As companions Labradors are kindly, patient,intelligent
and always keen to please. They make perfect family dogs being especially
good with children. They are not a town dog; long country walks keep
them mentally and physically fit.
Description & History
The Labrador Retriever, also known as
the Saint John's Dog, originated from the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
Labradors were retrievers long before they were trained to be gundogs.
They worked from fishing boats off the coast of Newfoundland. Trained
to jump overboard, they would swim ashore dragging the nets through
the water to waiting men who would haul in the catch.
Fishermen first introduced the breed to
England in the middle of the nineteenth century. Fishing boats - perhaps
Portuguese - crossing the Atlantic from north America brought these
dogs to English ports. There is a theory that the ancestors of the breed
were taken to Portugal before arriving in England. In Portuguese, Labrador
means 'field workman'.
The aristocracy and leading sportsmen
heard about these strong, active dogs with a fine reputation for retrieving
and were eager to obtain them. It is believed that the first owners
of the breed in England were the second Earl of Malmesbury and Colonel
Peter Hawker. Gradually the reputation of the Labrador spread and by
the 1860's a number of large estates had acquired and were discovering
the working abilities of the Labrador.
Soft mouths and a natural ability in water
and in wooded and open country have made them a gamekeeper's favourite.
They are very successful at trialing and retrieving wounded game. Wildfowling,
a worldwide sport, operates in areas where ducks, geese and waders are
usually found - estuaries, marshes, river mouths and sea lochs. Wildfowling
is a demanding sport, which takes place in the early hours of the morning
and before sundown, when birds are flying to and from their feeding
grounds. Participants and their dogs usually operate alone and nearly
always in extreme conditions - bitter winds, mud and treacherous ground
- all of which can make the sport dangerous and, for the average person,
Labradors are ideally suited as wildfowling
dogs and are often given preference by shooters over other gundog breeds.
Not only are they first-rate water dogs, but they also have the characteristics
to withstand the rigours of the sport. Owing to their temperament, Labradors
are trained for other work - as police dogs, guide dogs for the blind
and for drug detection. The breed was recognised by the British Kennel
Club in 1903.