The Labrador Retriever happily bounds into a room, a friendly dog breed with big personality and strong work ethic. Known as a hunting and sport dog, the breed typically has high energy and intelligence. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists the Labrador Retriever as the most popular breed according to their registration statistics.
This distinctive breed has an interesting history and even Lab enthusiasts may enjoy discovering a few fun and unique facts about them.
1. 1917: AKA Officially Recognizes Labrador Retriever as Breed
The Labrador Retriever hails from Newfoundland and bears the Labrador name because the animals originated as work dogs from the Labrador Sea. According to K9 Magazine, the third Earl of Malmesbury was influential in naming the breed, which was officially established in 1903.
2. Descended from Now Extinct Breed
Today's Labrador Retrievers are descended from the St. John's Water Dog, a breed that's now considered to be extinct. The St. John's Water Dog was the helper to Newfoundland fishermen, retrieving fish and pulling in the nets. Their short hair and water-repellent coat were ideal for this work, as was their temperament and their desire to work hard.
3. Golden Retriever is Not a Labrador
The Labrador Retriever has three color variations: yellow, black, and chocolate. Golden is not one of those variations, although it's often mistaken for the Lab. The Golden Retriever and Lab have many similarities. Both are hunting and sport dogs with friendly, vivacious personalities. However, the Golden's a breed of its own, recognized by the AKC in 1925.
4. Oldest Labrador was 27
Adjutant the Labrador Retriever lived for 27 years and three months, from August 1936 to November 1963. This officially registered male Lab also has the distinction of being the seventh oldest known dog in history. Adjutant lived his life in the United Kingdom.
In 2008, the U.K. news source The Telegraph reported that a Lab owned by a Derbyshire couple may have outlived Adjutant. Their Lab cross named Bella passed away at the age of 29. However, because Bella's owners did not have any official documentation for her birth, the record for longest Labrador Retriever life is still held by Adjutant.
5. A Labrador was First Dog to Appear on Cover of Life Magazine
On December 12, 1938, the popular Life Magazine featured the first dog on its cover. The dog was a Labrador Retriever named Blind of Arden who belonged to W. Averell Harriman, a resident of New York state. LIFE photographer George Karger took the iconic picture after Blind of Arden won the No. 1 U.S. Retriever Stake of the Year, held by the Long Island Retriever Club.
6. Not All Labs Like to Swim
The Labrador Retriever may have its origins as a sea dog, working with the fishermen of Newfoundland. However, not all Labs love water despite being a breed known for its water-repellent coat and ability to excel at swimming. It's possible that you may adopt a Lab who feels anxious around water. If this is your Labrador, you may be able to encourage his love for water by allowing him to explore and learn at his own pace. Remember, never force a dog into a situation that causes anxiety or fear.
7. Jake: A True Hero
When his owner, Mary Flood, adopted Jake, he was a 10-month-old disabled puppy who had been abandoned with a broken leg and a dislocated hip, reports Fox News. Mary Flood took him in, helped him regain his health, and eventually he trained as a search-and-rescue dog. When Mary, as a member of the Utah Task Force 1, went to help at Ground Zero after 9/11, Jake was a member of the team. Jake worked with Mary and the search teams at Ground Zero and then later he passed his official training as a U.S. government-certified rescue dog. There are less than 200 of these animals.
Jake also worked after Hurricane Katrina hit, searching for survivors. In addition to his rescue work, he spent countless hours working as a therapy dog with pediatric burn victims and seniors. As he matured, he even trained younger dogs. Jake succumbed to cancer in 2007, but his memory lives on with his owner Mary and the numbers of people he helped and gave comfort to during the darkest of times.