The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world for the number of registered specimens; it is very likely to be part of canine police brigades in anti-drug operations. It is also known as Labrador. The tail is a distinctive feature of the breed, it is very thick on the base and gradually narrows towards the tip.
The Labrador’s breed precursor was the San Juan Water Dog, a breed that emerged through breeding made by the first settlers of the island in the 16th century. These had been taken to the island of Newfoundland by English fishermen. On the island, it was developed the dog of San Juan, which was used by the fishermen to help in the fishing activities, dragging to the shore lines of fishing nets.
These dogs should be resistant, workers and good swimmers. They also needed to have a dense coat which protected them from the icy waters of the north and thick tails that were used as helms. The smallest variety of San Juan dogs would have given rise to different breeds of retriever dogs, among which is the Labrador retriever dog.
The Labrador as we currently know it, is not a very ancient breed. The breed’s club was founded in 1916 and the Yellow Labrador Club was founded in 1925. It was in field tests where the Labrador found its early fame, being originally introduced to these shores at the end of 1800 by Col Peter Hawker and the Count of Malmesbury. It was a dog named Malmesbury Tramp, described by Lorna, Countess of Howe as one of the “roots” of the modern Labrador.
The Labrador Retriever is strong, compact, and wide, and has a short back. It has well-developed limbs and strong bones. Its compact and round paws help it to be a good swimmer. The ears fall by the head and it also has a thick tail on the base that is progressively sharpened. It is covered by a short, dense, rough and waterproof coat that can be black, yellow or brown.
This breed measures between 56 and 64 cm in height and can weigh up to 36 kg (at its ideal weight).
The Labrador retriever has a couple of features which make it an “aquatic” dog: the fingers of its paws are webbed which helps it to swim easier and it also has a waterproof and short coat, which was a special advantage in the icy weather of Canada, as this prevented its fur from freezing.
The Labrador retriever is an energetic, pleasing and affectionate dog with its people. It is obedient and adapts well to family life, it needs to be part of it. It has a great memory and is easy to train. It enjoys playing with the kids and splashing in the water. It doesn’t like loneliness and indifference, if it spends many hours alone it may cause some damage.
The Labrador retriever is a very active breed and it has to be provided long walks and regular games. Exercise is part of its physical and mental wellbeing (tends to be overweight). If the dog gets bored it can show it with a destructive behavior.
Brushing is effective to remove dead hair and keeping the fur healthy and shiny. It is necessary to brush it frequently.
It is a relatively healthy breed with few major problems. The Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, because they are large-skeleton dogs. Hip tests are recommended before breeding, and joint supplements are often recommended.
Labradors also suffer the risk of knee problems. Luxating patella is a common fact where the knee is dislocated and then is returned to its place.
Eye problems are also possible, particularly progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia. Dogs intended for breeding should be examined by an ophthalmologist veterinarian to obtain an eye assessment.
Hereditary myopathy is a rare hereditary disorder that causes a deficiency in type II muscle fiber. The symptoms include a way of walking affected or “rabbit jumping”, and in exceptional cases neck ventroflexion, accompanied by a kyphotic posture.
Labradors often suffer from exercise-induced collapse, a syndrome that causes hyperthermia, weakness, collapse, and disorientation after short periods of exercise.
You can download the FCI (International Cinological Federation) standard at the following link: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/122g08-en.pdf