Labrador Retrievers are some of the smartest dogs on the planet. These dogs are gentle, docile, and do well with children and other pets. They are affectionate, loyal, and love to be around their humans. Some labs may be more energetic than others, but one thing’s for sure: they love their human families.
Sure, Labrador Retrievers have awesome characteristics and traits, but how much do you actually know about them? If you want to learn some interesting particulars about these special dogs, read on to discover 20 fun Labrador Retriever facts!
The 20 Labrador Retriever Facts
1. They Love Water
Labradors are descendants of the St. John’s water dogs, which were bred for fishing. These dogs would help their humans fish. They even retrieved fish that escaped the hooks.
Labrador Retrievers have webbed toes, which allow them to swim easily, and their coats are virtually waterproof. Labs also have a double coat that shields them from harsh climates and cold water. The topcoat repels water and catches dirt and debris. The undercoat is dense, providing insulation from harsh weather.
2. They Were Bred for Hunting
In the 19th century, British hunters began importing Labs from Newfoundland due to the fact that Labs were excellent fishing dogs. Labs started out as duck retrievers, and, in the 1800s, they were brought to England by the Earl of Malmesbury, where they were bred as hunting companions.
3. They Come in Three Colors
The Lab’s common colors are yellow, black, and chocolate. At least, these are the colors recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Actually, other colors you may see are White Labs and Red Labs, but they are not as common.
4. Silver Labrador Retrievers Exist
Even though we just stated that they come in three common colors, with white and red being rare, Silver Labs have been spotted, too. Silver Labs are actually Chocolate Labs, but they get the silver appearance because of a diluted coat. The dilute gene is a recessive gene, which is what makes the coat silver. Both parents must have the gene for a pup to end up silver. Silver Labs resemble Weimaraners.
5. All Three Common Colors Can Be in One Litter
One litter of Labs may consist of all three common colors: yellow, black, and chocolate. This happens because of the parents’ genotype, and it doesn’t matter what colors the parents are.
6. They Are Versatile Sporting Dogs
Labs make excellent sporting dogs, and you’ll even find them running agility courses, competing in flyball competitions, or in rallies. Their intelligence and eagerness to please their humans make them a natural at such events, and it’s a terrific form of exercise for them.
7. They Are Not From Labrador
Contrary to their name, Labrador Retrievers are not from Labrador, Canada. They are actually from Newfoundland and originated in the 1500s. Who would have thought?
8. Led Zeppelin’s Song “Black Dog” Was Named After a Black Lab.
When Led Zeppelin was recording their album, Led Zeppelin IV, they couldn’t help but notice a Black Lab that roamed the vicinity of the recording studio. A song on the album titled “Black Dog” is not about a Black Lab at all. Rather, it’s about a woman with whom Robert Plant has a relationship, and things did not go in his favor. The band didn’t have a title for the song and ultimately named the track after the Black Lab they befriended.
9. A Lab Went to Jail
There once was a Black Lab named Pep or “Pep the Black,” and Pep went to prison for killing a cat in 1924! Even though this seems like a fairy tale, it’s actually a true story.
Gifford Pinchot, the then-governor of Pennsylvania, owned Pep. Pep killed the governor’s cat, and after committing such a heinous crime, Pep was sentenced to life without parole at Eastern State Penitentiary and even had a prisoner ID number. You can read the story here.
10. A Black Lab Was Mayor
You read that right. There was a Black Lab and Rottweiler mix named Bosco, and he was elected mayor of Sunol, California, in 1981, and he served until his death in 1994. Bosco Ramos was nominated as a joke, but in a bizarre turn of events, he actually beat out two humans. A life-size bronze statue was erected in 2008 and stands outside the local post office, commemorating Bosco and his duties.
11. Labrador Retrievers Make Excellent Guide Dogs
It’s no surprise that Labs make excellent guide dogs due to their intelligence, sociability, hardworking nature, and gentle personalities. Roughly 70% of Labs are guide dogs, and they rank number one on AKC’s list of excellent guide dogs.
12. Meet Bella, the World’s Oldest Labrador Retriever
Bella was a Black Lab from Derbyshire, England, who lived to be 29 years old. She was adopted from the RSPCA in 1987 at age 3, where she lived with her humans until her death in 2008. Bella suffered a heart attack while vacationing with her humans and had to be put down. She is greatly missed.
13. Meet Jake, a Hero
Jake lived in Utah and was born in 1995. Jake was a Black Lab and served as a search and rescue dog, lending his help to well-known disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Jake had a decade-long career but had to stop serving after he developed cancer in 2006. His owner found him at 10 months old with a broken leg and dislocated hip. Someone abandoned this amazing dog, but his service might never have been if his owner had not rescued him.
He passed away in 2007 at the age of 12 from a rare blood disease, possibly from his rescue efforts at Ground Zero in New York City. Thank you for your service, Jake.
14. First to Appear on the Cover of Life Magazine
A Black Lab was the first dog to ever appear on the cover of Life magazine. The issue was launched on December 12, 1938, and featured Blind of Arden, a Black Lab that had won the Retriever of the Year contest. The Long Island Retriever Club held the contest, which tested different dogs on fetching and retrieving.
15. Labs Almost Became Extinct
Can you imagine life without Labrador Retrievers? We certainly can’t, and that almost happened. This breed almost became extinct in England due to the government placing heavy taxes on the dogs. The move was to encourage sheep raising rather than dogs, and households could have only one dog. The Earl of Malmesbury helped save these dogs by importing St. John’s water dogs and breeding them for hunting. St. John’s water dogs are now extinct.
16. The AKC Recognized the Breed in 1917
The Labrador Retriever was recognized by the AKC in 1917. However, the Kennel Club in England recognized them in 1903. Labs have been the most registered dog breed year after year since 1991.
17. They Have “Soft” Mouths
As we know, Labs are excellent retrievers and were bred for hunting and retrieving kills, particularly fowl. Retrievers need soft mouths so as to not damage the carcass upon retrieving it and bringing it back to its owner for eating. A lot of training and patience is required to achieve a soft mouth in a dog, and some Labs are naturals at it.
18. They Have Boundless Energy
Labs have strong work ethics and were bred for hard work, running, and especially swimming. Most Labs are laid-back, but if they don’t get enough exercise, they can be destructive, such as chewing anything in sight and even escaping the yard.
19. They Can Detect Cancer
Labs have an exceptional sense of smell and can detect cancer in a person. They can also detect if someone is about to have a seizure 45 minutes before it happens. They also have the ability to calm someone who is having a panic attack or a PTSD episode.
20. An Australian Black Lab Turns Up After Being Declared Missing
Sabi, a Black Lab, went missing during a mission in the Afghan desert. Sabi worked with Australian troops to sniff out explosives, and the troops were separated from her during a battle that injured nine troops. Miraculously, Sabi resurfaced after spending a year with the Taliban. An American soldier spotted her and recognized she had been trained for military service. Thanks to the American soldier, she was reunited with her comrades.
As you can see, Labrador Retrievers are pretty amazing, and these fun facts help show just how amazing they actually are. These dogs are gentle, affectionate, loyal, and make remarkable family pets. They do need adequate exercise, but they are happy to snuggle up with you on the couch, too.
If you’re considering adding a Lab to your family, you will have many years of companionship, and your Lab may even rescue you from a dicey situation!
Featured Image Credit: Tina-Rencelj, Shutterstock