get to see a video of Labrador Retriever holding a raw egg in his mouth. And yes, they won’t break it. The reason behind this is that, as mentioned earlier, they were used to retrieve fish. Therefore, they evolved in their hunting skills.

As a people pleaser, they wanted to bring their prey as a whole as possible. Don’t try egg-experiment at home. Each dog is different and the majority of them usually will wait one second until they swallow what you out in their mouth. Eggs are dangerous if swallowed alive. So, avoid any possible choking hazards.

10. They Are Not Good Watch Dogs

Yes, this one is true. Labradors are not good watchdogs. First of all, they were not bred to be guard dogs, although they are intelligent and trainable enough to be a great watchdog. They were bred to spend time with people, so they would often meet new people, and they learned to get along with strangers as well.

So, no, they prefer to play and have fun than patrol around the house. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t’ protect you. A huge recent of a dog-bite accident with Labs happens because people think that they want to play all the time.

What you should understand here is that Labrador Retriever is a dog in the first place and he will engage in a non-friendly way if he believes that his family might be in danger. The same goes for children: Labs won’t attack a child, but the child should be educated on how to behave around a dog and should be monitored all the time.

11. They Are Prone To Obesity

If you are already a proud owner of this amazing breed you have probably noticed that they are hungry all the time. Well, this may apply to every dog ever. However, there is a slight difference with Labs, they just want more food. This belief is supported by science.

According to the scientist, some breeds are genetically more prone to being in a 24/7 mood than ‘feed me’. Moreover, scientists claim that among the hungriest dog breeds, lovable Labrador Retriever loves to eat the most. Why is that? They are motivated by food. Actually, they are highly motivated with food. If you want to get your Labrador to do something, just give him food. Also, they used to retrieve birds and fish, so they needed more food.

Do you know how many calories a dog can lose during an entire day of swimming? A lot and they need to regain them. But today, they are less active. However, the urge to eat remained the same. That’s why you can see your Lab getting weight in no time. Make sure that you feed your Lab properly, on recommended doses, and to provide enough exercise and training. Otherwise, you will have to deal with obesity in dogs. Don’t forget that an active dog is a healthy dog.

12. Their Color Determines Their Profession

There is no bad dog, and there is no difference between a pure breed or mixed breed dogs. Each dog will show you the support and love that you need during their lifetime. However, when it comes to their work, there might be a difference. So, different colors of Labradors can be used for different roles.

For example, Yellow Labs are preferred as police dogs, while Black Labs are the most successful competitors. The rarest Labs are Chocolate Labs, so their role is not so strictly defined yet. But if you get a chocolate Lab to consider it a diamond in the rough.

13. They Have High Pain Tolerance

Little is known, but Labrador Retrievers are known for being able to tolerate high levels of pain. This is one of the reasons why they are great dogs for rescue work. Although this is a great trait when they have to help other dogs and humans, it may be dangerous for them. Dogs are in general good for hiding pain.

It means that it will be more difficult to spot pain in Labs, than other breeds.