The Labrador is one of the best all-round dogs in the world. Not only used for retrieving game, he has also made his mark in the world of assistance dogs and as a ‘sniffer’ dog for drug and arms detection. It is popularly thought that he originated on the coast of Newfoundland, where fishermen were seen to use a dog of similar appearance to retrieve fish.
An excellent water dog, his weather-resistant coat and unique tail, likened to that of an otter because of its shape, emphasise this trait. A real gentleman, he adores children and has a kind and loving nature and a confident air. The big city is not really his scene; a bit of a country squire at heart, he comes into his own in rural surroundings.
Comparatively speaking, the Labrador is not a very old breed: its breed club was formed in 1916 and the Yellow Labrador Club founded in 1925. It was in field trialling that the Labrador found early fame, having been originally introduced to Great Britain in the late 1800s by Col Peter Hawker and the Earl of Malmesbury. It was a dog called Malmesbury Tramp that was described by Lorna, Countess Howe, as one of the ‘tap roots’ of the modern Labrador.
Strongly built, short-coupled, very active; broad in skull; broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and strong over loins and hindquarters.
Good-tempered, very agile (which precludes excessive body weight or excessive substance). Excellent nose, soft mouth; keen love of water. Adaptable, devoted companion.
Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness.
Head and Skull
Skull broad with defined stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks. Jaws of medium length, powerful not snipy. Nose wide, nostrils well developed.
Medium size, expressing intelligence and good temper; brown or hazel.
Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far back.
Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Clean, strong, powerful, set into well placed shoulders.
Shoulders long and sloping. Forelegs well boned and straight from elbow to ground when viewed from either front or side.
Chest of good width and depth, with well sprung barrel ribs - this effect not to be produced by carrying excessive weight. Level topline. Loins wide, short-coupled and strong.
Well developed, not sloping to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks well let down, cowhocks highly undesirable.
Round, compact; well arched toes and well developed pads.
Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with short, thick, dense coat, thus giving ‘rounded’ appearance described as ‘Otter’ tail. May be carried gaily but should not curl over back.
Free, covering adequate ground; straight and true in front and rear.
Distinctive feature, short dense without wave or feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch; weather-resistant undercoat.
Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.
Ideal height at withers: dogs: 56-57 cms (22-221/2 ins); bitches: 55-56 cms (211/2-22 ins).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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