The Difference Between English And American Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular pet dogs in North America and in the UK. But not all labs are the same – there are different body types, different personalities, different colors and more. One of the most common divisions in kinds of labs is by breeding origin. These are generally referred to as English Labrador retrievers and American Labrador retrievers.

While all labs are originally from North America, via their origins in the St. John’s Dog, they’ve been bred in the UK for long enough that there are now some differences. English Labrador retrievers have a solid coat, just like American dogs, and come in the same range of colors (chocolate, yellow, black, and sometimes dilute chocolate and black, or “silver”). But they’re not really shaped the same, and they have slight differences in temperament.

English Labrador retrievers are more solidly built than their American cousins, with wide heads and muzzles, blocky bodies and a solid shape. They also have a more docile personality and are less excitable. These dogs have shorter bodies, too, and have been show and pet dogs longer. They’re also called bench, conformation, or show labs.

American Labrador retrievers are taller and usually more lightly built than English Labrador retrievers. They’re often called field Labradors or working labs. For much of their history, these dogs have been hunting animals. They have narrower heads and longer noses, as well as a more lively personality. They’re just as friendly and easy going as an English lab, though.

To make matters more confusing, both kinds of Labrador retriever can be found all over the world. The term “English Labrador retriever” just means that the dog’s ancestors were from England. An American lab’s ancestors came from North America. There’s also an Australian line that’s not common in the UK or US, but can be found in many places in Asia.

The AKC and other registry organizations don’t really differentiate between English Labrador retrievers and other body types. Instead, they judge all labs by the same standards. A Labrador retriever has to meet certain personality qualifications, and has to look a certain way to be considered “on type.” Dogs shouldn’t be thin and willowy like a Doberman, for instance. Whether the animal’s ancestors came from one place or another doesn’t really matter to the judges.

So which kind of Labrador retriever will be best for you? It depends on what you want out of your dog. There are a few differences. An English Labrador retriever is generally more solidly built and more docile, while an American lab is more energetic and may be a better hunting animal. Both types are good family pets and eager to please. Just take the time to meet a few dogs, and see which ones you prefer.


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