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Dog Breed Spotlight: Labrador Retriever

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The most popular dog breed in the United States for 19 years in a row (and counting), the Labrador Retriever is the family dog par excellence. Great for families and gentle with children, Labs also make devoted dogs for single people and couples. Their affectionate nature, intelligence and willingness to please make them good at everything they do.

Ironically, this most popular of all dogs in America (and Great Britain) hails from Canada. Originally from Newfoundland, the St. John Water Dog, as he was then known, first became known for helping fishermen with their nets and catches. Small water dogs were crossed with Newfoundlands to produce these St. John Water Dogs — named after the St. John Waterway. Great swimmers, these water dogs could withstand cold temperatures in the water. It was only later that the dogs were bred with sporting dogs, such as Setters, Spaniels and other Retrievers to produce the Labrador Retriever that we know today.

Labrador Retrievers date back to dogs from 1878. The Kennel Club in Britain recognized the Labrador Retriever as a breed in 1903. Labrador Retrievers came to the United States from Britain around 1917 and the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1917. British dogs continued to come into the U.S. in great numbers during the 1920s and ë30s, forming the basis for the breed in the U.S.

The Labrador Retriever today is found in black, chocolate and yellow. Labs excel at many kinds of work, including being guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, assistance dogs, narcotics dogs, and working with police departments. The Lab continues to work in the field as a retriever and hunter. He is perhaps unrivaled as a water dog and is enthusiastic in agility, obedience and rally. If you want a dog that can do it all, the Labrador Retriever may be the dog for you.

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