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Labrador Retriever Puppies / English vs. American
Breed Standards / Labrador Breed History

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Born 1/8/13
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AMERICAN vs. ENGLISH

      There is only one breed of dog known as the Labrador Retriever, described by the Standard of the Breed

        Within Labrador Retriever breed type there are variations in body style which have evolved to suit the use of the dog, as well as the preferences of individual breeders and owners. In the United States the general public has begun to label these variations mistakenly as "English or "American" style. Perhaps a better description for variations in style is "show/conformation" or "working/field" styles.
     The working/field or "American" style of dog is the label often attached to a Labrador possessing lighter bone structure and exhibiting more length of leg, a less dense coat, and a narrower head with more length of muzzle.
     The conformation/show or "English" style Labrador is generally thought of as a stockier dog, heavier of bone and shorter on leg and with a denser coat, and having a head often described as "square or blocky." However, working/field variations occur in England as well, so this description is not necessarily suitable.
     These general images portray the extremes of both styles and do not help to identify the temperament, trainability or health of the dog.  In fact, the vast majority of Labrador retrievers, whether of conformation/show breeding or working/field breeding, possess moderate body styles much closer to the written Standard of the breed. It is possible that within a single litter, whether that litter has been bred for show/conformation or working/field, individual pups can mature to be representatives of the range, though rarely producing the extremes, of the two styles. We recommend that you discuss the issue of size and style, as well as temperament, trainability and health, with any breeder you contact. However, please remember that there is only one Labrador Retriever breed, one that meets the requirements as set forth in the Official Standard
http://www.thelabradorclub.com/subpages/show
_contents.phppage=English+vs.+American

"AKC Breed Standards" Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever
Sporting Group
Breed Standard


General Appearance
     The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled, dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog; the substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion. Physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog bred to perform as an efficient Retriever of game with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting environment.
The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an "otter" tail; a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its "kind," friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.
      Above all, a Labrador Retriever must be well balanced, enabling it to move in the show ring or work in the field with little or no effort. The typical Labrador possesses style and quality without over refinement, and substance without lumber or cloddiness. The Labrador is bred primarily as a working gun dog; structure and soundness are of great importance.


Size, Proportion and Substance

      Size--The height at the withers for a dog is 22½ to 24½ inches; for a bitch is 21½ to 23½ inches. Any variance greater than ½ inch above or below these heights is a disqualification. Approximate weight of dogs and bitches in working condition: dogs 65 to 80 pounds; bitches 55 to 70 pounds.
     The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragraph above shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.
     Proportion--Short-coupled; length from the point of the shoulder to the point of the rump is equal to or slightly longer than the distance from the withers to the ground. Distance from the elbow to the ground should be equal to one half of the height at the withers. The brisket should extend to the elbows, but not perceptibly deeper. The body must be of sufficient length to permit a straight, free and efficient stride; but the dog should never appear low and long or tall and leggy in outline. Substance--Substance and bone proportionate to the overall dog. Light, "weedy" individuals are definitely incorrect; equally objectionable are cloddy lumbering specimens. Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working condition well-muscled and without excess fat.

Head

     Skull--The skull should be wide; well developed but without exaggeration. The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes and of approximately equal length. There should be a moderate stop--the brow slightly pronounced so that the skull is not absolutely in a straight line with the nose. The brow ridges aid in defining the stop. The head should be clean-cut and free from fleshy cheeks; the bony structure of the skull chiseled beneath the eye with no prominence in the cheek. The skull may show some median line; the occipital bone is not conspicuous in mature dogs. Lips should not be squared off or pendulous, but fall away in a curve toward the throat. A wedge-shape head, or a head long and narrow in muzzle and back skull is incorrect as are massive, cheeky heads. The jaws are powerful and free from snippiness-- the muzzle neither long and narrow nor short and stubby. Nose-- The nose should be wide and the nostrils well-developed. The nose should be black on black or yellow dogs, and brown on chocolates. Nose color fading to a lighter shade is not a fault. A thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment is a disqualification. Teeth--The teeth should be strong and regular with a scissors bite; the lower teeth just behind, but touching the inner side of the upper incisors. A level bite is acceptable, but not desirable. Undershot, overshot, or misaligned teeth are serious faults. Full dentition is preferred. Missing molars or pre-molars are serious faults. Ears--The ears should hang moderately close to the head, set rather far back, and somewhat low on the skull; slightly above eye level. Ears should not be large and heavy, but in proportion with the skull and reach to the inside of the eye when pulled forward. Eyes--Kind, friendly eyes imparting good temperament, intelligence and alertness are a hallmark of the breed. They should be of medium size, set well apart, and neither protruding nor deep set. Eye color should be brown in black and yellow Labradors, and brown or hazel in chocolates. Black, or yellow eyes give a harsh expression and are undesirable. Small eyes, set close together or round prominent eyes are not typical of the breed. Eye rims are black in black and yellow Labradors; and brown in chocolates. Eye rims without pigmentation is a disqualification.

Neck, Topline and Body

Neck--The neck should be of proper length to allow the dog to retrieve game easily. It should be muscular and free from throatiness. The neck should rise strongly from the shoulders with a moderate arch. A short, thick neck or a "ewe" neck is incorrect. Topline--The back is strong and the topline is level from the withers to the croup when standing or moving. However, the loin should show evidence of flexibility for athletic endeavor. Body--The Labrador should be short-coupled, with good spring of ribs tapering to a moderately wide chest. The Labrador should not be narrow chested; giving the appearance of hollowness between the front legs, nor should it have a wide spreading, bulldog-like front. Correct chest conformation will result in tapering between the front legs that allows unrestricted forelimb movement. Chest breadth that is either too wide or too narrow for efficient movement and stamina is incorrect. Slab-sided individuals are not typical of the breed; equally objectionable are rotund or barrel chested specimens. The underline is almost straight, with little or no tuck-up in mature animals. Loins should be short, wide and strong; extending to well developed, powerful hindquarters. When viewed from the side, the Labrador Retriever shows a well-developed, but not exaggerated forechest. Tail--The tail is a distinguishing feature of the breed. It should be very thick at the base, gradually tapering toward the tip, of medium length, and extending no longer than to the hock. The tail should be free from feathering and clothed thickly all around with the Labrador's short, dense coat, thus having that peculiar rounded appearance that has been described as the "otter" tail. The tail should follow the top line in repose or when in motion. It may be carried gaily, but should not curl over the back. Extremely short tails or long thin tails are serious faults. The tail completes the balance of the Labrador by giving it a flowing line from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the tail is a disqualification.

Forequarters

Forequarters should be muscular, well coordinated and balanced with the hindquarters. Shoulders--The shoulders are well laid-back, long and sloping, forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees that permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with strong forward reach. Ideally, the length of the shoulder blade should equal the length of the upper arm. Straight shoulder blades, short upper arms or heavily muscled or loaded shoulders, all restricting free movement, are incorrect. Front Legs--When viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with good strong bone. Too much bone is as undesirable as too little bone, and short legged, heavy boned individuals are not typical of the breed. Viewed from the side, the elbows should be directly under the withers, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the ground and well under the body. The elbows should be close to the ribs without looseness. Tied-in elbows or being "out at the elbows" interfere with free movement and are serious faults. Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Dew claws may be removed. Splayed feet, hare feet, knuckling over, or feet turning in or out are serious faults.

Hindquarters

     The Labrador's hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump. Over angulation produces a sloping topline not typical of the breed. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Cow-hocks, spread hocks, sickle hocks and over-angulation are serious structural defects and are to be faulted.

Coat

       The coat is a distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever. It should be short, straight and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling to the hand. The Labrador should have a soft, weather-resistant undercoat that provides protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible. Woolly coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.

Color

     The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not desirable. White hairs from aging or scarring are not to be misinterpreted as brindling. Black--Blacks are all black. A black with brindle markings or a black with tan markings is a disqualification. Yellow--Yellows may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and underparts of the dog. Chocolate--Chocolates can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate. Chocolate with brindle or tan markings is a disqualification.

Movement

     Movement of the Labrador Retriever should be free and effortless. When watching a dog move toward oneself, there should be no sign of elbows out. Rather, the elbows should be held neatly to the body with the legs not too close together. Moving straight forward without pacing or weaving, the legs should form straight lines, with all parts moving in the same plane. Upon viewing the dog from the rear, one should have the impression that the hind legs move as nearly as possible in a parallel line with the front legs. The hocks should do their full share of the work, flexing well, giving the appearance of power and strength. When viewed from the side, the shoulders should move freely and effortlessly, and the foreleg should reach forward close to the ground with extension. A short, choppy movement or high knee action indicates a straight shoulder; paddling indicates long, weak pasterns; and a short, stilted rear gait indicates a straight rear assembly; all are serious faults. Movement faults interfering with performance including weaving; side-winding; crossing over; high knee action; paddling; and short, choppy movement, should be severely penalized.

Temperament

     True Labrador Retriever temperament is as much a hallmark of the breed as the "otter" tail. The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non-aggressive towards man or animal. The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog. Aggressiveness towards humans or other animals, or any evidence of shyness in an adult should be severely penalized.

Disqualifications

  1. Any deviation from the height prescribed in the Standard.
  2. A thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment.
  3. Eye rims without pigment.
  4. Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the tail.
  5. Any other color or a combination of colors other than black, yellow or chocolate as described in the Standard.

http://www.akc.org/breeds/labrador_retriever/index.cfm

                                The Breed History

     Newfoundland was settled by English fisherman as early as the 1500's and the St. John's dogs seemed to develop along with the fishing occupation. The English fisherman in Newfoundland used the St. John's dog to retrieve fish that had fallen off their hooks as well to help haul in fishing lines through the water. The St. John's dogs were considered "workaholics" and enjoyed the retrieving tasks given in the fishing environment. This breed was very eager to please and their retrieving abilities made them ideal for hunting companions and sporting dogs. In today's world many see their hunting companion as living for the sport. He will break ice to retrieve birds only to return and wait for the next one to come down. You have to keep an eye on the dog in warm weather as he will gladly work beyond his physical abilities and even overheat if you don't watch him. It was said that the dogs would work long hours with the fisherman in the cold waters, then be brought home to play with the fisherman's children. The wonderful temperament of the Labrador Retriever is documented back to its early days in England and has made them ideal family pets as well as accomplished sporting dogs.
     In Newfoundland the St. John's dog eventually became extinct. The reasons seem to be political. In 1780 the Governor wanted to encourage sheep raising and to stop any menace to sheep he ordered that there could be no more than one dog for a family. The St. John's dog were native to Newfoundland and so all but the ones that had been exported to England were vulnerable to this order. This action had a great impact on St. John's dogs since they were not wide spread and now their
numbers were being discouraged in their homeland.
St johns water dog     Above  are two of the last St. John's dogs in Newfoundland. Author Richard Wolters indicated in his book the Labrador Retriever that these two males survived extinction because they were in a very remote area. There were no female dogs left to breed to, so these appear to have been the last two original St. John's dogs. Wolters' book was published in 1981 and at that time Lassie (on the right) was 13 years old and his brother (left) was 15 years old.
Note these dogs also have the white toes and muzzle like the early Labradors in England. This trait appears to have been bred out of the dogs since the only white markings AKC allows at this time is perhaps a small white spot on the chest. Sometimes one will find some white hairs on the toes or foot pads still today. That likely traces to the original dogs.
http://www.chocolatelabs.co.uk/html/labrador_history.html

     The fishermen used dogs to retrieve fish that fell off hooks and to help haul in swimming lines or fishing nets. These dogs needed to be eager to please, strong swimmers and small enough to haul in and out of the two man " Dory" type boats. They needed to have short, water repellent dense coats that could withstand very cold water and wouldn't ball up with ice or bring excess water onboard. Onshore, as temporary settlements gave way to more permanent ones, a retrieving dog would have been a very useful hunting companion. The St. John's area of Newfoundland was settled predominantly by Englishmen who brought these working dogs to England through Poole Harbor, Dorset, the hub of the Newfoundland fishing trade. These St. John's dogs became the most prized sporting dogs for the gentry who could afford to maintain kennels for controlled breeding.
     Without written records from the earliest days to detail which dogs came from where and to whom they were bred, we can only speculate about the ancestors of these St. John's dogs. The black St. Hubert's hound from France, working water dogs from Portugal, old European pointer breeds and dogs belonging to the native Indians have all been suggested as possible predecessors. Certainly some mixture of these or others is logical since tradesmen from around the world frequented Newfoundland for several centuries, plenty of time to develop breeds with the desired working traits. Two distinctly different breeds resulted, the larger longer haired dog used for hauling that became the Newfoundland we know today and the smaller shorter coated retriever that led to our present day labs. See the breed " standards" which detail form and function specifications for Labradors. 
http://www.alllabs.com/labrador_retriever_history.htm
     "Who, What, When and Where" in Labrador Retriever History
     Early 1800's - First St. John's dogs arrived in England, some imported by the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury to Heron (Hurn) Court, near Poole
     1814 - First written reference to the Labrador in " Instructions to Young Sportsmen…" by Colonel Peter Hawker who observed them on Newfoundland
     1823 - Sporting artist Edward Landseer painted a black dog with white markings-entitled " Cora. A Labrador Bitch."
     1835 - 5th Duke of Buccleuch started kennel of St. John's dogs in Scotland
     1839 - 5th Duke of Buccleuch wrote a letter referring to his " Labrador" Moss as well as the " Labrador" Drake belonging to the 10th Lord Home
     Early Pictures From The History Of The Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever      This is Nell, the photograph dating from 1856 and is the earliest ever photo of a Labrador (St Johns Dog). Notice the white feet and muzzle. http://www.labrador-retriever-guide.com/historyofthelabradorretriever.html
     1870 - the name Labrador Retriever becomes common in England
     1882 - 3rd Earl of Malmesbury gave 6 of his Labs to the 6th Duke of Buccleuch and the 12th Earl of Home so that the closely held breeding stock would be preserved
     1885 - Inauguration of the Newfoundland Sheep Protection Act, which imposed a duty on all dogs, along with the Quarantine Act in England and the decreasing fishing trade led to the dwindling supply of imported dogs from Newfoundland to England
     1887 - Letter from the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury to 6th Duke of Buccleuch refers to the breed… " We always call mine Labrador dogs and I have kept the breed as pure as I could from the first I had from Poole….known by their having a close coat which turns the water off like oil and, above all, a tail like an otter."
chocolate labrador
       Buccleuch Avon was one of the founders of the modern Labrador, and he carried the "liver" gene. He is believed to be the ancestor of all chocolate Labs.
     “Buccleuch Avon” was one of the foundation sires of the Buccleuch dogs. The other foundation sire was Buccleuch Ned. Both of these dogs had very close short-hair, although one can obviously see that  Avon’s coat isn’t exactly like the modern Labrador. It is longish, perhaps the result of breeding short and long-haired dogs of this type together. (See my post on Zelstone to see two St. John’s water dog’s with long hair.)
     Avon was born in 1885, and he was brought into the breeding program to save this type of “Newfoundland.” The Earls of Malmesbury had been using smooth-haired St. John’s water dogs for many generations, and the Dukes of Buccleuch had founded their own strain.  In the 1880s, the breed was so interbred with long-haired dogs, setters, and water spaniels, that the strain nearly died out. The Fifth Duke of Buccleuch and the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury got together, and the Earl of Malmesbury provided the Buccleuch Estate with dogs that were descended from recently imported stock from Newfoundland, as well as actual imports. Avon was one of these dogs, as was Ned. The most of the bitches used in the breeding program were “made in England,” descendants of the Malmesbury dogs.
      At some point in the 1890s, “liver” puppies were born at the Buccleuch Estate. These resulting in breeding two dogs that descended from Avon, and it was assessed that it was Avon who carried this gene into the program.
http://retrieverman.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/another-st-johns-water-dog-avon-the-father-of-the-chocolate-labrador/
   
1892 - Two " liver" colored Labrador pups born at Buccleuch's kennel
     1899 - First yellow Lab on record, Ben of Hyde born at kennel of Major C.J. Radclyffe

yellow labrador

The first recognized yellow lab, Ben of Hyde, was born in 1899.
But the “yellow” coat of Ben of Hyde wasn’t the yellow lab color most think of today. He was a deep butterscotch color called “fox red.” The yellow labs were originally called “Golden” until the British Kennel Club began to register them and argued that gold is not a color. (If you see a “Golden Lab” today it is not a recognized breed at all but rather a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Lab.) The fox red color remained the norm until just after World War II, but as time passed, the preference shifted toward lighter shades of yellow.
http://campsmoke.fmallen.com/?p=2623
1903 - Labradors recognized by the kennel club in England

Early 20th Century - Scottish style shooting and the prestige of bringing over a Scottish gamekeeper led to the importing of Labs to America

1916 - Labrador Club formed in England instrumental in this were Lord Knutsford (Munden Kennel line) and Lady Lorna, Countess Howe (Banchory Labradors)

1917 - First Labs registered in the American Kennel Club

1931 - The Labrador Retriever Club incorporated in the U.S. and the first American field trial for Labs held at the Glenmere Court Estate in Chester, NY

1930's - Field trial clubs spread throughout the U.S.

1933 - First American specialty for Labs held in NYC and judged by Mrs. Marshall Field

Late 1930's - Chocolates became known in 2 British kennels, Tibshelfs and Cookridge

1938 - First dog to appear on the cover of Life Magazine-" Blind of Arden" , a black Lab belonging to W. Averell Harriman. At 4 years of age he won the top US Retriever stake that year.

1941 - National Retriever Club established in the U.S.

Late 1940's and 1950's - Social and economic changes that developed after World War II led to the growing popularity of the Lab with Americans from all walks of life

1959 - First dog ever to appear on a U.S. stamp, the famous black Lab, " King Buck"

1991 - Labradors leap into first place in AKC registrations

 

http://www.alllabs.com/labrador_retriever_history.htm

 

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