The Labrador is the most popular of all pedigree breeds and its popularity comes from its versatility as family companion, service dog, guide dog as well as a working gun dog.
The breed originates from Newfoundland, which from the 16th century was renowned for the fishing industry with well-established trading routes between England and Canada. Dogs were used there to help fishermen retrieve nets and lost lines and pull carts loaded with fish. The Newfoundland dogs were smaller than they are today and a smaller variety was known as the St John’s dog. It is thought that these breeds crossed with hunting dogs taken to Newfoundland by English traders and fishermen formed the basis for the modern Labrador.
Some of the dogs resulting from this breeding were taken back to England where their retrieving skills were recognised by the sporting gentry. One of the early patrons of the breed, the Earl of Malmesbury gave the breed its name. The first breed club was founded in 1916.
Labradors are not small dogs and require a lot of exercise, they are also always hungry so their calorie intake needs to be carefully managed and balanced with sufficient exercise to ensure they maintain a healthy weight.
Historically there has been excessive interbreeding in many K9 breeds and Labradors have not escaped this. The simple rule of historic dog breeding was that you took two exceptional examples of dogs and mated them, but this results in a narrowing of the breeding stock.
More recently the Kennel Club has introduced a complex computer system to analyse the ‘COI’ (degree of interbreeding) for both existing dogs and hypothetical matings. The temptation is to breed exclusively from either ‘Field Trial champion’ or ‘Show Champion’ stock, but this narrows the lines and can introduce undesirable traits and or health problems.
Daisy has a very low COI as she comes from the combination of a Show Champion line and a Field Trial Champion Line. Troy has an average COI, as is typical for dogs bread to continue a line of Field Trial Champions. Daisy’s Working line is quite distinct from Troys, and this combined with the ‘Show Line’ DNA, produces an exceptionally low COI that caries through to an excellent score for their puppies.
Labradors have a number of genetic conditions that can effect them, but testing is now becoming common. Both Daisy and Troy have tested clear for a very wide range of breed specific genetic conditions. This guarantees that your puppy will not develop any of these problems.
Historically there was a focus on ‘Hip Scores’ in Labrador breeding, partly as a result of the influence of interbreeding and partly because it enabled vets to make money. Generally the Labrador hip problem has dissipated as breeders are more and more selective about matings. There are still dogs with Hip Scores of 30 or more, that are likely to develop problems in later life, but we chose Troy for his exceptional hips, and the low COI of the puppies, to do everything possible to produce puppies with as low a Hip Score as possible.