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Labrador Retriever


Labrador Retrievers or “Labs” are one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia and around the world. 


Despite what their name might suggest the breed actually originated in Newfoundland in the 1500s. At the time, small water dogs were bred with Newfoundlands to create a breed called the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland

These dogs were owned by fishermen and jumped into icy water to bring back fish that had fallen off the fishing hooks. They would also pull in fish-filled nets. The breed was perfect for these jobs because their coat repelled water and their webbed paws made them excellent swimmers.

The dogs continued to live exclusively in Newfoundland until the early 1800s when they were imported to Poole, England.

Bucceleuch Avon (born 1885, Scotland) is said to be
the ancestor of all English Labradors
The 2nd Earl of Malmesbury had seen the breed in action and immediately brought them home.

Both the Earl and Duke of Malmesbury used them in shooting sports (duck hunting) and began to call them their “Labrador Dogs.” The name stuck and the Earl’s son began breeding the dogs. By 1903, Labradors were recognised by the English Kennel Club.

The breed began to grow in popularity. In the early 1900s, hunters and farmers from the United States learned of the breed’s work ethic and began incorporating “Labs” into their daily lives. The American Kennel Club recognised Labrador Retrievers in 1917 and the breed became a loving pet to many families.

These days Labradors are often trained to become guide dogs for the blind, handicapped assistance dogs and ‘sniffer’ dogs for drugs and arm detection.

Labrador Superpup - Credit: Assistance Dogs Australia


Labrador Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs with sturdy, athletic builds, making them very agile. They come in black, yellow, which is a mutation of the black and a rarer chocolate brown.

They have a broad, clean-cut head with hanging ears and alert, friendly and intelligent eyes. They have thick noses and wide muzzles and strong necks.

Labradors have a double coat: a soft downy undercoat that keeps them dry and warm in cold water and a hard outer coat that helps them repel water, making them excellent water dogs.

  • Height: Males: 56-57cm; Females: 54-56cm 
  • Weight: 25-34 kg

For the full breed standard, visit the ANKC website.


Their temperament is intelligent with a strong will to please his owner. They have a kind nature with no trace of aggression or shyness.

As true family dogs, Labs usually get along well with children are known to be incredibly loyal, loving and active. Because of this, Labs are best suited to homes where they can get plenty of exercise, attention and training.

Health & Lifespan

Labrador Retrievers have three main health problems to watch for: Elbow Dysplasia which is a degenerative disease of the elbow joints; Hip Dysplasia which is a degenerative disease of the hips; over-eating which can lead to dog obesity and this can cause problems with the joints and early onset of canine arthritis.

Elbow and hip dysplasia problems can be avoided by buying dogs from parents that have been x-rayed and cleared of these conditions. 

Overeating can be controlled by maintaining a strict diet and giving your Labrador plenty of regular exercise

The average lifespan of a Labrador Retriever is 12-14 years.

However a 2018 study led by the University of Sydney has revealed the life expectancy of chocolate Labradors is significantly lower than their black and yellow counterparts!

Recommended for
The ideal owner for a Labrador Retriever is a family because they like to be part of all their activities. They are versatile animals and are also good with elderly people.

For more information, please contact:

Labrador Retriever Club of NSW Inc.
Labrador Retriever Club of QLD
Labrador Retriever Club of Victoria Inc.
The Labrador Retriever Club of SA
Labrador Retriever Club of WA

If you'd like to re-home a Lab, please visit Labrador Rescue Inc.  
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