What is the difference between an American and an English Labrador?

It used to be that there was only one type of Labrador Retriever, and technically there still is. Labradors, however, due to breeding differences, emerged as two distinct types somewhere around the 1940s when the breed was noted to split into two different sub-variations. When it became popular to take your dogs to competition for the show, it was noted that the most popular type of labrador for the show was the English Labrador rather than the American Labrador. 

When looking at the differences between the American Lab and English Lab, it is apparent that although the same breed, they have developed obvious differences over time and careful breeding.

Lab History

The ancestors of the Lab known as St. John's dogs were working dogs suited for harsh, icy water working alongside the fisherman. Visiting aristocrats from England in the 1800s took some of the hard-working canines home, where they were bred to obtain a genteel manner. These well-bred dogs were now referred to as English Labs. 

American Labs

American labs are known for their high-energy personalities and are great for families on the go. American Labs are highly intelligent but fairly headstrong. They are slightly taller and have a leaner look than their English cousins. American Labs are also trainable with a strong desire to please their owners. These qualities make for a dog that is great for people like runners and hikers, as the American Lab needs and enjoys exercise. Being that they were originally working water dogs, swimming is also a great idea for American Labs that enjoy being active with their families. 

Because these dogs were originally work dogs, taking commands is second nature to them, and early training will pay off in terms of obedience. Exposing them while young to various people, pets, and situations will curb a lot of the hyperactive behavior, such as jumping up on others and leash pulling.  

English Labs

English Labs are a little more laid back than their American counterparts. They are of a more stocky build and usually a little shorter than their American relatives. That does not mean that an English Lab is sluggish by any means. An English Lab will still need to exercise and will enjoy family activities, but will also be happy with a leisurely walk versus a five-mile run. All Labs make great family pets, but English labs, in particular, are less demanding and are happy just playing around in the pool with the kids or catching a movie on the couch with you. 

All Good Labs

No matter if an English or an American Lab is your pick of the litter, all Labs are good. While field, or working dogs, are sometimes considered more trainable than show dogs, it is thought that show dogs have fewer expectations from their owners, making them seem less responsive. However, English Labs, just like their relatives across the pond, are highly trainable. Both American and English Labs enjoy pleasing their people, following commands when properly trained, and make smart, affectionate additions to the family.  

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