The Labrador Retriever breed history can be traced back more than 200 years. Their ancestors originally lived and worked in Newfoundland. Today’s Labrador Retriever descended from the ‘St Johns’ dog of North America Labrador history.
St John’s dogs assisted fishermen in Newfoundland and in all likelihood descended from the larger Newfoundland dogs of that region. The St John’s dogs were noted for their love of water, retrieving abilities and superb temperament. They were extremely popular hunting and sporting dogs.
In the early 1800s, the first St John’s dogs were imported into England. The name Labrador became common very early on and was probably simply a reference to the location of Labrador in the region from which the dogs were imported.
The history of the Labrador breeding program
Two English aristocrats were responsible for the establishment of the St John’s dog. Ironically, their efforts were independent of each other. They were impressed by the exceptional abilities of these adaptable and hardy retrievers as gundogs.
The first kennels was established by the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury in the early 1800s. A few years later another kennel was set up by the 5th Duke of Buccleuch. These pioneers were vital influences in the history of the Labrador. They bred and imported St John’s dogs, but not in great numbers. the breed would probably have died out had their son’s not met by chance in the late 1800s.
Labrador Retrievers at Buccleuch Kennels
The meeting between the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury and the 6th Duke of Buccleuch, and the exchange of breeding stock from Malmesbury to Buccleuch, resulted in a successful breeding program. It was established at the Buccleuch Kennels in Scotland in the 1880s. The Buccleuch breeding program was the foundation of the modern working Labrador Retriever breed – The delightful dogs we know and love, that are still thriving today!
The Labrador Retriever was recognized as a pedigree breed in 1903. The popularity of the breed increased over many generations, as a service dog, shooting companion and family pet.
Labrador Retriever History from around the Web
The Retriever, Dog, & Wildlife Blog
Teasing apart the history of the Newfoundland dog, the St. John’s water dog, and the retrievers – The most important aspect of the history of the Labrador Retriever is that it was the first breed to become globally popular.
Labrador Retrievers in the News
The Labrador Retriever’s tail may not tell you exactly what your dog is thinking but it can give you a pretty good idea. Every morning when I walk down the stairs from my bedroom Charlie our Labrador retriever is waiting his tail whipping back and forth in a black and more.…