Outside North America and Western Europe, the Labrador arrived later. For example, the Russian Retriever Club traces the arrival of Labradors to the late 1960s, as household pets of diplomats and others in the foreign ministry. The establishment of the breed in the Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) was initially hindered by the relatively small numbers of Labradors and great distances involved, leading to difficulty establishing breedings and bloodlines; at the start of the 1980s, home-born dogs were still regularly supplemented by further imports from overseas. Difficulties such as these initially led to Labradors being tacitly cross-bred to other types of retriever. In the 1990s, improved access to overseas shows and bloodlines is said to have helped this situation become regularised.
Labrador colouration is controlled by multiple genes. It is possible for recessive genes to re-emerge in later generations. Also, there can sometimes be unexpected pigmentation effects to different parts of the body. Pigmentation effects appear in regard to yellow Labradors, and sometimes chocolate, and hence the majority of this section covers pigmentation within the yellow Labrador. The most common places where pigmentation is visible are the nose, lips, gums, feet, tail, and the rims of the eyes, which may be black, brown, light yellow-brown ("liver", caused by having two genes for chocolate), or several other colours. A Labrador can carry genes for a different colour, for example a black Labrador can carry recessive chocolate and yellow genes, and a yellow Labrador can carry recessive genes for the other two colours. DNA testing can reveal some aspects of these. Less common pigmentations (other than pink) are a fault, not a disqualification, and hence such dogs are still permitted to be shown.
The original Labradors were all-purpose water dogs originating in Newfoundland, not Labrador. Not only did the breed not originate in Labrador, but it also was not originally called the Labrador Retriever. The Newfoundland of the early 1800s came in different sizes, one of which was the “Lesser” or “St. John’s” Newfoundland—the earliest incarnation of the Labrador. These dogs—medium-sized black dogs with close hair—not only retrieved game but also retrieved fish, pulled small fishing boats through icy water, and helped the fisherman in any task involving swimming. Eventually the breed died out in Newfoundland in large part because of a heavy dog tax. However, a core of Labradors had been taken to England in the early 1800s, and it is from these dogs, along with crosses to other retrievers, that the breed continued. It was also in England that the breed earned its reputation as an extraordinary retriever of upland game. Initially black labs were favored over yellow or chocolate colors. By the early 1900s, the other colors had become more accepted. The breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903 and by the AKC in 1917. The popularity of this breed has grown steadily until the Labrador Retriever became the most popular breed in America in 1991 and remains so today.
"Mocha (90 lbs.), our 2-year-old female chocolate Lab and Gracie (23 lbs.), our 4-month-old female silver Lab—I have never seen two dogs more alike, they are truly best friends. I had heard people say if you have a good dog and you get a puppy, the older one will play a big part in training the new pup; I now know that is true. They are a huge part of our family and we couldn't imagine life without them."
Looking for dog gift inspiration? Based on our readers’ favorite picks over the course of the year, we selected a few top trending dog gifts for 2018. These choices run the gamut from magnets to mugs to some very unique options for the dog lover that has it all. (Dog tarot, anyone?) If those don’t strike your fancy, keep scrolling for links to breed-specific gift guides and much more.