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English vs. American Labrador Retrievers

I've been an online writer for over seven years. My articles often focus on DIY home projects, pet ownership, and fishing.

My boy, Duckie, is an English Lab.

My boy, Duckie, is an English Lab.

All Labrador Retrievers Are Not the Same

The Labrador Retriever is the number one dog in America in terms of registration with the AKC (American Kennel Club). If you looked at overall numbers, you would be hard-pressed to find any other breed with more dogs living in households across the country. Loving, kind, family-oriented, and great with kids, they are the perfect pet—or are they?

Did you know there is a difference within the breed? This difference could determine whether you keep your pet or find yourself re-homing it. If you go into this little adventure well-armed with a few facts, you can make it better for all concerned.

It's Important to Know What Type of Lab You're Getting

The Labrador Retriever is one of the all-around best dog breeds. They will hunt, swim, perform search and rescue, be an assistance dog, be a drug-sniffing dog, or just be your lovable dog in the house. Easily trainable, they can and indeed prefer to be a working dog. This is not the dog you want if you are a couch potato! They love to work, and they love to please their master. But, not all Labs are the same, and by knowing the difference, you will prevent a possible disaster.

How to Know the Difference Between English and American Labrador Retrievers

The single biggest difference I have found in close to 30 years of being around Labs is the difference in the behavior of American versus English Labs. And this could be the biggest difference of all.

Behavior, Personality, and Appearance of the English Lab

English Labs are calmer, sturdier, more levelheaded, and much, much easier to train. They tend to be a bit shorter in stature, meeting the AKC regulations; they have a heavier build, thicker tail, and a block head. If you have never seen an English Lab, let me tell you, they are beautifully put together.

English Labs Cost Much More

But, they are more expensive to buy. This type of dog is more costly in the initial investment, but you will be paid back a hundredfold by the calm and well-mannered dog you will receive in return. If you go online and search, you will most likely be shocked by the apparent cost of a puppy.

Don't be: Although they are more expensive, they tend to be healthier, calmer, more tractable and will become all-around better pets and family members. In addition, the breeders will be much more informed and better equipped to answer your questions and help you select a companion for the next 10 to 15 years.

Brief History of the Breed and Where the English and American Types Came From

The history of this breed does not date back as far as you might think. Although it can trace its lineage to the St. John's water dog of the 16th century, the actual breed, by definition, did not come into its own until much later. In the early 19th century, a few St. John's water dogs were brought to the Poole area of England. The more affluent people of the time, who were also sportsmen, quickly came to admire their hard-working traits and their gentle nature.

The first and second Earls of Malmesbury and the fifth and sixth Dukes of Buccleuch were the first to recognize and develop these traits, and thus created what became the modern breed of Labrador Retriever, first recognized by the AKC in 1917.

Recognized and Unrecognized Colors of Labs

While the first of the breed were primarily black, there were some shadings of other colors. Breeding certain types and colors together resulted in the Yellow and Chocolate phases. Along with the Black, these are the only recognized colors of Labrador. Fox, or reddish, is an offshoot of Yellow, as is the Cream, or White; and Silver is thought to be a variety of Chocolate, although the thought has been raised that possibly a Weimaraner slipped into the bloodline at some point.

Some people choose to pick their pet based solely on the color, thinking the color will influence the behavior. I hate to burst your bubble, but this has nothing to do with it. In addition, just because you have (let's say) a black dog, that does not mean that he will produce only black puppies if allowed to breed. Virtually every Lab today has recessive genes of another color other than the exterior coat shown. It is entirely possible to breed two of the same color and have the litter mixed in colors.

Casual breeders should know this and be aware of this fact if and when they decide to breed. The color of the nose and skin can play into the equation, as well. You don't want a Black Lab to come out with a Pink nose; this is cause for disqualification in the show ring. But maybe you don't want to show your Lab; maybe you just want a pet for the kids. Okay, no sweat; but you still need to be informed.

Most Show Labradors Are English Labs

Show Labs are primarily English Labs, and the AKC has very stringent rules as to what makes a show-worthy animal. Height, weight, coloration, and length all play a factor in this. In addition, these things also have created a variance within the breed itself. AKC states they are to be 22.5" to 24.5" tall at the withers (shoulders) for males, and 21.5" to 23.5" for females; weight for males 65 to 80 pounds, and females 55 to 70 pounds. The UK (United Kennel Club) standards are even tighter, being 22" to 22.5" for males, and 21.5" to 22" for females.

But just because a dog is registered AKC or UKC does not mean they meet this standard, and that is where the trouble begins. Not every person wants a dog bred for the ring; maybe they want a dog to hunt with. At some point, a second Lab appeared.

American Labs Are the Hunting Variety

The hunting variety, commonly known as the American Lab, is longer leg, somewhat leaner, often having a more pointed nose and domed head, and it was bred to hunt. And as a result, they are longer, faster, and more "driven"—read: more hyper and high strung. These have become the common Lab you see almost everywhere. And this is the dog that ends up being bought for a lesser amount of money and is expected to be just a pet.

The problem is that this drive is exactly what most pet owners do not want. Drive means energy, and if you are not providing a release for that energy, you end up with a dog that chews, that runs, that barks, that drives you crazy! And you end up re-homing this dog, because you cannot handle it. The shelters are full of this type of dog, and it is a tragedy.

How Can I Buy an English Lab?

First, I will advise you to not buy from a pet store; or from someone in the paper or on a sales list online. These will primarily be American Labs that come from "puppy mills". If you are a hunter, and you desire these traits, great! But I still wouldn't buy from one of these places.

These dogs, I am sorry to say, have been bred to pique your interest and separate you from your money. Nothing else. Research the internet for responsible breeders who care about who buys their puppies, and will offer to take the dog back should you choose to not keep it anymore.

A Note on Casual Breeding

Almost everyone can become a casual breeder; all it takes is a male and a female, preferably AKC registered, and about a year. Then, for as often as twice a year, they will produce puppies. Lots of puppies. Puppies that are cute and cuddly and lovable and just what the kids want. Until. Until they are big and strong and jumping and nipping because they are bored. Then the kids hate you because you took their dog to the pound.

People, it can all be avoided. First do not become a breeder unless you truly desire to better the breed by producing quality animals. Also, know this is not an easy road to riches; any money you make you will simply be recovering what you have spent on them. This is not, I repeat not a place to make money! And lastly, be responsible: to the dogs, to the breed, to the people of the world. Do not add to the surplus population already in shelters.

My Experience Owning Both American and English Labrador Retrievers

I began with a Lab in 1982. I was making a whole $4.50 an hour back then, and a friend that I hunted with wanted to raise Labs. He had purchased a pretty little Black female, and wanted me to get a male. I searched the area, and found a man who had a litter. I knew nothing about the breed. Nothing. I went to the house and spoke with the man. He brought out the Sire, and put him through his paces. All silent, hand signals only. Throw the stick, retrieve, sit, release. He put this dog up, and brought out the Dam. Same thing. Impressive, to say the least.

Then he brought out the seven puppies. Six went frolicking away, bouncing and jumping and barking. One little male strode over to the stick the man had used for showing me his Labs, picked up the stick, and came and sat in front of me as if to say "Ok, I'm ready; let's go hunting." Amazing. The price was high for the time: $150.00. Or, almost a full weeks wages at the time.

Ubar, as he came to be known, was a great Lab. Smart, quick on the picking up of training, I sometimes think he trained me more than I trained him. Then, after less than a year, he was gone; stolen right out of my back yard.

My English Lab, Duckie

I have owned a few others in the interim years, some American, some not. My current Lab is an English, born and bred, and I have traced his lineage back into the 1870's, back to the original Malmesbury and Buccleuch stock that began this journey. Back some 40 generations.

My wife and I did some serious internet browsing and searching before I made the almost four hour drive to look at the puppies and their parents. Tip #2: visit the breeder and see the parents. DO NOT accept a puppy if you cannot see what the parents look like. This will give you an idea of what they will end up looking, and acting like. I visited with the parents, and viewed all of the puppies available before I made my selection.

And I surprised myself. The one I liked online looking at the pictures was not the one I came home with. In person, there were differences in body and temperament that changed my mind on site. I ended up with a male whom we named Duckie, after the doctor on NCIS, my favorite show. Misty Woods Ducks On The Pond is his AKC name, and a smarter Lab I have never seen; we were 3 weeks into a 6 week puppy class before we learned anything he didn't already know. I mean, he is smart!

As a matter of fact, we got into "trouble" in one class because we were so far advanced. The drill was "Sit" and "Stay". Well, I would issue the command "Sit" with only a gesture. Oh, he was three months old at the time; I had had him all of 4 weeks. After Sit, I would command "Stay" and turn my back to walk away some thirty feet before turning around and looking at him. A flick of my wrist and he came; sitting at my feet. A pat on the head, and a tidbit of a reward, and we did it over and over again. until the teacher saw I was turning loose of his leash to walk so far away.

"No, no, no!" she admonished me. "You must keep hold of his leash in order to control him!" Silly me, I thought that's what I had already trained him to do: respond to the command and come when called. Problem was, the other dogs in the class weren't that advanced and it made them look bad. So sorry! (Not!)

Duckie is smart, happy, playful, and the best pet I have ever had. But he was expensive. And the breeder we purchased him from just raised their prices again this year. But, you get what you pay for. If you want what may end up being a rental, and are happy paying $150 or $200 for a few months worth of pets, fine. Don't be selective. But know you will add to the problem in the shelters all over this country, and know that far too many dogs get euthanized because their owners did not pay attention to what they were buying.

But, if you pay more, say $800 and up, you just might get a pet that will make it through those first few months of trial and error, and end up making you both look good to your family and allowing you to form a lasting relationship with a quality animal that can still hunt, play, and take its place in the show ring, which has the added benefit of getting you up off your keester and out, and meeting new friends. Taken in that context, $800 may not be too much of a price to pay.

My Duckie has taken a 1st place in Best of Breed - Male and Best of Breed - Overall in a show at under 6 months of age. It was my first show, and I had no clue what I was doing; but he did. Head up, chest out, striding around the ring like he had been born to it. Which, when looking at his breeding, he was. If you take into consideration only his Father's side, there are no less than 270 champions in the ring or in the field in 10 generations. He knows what to do and he does it.

Duckie: At home in the field.

Duckie: At home in the field.

The Reality of Owning These Dogs

I hope this little ramble has helped somebody out there make an informed decision on a pet. While it is easier to just look in the paper and see puppies for sale, oftentimes those may not make the best of pets. You have to look at yourself, your lifestyle, your family, your time you can allot to the dog, and what you are desiring in that dog. Will this be just a dog to keep in the back yard, feed once a day, throw a ball around periodically, rarely interact with? If so, you don't want a Lab. In fact, you might not need a dog at all.

All too often, I think people become enamored in the idea of a dog: that faithful companion, lying by the hearth with a fire roaring, master in a chair, pipe in mouth and paper in hand. Folks, that's Norman Rockwell; not reality. Reality is jumping, barking, pooping, chewing, slobbering. But, reality is also a loving, adoring look; a smile to meet you at the door; a tail wagging ninety to nothing in sheer joy at your presence. Reality is that with wise decisions and informed choices, you will end up with a companion you will be blessed with for many years to come.


© 2012 Mr Archer


Superstormsanzy on August 09, 2020:

After owning several labs over the years, only one was crazy hyper and we had to find a new home for her. ( American Field Lab) our labs have been American and different colors each. All big over 110lbs and bigger in there prime. All great with the kids but definitely had to give them lots of exercise...One (yellow)would kill any animal that came in the yard the other would run back to the house like Marmaduke. ( MORE Important they had 0 health issues all lived to be over 13 and one 15) That being said we now have our first AKC English Lab. We were looking to possibly get a English that looked like a bear, so the big block head. After 3 months of research found the breeder and paid for a puppy before he was born. He looks exactly like his sire ...block head , 69 lbs. and chill. English are more chill for sure !!!

A few interesting characteristics:

1:Anything in the pool he has to save it and pull it out. My daughter is a teen and he will grab her by the ponytail and pull her to the step and out of the pool. He has also done this to our little ankle biter ( small dog) The pool cleaner can only run at night when he is sleeping. ,

2. He is mischievous and very cautious and aware watches the TV and tilts his head. .

That being said he has the kind loving personality of the American but definitely different in many ways.

Either way I love the breed English or American they are the best family dog in the world

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on April 21, 2019:

1st) Not a dog hater!! Most definitely not!! Absolutely love Labs no ifs ands or buts!

2nd) Never did I say at any point that American Labs are inferior, did I? Never inferred it either. Simply said that on the whole, American/Field Labs are meant for working and will get bored if not properly trained and exercised quicker than English/Bench Labs. Sorry if that was not clear to you.

I am so glad that you are happy with your Labs and have not witnessed what I describe. What I intended here was for a person who is in the market for a Lab to make sure they are well informed as to what they are looking for in a pet, what they can and will do for that pet, and to make sure that the pet is not going to be re-homed as this will cause severe trauma to the pet and the family unit. Go in with your eyes wide open and you will come out happier.

Congrats yourself for having such a positive experience with your Labs; some are not that fortunate and those are the ones you see in the local shelter, waiting for their forever home owner to come along.Each and every one of those Labs I have seen has been an American Lab, never once have I seen an English Lab at the shelter. Not saying they do not go there, just saying that I have not witnessed one myself. As a long time (approaching 40 years) Lab owner/lover I can definitely say with authority that having owned both types of Labs there is a difference in their personalities that is a direct result of their breeding. American Labs are driven to hunt and have more energy by and large while English Labs are less driven to hunt and have a degree less energy which can result in being a calmer pet for some families. Take care Sherry and enjoy those wonderful Labs!

Sherry Baker on April 21, 2019:

I have had 3 fabulous male AMERICAN chocolate labs. The behavior you talk about seems to be behavior ANY puppy can display. In any breed you are going to have laid back and squirrel types. Please don’t take down a whole population of dogs. We keep getting the same dogs because we have NOT had the issues you discuss. 2 from breeders 1 from the kennel. We have had people comment to us with the 2 that were chocolates and how beautiful and nice they are as pets. We even had a fellow continue to come to our house after the construction was done to see our American Lab and was upset to hear Fred had died. Wanted to post a pic of what you think inferior but couldn’t get it in here. We believe Fred, Coke and Fred 2 are superior American Labs and will stay with what you think inferior. Never really heard of a dog hater before but someone’s got to be first. Congrats!!

Jeff on February 17, 2019:

A very interesting “take” on English and American traits. Personality and traits are a genetic exchange from the parents making the dogs lineage extremely important, however, just like you can get a mixed litter from like parents, not all traits will necessarily be passed on. Here’s a personal story.

I wanted a Lab for Waterfowl hunting and I spent a great deal of time(months) searching ads, visiting litters, driving hours to find my hunting partner. I found a hunter w/a litter, parents registered and actively used for hunting. The parents were exercised to demonstrate their skills and, get this, I was told the litter was “conceived in a duck blind during the last season.” I knew I wanted a big bodied dog because it is easier for them to tolerate the harsh weather and cold water they are expected to perform in. I selected a big male chocolate I thought would stay out in the field w/me all day as my right hand. Well, as my first hunting dog I wanted him properly trained, so I selected a “kennel w/distinction.” Now, this Lab was gorgeous, beautiful coat, blocky build, square head, textbook UK, but huge - well above the breed standard. After months at the distinguished kennel and less than sparkling report cards I removed him and he returned home. I had done his basic obedience ( he did ok as long as he was physically controlled (lead, inside, fenced yard). Outside the fenced yard and off lead he would run after about 10 minutes. On his return I saw no progress on even these skills. I found another field trials trainer just a few hours drive from home , but this one used the e-collar and he would let me know if the dog would “make it” within 30 days. Three weeks later he called me to pick up my dog. When I arrived he informed me the dog “has no interest in retrieving.” He had a single puppy left from his last litter and brought out a 6 week old black male. Then a small retrieving dummy (buck) was tossed a few feet away and the puppy, unable to get his mouth around the buck, used the attached cord to bring it back. 6 weeks old an retrieving by instinct! This dog never got bigger than 50 pounds, so he was BELOW standard. He was small and not at all blocky. Very “doggy” looking compared to his huge, classic Lab looking kennel-mate. We went hunting all over the country and the outfitters would not bring their dogs after the first day and mine worked for the whole group, sometimes 10 or more hunters. Dogs, like people, reflect their inherited traits and exceptions can be extreme in both directions. If all you want is a pet, your ability to train and be consistent is the determining factor in your satisfaction with this gentle, loving breed. UK/AK, whatever. But, for me, nothing is more rewarding than to see a “driven”dog exploding towards their mark/cast, rather than a dog that ambles about their work. Good luck w/your decisions...

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on January 21, 2019:

If you show a dog in AKC they must be able to breed so No Duckie was not fixed. However, if your intent it strictly to keep your dog as a pet be all means get them fixed, and sometime in the first six months is best. This will make them live a healthier life, it will keep their minds off other things (get my drift?) and overall make them a better family member. on January 21, 2019:

Is Duckie castrated or neutered? I have new male and do not know what is best.


Chris on October 17, 2018:

I have two black labs. A four year old American Male and a 3 year old UK both Black. Both are great dogs but temperamentaly like night and day. The American goes bannanas when my Daughters bring over friends whereas the UK says hello and that is that. The American has to be run once a day or he goes a bit crazy. The UK is mello and is happy just being wherever I am. The UK follows me around house but the American is more independent. American will play chase, swim forever. The UK will play fetch for two throws tops and then looks at me like are we done with this yet. I always have gotten two black labs one UK one American because I like the traits of both.

Joe Goforth on July 25, 2018:

I saw an ad for hunting lab that says "no chocolate labs". As if they are defective. Huh?

KarenCam on August 24, 2017:

I think you are giving American Labs a bad rap as pets. They are not just working dogs! I am 58 years old and my American Yellow Lab just turned 1. I have had him since he was 10 weeks and he is my second American Lab. Yes, he is high energy, luckily we have a great dog park and great doggy day care for the occasional times when we can't give him the attention he needs. BUT he loves kids, gets along great with all other dogs, and is just a joy around the house! He has never chewed a shoe or furniture, he knows boundaries, and coexists with our cat. This is my second American Lab and I must say they have been the most loving and loyal pets.

Kelley Liedel on March 05, 2017:

Mr. Archer, thank you for your very informative article. I never knew there were 2 breeds of Labs until I was watching Animal Planets show The Bronox Zoo! They had labs as companions to cheetahs !! The one looked like my lab and they said she looked fat but she isn't , she is an English Lab! That got me thinking because I am on my 3rd Black Lab ! I LOVE THE BREED!! My first I now think was an English, I got her at 8 weeks old and my son was 8 months! I had studied about Labs and decided that would be the best pet for my son! She was WONDERFUL!! He was rough with her at times and even tried riding her a few times and she never nipped or growled and was just very laid back but she was bigger. I adodped an 8 month old. The owner went to jail and his girlfriend hated her! I believe now, thanks to your info, that she was an American Lab. She was VERY HYPER, chewed on a lot of things. She was much smaller than my Snuggles but they got along great and my son had ADHD and she really gave him an outlet to burn up energy!! I then got a German Shepard, Durango and she was a gift to my now ex. She got along great with my 2 Labs and loved playing with them. My 1st, Snuggles died of old age at home at 14. My second, Little Bit, suddenly wouldn't get up after we took a nap! I had noticed she hadn't had a bowl movement in 2 days so I assumed she was constipated! She had been jumping and doing tricks for a hot dog earlier so that's what I really believed was wrong! I took her to the Emergency Clinic. After a long time the vet called me back and showed me the X-rays. I had no idea what I was looking at then she pointed out her lung. She had started to get Cancer. Then she went to a lot of other areas showing me more and more Cancer! She was ate up with Cancer! I was SHOCKED!! She never acted sick until that day!! I left her there and sadly when I got home, they called and said she had passed right after I left! I was shocked and so sad but the Vet said that she must have loved us a lot to be that sick and never show it until she just couldn't go any more! That made me feel good but I sure was sad! Then it was me and Durango. Sadly she got hip displacia and suddenly couldn't walk and at 12, I had to put her to sleep! I was so sad and so lonely. After 23 years of having a dog I was with none! I had to get another dog so I called former vets that I had used and sadly no one had any clients with lab puppies but took my number just incase. An hour later the Vets office called and said Kelley, I have great news for you! A gentleman had come in with his 9 pure breed Labs! He gave me his number and I called and luckily they were a wonderful family, he was a preacher and was charging $200 per pup. I didn't have it so I asked if I could make payments and they said sure!!! I went to see the pups and as I did with Snuggles and Durango, I went back in the yard and called all the pups to me. Only 4 showed interest and finally there was 1 and I knew she picked me! They painted her nails red so I would know her but every time I came she came running to me so I knew, she had an attachment to me. I finally got her in May 2012 and I had her for only 4 days but had begun training her the day I got her. I had to go to Savanna, GA for my sons master degree graduation and they kindly kept her for me! 4 days later I got home and went to get her. Some of the puppies came to the gate and she was one of them! She moved the bricks they had against the gate so she could get out and she broke through and came running to ne! She remembered me and was so happy to see me! Now she is a pure breed and they had the AKC papers on the parents but I didn't plan on showing her, I just wanted a really good buddy ! I got her home and finally named her Cuddles because she loved Cuddeling with me! Now, since I saw that show then read your article, I believe she is an English Lab. She is BIG but solid except around her neck she has a ton of excess skin! Her paws are HUGE so I knew she was going to be BIG! She is so smart and was so easy to train. She was out of the cage and sleeping right next to me in no time. She weighed 92 lbs and he said she needed to lose 20lbs! She is very solid, loves to play fetch and go on walks and doesn't know a stranger! Lol! She is always with me and loves to go Bye-Bye all the time! When I can't take her, she gets the saddest look but she knows if she is good, she will get a treat! I'm sending you pics to see if you can tell if she is English and if so , what should I say to the vet wen I take her in for her Rabies shot? Thank you so much for taking your time to read this!

Paul Bahre on January 27, 2017:

I got this dog from a rescue. Said Lab mix. They thought it was a lab / coonhound mix. The dog is very high energy and very smart. yet he is mellow in the house and takes direction very well. I just had him genetically tested because I wondered just what he was. It came back that he is 100% lab. So he must be an American Field lab because he is just a bit taller than what I thought was a lab and his head looks almost like a hounds head but I guess it's the American variety. As for sending him back? No way in hell. He is the best all round dog that I have ever owned and I have had many dogs in my over 50 years. This old boy is a keeper for sure. What I would say to owners of the American Labs is you need to be the alpha and drop the hammer on them as soon as they don't listen to you. You have to let them know that there are consequences for not listening to you. Once they get that idea in their head they will hang on your every word. They are really fun to play with, are very loyal. My dog loves everyone and every animal. He is totally non aggressive but he is not passive either. He will defend himself when needed. If another dog at the dog park tries to mount him he will snap at them and tell them to move on because he is no one's victim.

Charlet Bentzinger on January 15, 2017:

Great information on the differences in an English Labrador and American Labrador. This is great edutional material in knowing that there is a definite difference in the Labrador breed and which one could best fit in my life. Thanks

Mr Archer on December 17, 2016:

Mary, in my experience the English are calmer and more tractable, even in those younger months of puppyhood. Of course, they are no more than their master is, so a good master generally means a well behaved Lab. Proper training (read consistent words and actions combined with reasonable expectations) should lead you to a very loving and devoted, well behaved companion for years to come. Best of luck to you!

Mary Bourassa on December 17, 2016:

Mr. Archer, thank you so much for this article. I think it has "convinced" my husband why we should get a lab. (English) I have always wanted one. We lost our wonderful tan heintz57 girl after 16 years this summer and we're still devestated. This summer I thought "never again", but here we are still missing her and wanting a sweet, smart girl who could be trained to be a companion dog (my husband is disabled) This would more than likely be our last dog, so it's a big decision. I've been doing my homework on the breed, and your article was just what we needed. Heard a labs first 2 years are a very "trying" time.., being notorious for not good behavior during puppyhood. I plan on taking to obedience training, but do you think the English labs puppyhood is calmer, & not as mischievous?

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on December 04, 2016:

Vegas Cris, thank you for your kind comments and your story. Enjoy those girls and keep 'em thinking! That is one of the best things you can do for them!

Vegas Cris on December 03, 2016:

Awesome article. I know it's older but I never stop educating myself about the breed I adore so much. My first pair were American & my second are English. Always get litter mate sisters. The English line for sure is more laid back, easier to train & very healthy. My girls are wicked smart too but I don't hunt them. We do fun helper stuff to keep them actively thinking so they don't destroy everything. Paying top dollar for this breed is very worthwhile. Thanks again for sharing your story.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on November 20, 2016:

Leda I only know a few locally, plus one in Maryland. Use the Internet to narrow down your search by searching for English Labrador Retriever in your area. Be sure to locate a Kennel Club also and enter the puppy into a training class for good behavior. A puppy is a puppy and will be excitable but tractable if you use consistent, firm commands (and treats!). As your puppy ages it will become more and more calm and your daughter should be a great fit for it.

Also, do not be afraid to visit the breeder and see what the parents look like, act like and how they are trained. A good breeder will welcome the visit and if they do not, then don't push it or just buy a puppy: move on to a breeder that will invite you over. Good luck and I hope your search goes well!

Leda on November 20, 2016:

Good afternoon.

I really enjoyed your article.

I've been looking in getting an English Labrador for my daughter who is autistic, what they called high functioning. Because of a similar article I read about them been calmer. I see how she is more relaxed when around a big good dog. Write now my dogs are small and they dont like all the attention she wants to give them. I just don't know of a trusted breader. Will you be able to recommend one?



Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on November 20, 2016:

kayhere, an English Lab would be a great first dog for you. Loving to a fault, cuddly and easily trained it would be a wonderful addition to your family. Look online for a breeder near you and call them to speak with them about your situation. Chances are they will invite you out and introduce you to their Labs, allowing you to see how the adults are before committing to a puppy. Good luck!!

kayhere on November 18, 2016:

I truly enjoyed your post and of course learned some interesting facts! I'm looking to welcome my first pet. I have 2 kids who are obviously thrilled, but I'm a little concerned. I have no experience in owning a pet, though I have always wanted a dog, growing up. However, the point of real concern is that I have lately developed a phobia for dogs and I have no idea where it came from. It is not that I'm afraid of every dog. People say I need to show who's in charge and some dogs take advantage of my meek nature. I figured I'm nervous the first few times I meet a dog and if the dog is not bossy or restless I eventually feel comfortable. I trace it back to my first pregnancy, the first time I felt this way. Long story short, my husband advises me to get a puppy and he thinks this will bring me back to my old self. I have always admired Labs and want to have one for my first pet. Would you give your opinion on this situation? It will be helpful. Thanks!

Matt on November 15, 2016:

All labs are great! American field labs are more athletic and better hunters for the most part. The English labs are stockier, blocker and lazier. We have had both, and loved them both. The older we get the more we apreciate the English! When we.were younger, and I hunted, the field lab was the best. There are no bad labs. retrievers just do one thing, love thier owners.

Dannie on November 04, 2016:

Mr. Archer,

My husband & I got our 1st English Lab in 2000, she was a bargain deal doggie, she came from a 1st time breeder who was willing to negotiate on the price. Her parents were on the premises & it was love at first sight, if I had my way we would have gone home with all 8 pups. We had her for 12 great years. After a year and a half of a quiet house I did extensive research on English Lab breeders & found an excellent breeder & she was just an hour and a half away. I was in constant communication with her long before we ever purchased our pups. We were notified of upcoming litters, pedigrees of dam & sire were available on her website & finally we were ready to go pick out our four legged "kids". We have a beautiful brother & sister whom we love dearly. They were $975 each & worth every penny!! They were crate trained & as you mentioned they are very smart, within 5 months the crates were put away & after proving themselves they were granted full reign of the house. They are now approaching 2 years old, we go for daily walks & we have a very large fenced in yard for them to romp & play in. They are the most loving, humble & obedient dogs that we've had. A++ dogs. It's unfortunate that a lot of dogs end up in shelters because owners do not take the time to research the breed & know what kind of dog they are committing to.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on June 20, 2016:

Pat, unfortunately I do not know anyone from New Hampshire but do know Jenny Helmstetter in New Windsor, Maryland at Lazy Lane Labradors; you might give her a look. Good luck to you!

And pls hlp, I am unaware of a "Finnish" Lab but as for shorter fur the Lab should have a short, dense coat that grows longer (slightly) during cold weather but normally it is roughly 1 to 1 1/2 inches or so. Hope this helps. Good luck.

pat on June 19, 2016:

Dear Mr. Archer. We had our dark yellow male blockhead English lab for over 12 years, he was a stray who was wonderful and gorgeous...we live in New Hampshire again, can you recommend a breeder to us?

pls halp on June 15, 2016:

ummmmm...... I have looked everywhere and still have no accurate information..... there are american english and finnish labrador retrievers so i want to know which one has "shorter fur" and looks more slim

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on March 01, 2016:

I am sorry you see only the "sad state" of Confirmation. In truth, what Confirmation's aim is to maintain the pure strain and styles of a particular breed, to not allow outside impurities to infiltrate the bloodline. They are a Working Dog and as such they are intended to be muscular in appearance. In my opinion, the English style is a beautiful animal, its somewhat stockier build and appearance being directly relative to its work environment of cold, icy waters. The American style is directly linked to its work environment of field work, having developed the longer legs and increased drive needed to work afield for its owner. Both are beautiful in their own way; my intent here was to educate potential owners in what could be a disaster for a family: namely getting a cute little Lab puppy ad watching it grow into something a family can't handle due to its internal drive making it not be a possible fit for that family.

That's all I have tried to do here. Hopefully, people read this and educate themselves on their particular breed and make good choices so as to not have to re-home a pet, thus creating hard feelings all around. Take care and have a wonderful day.

the problem with confirmation on March 01, 2016:

I'm sad to see that you Labrador and your mind set are the very examples of the sad state of akc confirmation Labs. If your pup were simply muscle we would see more definition in his form, we would see a waist, and structure. Labs are not Staffordshires, they are not pure muscle. I would take a field champion Labrador over a confirmation champion anyday.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on December 17, 2015:

Mike I am so sorry to hear of your news regarding your dog. From the pictures I saw he is definitely a Lab. His head seems to be blockey and his nose does not appear to be too pointy so with that being said I would guess him to be from the English line. How tall is he? How heavy? Is he leggy or stocky? If he looks leggy he might might be Field or American, but if he is stocky that should indicate English or Bench. Good luck with your search!!

Mike on October 26, 2015:

I have a BEAUTIFUL male black lab, I rescued 12 years ago when he was around 2 years old.

He'd been the SMARTEST DOG I've ever known!!!!!! He is so incredibly obedient, INTELLIGENT, well mannered, loyal and did I mention SMART?!

I really am amazed at the level of intelligence he shows, he picks up new vocabulary words that we're not even trying to teach him and he learns our habits, mannerisms and so much more with zero training.

He's not at all precocious (except when it comes to anything edible).

Anyway, he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and we're devastated and sad to be losing such a dear companion and I know some day I will definitely want another dog in my life and we've had such incredible good fortune with Zach that I'd like to try to get a female, maybe chocolate, of the same breed. I'd like one about 2-3 months old to begin training her at an early age. We want to get the same breed that Zach is.

Trouble is, I have no idea what he is exactly.

Can you possibly share any insight based on some of his pictures.

Here are more photos of Zach on his Facebook page...

When the time comes, I'd like to find a high quality, ethical breeder (I can travel ANYWHERE) and get one different than Zach, but as similar in breed and temperament as possible.

THANK YOU all for any advice!!!!

Dale on October 11, 2015:

In response to Marlena. I'm not sure what may be wrong with your Blockhead, but Mine just turned 14 years old and still loves to play and go for long walks. Althopuh he doesn't run like he used to he is still very agile and gets around just fine. He has a bit of arthritis in his legs but otherwise is a very healthy dog. I expect mine, barring anything drastic happens to him, to be around for a couple of more years or so. I think the care, diet, and the right compliment of excercise though out their life is key to having a healthy pet and giving them longevity. ( And a whole lotta Love). I couldn't even ask for a better dog.

Marlena on September 20, 2015:

Mr. Archer,

Thank you so much for the quick response. My family and I, are located in good ole TN. If you have any references for our area (near Knoxville, TN), please let me know. Again, thank you.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on September 18, 2015:

Marlena, "blockheads" do show up in females as well. And any color phase (black, chocolate and yellow) can be "blockheads" as well. There are some great breeders out there and the trick is to get to know them. Where are you located? If you are in the middle of the country like me, touch base with Misty Woods Labradors in Alton, Mo. She is doing a great job of producing wonderful examples of the breed. Dostaff Labradors in Little Rock, Arkansas is another wonderful breeder who strives for the very best in the breed. Both of them are people I trust and know would do their best to supply a quality, lifelong companion for you. Their websites are posted on the article above. There are others but I have come to know both of these and trust them implicitly when it comes to the breed. Good Luck! And thank you for the read, stop and comment.

Marlena on September 18, 2015:

Your article is extremely informative. We have a male, black blockhead. Chubbz is 10 years old and looks every bit of it. Because I know he wont be around for long, I've began the process of looking to buy another one.

Here are my questions though... do the "blockheads" come in specific colors only? And also, can they come in female?

We are wanting another black blockhead and would like a female this time. She would be a family pet only: no hunting or show dog.

Thank you for any information you can provide

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on August 05, 2015:

Thanks Peg. They are wonderful family members and my favorite breed of all. The specs on the breed may be what is "desired" but I know for a fact that a well put together Lab can be a comfortable 100 pound dog with no fat to speak of. My Ducky was a flat 95 lbs. at 3 and a previous Lab Muzzy was a solid 105 lbs. The vet told me he was too heavy and I asked him "Where should he take it off?" The vet had no answer because he was solid top to bottom, no fat. Take care and have a wonderful day.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 05, 2015:

Retrievers make such great family pets. Your information here is very interesting as to the different types of Labradors and their history. Sorry to hear about that first pup that someone stole from your yard. How heartbreaking.

We now have a mixed breed Lab from the SPCA who is the most affectionate and calm, wonderful dog. He's larger than your specs at one hundred three pounds of sweetness. Over the years, we've had a variety of pets including flat coat Retrievers, Malamutes, Chows, Shepherd mix, and mutts. Each has its own distinct personality and quirks. One lived to be sixteen and others only until fifteen, fourteen and twelve years. Always hard to see them go.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on June 01, 2015:

Thanks for the read and comment, camps. If she is a registered Lab, try to chase her lineage back. You might find another breed (Newfoundland for instance) in her heritage. 25.5" at the shoulder is huge! With that frame she can carry the 130 lbs but that is very unusual for a purebred Lab. There are several Lab sites you can check out to try to find out who she is bred from. Good luck!

camps1970 on May 31, 2015:

mr archer; i have a black lab she is 2 years old and 25.5 from floor to shoulder and 130 lbs she not fat and you can see the shoulder muscles and leg muscles like a boxer or a pit bill and she is very strong and smart her father was a large hunting dog, everyone who sees here can't believe she is pure bread, if she doesn't get play she will drive everyone nuts. lond story sorry but why is she so damn big and seems to be getting bigger lol thanks for and advice

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on February 23, 2015:

Why thank you Ms. Hunt. I too prefer the English lines, the stockier body and blocked head are beautiful in my eyes. Their demeanor is much calmer (in my opinion) as well. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my little hub; my wife was the inspiration behind it, for she feels (as I do) that if a buyer was informed they might prefer to spend a bit more up front in order to gain a lifetime companion, rather than a "rent-a-puppy" as so often occurs. Have a wonderful day and please take care. Mike

Eleanor Hunt on February 23, 2015:

An interesting article Mr Archer,

I thank you for the time you have allocated to this endeavour.

With regards to the specification of the lineage, e.g. American or English. I would be inclined to obtain the latter. I find they are more pleasing on the eye.

I reside within England, and therefore feel an unsupassed obligation to ensure that this particular trait remains the dominance of choice, in relation to a forthcoming purchase.

Yours sincerely

Ms Hunt.

mike on February 18, 2015:

Smartest dog I ever had.

Oscar Jones from Monroeville, Alabama on November 27, 2014:

"tundra" A lab that helped raise my daughters.. labs are wonderful. I must have missed the excitement of finding the wrong lab!

Ashly on September 22, 2014:

I am looking at a lab right now the dad is English and the mother is American. I'm mainly looking for a dog that I can train to be a best friend and do everything with me. I'm just wondering if that would be a good pick with both parents having a difference in the breed. So maybe he will have a little of both. I don't know!

Cara on August 13, 2014:

Helpful article but not entirely accurate. English Labs are not more expensive, nor are they "better" as the article clearly implies. A well bred American Lab from a quality breeder will cost just as much as a well bred English Lab from a quality breeder. "Bargains" abound in both types, and are never a bargain in the long run. Yes English Labs are much calmer, but sturdier? With the current trend for shorter, heavier Labs we are seeing more hip and knee problems as well as ligament tears, I would argue that the opposite is true, a well bred field Lab is more athletic and carries much less weight with fewer issues. Do we see more American Field Labs in shelters, yes, definitely! Again, buying from a responsible breeder is key, no responsible breeder of Field Labs would ever send one to a family looking for "just a pet". I compete in agility and do search and rescue with my Field Labs and their energy and drive is key to their success. I have had both types and adored them all, neither is "better", just make sure you get the one that will fit your lifestyle and activity level.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on November 23, 2013:

Yes, you are correct Tammy. Bench and Field are the correct terms, but no one (that I have seen) places ads for Lab puppies for sale using those terms, rather they use English if they are indeed Bench Labs. I wrote this for those who are not aware of the difference in temperament and activity levels between the two. The difference between the two can be the difference between a puppy kept and a puppy rehomed. I have seen far too many American (or Field) Labs that were not a good fit for some families due to the higher energy (drive) levels of this type of Lab. I firmly believe if more people were aware of the English temperament, they would pay the price for the puppy and come away with a lifetime friend and pet. Not that American Labs are inferior, simply that they require a more active owner who will hunt or work them harder than an English Lab would need. Thank you for the stop and comment and have a wonderful day!

tammy on November 23, 2013:

Actually the correct terms are bench and field bred Labs.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on December 20, 2012:

Thank you. My wife and I love the broad (and sometimes thick!) heads of the English as well. Tina searched and searched the surrrounding area for just what we wanted before finding our Duckie. He is a joy and our entire family loves him dearly.

Faith A Mullen on December 19, 2012:

Great article explaining the difference between English and American Labs, and awesome advice for those looking to buy a Lab puppy. I personally love the broad head of the English and the temperament that goes along with it!

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on October 19, 2012:

Thanks, Randy. You are correct that a good pet usually means a good owner. I always believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Those Christmas puppies I see for sale every year just break my heart! I know that within a month or two, a good amount of them will be re-homed because they were a spur of the moment buy, with no thought given to the upkeep and requirements a pet has. Thanks for the rating; I'll take all of those I can get!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on October 19, 2012:

Very informative article with good tips on owning a pet and the time it takes to raise an animal properly. Having a good pet means being a good owner as well. Labs are great dogs. Rated up!


Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on October 19, 2012:

My pleasure, Sir. I find that if you write about something you enjoy and are passionate about, the words just tend to flow, don't you? It is funny how somethings are known, but not known, isn't it? Like Marley, the Lab in that movie. Hands down, that was an American Lab. High strung, hyper, driven. If more people know about this other style of Lab, more people might enjoy them a bit more. Anyway, that was my thought on it. My beautiful wife Tina inspired this hub; she said most of what I said here in the hub in hopes of helping someone out there in the world to know the difference. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 19, 2012:

Very, very interesting information! I honestly did not know there were two breeds. Now that you explained it, most of the labs I have been around are English. I have never owned one, but friends have and they are wonderfully friendly dogs with a great personality.

Well done buddy; I enjoyed learning more about this breed.