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Black Labrador Retriever: Pictures, Care Guide, Info & More

old black labrador retriever dog lying outdoor

Black Labrador Retrievers are undoubtedly the most popular dog breed in the United States. They are friendly, loyal, active, intelligent, and outgoing with sweet dispositions. These dogs are part of the sporting group and are eager to please their humans.

Black Labs make excellent companions, and if you’re a hunter, they make exceptional water dogs and duck retrievers. They can grow to heights of 21.5–24.5 inches and weigh between 55–80 pounds. These sociable dogs will happily join you on hikes or other adventures, especially if water is present.

Read on to learn some interesting facts about the Black Labrador Retriever.

divider-pawThe Earliest Records of Black Labradors in History

We know from early records Black Lab records that they hail from Canada, specifically the region of Newfoundland. It is unclear, however, how these dogs were dubbed the name “Labradors” because they did not hail from that province of Canada, which is located northwest of Newfoundland.

Settlers came to Newfoundland in the 1500s and brought their “water dogs” along with them because these water dogs were excellent at fishing and hunting. It is believed that these dogs are descendants of the now extinct St. John’s water dog. These dogs were preferred over longhaired dogs because the coat was short and water-repellent, and the coat could also withstand the harsh winter climates of the region.

No records exist that tell the St. John’s water dog breed, but some guess these dogs were a mixture of Portuguese water dogs, pointer breeds, and the French St. Hubert’s Hound.

How Black Labradors Gained Popularity

The Black Lab’s popularity grew in the 1800s when English nobles visiting Canada spotted them. They were intrigued by these fascinating dogs and decided to bring them to England upon their return. These nobles called them “Labrador Dogs,” hence the name.

In the latter part of the 19th century, British breeders refined and standardized the breed, and it was then that American sportsmen adopted the dogs from England. From there, these dogs became legendary duck retrievers and gained traction in becoming the most popular dog breed overall at the time. Even today, these dogs are still considered the most popular dog breed to own in the United States.

The Black Lab’s role in human society has not really changed. These dogs are still used for fishing and hunting and still make loyal and lovable companions. They do love to exercise and play, making them more companions than just primarily sporting dogs.

Formal Recognition of the Black Labrador

In 1903, The Kennel Club-UK recognized the breed, and then Lab was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1917. In 1931, the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. was established to celebrate the breed and preserve its integrity. This club is the only club nationally recognized by the AKC as a parent club of the Labrador Retriever.

In 1996, the National Labrador Retriever Club was established to protect and observe the breed, as well. The club lists reputable breeders in the United States, along with informative articles about the breed in case you are considering adding one to your family. You can also become a member of this club if so inclined. In fact, many clubs exist recognizing this popular breed, and odds are you can find one close to wherever you live.

black labrador retriever puppy in white background
Image Credit: Viorel Sima, Shutterstock

Top 5 Unique Facts About Black Labradors

The Black Labrador has some interesting facts that we feel are worth mentioning. Let’s check them out below.

1. They Have Their Own Day

Surely the most popular dog breed in the United States has its own day, right? The National Labrador Retriever Day is observed on January 8th. While there’s no official celebration, you can celebrate this day however you’d like. Plenty of clubs and groups online celebrate the holiday, and you can participate by sharing photos and stories of your own Lab and learning about other’s Labs.

2. A Black Lab Appeared on a Waterfowl Duck Stamp

King Buck, as he was called, was a Black Lab was a famous field-trial dog that received the honor of being featured on the 1959 Federal Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. Artist Maynard Reece painted King Buck with a wounded duck in his mouth as he stood proud and noble. To date, it is the only duck stamp that doesn’t feature a waterfowl and is the most famous duck stamp to ever exist.

3. Black Is the Common Color

We thought this was interesting, especially since we’re talking about Black Labs. Almost all Labs back in the 1900s were black. The black color is a dominant gene, and pups can acquire it through either parent.

4. Their Tails Act as a Rudder

The tails on these dogs are thick and resemble an otter tail. The tails help them to maneuver through the water with ease, and it helps them make sharp turns while retrieving fowl. Their tails also sway with their entire body when excited.

5. They Were Possibly Named by the Earl of Malmesbury

The Earl of Malmesbury was a sportsman who spotted these dogs on a fishing boat in England and was impressed by their athleticism and water-maneuvering abilities. It is said that he always called his dogs “Labrador Dogs.” He also helped save them from extinction.

Does a Black Labrador Make a Good Pet?

The Black Lab makes an excellent family dog. They are gentle, loyal, loving, and sociable. Since they have an excellent temperament, they do well with children and other pets, and they love to play and be around their humans.

One thing to note is that they require a vast amount of exercise daily. Otherwise, they may become destructive and chew things up. You’ll need to devote the time to these dogs if you’re thinking of adopting one, and they do best with big, fenced yards.

They need high-quality dog food, and weekly brushings are required to keep shedding to a minimum. Ensure you have plenty of chew toys around, as well as toys for mental stimulation. Labs are wonderful dogs, and you cannot go wrong with owning one.


As you can see, Labs have an interesting and unique history. They were bred to be hunting dogs and have exceptional swimming abilities. Not only are they hunting dogs and wonderful family companions, but they also have been known to serve as police dogs.

Owning a Black Lab is a fun experience, and if you add one to your family, you’ll be adding a loving family member. They do best with active families, and it’s best to ensure you have the time to devote to these loyal and friendly dogs.

Featured Image Credit: AlkeMade, Pixabay

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