DOGS WITH JOBS: Labrador Retrievers

an owner kneeling next to his black lab in a field wearing a long sleeve shirt, vest and ball cap

Blessed with a perpetual grin and soft floppy ears, Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed of dogs in America since 1991. As anyone who has ever owned one of these lovable workhorses knows, they quickly secure a place in your heart, becoming a lifelong companion and cherished member of the family. A virtual Swiss Army knife of a dog, this sporting breed can do almost anything. They are a highly sought-after service dog used for therapy, detection duties, and seeing eye duties, to name a few. They also make a perfect family pet. According to the American Kennel Club, Labs rank on the top of their charts for tolerance with children, affection with family, and relationships with other animals. But where the breed really shines is in the field as a hunting dog.

Originating in the Canadian province of Newfoundland in the nineteenth century as an offshoot of the now-extinct St. John’s dog, the breed found its true calling when the Earl of Malmesbury brought it to England in the mid-1800s, to hunt ducks on his estate. He then established a breeding program that produced the first true Labrador, which later became the retriever that is known worldwide. Like all retrievers, Labradors live to fetch items for their owners and do so with an almost devotional focus.

black and white portrait of a black lab sitting
a yellow lab sitting in a marsh looking toward his owner waiting for the next command wearing a yellow vest

An overwhelming love of swimming and retrieving things makes a Labrador the perfect waterfowl hunting companion. A short-haired double-layered waterproof coat, webbed feet, and an otter-like tail for maneuverability work together to ensure fast and efficient retrievals delivered in a soft mouth that doesn’t damage the prize. These dogs’ intense desire to please, coupled with their intelligence, makes them relatively easy to train. Plus, they mature faster than other breeds, reaching their full height in 6–12 months. That allows them to begin training at a younger age and learn to handle the complex concepts needed to be successful hunting companions. They love to spend all day in the field or cold water and then joyfully dive back into family life—all with a perpetual grin.

A Lab makes a perfect pet for the house and is one of the more highly desired hunting dogs on the planet.

As working dogs, Labradors have a high energy level and need to be worked regularly; if they get bored, they can become destructive. Labs are excellent family dogs, due to their intense loyalty, easygoing nature, and relaxed attitudes with other pets. A muscular canine with a broad chest and powerful legs, they need obedience training at an early age to learn not to pull strongly on leashes. As well-known food lovers, they need to be fed measured meal portions, or they will quickly gain too much weight.

Overall, a Lab makes a perfect pet for the house and is one of the more highly desired hunting dogs on the planet.

a close up of a brown lab with their head in its owners hands outside

Specialty: Water retrieving

Colors: Black, yellow, chocolate

Weight range: Male: 65–80 lbs. Female: 55–70 lbs.

Life expectancy: 10–12 years

Energy level: Average

Social/attention needs: Medium

Trainability level: High

Adaptability level: High

Coat type: Double

Coat length: Short

Overall grooming needs: Low

Shedding level: Medium

Protective nature: Medium


a close up of a black lab looking off to the left SHOP COLLECTION