The Labrador Retriever (also known as the ‘Labrador’ or ’Lab’) descends from the Newfoundland Dog and the St. John’s Water Dog in Newfoundland, Canada. It was bred to hunt in water and pull boats, which is evident to this day in its natural love for water. Contrary to popular opinion, the Labrador Retriever’s name likely derives from the Portuguese ‘lavradores’ or Spanish ‘labradores’, both of which mean ‘farm worker’, rather than the ‘Labrador’ region of Canada. The Labrador Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917 and thereafter rose slowly but steadily in popularity due to its incredible versatility, obedience, and rugged good looks. It is now considered the world’s most popular breed. The Labrador Retriever has been the most registered dog in America and England since 1991; the American Kennel Club had almost three times as many Labrador Retriever registrations in 2006 (124,000) as the second most popular breed. Famous Labrador Retrievers include the title character from the film version of ‘Old Yeller’ (though the book version was a Mountain Cur), Marley, from the bestselling memoir ‘Marley and Me’, and Tawny, a yellow Lab who gave birth to 18 puppies with her first litter in 1999 and was named the ‘Iams Mother of the Year’.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.