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Everything You Need to know about English Labrador Retriever

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The English Labrador Retriever is the most popular of all Labradors, and for good reason. They are one of the best family dogs because they are so gentle with children, playful with other dogs, and eager to please their owners. If you want a dog that will be your lifelong companion, then an English Lab is perfect for you!

The Appeal of the English Labrador

I am a gun dog trainer, and I have trained several American-type Labradors. But I also like the English Lab with its handsome, classic features. I have lived with a beautiful English chocolate lab that came from an English line for some time. In this article, I talk about the differences between American and English Labs. I have had experience living with and training both of these types of Labrador Retrievers. In this essay, I’ll discuss how to acquire and keep a Labrador. I also want to show you some of my favorite pictures of Labradors. If you are not sure if you want a Lab, I will help. There are 2 kinds of Labs: English and American. I will show what the difference is, and then we can decide whether we should get one or not. English Labs are very important to people. They are loved by many. We will look at how they can be suitable for different families and why they are so popular.

English Vs. American Labs

There are two distinct types of Labrador Retrievers in the world. One has been made into a fantastic family pet. The other has been made into an incredible, athletic hunting companion dog. There is a split in the dog breed. This article focuses on the English Lab. But we will also mention how it happens to American Labs too.

Why Did the Labradors Divide into English and American Labradors?

Dogs give birth to puppies each year. When this happens, they often have many of them. If they are too many, it can be challenging for the dog to take care of them all. In the twentieth century, showing dogs became popular. As a result, people began to show dogs more and more often. But before this, dogs were used for jobs like hunting or retrieving things. Because of this, many generations of Labrador Retrievers never had to work as retrievers because their ancestors did it for them. People in show rings bred their dogs, and the next thing you know, certain types of dogs became popular. People would select for these traits, and they would become more common. That’s how heavy bodies, big heads, and short legs all became much more common. People used to breed dogs for hunting companions. Now they also breed dogs that do competitions, called field trials. In the US and in the UK, Labradors people compete to see which dog has the best abilities. The winners get a title called “Field Trial Champion.” That means that they can earn money from their dogs. In field trials (testing), you get a higher score for doing things quickly and driving. Fewer points are given to steady performance. So in the past, American labs were tested on their skills of retrieving and marking prey. They were selected for being fast and energetic. Little consideration was given to their appearance. The split between the two types of Christianity happened for a short period. But it was almost all done within five decades. But, of course, some Labradors are an extreme example of one kind or another, so not all Labradors are like this. However, you may also discover examples of dogs with similar characteristics in other lines. In fact, this is a typical black English Lab from an American Labs pedigree.

Why Are They Named “English Labs”?

The term “English Labrador” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s also got Europeans stumped. Most English Labs are just as American as their other Lab cousins. They are just divided into these types of Lab, based on their role as pets or hunting companions. Labradors can be called different things depending on where you live. For example, in England, they are called Show or Bench Labradors. Other people in Britain might call these “English Labs” if they were born there. There are different types of Labradors. For example, a Lab in America is called a working or field-bred Lab. And To an Englishman, a Lab born in America is the same as a Lab born in England.

Where Did the English Labs Name Come From?

Labradors are dogs. They were made in Newfoundland by English people. They were made by English people who came to Canada with them from England to hunt and fish. English Labradors are English. This means that they were born in England. But all early Labradors were working dogs, so they weren’t English Labradors.   I have written about the history of the Labrador breed, and it is fascinating. The split between English and American labs happened later because more people wanted to keep Labradors as pets in the 1900s. Until the 1940s, there was only one type of Labrador. It was used to fetch things. Then, after that time, two types of people began breeding Labs. One type wanted the Lab to be a working retriever, and the other wanted a pet. For this article, we are going to be talking about English Labs and American Labs. And we are going to talk about the differences between these two types of Labradors. But, first, let’s look at the physical differences between them.

English Labrador Retriever Appearance

You know what a Labrador is. It is the most popular breed of dog in the world. But some things make an English Lab different from other breeds of Labradors. His lovely head and tapered tail can tell you a lot about him.

English Lab Head

English Labs have a more giant head and a heavier build than working Labradors. American Labs have a narrower skull with a less noticeable “stop” where the crown is higher from the base of the muzzle. The English Lab has large eyes that look kindly, set apart in their broad skull, while American eyes may be closer together.

English Labrador Body Shape

The “broad” subject continues as we move down the dog’s body towards his tail. His neck is sturdy, as is his chest compared to his head, and his hindquarters are muscular and powerful. And that beloved tail swishes downwards behind him, as it always does. American Labradors are very different from regular, big dogs like German Shepherds. American Labs look lean and muscular. They look like they can run fast and jump high too.

Are English Labs Shorter?

The English Labrador has a deep and broad chest, making it look shorter than the American strain. Some dogs, like show Labradors, are skinnier and taller than working strain Labs.

English Lab Otter Tail

Otters’ tails are beautiful. They usually taper to a point. But they might be dangerous for your coffee table because they can break china. In some cases, the American Lab doesn’t have a tail. Their tails are different from than Labs that were bred to show. Sometimes their seats go up, or they curve instead of going down like the other show-bred Labs. This is a critical difference between an English Lab and a working strain or American Lab:
  • Broadhead and neck with powerful features.
  • A deep, broad chest and shorter legs.
  • A thin tail that is carried low.
This show-bred dog is different than the Lab that was bred to work in the hunting companions. It has a stocky, chunky appearance that many people find attractive.

English Labrador Coat

It’s no surprise that a breed of dog originally bred to live in Newfoundland’s cold, icy waters has a fantastic coat. And even though they are not expected to swim in freezing water anymore, English show labs have kept their excellent jacket. Labradors who work and do not bother with shows don’t have a coat. They may look different from show Labs. The skins are different because of where American Labradors come from. We will talk about this, but now let’s talk about weight.

English Lab Weight

Labradors often have a heavier weight than other dogs. This is because they start as puppies and stay heavy all the way to when they are adults. If he is not fat, that does not matter. However, you can find out if your dog is overweight or just oversized with this guide.

English Lab Temperament

There are some differences between English and American Labs. But they might not be as noticeable as we would like them to be. Some English Labradors are more laid back than other types of Labrador Retrievers. Sometimes the English Labs are not always as active or energetic. This is not a bad thing because they can be easier to control. The Labradoodle may be more playful. It can be hard to control him. He might want to play with other dogs rather than fetch a ball for you. American Labrador Retrievers are strong, athletic dogs with hunting and retrieving instincts. However, they need a lot of exercise. If you give them this exercise and the mental stimulation from training and working, they can be perfect companions at home. If housemates do not have enough mental or physical energy, they can be restless and even destructive. The English Lab dog is a different type of company than the other. He may not get as much exercise. He might be bouncy and energetic if he is young, but he becomes gentle and loving when he gets older.

English Labradors: From Puppy to Adult

Here they are, all grown up and making fun of me. But, unfortunately, the differences between these two dogs are more distinct than the apparent differences. In the yellow Lab, Tess is compassionate and focused. She is also very confident. Labradors are usually like that because they come from working lines. Tess likes people and can tell what they want. She has a great work ethic, which means she is the perfect dog for the job! Rachael is also sensitive and playful. She can be less confident and restful in new situations, but she is very active and has a strong desire to retrieve things. However, unlike Tess, it is not so easy for her to use her energy in the best way. The difference in personality between different types of Labs is interesting. English Labs are more playful and easily distracted than American labs. It is a big topic of conversation.

English Lab Colors

There are three colors of English labs. They are black, chocolate, and yellow. The yellow ones can be light or deep in color. Most yellow English Labradors are pale yellow or cream-colored. But fox-reds often come from working lines.

Silver English Labs

Some dogs are silver. Their color is different because they have a gene that makes them less dark. There are silver labs that people think should be called “chocolate” because of their color. You will find it hard to find a silver Labrador. The color does not look good in the show ring, and English Labs are often bred by people who do not want to register silver dogs.

Grooming English Labs

English Labs are not high maintenance when it comes to grooming. So, of course, they will get themselves dirty with dirt or mud. But their coat is nearly dirt resistant, so you do not need to worry too much. Bathing a dog is good when they are smelly or have gotten into something. First, wash them once in three months. Then, brush their coat with a grooming brush to make it nice and shiny. Labs are dogs that are constantly shedding. Therefore, you need to use a Furminator brush to make it more accessible during their shedding season.

Is there a specific breed standard for English Labs?

Labrador Retrievers should all be the same breed. However, I think that they might not be as close to the breed standard as we thought. People judge dogs differently. They believe them against how they look. This is because some people breed dogs to work and just to show off. In reality, breed standards are open to interpretation. As a result, people have made changes on both sides of the divide – show dogs have become more heavily built, and working dogs have become more “racy”. We have also seen dogs with big heads and loose skin. This is because they do not have as much hair as before. On the other hand, working dogs do not have long tails like they used to. Some of them do not even have a double coat anymore.

English Lab Health

Labrador Retrievers have some diseases. These can be avoided by choosing a puppy from parents who have passed a test to show they are healthy. Labs can get sick. It’s essential to go see the doctor often, so you will know if they have any health problems. Labs are one of the best breeds because they get regular checkups and don’t usually have a lot of medical issues. Labradors are more likely to have these health problems:
  • Hip dysplasia and elbow issues are common problems.
  • They also have a high risk of cataracts and other eye problems.
  • Cancer is a significant problem for Labradors in general.
  • Labradors can develop diabetes, but it is manageable with proper treatment.
The life expectancy of a Labrador is 20-30 years. You may discover more about their health and longevity in the section below. Also, learn which medical examinations are necessary for Labradors. Finally, let’s speak about another health problem for show line Labradors: obesity.

Obesity in English Labradors: How Chubby Can You Go?

Some Labradors are more likely to be overweight than other breeds. But whether or not they are overweight will depend on you. If you have a friend’s dog that is also overweight, it is easier to let your dog get a little chubby too. Studies have shown that the most important thing for a dog to stay healthy and happy is to avoid becoming obese.

Training Your English Lab

The English Labrador has a reputation for being an obedient dog. They are used as service dogs, and they deserve their reputation. Owners of English labs do not have any problems. However, you might need some help sometimes. Labradors can be challenging during their biting phase and when they become teenagers. However, they will not stop, and they will be powerful and energetic. It’s essential to train your dog in a way that they like. If you do, they will really be good.

English Lab Breeders

For a Lab with a stocky appearance and otter tail, go to a breeder who specializes in English lines. Some American Labs are very handsome, but you won’t find those that look like this at working kennels. When you find a dog, try to find a breeder who is a show champion. They will have something after their name that says SH CH. Instead of American labs, they might be FTCH which means they are field trial champions. Aside from this, much of the work of finding a good breeder is the same for either type of Lab. Check out the link to find more information.

The Future of the English Lab

Many people don’t care about how their dogs look. But some people want to see what the classic type of Labrador looks like that works in fields. I tried it with English or mixed Labs but didn’t have much success. Some people in the English Lab show community train their dogs to work in the shooting field. It is, however, quite unusual. So it is true that there is a difference between English Labs and American Labs. You can choose a Labradoodle or a Lab mix. You will enjoy your dog for many years. English Labradors are an unspoiled breed. Let’s hope they stay that way and don’t change. English Labs love retrieving and love to wallow in the mud.


  • WebMD. Flowers, A., DVM. Diabetic Dog: How to Manage His Diet.
  • The Journal of Nutrition. Hawthorne, A. J. et al. Body Weight Changes During Growth in Puppies of Different Breeds (2014).
  • The Journal of Nutrition. Sallander, M. H. et al. Diet, Exercise, and Weight as Risk Factors in Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Arthrosis in Labrador Retrievers (2006)
  • Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Smith, G. K. VMD et al. Evaluation of risk factors for degenerative joint disease associated with hip dysplasia in German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers (2001).

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