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The Labrador Retriever (simply Labrador, or Lab for short) is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. Even-tempered and well-behaved around young children and the elderly, Labradors are athletic and playful, and are the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States (since 1991).

A favorite assistance dog breed in these and other countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid blind and autistic people, act as therapy dogs, and perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies.

History

The modern Labrador's ancestors originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The founding breed of the Labrador was the St. John's water dog, a breed that emerged through ad-hoc breedings by early settlers of the island in the 16th century.

The forebears of the St. John's Dog are not known but were likely a random-bred mix of English, Irish, and Portuguese working breeds. The Newfoundland is likely a result of the St. John's Dog breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 16th century. The smaller short-coated St. John's Dog was used for retrieval and pulling in nets from the water.

Description

Labradors are relatively large, with males typically weighing 29 to 41 kg (64 to 90 lb) and females 25 to 32 kg (55 to 71 lb). Labradors weighing close to or over 100 lb (45 kg) are considered obese or having a major fault under American Kennel Club standards, although some Labradors weigh significantly more.

Temperament

The AKC describes the Labrador's temperament as a kind, pleasant, outgoing and tractable nature. Labradors' sense of smell allows them to hone in on almost any scent and follow the path of its origin. They generally stay on the scent until they find it. Navies, military forces and police forces use them as detection dogs to track down smugglers, thieves, terrorists and black marketers.

Labradors instinctively enjoy holding objects and even hands or arms in their mouths, which they can do with great gentleness (a Labrador can carry an egg in its mouth without breaking it).

They are known to have a very soft feel to the mouth, as a result of being bred to retrieve game such as waterfowl. They are prone to chewing objects (though they can be trained to abandon this behavior). The Labrador Retriever's coat repels water to some extent, thus facilitating the extensive use of the dog in waterfowl hunting.

Labradors have a reputation as a very even-tempered breed and an excellent family dog. This includes a good reputation with children of all ages and other animals. Some lines, particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field (rather than for their appearance), are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand—an uncontrolled adult can be quite problematic. Females may be slightly more independent than males.

Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppy-like energy, often mislabelled as being hyperactive. Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown. Labradors often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly (often obsessively) and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball).

Health

Labrador pups generally are not brought to the home before they are 8 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 10 to 12 years, and it is a healthy breed with relatively few major problems.

Wikipedia.



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