Labradors - Their history and popularity
As origins go, the one of Labradors (or Labrador Retriever as they are more correctly known) is rather remarkable--most people assume that the dog comes from Labrador. This, of course, is inaccurate. This breed's origins start in Newfoundland (the actual name 'Labrador' may come from the Labrador Current found nearby or the Portuguese word 'labrador', meaning laborer). Not so remarkable yet, but the difference between the Retriever's origins and other breeds is that no one is certain what dogs were crossed to create it. Most assume that the Greater Newfoundland played a part, but the rest is speculation. What is known is the instant popularity of the breed.
Just as it is today, the Labrador Retriever was immensely popular. Its versatility, stamina and eagerness to please marked it as the perfect companion for both worker and noble. Fisherman would take these dogs in their boats to retrieve fish that escaped the nets; landowners would use them for hunting parties and as companions. Whatever the situation, the Labrador Retriever seemed more than capable.
That seems to still be the opinion for the Retriever is most popular of all dog breeds. But why? Why the devotion to this particular dog?
It's actually quite simple: Labradors have the unique ability to be workers and playmates. Their sweet natures and loyalty make them ideal for families; their physical abilities make them perfect for those needing help with herding, fishing, hunting, serving as guide dogs, etc. And, with its willingness to do whatever is required of it, this is a breed equally suited for watchdog or traveling companion. It only wants to be with you; the rest is just extra.
With this in mind, many believe the Labrador to be the only dog breed to consider. After all, it is the most popular and how can so many people be wrong? This is never the way to think when preparing to buy a dog--what works for one family may not work for yours. The truth is: despite their multiple advantages, the Labrador is not right for all. It is a highly energetic breed and requires regular exercise and activity.
This is not a dog to simply lock in the yard and say, "Go play!" A Retriever requires time and effort from you. Also, this is not a breed that deals well with separation. Labradors want to be with you... at all times. Whether you're stepping out to get the paper or going to the store, your pet will want to be a part of it. And, since this is not always possible, a Labrador may stoop to tearing or clawing. Not everyone can deal with this. And, if you are looking for a protector, this is not the proper dog. While a Labrador will bark and is fiercely loyal to its owners, it is not an aggressive breed by nature. This type of dog would be more likely to lick a stranger than bite. As watchdogs, they fair better--but, for those seeking something with a stronger temperament, this is not the breed.
Still, if you are looking for a constant companion, this is the perfect dog. Its sweet nature and high intelligence make it easy to train (even if it does have a stubborn streak) and its playful temperament makes for a perfect "family" dog. Labradors are especially good with children and other animals.
The great difficulty in finding a Labrador (after you have decided that it is the right dog for you) is finding a credible breeder. Due to its popularity, Labradors have been the long-time favorites of puppy mills and breeders more interested in selling you a dog, then making sure it's a proper one. These mills do not check for lineage or even diseases. Instead, they breed as many pups as possible for profit.
You must avoid these mills at all costs! The Labrador you would be sold would not--in almost every case--be a healthy, normal pup. Instead, it would be more prone to diseases and temperament complications. You must, instead, seek out reputable breeders who scan for all problems and only produce pups that will be a credit to the breed.
Labradors, while not perfect for everyone, are some of the most versatile and loving dogs. If you find a place for them in your home, they will be devoted to you and your family.