I hear people talk about their Lab being "English" or "American. I also see them advertised that way on some breeders' websites and in the AKC Marketplace. I know about English Cocker Spaniels, and English Pointers and others. What are the differences between English and American Labs?
Labrador Retriever body style is properly described as being either conformation/show style or field/working style. The terms English and American should be used only to describe the dog’s country of birth. All countries in which the Labrador retriever is found, including England, have Labradors of both body styles.
The Labrador Retriever breed was developed in Great Britain. It could be said it is an “English” breed. However, the breed is one breed. They can be born in any country in the world. The correct terminology for the variations of body style are field/working (wrongly called American) and conformation/show (wrongly called English).
Type is a word which describes a dog having distinguishing characteristics which make up a particular breed. “Type” distinguishes a Labrador Retriever from a Cocker Spaniel.
Within Type are styles. In the Labrador Retriever the two styles are generally considered to be the conformation/show style (incorrectly referred to as ‘English’) and the field/working style (incorrectly referred to as ‘American’). Each is a variation away from the “normal”, which is described in the Standard of the Breed.
These variations from the Standard exist wherever Labrador Retrievers are bred, regardless of country. Some of each style are at the extremes of the scale away from the norm. But the norm remains constant.
The extremes are not classified as different breeds because all descend from the same foundations of the original 6 stud dogs. 90% of today’s Labrador Retrievers can be traced back to 3 of those original 6. It has been the selective breeding by the many who have bred Labrador Retrievers that cause some strains to express some traits while in other strains those traits are suppressed. It is all a matter of selective breeding and the preference, by virtue of use for which the litter is planned, of the breeder.
It does happen, more often than most breeders will admit, that examples of the two styles appear in the same litter, perhaps not to the extreme, but the differences are very apparent. This is because while there are different branches, they are all part of one tree.
To understand more about the variation of style, we suggest reading those books that give a detailed, and well-illustrated, history of the breed. Among them are:
The New Complete Labrador Retriever by Helen Warwick
The Official Book of the Labrador Retriever by Bernard W. Ziessow
The Versatile Labrador Retriever by Nancy Martin.
My English Lab is about 1 1/2 years old. We didn't have him fixed because we wanted to Stud him, so we could one, get one of his pups (a friend for him) two, bring more and more lab's into the world. He is the best looking lab I've ever seen, the kindest, and his big head really stops them in there tracks. Do you have some information about people in the area that are looking for Stud services, basically how should I start?
The motto of the responsible breeder of purebred dogs is “Breed to Improve.” We know that, in your eyes, your dog is the best Labrador in the world. Every dog is the best dog in the world to its owner. Responsible breeders, however, know the goal of breeding is to produce a better dog and a quality pet. So look at your Lab with a ‘critical’ eye and recognize his flaws. If you decide to continue with the breeding process, look for a female that will eliminate or balance those flaws.
There may well be very good, responsible, breeders not too far from you who might be willing to mentor you and help you find a mate for your Lab. Please take a look at our directory of local Lab clubs at
Choose your state, and nearby states, and use the clubs’ websites or Facebook pages to get in touch with them.
In the process of selecting a mate for your Labrador, there are several important questions to ask:
- Most importantly, do both have good temperament? That is imperative as it is a distinguishing feature of the breed. You certainly do not want to sell pups as family pets if the temperament of either parent is anything but the kind, friendly, outgoing temperament a Labrador should have.
Assuming your Lab is AKC registered, is the female also AKC registered? Only if both are can the litter, when whelped, be AKC registered. Otherwise, the litter is just another litter of pups that look like Labrador Retrievers.
- Does your dog, and the potential dam, have OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals https://www.ofa.org/) clearances on hips and elbows? In other words has it been shown that both dogs are free of hip and elbow dysplasia?
Does he, and she, have current (within a year of the whelping date) eye clearance based on an examination performed by an accredited (by American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology ACVO.org) veterinary ophthalmologist and have the examination results been registered with OFA Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) and both received certificated numbers?
- OFA and CAER are very important as both hip and elbow dysplasia as well as several serious genetic eye conditions affect the Labrador Retriever breed. It should be the first aim of anyone breeding a litter to be sure both parents are sound to lessen any chance that the pups may inherit structural and eye problem for which in some states’ courts, breeders can be held financially responsible.
How well do the two dogs physically complement each other. Are they of similar overall look? In structural features, where one is less than correct in some features? Is the other correct in those features? In other words, if the female has a straight shoulder, does the male have a correctly angled shoulder? Do they balance each other in their good points and failings? Are they similar in coat? Do both have good pigment (black) on their noses, eye rims and lip edges? meaning, do they fit the Standard for the Breed (see the Standard at https://thelabradorclub.com/about-the-breed/breed-standard/) The more similar in look the parents are to each other, the more predictable the look of the pups when they reach maturity.
We realize we answered far more than you asked but if one is going to breed, the aim of the breeder should be to produce a litter of puppies that is better than, or at least as good as the sum of both parents. And doing that goes far beyond whether one parent is of working/field style and the other of conformation/show style.
Hello, I have a male yellow lab that is registered in the AKC. I have thought about getting a female and raising puppies. I wanted to get a chocolate female just because I have always wanted one, but I was told the other day that is two different colored labs are bred that the puppies can't be registered. I was also told that they could be registered but that they couldn't be showed because they would be disqualified. Could you please briefly explain to me the requriements for breeding labs. Thanks
First ask yourself, “Why do I want to raise puppies?” And be honest with the answer.
No breeder who gives a litter of pups the proper care ever makes money, no matter how many pups are in the litter.
You love Labs and the pups are so cute?
Fair enough,but will you think that when you are up at 6 in the morning cleaning up the urine and poop that 6 or 8 pups have deposited overnight? Or will they be that cute as you write the check to the vet for their wormings and innoculations? Will you still think they are cute when after 10, 12 or 14 wks. you still have 2 or 3 pups available (over and above what you decided to keep for yourself?) and the phone has stopped ringing?
Have you had your yellow male’s hips and elbows x-rayed and certified by OFA to be free of hip and elbow dysplasia? Have you had, and will you continue to have, his eyes examined yearly by a Board certified veterinary ophthalmologist to be sure he is free of hereditary eye problems?
Have you trained him for any sort of competition…..conformation, obedience, hunting-retriever tests…..shown him to prove he has qualities that are worthy of passing on to the next generation?
Have you read the standard for the breed? (see www.thelabradorclub.com)
Are you aware that the practice of breeding a yellow Labrador to a chocolate Labrador is avoided because it can produce a dog lacking in pigment (a disqualifying fault in the standard for the breed…along with 4 other points)?
Will you give a meaningful health guarantee on your puppies….and be prepared to back it should the pup be affected with a genetic problem?
Are you prepared to responsible for the lifetime well being of those pups you will produce? Will you be their for them when their new owners call one day and, for whatever reason, can no longer keep the dog and seek your help?
Learning to be a responsible breeder, even for only one litter, takes a lot of education….about the breed, about the genetics (color and health) of the breed, about general canine health and about raising and training dogs in general.
I would suggest you read several important books:
Reaching For The Stars by Mary Roslin-Williams
The Complete Labrador Retriever by Helen Warwick
The Versatile Labrador Retriever by Nancy Martin
These 3 books could be classified as “bibles” for the person considering getting involved in the Labrador retriever breed.
I would then visit websites of shelters and Labrador retriever rescue organizations to see how many unfortunate Labradors are in need of homes…..and then decide if you really want to be responsible for adding to the population of the (unfortunately)number 1 breed in the US.
If you still feel this is the road you want to take, I would advise you join several Labrador related lists.
I recently purchased an AKC black Lab. The pup has a bit of white on him. His chest has a thin white shaped tee, his chin has a white dot, and on his rear paws a little white shows between the toes. I have always understood that a lab should not have white marks but when I asked the breeder he thought nothing of it. I really like the pup and have no intention to get rid of him. I would just like to know what I have. Can you help to clarify this for me?
These are called “mismarks” because ideally a black dog is solid black. In reality, white spots are not unusual (the spot on the chest is allowed by the Standard, and many dogs have white between the toes or under the feet) in the breed. Take a look at some known mismarks at http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/mismarks.html. Good luck with your pup.
I am getting ready to purchase a puppy, they are all yellow/golden, but 2 have a liver nose, I was curious if this was rare?
I have an eight week old puppy I just acquired. This is not my first lab, but I have forgotten some things. She weighs almost 16 lbs. Is that large for an eight week old puppy? I seem to remember my last one being around 10 or 12 lbs at eight weeks old.
I recently purchased a Labrador Retriever puppy who is now four months old. The "breeder" sold us this dog with the promise that we would recieve papers (limited registration). We have now had our dog for 2 months and have not recieved any papers. We have contacted our breeder several times and feel she was dishonest and has no intention of providing any paperwork. Is there any course of action which we can take against this breeder. We paid $500 for the dog. We love the dog with or without AKC registration, but we feel we were taken.
We are very sorry to hear of your difficulties obtaining registration papers on your Labrador Retriever puppy.
While the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. is the parent club for the breed, we are not a registration organization.
You should have received from the breeder, at time of sale, an application for individual registration. If you did, fill it out and send it, with the appropriate fee to the Kennel Club at the address given on the application.
If you did not receive such an application then you should do the following:
If your puppy was represented as AKC registered, contact AKC, the American Kennel Club, Inc. All necessary contact information can be found on their website, www.akc.org.
If your puppy was represented as UKC registered, contact UKC, the United Kennel Club. Contact information can be found on their website, www.ukcdogs.com.
There are newer registries in addition to the two mentioned. If your pup is represented as registerable with one of the newer registries, try doing a search for the website of whichever organization the breeder used to register your pup’s litter.
Have copies of your puppies litter registration number, date of birth, name and registration number of the sire and dam (if provided), name and address of the breeder from whom you purchased the pup and the sales contract.
We hope this information will help you clear up this matter quickly. Sorry we cannot be of further assistance.
I saw some Labradoodles on a television show, and I am seeking info on the breeding of these beautiful animals. Any info that you can share will be greatly appreciated
The Labradoodle is a cross-bred dog, the result of using the Labrador retriever and the Standard variety of Poodle.
It is not a purebred, it is not recognized by any kennel club registries.
Crossbreeding of the Labrador retriever is not encouraged by the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.
Hi, I am looking for info regarding the Labrador color. I know they primarily come in 3 colors, black, yellow and chocolate, but recently I saw one that was chocolate and yellow. Is that common? I've never seen r even heard about that. Does that have anything to do with inbreeding? I appreciate any info you can send me on this.
The Labrador retriever is a solid colored dog, either black, shades of yellow or chocolate, with small white spots on the chest allowed.
On rare occasion the pairing of two purebred Labradors will produce a mismarked puppy. The mismarks may be black dogs with tan points, yellows with black spots, chocolates with tan points, brindles (solid colors and white mixed, known as splashed) even dogs marked in two colors much like the pinto horse.
These mismarkings represent throwbacks in the genetic color pattern. It has little to do with how closely related the parents are (inbreeding or linebreeding).
The Labrador retriever, and virtually every other recognized purebred breed, of today is the result of carefully selected use, by those who developed the breed, of other breeds many, many years ago to refine and strengthen specific traits breeders wanted.
While unwanted traits, such as color, associated with the non-Labrador used in such refining have been suppressed by years of careful breeding, on occasion they do come through when both parents carry the gene for the same trait. Many books written about the Labrador retriever discuss these color anomalies.
While these color mismarks bar the affected Labrador retriever from competition in the conformation shows, they in no way affect the dog’s value as a competitor in other venues, or as a companion and working retriever.
I do not know if there are breeders available with Red Labrador Retrievers (I assume there is someone somewhere) and I was wondering if you may have any information on this subject. I did try searching the AKC website and I may not be looking in the right place but I have not been able to come up with any information. I would prefer not to just pick a breeder that we know nothing about and was hoping I can get some info from here.
The color to which you refer is commonly known as “fox red”. It is a variant shade of the yellow Labrador retriever.
Most knowledgeable, experienced breeders know of the color. Few breed specifically for it because color is only cosmetic and most breeders consider physical structure, good health, temperament and working ability primary goals when planning a breeding.
Consult the Breeders Directory on the LRC website (www.thelabradorclub.com). Look specifically for breeders who breed yellow Labradors. They would be your most direct link to the fox red you seek.
Good luck in your search.