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American Labrador – A Complete Breed Guide

Black Labrador Retriever laying in yellow autumn leaves

When you start looking to buy a good dog breed, you can get the most popular dog breed in the world. That breed is the Labrador. It doesn’t matter if it is the English or American version, this dog breed is one of the most wanted ones when families want a good pet.

One of this breed’s best achievements is that it has topped the most popular dog breed list for 28 years in a row. That is quite a feat considering all the top breeds you have to choose from.

No matter what color they come in, you will get a very good dog that lives up to its canine reputation. Color does not indicate character so you may be in for a surprise when your pet grows up to be a very good family pet.

To find out more about this top dog breed, just continue to read our article. It is filled with interesting information about the American Labrador retriever. Take a few moments to get all this information and see what this dog may be the best pet option for you and your family.

What is an American Labrador?

The American Labrador and the English version did not originate in America or England. Instead, this breed was started in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, and could have got its name from the part of that province, Labrador.

This dog breed was bred to be a helper to the fisherman. They were supposed to be trained to get fish and other games from the water. The English version came about in the 1800s when English nobles took some of the puppies back to England and let English breeders refine the breed.

It is unknown how the dog came to America, but the American version of this breed is more of a workhorse dog. They were famous for their speed and agility while the English version was known for its show quality.

However, the looks are basically the same and you may not be able to tell the difference between the two versions of this dog breed. Except for its size. The American Labrador stands between 21 and 25 inches high and can weigh as much as 65 to 80 pounds for males and 55 to 70 pounds for females.

This is about 20 pounds lighter than their English counterparts. But the English lab measures about 3 inches smaller. One thing you are sure of is that the American lab is very friendly, good with kids, intelligent, and loves to hunt.

Plus, they like adventure and need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. Another good point is that they are not aggressive dogs.

American Lab Temperament?

Yellow labrador running through a wheat field

The temperament of this dog breed is all positive. They are not aggressive pets and do not seem to get agitated very easily. They are also very outgoing pets, and they like to be active. They channel their energy into hunting and retrieving which are two of their strongest suits.

Plus, they have a lot of stamina and energy which means that you will have to be prepared to give them lots of physical exercise. This is something you will need to do so that the dog does not become bored or turn to destructive habits.

Providing them with lots of mental stimulation will keep them peaceful as well. Then be prepared to have an independent dog on your hands. Retrievers like their independence and they also like their adventures. Their intelligence level is quite high, and they may not be satisfied with a simple game of fetch.

Like many other dog breeds, the Lab likes to please its owners. They are very trainable, and the work variety seems to be more trainable than the show option. They like to be rewarded with their favorite foods and snacks.

Competitive sports seem to be one of their favorite pastimes especially if agility is part of the program. You will need to properly train them as well as get them used to socializing with other humans and dogs.

Once trained and socialized, you should not expect to have too much trouble with your new pet.

Are American Labradors Good Pets?

Yellow labrador laying on carpet with a young girl with down syndrome

Yes, they do. These dogs are bred as water dogs and if you or your kids love swimming, your lab will be right next to you They love the water and enjoy a good swim.

Or if you like hunting, this breed will go hunting with you. Their jaws know not to harm the game they are to bring back to you. It is said that these dogs can do everything and that makes them great pets.

Also, the lab is said to be gentle and amiable. They get along with all types of people as well as almost all types of other dogs. With their eagerness to please nature, they should be easily trainable. That makes them good house pets because they are not seeking to be disruptive but get along with their masters.

The biggest problem you may have is when you decide to play with your pet without a secure fence surrounding your yard or keeping them on their leash. They may take the fun time too far and chase after smaller animals or get into other types of trouble associated with free-running dogs.

Another issue you may have is when you do not give them enough exercise. They do tend to store up too much energy and that energy is channeled into more destructive behavior.

Overall, these dogs are very good with children and are very good-natured. They take things in stride and do not get agitated. These are the many reasons why these dogs are the most popular of all dog breeds.

What Does an American Lab Look Like?

A chocolate lab, yellow lab, and a black lab laying in a field of grass

The most obvious appearance factor that stands out will be their colors. The breed comes in 4 colors, fox red, yellow, chocolate brown, and black. Plus, they are very lean dogs when compared to their English cousins.

They also have longer necks, snouts, and a narrower head than their English cousins, although their tail is not as big. Then the coat is dense but not as dense as the English Lab. The dog breed stands between 21 and 25 inches tall and only tips the scales at 55 to 80 pounds. The females generally weigh about 10 pounds less than the males.

The tail has been described as ‘otter-like’ but the American tail is not as flat or wide as the English Lab’s tail is. Their eyes are the poster for those puppy dog eyes that so many humans cannot resist.

One look at those eyes may melt your heart and have you bringing a nice American Lab home for life. Unfortunately, the American lab does not live for a very long time. That would be its major drawback as you only get to share life with this dog for a short time.

It is best to make the most of the time you have with this loving dog breed. They are great pets and make a wonderful addition to the family. Their looks make them appear more like royalty than just another dog breed.

Are English or American Labs Better?

4 labrador retrievers sitting in a field

To be frank, this would be a toss-up. Both versions of the Labrador have the same qualities. Their only real difference would be in their size and weight. The English version is smaller but heavier than the American Lab but that does not mean they are not amiable and are good family dogs.

Both versions have their specialties, and the English version is more of a show dog than a working animal. They may still like to hunt and play but their interests are more in looking good than doing hunting or fishing.

Both versions of this breed like children, they like to play and have a lot of energy. Both will need lots of mental stimulation and physical exercise. Then, both dogs get along with all types of humans and other dogs. They enjoy being with other pets.

The English version is more relaxed and doesn’t make a lot of demands on their masters. Given all these facts it would be hard to declare which dog is better than the other. If they fit in with your family, do not get into trouble, and socialize well, then the best one will be the version that you own.

Both versions do not have a long lifespan, keeping them equals in all aspects of their life and character qualities. No matter which version you choose, you are getting a very good dog that will be gentle with your kids and cats, etc.

How Fast Is an American Labrador?

Black lab with a yellow tennis ball in its mouth running in grass

Their speed depends on their health and weight. The more the dog weighs the slower he or she will go. Generally, the American lab has been timed between 14 and 18 mph. They are not the fastest animal on earth but they are also not the slowest ones either.

The fastest dog is the Greyhound and other fast dog breeds include the Jack Russel, Dalmatians, whippets, the Borzoi, the Weimaraner, and the Doberman. But speed is not the only positive aspect when it comes to running.

Again, how far a lab can run will depend on their health, fitness level, and age. A young and very healthy lab can run about 5 miles without needing to stop and take a rest. With a little training, the lab can run about 10 miles.

Any further distance can affect their joints and they may get hip dysplasia if they run too far at any one time. There are steps to build up their stamina and the first step is to only run with your dog for 1 mile each day.

Then do not run fast when you go out together. Keep the pace slow to protect your dog’s limbs and joints. Your dog will want to keep up with you so do not push them too far too fast. Stick to a good pace for them.

Then do not run with your dog every day. Giving them a 3 to 4-day break in between runs is a good way for them to recover and build up muscle and endurance. Then make sure to feed him or her a good, healthy diet. Monitor their proteins, fats, and carbs.

Do Labradors Bark a Lot?

Adult yellow lab barking

This dog breed was bred to be a gentle and easily socialized pet. That means that they were not bred to be a watchdog that needs to bark a lot. In fact, this breed is not one that does bark a lot. But there are always exceptions to the rule.

Of course, you may have to do some training to cut their barking down. Then reinforce that training to make sure your dog learns when and when not to let their presence be known.

This does not mean that labs are a very silent breed. They will bark from time to time, and they will whine, sigh, whimper, and growl as well. Labs are normal dogs and do normal dog things like a whine, etc.

Then, when labs do bark, do not treat it as some sort of annoying noise that needs to be ignored. They bark for a reason, and you should investigate to see what the dog is making a noise about.

When lab puppies bark, it is usually due to any anxiety they feel when they are separated from their masters. But you should not reward your puppy with your presence when they do bark.

This does not mean you ignore your pet every time they bark. Since the puppy is building a relationship with you, you have to make sure you spend a lot of quality time with your pet. It is a balancing act.

Even when they grow up, labs may bark to get attention. They do not like being ignored either. They can do other things like chew on your shoes or on your furniture just to get your attention.

Late-night barking is not in the Lab’s playbook, but it may occur when they are sick, in pain, or have some other health issue. They may also bark at night because they are bored, or they are separated from their masters.

Once you know the source of the barking, it will be easier to solve the problem.

Do Labs Like to Cuddle?

Yellow lab cuddling on a couch with a woman with long brown hair

This dog breed is a very lovable and loving dog breed. It is not uncommon for him or her to put their heads into your lap and just stay there. That means that yes, they do like to cuddle.

There are several reasons why Labs like to do this. One of the most important reasons is that they are building a strong bond with their masters. Cuddling is one way for the dog to do that.

It is said that labs are the best at cuddling no matter the family member. They cuddle far more than cats do and most other dog breeds. This temperament is one reason Labs have held the top spot in popularity for almost 30 years.

Also, labs have different ways to cuddle or show their affection. One way is to lay down near you and put their paw on your leg or arm. Another way is to lay down near you and then slide on over until they have erased the distance between the two of you.

Sometimes they will slide over so far that they end up on top of you. It is called a protective cuddle. Another reason that labs cuddle is to help share body heat. They have been known to crawl on top of their masters when they are cold, and the lab helps keep their masters warm.

If you are in the mood to cuddle, weight till feeding time is over. While dogs do not generally attack their masters, it is best to leave them alone when they are eating.

How Much Exercise Do American Labs Need?

Black lab running in overgrown grass with a frisbee in its mouth

They need a lot of physical exercises. With the amount of energy that breed has, you need to be prepared to play a lot of games with him or her or give them different activities to do.

But when you go play or walk your dog, make sure the fence is secured or have your pet on a leash. They love to run, and they will hunt as well. Just ask the many squirrels, rabbits, and birds, they have chased over the years.

You do need to spend a lot of time exercising your pet. If you don’t, they may become bored, and do destructive things to get your attention. Because labs are a social breed, they are not very good when left to their own devices.

If you have a pool or get to the ocean a lot, swimming is a good way to get them the exercise they need. The amount of exercise this breed needs is about 2 hours every day. You may not have that much available time so do not get angry if your lab starts acting out and chewing on items they should not have in their mouths.

Plan a good exercise schedule to make sure your pet uses up all their pent-up energy and settles them down. This schedule will be much easier when you have kids that are old enough and can take on the responsibility of exercising the dog.

Just try to keep them all in the yard so that no one gets hurt or put at risk.

How Long Do American Labradors Live?

Chocolate and black lab puppies sitting in a field of grass

Sadly, American labs do not live for a very long time. They are larger dogs and do not get the benefit of a long life like their smaller dog breed counterparts. If under normal conditions, then you can expect to enjoy your lab’s company for roughly 10 to 12 years.

If you are lucky, then you may get an extra year or two with them before they depart this world. But there is no guarantee because life is not always fair and some dogs get sick, run into a car, etc. or meet a wild animal.

When that happens your time with your beloved pet is cut short. The best thing you can do is make the most of the time you get with your Lab and treat him or her in the best way possible.

Dogs may be the best animal in the world, but they do not seem to get a very long time to show how good they really are.

Pros And Cons of An American Lab

Adult yellow lab sniffing the mouth of a yellow lab puppy wearing a purple ribbon

While Labs are very amiable, love kids, and socialize with others well. They still have their own good and bad points. Here are just a few of those positive and negative points for this breed of dog.


  • Enthusiastic attitude toward life
  • Short easy-care coat
  • Cheerful, tail-wagging nature
  • Thrives on exercise and athletic activities
  • Steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
  • Peaceful with other animals
  • Very responsive to training


  • Needs a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
  • High energy and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Sheds a lot
  • Risk of serious health problems

Some Final Words

Yellow lab puppy running in tall weeds

You cannot go wrong when you choose an American Lab as a family pet. They are great with kids, love to exercise, and spend a lot of time with the family. They love the water, love to go hunting, and love to be with you and those characteristics help make them one of the most popular dogs you can buy.

However, they mature slowly, so you need a lot of patience when you train them. It may take several years before they are fully matured and settle down some. The positives outweigh the negatives any day of the week. When you own a lab, you have a lifelong friend that loves your company.

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