Labrador retriever: the Canadian origin!

Narrated from: Dog Breeds

Today the most popular dog breed in the USA is the Labrador Retriever. Labs have been the undisputed nation’s favorite for 20 years! Labrador retrievers are also immensely popular in all other English-speaking countries, including Australia, the UK and Canada.

However, the path of the Labrador retriever to No. 1 in the USA is quite a long one.
The breed originated on the distant island of Newfoundland, which is now part of the province Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada – hence the name “Labrador”. Labrador Retrievers are direct descendants of a dog breed known as “St. John’s Water Dog”.

Curiously, the origin of the St. John’s dog is unknown; however, it is widely believed that St. John’s dogs are a Newfoundland mix of emigrant English and Irish breeds, with just a pinch of Portuguese blood.

St. John’s dogs are the forefathers of all modern Retrievers. A cousin to the Labrador Retrievers is the popular Newfoundland dog; it turns out that some St. John’s dogs were bred with mastiffs and the large Newfoundland was the furry result. The smaller St. John’s dogs were originally used for retrieving fishermen’s nets and the breed was praised for their loyalty and hard-working nature.

St John’s dogs had such a good reputation that some of them were brought back to England. It was there that the modern Labrador was born. Actually, Labradors differ very little from St. John’s dogs in appearance and character; however, they were bred by noblemen and used for hunting, and so this English branch was named Labrador after the province from which St. John’s dogs originated.

The name Labrador Retriever was widespread across England by 1870; in the next fifty years the first yellow and chocolate Labradors were born.  It was from England that the Labs would spread all across the globe. The breed started to gain popularity in the USA in the 1900s, although then Labs were still known as “English Retrievers” and considered foreigners.

Well, it is hard to think of Labrador Retrievers as foreigners nowadays. They are an integral part of the USA - just as is any American. And it was quite a ride to get here – the Labrador forefathers had to cross the Atlantic not once, but twice! From Western Europe to cloudy Newfoundland, then back again – and finally, in the beginning of the 20th century, Labradors finally arrived in the New World.

Quite a long road for a dog, but in the end Labrador Retrievers reached their own Promised Land – that being a comfy couch in your living room!

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