There Is Only 1
Labrador Retriever,






There Is Only One Labrador Retriever!!!!

Contrary to urban legends, there is only one Labrador Retriever!

According to the AKC ( there are Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Curly-Coat Retrievers, and now there is even a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever that are all accepted by the supreme registry, the AKC.

That certainly is an impressive group of retrievers, most of which may be found in many endeavors, from field trials to agility, obedience competition to conformation shows (dog showing), not to mention that the Labrador Retrievers is the #1 registered dog in the USA, followed by the Golden Retriever as #2, ranking them as America’s favorite canine companions to the tune of over 275,000 new registrations per year with the AKC alone!

Although the Labrador Retriever comes in three official colors, which makes them “look” like 3 different dogs, it is still considered only one breed, the Labrador Retriever. So, yellow Labrador Retrievers, black Labrador Retrievers and chocolate Labrador Retrievers are all LABRADOR RETRIEVERS!

The breed has an official name known throughout the world and that is the Labrador Retriever! The English Kennel Club first recognized the Labrador Retriever as a separate breed in 1903; therefore most registries list its official country of origin as England. The first registration of a Labrador Retriever by the AKC in the United States was a Scottish import in 1917.

Most canine breed historians have the early ancestors of the breed coming from Newfoundland at the beginning of the 19th century, not from Labrador as some other urban legends have it, however these early dogs were not a fixed breed and it would take almost a 100 years and cross breeding with several other established breeds to bring about the first registrable Labrador Retrievers at the turn of the century.

Nowhere among the distinguished list of AKC registrable breeds is there an “America Labrador Retriever”, nor a “Louisiana Labrador Retriever, nor a “Field Labrador Retriever” nor any other variable including “English Labrador Retriever”. Regardless of color (black, yellow and chocolate), or place of origin it is still a Labrador Retriever. I mention the “other” colors here because I know that some “breeders” will try to sell buyers on the idea that there are “other” colors such as “silvers” and “pure whites” and heavens knows what else.

So now back to the “popular legend” of  “Name It What You Want Labrador Retrievers”. Hardly a day goes by that someone will email or phone asking for “Something Labrador Retriever”. I refer to this phenomenon as the Gucci syndrome and more appropriate for our purpose, the GLRS or Gucci Labrador Retriever Syndrome.

There seems to be so many variations, deviations and “styles” of the original breed, that people need to label what ever it is they have in order to justify its existence or better yet they need a neat sounding name to be able to market whatever they have that does not adhere to the breed standard of the Labrador Retriever.

Each breed has its own written standard; some even have disqualifications for any deviations, including the breed standard for Labrador Retrievers. In fact there are 5 disqualifications listed for the Labrador Retriever. The following are verbatim from the AKC official Breed Standard.

AKC Breed Standard in Italics, my musings in (parenthesis)

  1. Any deviation from the height prescribed in the Standard. (Males 22 ½ to 24 ½ Females 21 ½ to 23 ½ any variance greater than ½ inch above or below is a disqualification, so all those giant Greyhound looking dogs that people claim to be Labs are disqualified and all those short-legged 19 and 20 inch dogs are out of here too)
  2. A thoroughly pink nose or lacking in any pigment. (So, all those yellow dogs with red noses are to be disqualified. )
  3.  Eye rims without pigment
  4. Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the tail
  5. Any other color or a combination of colors other than black, yellow or chocolate as described in the standard. (Well, there go the silvers, brindles and blues advertised on the Internet)

These are not the only faults mentioned in the official Breed Standard for the Labrador Retriever, there are numerous clauses found throughout the 6-page outline for the breed. Some describe in detail the proportions between certain parts of the body, while others deal with how the tail shall be carried, ear size and eye shape, type of feet and even pads are mentioned. The breed is described in minute detail establishing certain parameters that will keep the breed unique and like no other.

Any variation, deviation or style that will fall outside of the official dictum for the breed, will be considered serious faults or even be disqualified for not having the correct conformation for the breed. So, all those male dogs that are taller than 25 inches are out of here and so are those dogs that are "whoppers" weighing in excess of 110 lbs, with some tilting the scales at 130lbs!!!!!!!

There is a simple rule to follow, if the dog does not adhere to the breed standard then it no longer is that breed. Since there are no other official Labrador Retrievers, then these dogs can be called the Wannabee Retrievers, which will satisfy the Gucci syndrome that so plagues our society. George Bragaw, one of the truly giant mentors of the breed once said to me, "If when looking at a Labrador Retriever, it reminds you of another breed, then it no longer is a Labrador Retriever!"

Great words to live by George (RIP), words that I take very seriously when considering any dog for breeding and perpetuating the next generation of Labrador Retrievers.

There is only one Labrador Retriever as described by the breed standard. There is no mention of a longer bodied Labrador, or one with a longer muzzle, nor one with very long legs to be able to “run through swamps”, nor other colors other than black, yellow and chocolate, so anything else is just a Wannabee  Retriever!

Yea, that’s the ticket a real moniker that the marketers can use to promote their off-brand wares, the Wannabee Retriever. With slick packaging on those spit and shiny websites, they could claim that the Wannabee originated in New Zealand, Borneo or Cuccamonga. A real neat sounding name from a far away and exotic land, yea that’s the ticket! This way, those breeding, selling and perpetuating them will have a name for them to market and promote with and those that buy them will know that they are NOT getting the real deal, the Labrador Retriever!


ADDENDUM: I recently receive an email asking for a "taller" version of the breed. The following is my answer.


I breed for the standard, as I don't believe in changing something that already is as good as it gets. There is only one Labrador Retriever (see the article I wrote for the LQ at ) Any deviations from the original creates a myriad of uncertainty, so much so that across the country today there are dozens of different versions of the original Labrador Retriever and in keeping up with commercial trends, they are designer named, with American Labradors, Field Labradors, English Labradors, and so on. It seems that the breeders come up with names according to what it resembles most.


The biggest problem with re-designing DNA genetics, is that you never, ever know what the outcome will be, both in size, structure nor with temperament and eventual health concerns. There is no crossing "this" with "that" to get "those", it just does not work that way.


This litter between Brody and Molly puts together 2 specimens of the breed that adhere to the breed standards to a T, no deviations in size, looks or temperament. When you look at either of them, there is no mistaking them for anything else than a Labrador Retriever. Most likely, and that is why we put these two specimens together, so that their produce will also adhere to the breed standard, giving us a uniform look across the board. Notice that I say "likely", because once again, we are dealing with genetics and there are always quirks that come up in the best breeding programs. That's where I come in with my evaluations based in my 36 years with this breed, Those puppies that deviate from the breed standard in any way too obvious are then placed as "pets" with the AKC's limited registration, which will render them "not breedable". This is to prevent those dogs with deviations from reproducing, thus not passing on those new qualities to the next generation.


There are hundreds, if not thousands of "breeders" that now have easy markets through the Internet that produce different versions of the Labrador Retriever. Research through the web and see if any of these breeders have what you are looking for as the only thing I can offer you or anyone else looking for a Labrador Retriever is the real thing.




Since publishing the  article up above I have received dozens if not over a 100 emails on this subject and there was even a "major" discussion on one of those busy-body Labrador chat list/forums.

It seems that many who do not possess a true looking Labrador has taken offense at my renderings about the condition that exist with all the varieties of so-called Labrador Retrievers being billed "this and that" Labrador Retrievers.  Here's the lowdown folks, if you have to add a descriptive to what you are breeding, then it no longer is the original version.

Let me make that last statement easier to understand.

If what you have has to be called something other then a LABRADOR RETRIEVER, then it no longer is a Labrador Retriever, so that if what you have is field looking dogs and you must describe them as Field Labrador Retrievers, then they no longer are the original breed and should then be labeled as something else, say perhaps a Thinned Nose Retriever or a Long-legged Retriever. Same thing with those that are very short legged, have rotund bodies and oversized heads, let's not call these English Labrador Retrievers, why not use a unique name for them say, Porky Retrievers. With those that are huge bodied and have heads that some refer to as "block heads", let's give them an appropriate name say, Brickyard Retrievers. This way, everyone will be happy as larks with their very own designed Retriever.

Simple as a dimple on a dapple, if it reminds you of something else,, then it ain't what it's supposed to be!!

Adding other descriptive doesn't make it the original.

A Labrador Retriever should look like a Labrador Retriever and should be called by it's proper name according to the official breed standard for Labrador Retrievers and there is nothing in that official dictum that describes any other type, variety or locality.




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