Breed Tips

Everything You Need To Know About Labradors

Chocolate or Vanilla? Beaches or Mountains? Apple or Samsung? Trump or Biden? The world is filled with choices. Only if we could have a simpler version of this world with lesser choices to make. But it only becomes harder and harder. You already have to make the tough choice of whom to choose as a life partner among millions of people, so the one thing you want is to not have such a wide variety to chose from when trying to adopt or buy a dog. But even there you will have to chose between 360 breeds by thinking about its cost, nature, temperament, climate adaptability, care requirements and 10s of other things. Now lets say you’ve even done all that and finalized a breed. Who knew there would again be options within the breed? One of such breeds is the Labrador.

Labradors as Working Dogs

Labrador Retrievers were developed as the breed we know today by a couple of English aristocrats in the 1800s who were passionate about shooting game birds. So originally the breed is a working one whose job was to fetch dead and wounded game back to his master.

Labradors as Show Dogs

Gradually Labradors started becoming home companions and then made an entry into the show business during the time when dog shows were gaining popularity among the masses. Even at this time, the working dog variants existed. Initially, there was no significant difference between the 2 but then evolution works its way and a fish is as good as its pond or pot. Gradually the two lines of Labrador – those bred for a role as sporting dogs, and those bred for a role as show dogs – began to diverge. This also led to lower breeding between these 2 different types. So the initial title of Dual-purpose’ dogs who were good on the field as well as stage was taken away as specialized ones became more common.

Working Labs vs Show Labs

The field trials got more demanding by the day which forced the field bred labs to become more specialized, faster, and focused. And to an extent that some even lost their classic Labrador looks. Their counterparts on the other hand, the show labs became a little more exaggerated, chunkier, heavier, and shorter in the leg. These heavier and shorted ones slowly outnumbered the faster and more focused ones. This meant that the newer labs would have more of the show gene as compared to working gene. In US, these 2 distinct variants were called English Labradors and American Labradors.

English Labradors

English Labs vs American Labs

Not to be confused with the names thinking of it as their origin, they have nothing to do with the location or origin. They are nominal terms just for their attributes. The American Labrador was for the working or the field dogs and the English Labrador was for the show or bench dogs. Not like the Americans won’t be a good family dog or an English one may not fetch a ball properly but there are very significant differences between both of them.

American Labradors vs English Labradors

It is not just the looks that differentiate both these types but a bunch of characteristics that add to it. These include –

  • Appearance – Height of the show one ranges from 21-22 inches while of the field one can go up to 25 inches

o The show labs being heavier can go from 70-90 lbs. while the working ones are slimmer with weight ranging from 70-75 lbs.

  • Head – The head is the most prominent difference between the two

  • Nature – Temperament wise the British ones are often seen as calmer, quieter and softer while the American ones are more active, aggressive and energetic.

o Higher energy levels come with higher exercise and training requirement for the American ones

o The show one is less demanding due to its nature as compared to the working counterparts

  • Companionship – Both the Bench and Field labs enjoy a good cuddle, and they both make a great family pet and are affectionate with their family. Because of their easy-going temperaments, they both love nothing more than to please their master

  • Food Requirements – More energy burn requires more food to match the requirement. The American will hence need more the English ones who require 3 cups per day

  • Price – The average price for both of them can be around $1200 but be ready to pay more for a show lab in some cases. Same can go for the working ones if it is a winning one

American Labradors

Common Traits of Labradors

  • Energetic, cheerful, loyal, and enthusiastic

  • Good with small kids and other pets

  • Above-average intelligence and hence trainability

  • Love for playing games, especially fetch

  • Human-friendly and eager to please

  • Even temper and gentle disposition

Cautions with a Labrador

  • Can be mischievous and rowdy, especially as a younger dog

  • Needs a lot of exercise

  •  It is “mouthy”—likes to carry and chew things

  • Can’t leave alone for a very long time. Exhibits signs of separation anxiety if left alone too much

  • Easily bored if not given something to do, which leads to barking and chewing

  • Sensitive

  • Matures slowly

Common Health Problems in Labradors

Although Labradors are healthy in general but are yet prone to some health conditions which can range from minor to even fatal in some cases. These include –

These diseases are more likely to happen to a Labrador than any other average dog. Apart from these, Labradors are also prone to dental diseases, bleeding disorders, liver problems, bloating and some infections.


For a hunting companion or to fulfil your ambition to take part in Dog Agility, choose an American or working type Labrador. And for a more sensitive, focused and trainable dog, also go for a working type Labrador

For the classic Labrador tail, and chunky head, with robust and playful temperament, go for and English, or show type.

The key is to find a breeder who stresses health – eyes, hips, elbows. A healthy dog is the best dog. Otherwise irrespective of the type, you can’t go wrong with a Labrador in terms of a family companion. They are the most popular pets in the US. Now that is for a reason. So, either way, whatever side of the pond your pooch comes from you are sure to have a worldwide superstar in your house


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