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English Labrador Retriever – A Complete Breed Guide

Close up portrait of the head of a black labrador retriever

While many people tout the differences between these two versions of the Labrador retriever, there is one thing they should all agree upon. The Labrador is a very beautiful dog and worth having as a pet.

Then while there are many distinct differences between the two versions, a lab is a lab as they are very amiable and friendly pets who love their human family. These looks and personalities have made the Labrador the most popular dog breed for the 29th straight year.

That is a record that may never be broken. Especially if they achieve this mark next year for the 30th year at the top of the charts. To learn more about this unique dog breed, just continue to read our article. It has all the information you want to know about before you make your pet buying decision.

Take a few moments to get this information and see why this dog breed is the best of the best.

What’s The Difference Between an English Labrador and An American Labrador

There are a few basic differences that set English Labrador and the American Labrador versions apart from each other. No matter these differences, they are still from the same dog breed and are essentially the same type of dog.

The first difference will be in their breeding. American Labs are bred from working dog bloodlines while the English lab is from show bloodlines. That may not be enough of a difference, but one is great at winning trophies while the other is great at hunting, fishing, and other work duties.

Another difference will be in their appearance. The English version comes with a more pronounced ‘otter-like’ tail which helps it swim better than its American counterpart. Both can swim well but that tail gives the edge to the English variety.

Also, you will find the American Lab a bit taller than the English Lab, but the latter is heavier than the former. Then, the former should have a longer neck and snout. In addition, the coat of the two versions can have differences.

The American Lab is usually yellow, black, and brown with some fox red coloring thrown in. The English will have the three same colors but instead of the red, some will have the rare silver color.

There are other differences, but they are minor and do not really matter in this comparison.

English Labrador Temperament

Yellow labrador laying on a concrete platform with the ocean in the background

The puppies are born in litter sizes between 6 and 12 puppies. How many is up to nature, but that size of the litter does not affect the dog’s temperament or personality. The reputation the English version has is that they are very gentle dogs.

They are good with kids and are not usually aggressive. They also have a very sweet nature which helps the dog be very adaptable to their surroundings as well as being very sociable.

In addition to all of this, the dog is very loyal to its family and has been known to come to the rescue when their family needs help. The aspect of their temperament that you have to be prepared for is their love for the activity.

You do need to exercise them well each day as they are a bundle of energy. Plus, they do need to be trained but their eager-to-please personality makes that task fairly easy. Along with being very intelligent, they are very sociable and do not mind mixing with other humans or pets, or animals.

In other words, you are getting a great family dog when you buy a nice Labrador puppy as a pet.

Are English Labs Good Family Dogs

Redish yellow labrador looking at the camera with a person in the background

Yes, they are, and it is that fact that has made them the most popular dog breed for the past 29 years. If they were not very good family pets, they would not have maintained such an excellent track record.

Part of the reason for this breed’s success is their loyalty to their family and their ability to be fearless. they are not afraid to rescue their master from trouble. Then, on the other side of the coin, they can be very gentle with kids and take the kid’s behavior in stride without becoming agitated or aggressive.

However, you will need to train them as they grow up. But this breed is very trainable, and it should not take a long time to housebreak them or learn how they are to behave in the house. With successful training and socializing, this dog breed will fit right in and be a strong member of the family.

Another aspect of owning a lab is that you do need to give them lots of attention. This is good if you have a family who at different times spends time with the dog. But if you are alone, it may be difficult to give them the attention they need all the time.

What Does an English Labrador Look Like?

Yellow labrador standing on a hill next to a body of water with mountains in the background

Starting with their coat, this Lab version comes with a short single coat that is described as dense, short, and stiff. The coat provides weather-resistant protection for the dog. This coat comes from their heritage and the working dog side of the breed.

However, the dog’s coat sheds a lot. This fact makes it difficult for people with allergies to own one. The color on their coats will normally be black, yellow, and brown with a rare silver thrown in from time to time.

The tail is flat and broad which is used to propel the dog through the water. When it comes to size, they are considered medium-sized dogs. They stand between 21 1/2 to 22 1/2 inches high, both male and female, and can weigh up to 80 pounds with the female being the lighter of the two genders.

Overall, you will find that the English Lab is stockier than its American cousin. They may have a smaller head and shorter snout as well. Their ears are folded medium size so you can tell the difference between the two versions of this breed.

If you are buying a pure breed Lab, the tell-tale sign is that they are just one color. They are never multi-colored animals.

How Big Do English Labs Get?

Yellow tape measure isolated on a white background.

This breed is considered a medium-sized breed. That means that they will not be that large nor will they be that small. Usually, the male and female dogs will grow to about 21 1/2 to 22 1/2 inches high. The American version will get a little bit taller and stop growing between 21 1/2 to 24 1/2 inches high.

Then the English Lab will weigh between 60 and 80 pounds making them a bit stocky in size. The males will outweigh the females in most cases and in both versions. This physical appearance seems to aid the English Lab when they go to dog shows. They appear to be solid, and well-built and carry their weight and size well.

Of course, there is always a chance that their owners will over-feed them. This is something you have to watch carefully as making them fat can shorten their lifespan. At the very least it will make them unhealthy.

Taking care of your pet with a nutritious and monitored diet is one of the best things you can do to control their weight and keep them healthy. Also, make sure they get plenty of exercises, so they do not balloon up in size. A healthy Lab is a great friend.

Do English Labs Shed a Lot?

Hand holding a wad of dog hair shed with the back of a dog with a yellowish red coat visible to the side.

If you have severe allergies or any allergy to pet hair, then owning a Lab is not for you. They do shed a lot and you will have to be cleaning your home or apartment frequently just to get rid of the dog hairs.

If you like having a spotless home, then owning a Lab is not for you either. Labs tend to get dirty or leave their fur everywhere in the home. They may come with a coat of short hair but that does not mean those hairs remain on your pet.

One good piece of news concerning labs. They are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. You do not need to take them to the groomers for haircuts. Their fur remains short all the time.

On top of that, you do not have to give them a bath very frequently. Once every three months is good unless they start to smell or have played in the mud somewhere. That gives you a lot of time to play with your pet and enjoy their personalities and quirks.

You should trim their paw nails regularly to make sure they do not hurt themselves or scratch your floor or furniture. Use a good grooming brush to keep their coats nice and shiny.

How Much Exercise Do English Labs Need?

Red lab on the beach wearing a harness

It is said that the English lab is lazier than their American cousins. This may be due to breeding, but one thing is for sure, this slack trait does not come from the color of their coat. A black lab can be just as lazy as a yellow or brown lab.

In general, though, the English Lab does need a lot of physical exercises. They have a lot of energy to burn and if they do not get rid of it, then they can resort to other not so well-liked activities.

If your pet gets bored or the exercise they need, they can start chewing on things like your shoes or furniture or do other destructive behaviors. Also, you should never let the lab run free or outside of a fenced yard.

The dog is known to run off to chase squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals. Plus, they may run and get themselves in trouble if they are too friendly. They are excellent swimmers, due to their trail shape, and going swimming is a good way to burn that excess energy.

The amount of time you need to set aside for exercising your Lab is between 1 and 2 hours each day. Short walks are just not going to do it for you and him or her.

Can You Run with An English Lab?

Man running with a dog on a leash

This is possible but you would have to get your dog in shape for runs. Like humans, Labs would need some conditioning time before they can join you on a nice long run. You will need to start slowly and build up their stamina, but it can be done.

Just make sure your dog gets plenty of rest in between runs. They cannot do this activity every day and may need 2 to 3 days off in between runs. You have to be careful that you do not run too far or too fast.

The lab will try to keep up but that may not be possible all the time. Also, you have to be careful about their joints and their hips as you can damage them with too many runs going too far.

Usually, up to 5 miles is okay and in condition, your Lab may go up to 10 miles but beyond those distances is not a good idea. Watching your pet’s health includes watching over their joints and bones.

It may be a good idea to schedule other non-running activities to keep them nice and healthy and in shape. A variety of activities will provide the mental stimulation your lab needs to avoid being bored.

Plan these activities around your schedule and your family’s favorite things to do. Some would be best left till the weekend when everyone in your family has extra time.

Do English Labs Bark?

Yellow labrador retriever barking outdoors

Barking is not one of the English Labs’ favorite activities. They are not known to be heavy barkers, but they will do it when the need arises. Those needs include but may not be limited to odd noises during the day or night, or when strangers start getting close.

Also, they may bark when they get lonely and want your attention. They may also bark when they need to be fed, need water, or need to go outside and do their natural duty. When they get excited, they may let out a bark or two.

The puppies will bark more than the adult Labs. They need things and will bark to get those things taken care of. They also have puppy anxiety which may cause them to bark more than the adult dogs.

Whether being a puppy or an adult, the Lab does not like being separated from his or her master. They will bark a lot when they feel the separation has gone on for far too long. It is called separation anxiety and labs seem to suffer from this ailment frequently.

You need to give your Lab lots of attention which is why they are so good with kids. They get a lot of attention when your children are still at home.

English Labs Care Guide

Yellow lab puppy chewing a piece of paper sitting in front of a window

Like every dog breed, Labs have a care routine that helps keep them from getting out of shape or getting too fat. Starting with the mails, these should be trimmed regularly. If they grow too large you could be hurting your dog’s paws and keep them from walking properly.

Then you should check their eyes and ears regularly as well. Infections are silent ailments and do not always attract a lot of attention. Bathing should only be done when they need it.

A puppy’s skin can be quite sensitive, so you have to be careful of the cleaning supplies you use as well as the water temperature. Dry them thoroughly so they do not develop any skin irritations.

In addition, you should either brush their teeth or use dental chews to keep their teeth in top shape. Some hard dog food will help here as well. Speaking of food 2 1/2 cups of dog food is sufficient for adult dogs.

Spread this amount over 2 or 3 meals so that their food intake is even. Smaller meals are preferred as labs can eat too quickly and cause themselves some bloating and other problems. Try to regulate their eating habits to slow them down.

When it is time to exercise in your Lab the ideal amount of time they need to run and play or walk, is between 1 to 2 hours. How you divide this time is up to you, but you do not have to do it all in one shot.

Some people suggest only 1 hour a day, but you make that determination for your pet. Just be careful when your pet is outside. labs tend to wander off if they are not trained very well. Make sure if you have a fenced yard that the gate or gates are always closed and high enough so that the Lab cannot jump over it.

How Long Do English Labradors Live?

Elderly chocolate lab with a graying face laying down with its head on the floor.

This is the sad part of owning an English lab. Even if you do everything correctly and have a great time with your pet, they may not live past 10 to 12 years. There may be some exceptions to the rule but any extension on their average lifespan may not be that much.

When it comes to their health, you have to watch out for three things for their joints. The first is hip dysplasia and the second is elbow dysplasia. Both ailments are abnormal development in their hips and elbows. These two ailments can cause a lot of pain or discomfort as well as lameness.

The third joint issue to watch out for will be patella luxation and this is where the kneecap moves out of its normal location. The knee will fail to extend but it can be treated successfully with surgery.

The lab also suffers from different diseases like epilepsy, but this can be treated with medication. A Lab’s most common causes of death are cancer, cardiac arrest, or other issues as well as old age.

To be able to catch these ailments in time, you will need to do regular vet visits. If you buy from a reputable dog breeder, then you will see that many of these ailments are reduced, and chances are they will not suffer from most of them.

Are English Labradors More Expensive Than American Labs?

Hands flipping through money

When you go looking for a Lab puppy for a pet, keep in mind that there are a lot of irresponsible breeders out there. They can charge you a lot of money while giving you a puppy that is either sick or prone to illnesses in return. You should go to responsible and reputable breeders to find the perfect puppy for your family.

With that said the cost of these dogs is the same. They range between $600 and $1200 depending on the breeder. Some people have said the price range is between $800 and $1200 but no matter the price, these two versions of the Lab sell for the same price.

If you want a particular type of bloodline, expect to pay up to $2000 and if you go to a bad breeder, you can pay a lot more or a lot less depending on the breeder. Make sure to ask for and get a health certificate for your puppy. Generally, top breeders have no problem with this while the bad one does.

If you want to cut the cost, you can always go to a pet shelter and get one for between $100 and $300.

Some Final Words

Close up of a yellow lab in an outdoor possibly beach setting

When you want a great pet for your kids, consider Labrador. They are great with kids, have a good attitude, and are very gentle. The color of the dog does not indicate anything other than the color of the dog despite what some people say.

The key to owning a Lab is to treat it right and give it lots of exercise, attention, and love.

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