Ten things you didn't know about Labradors

Danielle Petch

Labrador Retrievers: they really are man’s best friend. Loyal, intelligent, and friendly in nature, the Labrador posses a number of wonderful traits. 

Loved the world over, they famously make great pets, but there are a few things about this popular dog breed that may take you by surprise. So, in celebration of this much-loved breed, we’ve rounded up a few of the lesser-known facts – here are ten things you (probably) didn’t know about Labradors. 

Labrador Retrievers aren’t from Labrador at all 

Despite what their name will have you believe, Labradors actually originated from Newfoundland, Canada. The breed dates back to the 1700s with the Lab’s ancestor, the St John’s dog, named after the capital city of Newfoundland. Now sadly extinct, St John’s were fellow water dogs that looked much like the Labradors we know and love today. 

They are America’s favourite breed

In fact, they’ve taken the top spot in America for the last 29 years(!), according to the American Kennel Club. Labradors also hold firm in the top spot for the UK and Canada’s most popular breed. 

They’re popular on TrustedHousesitters, too

Of all the four-legged, canine members we have at TrustedHousesitters, Labrador Retrievers are the most popular. With so many Labrador members on the site, we wonder – have you ever cared for a Labrador on one of your house sits?

They are unwaveringly brave

Thanks to their incredible courage and eagerness to please, Labradors make wonderful assistance dogs. In fact, in 2002 a Lab named Endal won the PDSA’s Gold Medal after his owner, Allen fell from his wheelchair and lost consciousness. After pulling his owner into the recovery position, Endal covered him with a blanket and pushed a mobile to Allen's face. It was only after Allen regained consciousness that this loyal pup went to fetch help.

They could even save your life

Labradors are one of the breeds most often picked for assistance work. In fact, the first dog to detect a Diabetic episode (according to the Guinness World Records) was a Labrador named Armstrong. Armstrong had been trained to detect specific smells in the air found in a person’s saliva, which indicates rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels. Now that's what we call a Good Boy!

They’re born swimmers

With their thick tails (also known as ‘otter tails’), webbed feet and waterproof coats, they are powerful, strong swimmers –  perfect, for the icy waters of Newfoundland where they originate from. They’re water dogs to the bone, so when the hot weather makes an appearance this summer don’t forget to allow Fido a nice cool-down dip. 

They’re much faster than you would think!

While they might not be one of the first breeds you think of when it comes to the fastest dog breeds, Labradors are incredibly quick runners and can reach speeds of around 12mph in just three seconds.

They are big foodies

Which dog isn’t? Labradors are notorious for loving nothing more than chowing down on their dinner - and anything else they might find! Unfortunately, this does mean that they are a breed more prone to obesity, or potentially eating something they shouldn’t.

On the plus side, this also means that positive reinforcement training using treats is one of the best and most effective ways to teach your Lab a new trick! 

They are canine brainiacs

In fact, they rank among the top ten most intelligent dog breeds, meaning they are quick to pick up new skills. It’s also why they’re often first in line for service dog work, as well as search and rescues and therapy work. 

But, they probably won’t make a great guard dog

Unfortunately, their friendly and people-loving nature means these dogs aren’t the best choice for a guard dog. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Lab owners to admit their companion is far more likely to welcome an intruder with a wagging tail than scare them off! 

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