20 Labrador Retriever Facts You Never Knew

Labrador Retrievers are fantastic family pets.

They adapt well to almost any situation and they are relatively easy to care for.

Despite their popularity, there are facts about labrador retrievers many people do not know about.

This breed has been America's most popular breed for years now.

Some of these Labrador Retriever facts below may explain exactly why we love Labs so much.

Labrador Retrievers are everywhere, and everybody enjoys their company.

Ask most dog owners what breed their first dog was and many of them will say their first dog was a black Lab, chocolate Lab, or golden Lab.

In celebration of this amazing breed, we've put together a list of 20 fun and interesting statistics about this breed.

Newfoundland - the home of original Labrador Retrievers
Newfoundland – the home of original Labrador Retrievers.

20 Fun Labrador Retriever Facts

1. They’re Not Actually from Labrador, Canada

Labrador Retrievers are actually from Newfoundland, Canada. They were originally called St. John’s dogs.

They have been bred with many other breeds in order to give other breeds some of Labrador Retrievers‘ fantastic easygoing temperament and athletic skills.

2. The Breed Almost Went Extinct

It’s hard to believe that this breed almost went extinct, but that’s exactly what happened.

In the 1800s in Newfoundland families had to pay a tax if they owned a dog. And they were only allowed to own one dog.

Female dogs were taxed higher, so many breeders got rid of female puppies because the tax on them cost more.

Thankfully the Lab was such a popular hunting dog in the United Kingdom that the breed managed to thrive there.

If it wasn’t for the UK’s love of hunting Labs might not exist anymore and would join the list of extinct dog breeds.

Coolest Labrador Retriever Facts

3. Labs Love Water and are Practically Waterproof

Labradors absolutely love the water.

They were bred to be water-loving dogs and even have webbed feet to make it easier for them to swim.

But their biggest advantage in the water is their coat.

Labrador Retrievers have a double coat that insulates them from the water and keeps them from getting cold even in cold water and colder weather.

All the water just skims off that double coat making them dry fast too.

4. They’re the Most Popular Breed in America

The numbers don’t lie.

Labs have been the most popular dog in America for nearly a quarter of a century.

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dogs in America because they are so adaptable as well as many of these Labrador Retriever facts mentioned below.

Labs can thrive as farm dogs, working dogs, security dogs, or as family pets.

There’s nothing this breed can’t do and Americans love them for their sweetness and versatility.

5. In Pennsylvania, a Black Lab Went to Jail for Killing a Cat

In the early 1900s a black Lab killed a cat that belonged to the wife of the Pennsylvania Governor.

The NPR covered this story, and how the Governor had the dog thrown in jail for murder.

The dog was given life without parole for the death of the cat and was sentenced to Eastern State Penitentiary where he lived for 10 years.

Silver Labradors Exist

6. Silver Labradors Exist

The most popular colors of Labradors are Black, Chocolate and Yellow/Golden but those aren’t the only colors that Labs come in.

There are also Silver Labs, which are really gray. And there are Red Labs which are a reddish-brown color.

7. Originally, Labs Were Bred for Fishing

One of the more interesting Labrador Retriever facts is that these dogs were bred to assist fishermen when they were catching fish.

That’s why they have that double coat and webbed paws to make it easier for them to swim in any type of water.

It’s their personality and athletic ability that make Labs great at other tasks as well as fishing.

Labradors are natural athletes and working dogs that became popular family pets.

8. Labrador Retrievers are Really Fast

You made not think so at first but Labradors are made to sprint.

That’s one of the qualities that makes them fantastic hunting and working dogs.

They may not be the fastest dog breed on the planet, but they're relatively fast anyway and can reach a speed of 12 miles per hour in just three seconds.

Black, Chocolate and Yellow Labs Can All Be In The Same Litter

9. Black, Chocolate and Yellow Labs Can All Be in The Same Litter

A more surprising of Labrador Retriever facts is the unexpected colors of your Lab puppy.

Because of the genetic makeup of the Labrador breed it really doesn’t matter what the color of the parents are.

Puppies in the same litter can be Black, Chocolate or Yellow.

10. Led Zeppelin Named a Song for a Black Lab

If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan you may have wondered why the song “Black Dog” actually has nothing to do with dogs.

That’s because the song was named for a black Lab that came wandering into the studio when the band was recording the song.

After the visit by the friendly stray they named the song after this black Labrador Retriever.

11. “English Labs” and “American Labs” are Really Just Different Body Types

“English Labs” aren’t really just from England.

That simply means they have the right body type to be show dogs. “American Labs” aren’t just from America either.

That simply means that they have the right body type to be working dogs and wouldn’t be much good in the show ring.

12. A Black Lab Became a Mayor

While one Lab was jailed, on the opposing side of Labrador Retriever's world spectrum, in the state of California, in a small town of Sunol, a black Lab ran for mayor, and won! Well, the dog won a post as “honorary” mayor.

But the dog was much more popular with the voting public than any of the other candidates.

Labs Make the Best Guide Dogs

13. Labs Make the Best Guide Dogs

As many as 90% of the guide dogs that are trained to help the blind and the deaf are Labradors. There are several reasons why Labs make the best guard dogs. They have a great easy going personality. They are eager to please. And they like to work.

There’s nothing a Lab likes better than being useful. They are also loyal, not aggressive, and can learn quickly. That makes Labs the ideal breed to be trained to help people.

14. Labs are Used to Sniff Out Cancer

Science is just starting to discover how much dogs can do. One of the most recent discoveries science has made is that Labradors can use their exceptional sniffing skills to detect illness in the human body. Labs can sniff out cancer and other diseases.

They can also tell when an epileptic is about to have a seizure. And they can snap into action to calm down a person with PTSD that is having a flashback or panic attack.

15. Labradors are Still Used as Working Dogs

Labradors may be the most popular family dog in America but they are also still very popular working dogs.

They work on farms herding cattle.

Labs also work as service dogs.

They are still used for hunting.

There are many jobs that Labs can do better than other breeds and they really like to work.

Labrador Retriever as Search and Rescue Dog

16. They are Outstanding Search-and-Rescue Dogs

Labrador Retriever facts list are full of outstanding abilities of this breed, and that still continues.

Labs are the absolute best breed of dog to be used for search and rescue operations.

They have an amazing sense of smell, and they can work on any type of terrain or in any environment.

Their natural abilities combined with their desire to please and their love of people make them the perfect choice for search and rescue dogs.

17. Labs are Best Family Pets Because They are Very Social

Labs have a lot of natural athletic talent, stamina, and skill. But what makes them the ideal family dog is their temperament.

Labs are very social dogs.

They love to be around people and be in the thick of things socially. They are good with other dogs and love children. All these traits make them the perfect family dog.

18. An Australian Black Lab Reappeared After Going Missing in Afghanistan for a Year

It’s true!

A Black Lab that was trained by the Australian military to sniff out IEDs in Afghanistan went missing after a mission.

The military mourned for the lost dog.

But over a year later the dog found an American soldier and went right to him.

After figuring out that the dog knew military commands the American military realized the dog was the missing Australian dog and returned the dog to the Australian military.

Dog experts say that the dog was probably looked after by villagers or children who were drawn to the dog’s sweet nature and love of humans.

Life magazine 1938 Black Labrador cover

19. A Lab was the First Dog to Appear on the Cover of “Life” Magazine

One of the prouder Labrador Retriever moments is that this breed was one of the first in many areas.

For example, even though Americans have loved their dogs for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until 1938 that a dog made the cover of a major news publication.

In 1938, for their December 12th issue, “Life” magazine put a Black Lab on the cover.

20. Labs Put Everything in Their Mouths

If you have a Lab or have ever had a Lab you probably know already that they will put everything and anything into their mouths.

Including their owners’ feet, hands, arms, and other body parts.

But that’s because Labs were bred to use their mouths to fetch game birds and fish without damaging them when they helped with a hunt.

Over the years Labs have been bred to have an usually large mouth precisely because they use it so often in their assigned tasks as hunting dogs and other working dogs.

But they are always gentle and rarely put things in their mouths to bite or tear.

It’s been said that a Labrador Retriever can carry an egg safely in their mouths without even cracking it.

That’s how talented they are and how adept at they are at using their mouths to accomplish tasks.

So the next time a lab puts your arm or leg or foot into its’ mouth don’t worry. You won’t get hurt.

The Lab is just doing what it was bred to do.

20 Fun Labrador Retriever Facts: Closing Thoughts

So, how many of these Labrador Retriever facts do you already know, and which ones do you think we've missed and should be added to the list?

Let us know in the comments below so we can continue being proud of this breed walking among us!

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James has been a certified veterinary technician for the last 8 years in Birmingham, UK. After working with many dogs, he's changed his focus to writing, building businesses and researching subjects on canines and products created for dogs.