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Labrador Retriever Breed: The Historical Timeline Of The Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Breed - The historical Timeline of the Labrador RetrieverThe Labrador Retriever’s history is really a unique story filled with a lot of interesting information. For example, did you know that Labs descended from the St. John’s dog, which is now extinct?

The Labrador’s ancestor: St. John’s dogs

  • 1700’s – St. John’s dog is popular in Newfoundland and mainly utilized for work by local fisherman.
  • 1780 – In order to encourage sheep-raising, Newfoundland’s governor passed a law stating that there couldn’t be more than one dog per household.  This was to protect sheep herds from dogs.
  • 1807 – It is thought that a ship named the “brig Canton” shipwrecked on its’ way to England.  The ship carried some St. John’s dogs, only of which a black and a chocolate dog were found.
  • 1809 – Duke Earl of Malmesbury used St. John’s dogs for sport in England that he imported from Newfoundland.
  • 1820’s – The second Duke of Malmesbury was the first to start a kennel of Labradors.
  • 1835 – The 5th Duke of Buccleuch imported St. John’s dogs from Newfoundland as well, in order to start his own independent Labrador kennel.  His brother, Lord John Scott, also imported the dogs for breeding.

St. John’s dogs face extinction

  • 1880’s – At this time the St. John’s dogs were practically extinct in England.  The third Earl of Malmesbury, sixth Duke of Buccleuch, and twelfth Duke of Home had a serious meeting in which the possible extinction of the St. John dog was discussed.  A special breeding program was created to keep the breed alive.  The group decided to use Malmesbury’s dogs for the program, as their bloodline was not mixed, but kept within the St. John’s dog breed.

Modern day Labrador Retriever emerges

  • 1882 – “Ned,” was the first male Labrador from the program to be born.
  • 1885 – “Buccleuch Avon,” was the first female born from the program.
  • 1885 – Newfoundland’s legislature decided to require licensing for dogs in the hopes that sheep-raising would flourish.  The taxes were much higher on females, which lead to a devastating drop in reproduction.
  • 1887 – The name “Labrador” was first recorded in a letter that the Duke of Malmesbury wrote.
  • 1895 – A strict act stated that all dogs being imported to Newfoundland must undergo 6 months of quarantine.
  • 1899 – The first yellow lab, “Ben of Hyde,” was born.
  • 1903 – Labrador Retrievers were accepted as a breed in a Kennel Club in England.
  • 1917 – The Labrador Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
  • 1930’s – The St. John’s dog, the original “Labrador” dog, became extinct in Newfoundland.
  • 21st Century – Thanks to their working abilities, loving personality, and loyalty, Labrador Retrievers are now one of the most popular dogs world-wide.

From the dog’s point of view, his master is an elongated and abnormally cunning dog.  ~Mabel Louise Robinson

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