You probably won’t be to surprised to hear this — but Labrador Retrievers are Americas most popular dog breed. And they have been for the last 31 years! But have you ever wondered: What is it that makes them so popular?
The Labrador retriever has earned the reputation of being one of the sweetest-natured breeds, and this reputation is well-deserved. These creatures are social and friendly with people as well as other animals. They’re outgoing and eager to please.
The Labrador was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917. However, they didn’t get into the AKC’s Top Ten registry list until the 1970s. And even then they were only at number 9. They jumped into the Top Three in the 80s, and have been on top of the list since 1991. Yup, for 31 years in a row. Now if that isn’t impressive I don’t know what is!
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If you wonder who was number one before the Lab, it was the Cocker Spaniel. This breed held the record of 23 years of being on top! And today he isn’t even found in the top ten list. But more on that later.
So if you are now intrigued by what makes the Labrador Retriever so special and the most popular dog breed for such a long time, keep on reading to find out!
Quick Lab History Lesson
Before we begin talking about the enchanting personality of the Labrador retriever, let’s have a quick history lesson first. Let’s see what his origins are and where he comes from.
The name of the breed suggests that it came from Labrador, but that isn’t the case. Labrador Retrievers were first developed in Newfoundland in the 1500s. A breed called the St. John’s Water Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland was born when small water dogs were mixed with Newfoundlands at the time, which led to a new breed.
The dogs were exclusive to Newfoundland until the early 1800s, when they were brought to Poole, England, as part of a breeding program. The Earl of Malmesbury had witnessed the breed in action and had quickly carried them back to his home in Oxfordshire. He was also the first person to call them Labradors.
The Earl’s son began breeding these dogs soon after. By 1903, the English Kennel Club had officially recognized Labradors as a breed.
The popularity of the breed began to increase during World War II. Later on, hunters and farmers discovered the work ethic of the breed in the United States, who introduced “Labs” into their daily life as early as the early 20th century as their working companion.
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Labs have been one of the best dog companions ever since. And they are also equally as popular amongst famous people.
Some of the most popular Lab owners are the royal family: the Queen of England as well as Prince Charles, Harry and Prince William. Besides the royals family, other famous Labrador owners include: Ernest Hemingway, Bill Clinton, and Drew Barrymore.
What makes them so special?
The one thing that makes Labs so special is how versatile they are! They will fit in all kinds of different households. If you want the perfect family dog, that gets along not only with people, but with other animals as well — the Labrador Retriever is the way to go.
Labs are active and can be the perfect companion for jogs around the neighborhood or adventurous hikes. But they also enjoy relaxing on the couch while watching your favorite Netflix shows.
They basically embody the American dream — this is the dog you want to look over your perfect suburban family home with the huge backyard and swimming pool. Labs will love to take a dip in it while playing with your kids.
They are active and reliable dogs that in addition too all of their amazing personality traits also have a stunning appearance with an manageable coat. Labs will shed, however, they aren’t as hard to groom as you would might expect.
They are generally healthy dogs and have a lifespan of about 12 years. So they will be around for quite some time for you to enjoy their company.
There are actually two different types of Labrador Retrievers
Over the last fifty or so years, Labradors in both the United Kingdom and the United States have virtually been divided into two distinct strains the English and the American.
1. English or show bred labradors
2. American or working bred labradors
The appearance of dogs bred for the show ring differs significantly from those raised for the field and working. Working dogs tend to be a bit larger and more robust than show dogs. When it comes to personality, there is a chance that no difference exists.
Some believe that the color of Labs’ fur determines their temperament or their country of origin (the United States or the United Kingdom), however, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. One thing that a lot of vets do notice is that each Labrador is a unique individual with his personality. Certain Labs are more laid back, and others are more high-energy.
One thing remains constant, though, no matter what personality your Lab puppy eventually develops: he will always be a Lab.
The full “AKC Top Ten list”
While the other nine spots in the top ten list change every year, the number one spot seems to be set in stone.
You’re probably curious to know what other breeds have found a spot in this prestige ranking. We won’t let you go without answers, so here is the full list:
1. Labrador retriever
2. French bulldog
3. Golden retriever
4. German shepherd
9. German shorthaired pointer
The Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Poodle and Dachshund are also common names on this list. You will find them in most of the rankings from the last 20 years. Some newer and surprising additions are the French Bulldog and German shorthaired pointer.
And while we do see why the Labrador is so popular, we have to say that every single dog breed will have its perks and possible problems.
So even if your favorite breed of dog didn’t make the cut to get on this list, that doesn’t mean that they are any less worthy of your love and admiration than the Labrador Retriever is.