Why are they called Labrador Retrievers?

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March 9, 2018
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Why are they called Labrador Retrievers?

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Why are they called Labrador Retrievers

So you own or want to own a Labrador Retriever. That’s great. They are highly intelligent and athletic dogs and a British Lab will make a great pet or hunting companion. Today we take a look at where the name comes from.

What is Labrador

Labrador is in Canada at the northeastern tip of the Canadian mainland. It is believed that the Vikings were the first Europeans to set their eyes on Labrador in the 11th Century but they did not establish a settlement. Its name comes from Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador who explored the area in the late 15th century. The Portuguese removed many of the natives and placed them into slavery since they were well suited for manual labor. The Portuguese also gave the land the name Terra de Labrador. The French later claimed the territory and established colonies there but later ceded the territory to the British following the Seven Years War. It officially became a province of Canada in 1949 when Newfoundland became a part of Canada.

Geographically it is the easternmost part of the Canadian shield and drains into both the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson Bay. The southernmost part of the peninsula is a subarctic climate while the northern part has a polar climate. In modern times it shares a border with Quebec and the Nunavut Territory and is a part of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As of 2016 27,197 people (mostly Inuit) call Labrador home and mostly reside on the coast. The largest settlement is Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is home to the largest military airbase in that part of North America.

Why was it named

A particular breed of dog originated on the island of Newfoundland and became known as the St. John’s water dog, St. John’s Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland. It was a mix of many different English, Portuguese and Irish working breeds randomly brought together by settlers. The first dogs were brought to the island by Portuguese fisherman and were used to help pull nets from the water. These dogs often has a white chest, feet, chin and muzzle and these traits will occasionally appear in a Labrador Retriever.

The first descriptions of the dog came from the early 19th century and described them as excellent working dogs, athletic and good for hunting. They were brought to England around 1820 but their reputation had preceded them. Renowned British hunter James Harris, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury was so impressed with their ability to retrieve anything on land and water that he began importing and breeding them. The breed was eventually given the name Labrador Retriever since they had worked around the Labrador Sea and to differentiate it from another breed called the Newfoundland. Overtime the dog was also bred in the United States creating a British (or English) and American Labrador Retriever.

Labrador Retrievers are considered to be the most popular dog in the world and are the most popular breed in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are great dogs for hunters or as working dogs and can be used as drug sniffers, rescue dogs, guide dogs or therapy dogs as well. British Labs make for great pets, so if you are interested in owning a British Lab you are making a great choice.

Some research references from this content piece.


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