Breed Type

Sporting or Gun Dog


Around 1830, lesser Newfoundland dogs, also called St. John's dogs, were taken to England to be used as retrievers for game-shooting English sportsmen. These dogs had been used by fishermen in the waters around Newfoundland and Labrador (nearby mainland Canada), to help swim fish-laden nets to shore, pull fish carts to market, and retrieve game. Once in England, they were selectively bred with other breeds of gun dog in order to improve their hunting and retrieving instincts. This is where the Labrador Retriever as we know it today was developed.  

Labrador retrieving a bird


Strongly built, medium sized, muscular dog with a broad, deep chest, a broad head, strong jaws and ears that hang down close to the head. They are athletic, well balanced, excellent swimmers, and come in black, yellow or chocolate. 


Females: 54-60 cm (21 ½ - 23 ½ inches) at the shoulder, and 25-32 kg (55 - 70 pounds).
Males: 57-62 cm (22 - 24 ½ inches) at the shoulder, and 27-36 kg (60 - 80 pounds).

These ranges allow for variation between countries as to what is considered an ideal height for the show ring. A Labrador at the top end of the height scale would be perfectly acceptable in America, but would probably not be competitive in England. 

Yellow and black Labradors


Relatively easy to maintain short, water-resistant double coat. Sheds a little year round (somewhat heavier in autumn and spring), so needs a regular (perhaps weekly) brush to remove dead hair and prevent matting.  


Very gentle, even-tempered dog. Intelligent, adaptable, energetic, social and fun-loving. Extremely reliable with children. 

Black Labrador with her flat ball




Very sound and robust breed, but may be prone to ear infections and obesity if not managed correctly.  

Possible Genetic Disorders

Particularly prone to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia as well as the eye diseases Retinal Dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Health screening for these disorders is available, and should form part of any discussion when considering a purchase.  

Best Suited

  • Active household with a yard big enough for a game
  • Country living
  • Household with children
  • Service work - assistance dogs, therapy dogs, sniffer dogs, search and rescue

Worst Suited

  • Apartment living