working labrador

It’s rare to see a shoot without a Labrador retriever somewhere in sight and in fact it tops the list as the favoured gundog and family pet in the UK.

The breed was created by fishermen on the coast of Labrador in Canada, who needed strong dogs to drag fishing nets up the beach. Hence the Labrador’s affinity to water.

Labradors are generally very good natured which makes them popular as companions, and a well-trained Labrador makes a highly efficient gundog, excellent at retrieving both on land and water.

Away from the shooting field, Labradors also perform stirling work as service dogs and do well in working trials and competitions.

goldador cross

Goldador: what happens when you cross a labrador with a golden retriever?

We are all familiar with sprockers, cockapoos and labradoodles, but what do you call a cross between a labrador and a golden retriever? A golden labrador? (The name is a goldador.) The ‘goldador’ cross A ‘goldador’ cross between these two closely related breeds makes a lot of sense and has…

bengal tiger

Striped labradors – yes they really are a thing apparently

Some breeders are now selling ‘striped labradors’. Skilled labrador breeders invariably have a detailed knowledge of their dogs and know which of their animals carry yellow or chocolate genes, selecting their mates with a view to ensuring that different colours occur in their litters. Among pet labradors, chocolates, being rarer,…


What makes the perfect labrador?

Is the perfect labrador a product of breeding or training? There is huge variety in the breed and starting a discussion about what makes a perfect labrador will inevitably draw out some firmly-held opinions. (Ever heard of a silver labrador?) Around 35,000 labs are registered with the British Kennel Club…

black Labrador

What you need to know about hip dysplasia and gundogs

A good question and well done for admitting that you don’t know about it or understand what hip dysplasia in dogs is. Explaining hip dysplasia in dogs The hip joints are at the top of the hind leg in dogs and are ‘ball and socket’ joints, so that flexion (lifting…

Labrador colours

How important is the colour of a gundog’s coat?

As we all know, sound working-bred spaniel puppies are in high demand at the moment, so I was delighted to be able to tip off a friend about a litter I had heard about. She arranged to see them and I was sure she would end up buying one. I…

perfect Labrador

How can we breed the perfect Labrador?

The Labrador retriever was first recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed in 1903. It was originally known as the St John’s dog or lesser Newfoundland dog. The breed was in Newfoundland in the 1700s and imported to England in the 1800s. When I was researching its origins, I…

Labrador puppy training

My Labrador doesn’t like going into water. What can I do?

Q: I have a two-year-old Labrador bitch that is shy of going into water. What do you suggest I do to help her overcome this fear? Labradors and water A: It’s unusual for a Labrador to be reluctant to go into water, though it is not unheard of. Unless it…

Fox-red Labrador

Should I get a fox-red Labrador?

I recently received this query from a reader who was wondering how a fox-red Labrador would perform out in the field. Q: My son-in-law is keen to buy a first working dog to train himself. Like many young people, he is influenced by what’s fashionable, so he’s been looking for…

Black Labrador lying down

Do Labradors really originate from Canada?

Spend a day out in the field on a shoot and the chances are that somebody, somewhere will have a Labrador. But despite being such a popular gundog, some think that Labradors are from Canada originally, rather than being a European breed. It’s said that fishermen in this bleak peninsula…

chocolate Labrador

Do chocolate Labradors deserve a bad reputation?

So how does the colour of a chocolate Labrador happen? A variety of different Labrador matings, including black to black, can produce a brown, or chocolate Labrador. If you mate two brown Labs together you are most likely to have similarly coloured puppies, although you may also get yellow. However…

golden retriever

Training a golden retriever

A question about golden retriever training Q: After many years of having Labradors, I have bought a working-bred golden retriever puppy. I know this breed has a reputation for being slow to mature and more challenging to train, but this youngster is a joy to work with. However, he is…

Labrador gundog

How to help a dog with arthritis

“My eight year old Labrador is a bit slow to get going now and is usually lame by lunchtime, when I rug her up and put her in the vehicle. She seems a bit young to call it a day. How can you help a dog with arthritis?” Many working…

black Labrador puppy

Health checks you must carry out before breeding Labradors

Q: “I am considering breeding from my 
young Labrador bitch but have to confess 
to being overwhelmed by all the advice 
I am getting. Any thoughts?” Thoughts on breeding Labradors A: First I would say that breeding from your only dog can be fraught and is not entirely without risk.…

black Labrador puppy

How can I find the right Labrador puppy these days?

Q: I have been struggling to find a Labrador puppy because there seems to have been a big demand for them as pets during lockdown. 
 I have been advised to wait a while because it’s expected that a lot of young dogs will need to be rehomed in the…

Labrador puppy training

Tips on training a Labrador puppy

Jeremy Hunt has trained hundreds of Labradors. Here is his advice on picking the right puppy training class for your youngster.

Pedigree dog health

Will my Labrador’s hips cause her problems in the field?

Labrador hips cause concern Q: I have a four-year-old Labrador bitch that I had intended breeding from, but her hip scores have turned out to be higher than we expected — not too bad but not good enough that we feel we should breed from her. However, I am now…

old black Labrador

Why you should never give dogs ibuprofen

Stiff legs in the morning Q: I notice that our Labrador, as he gets older, is starting to have difficulty getting up on his legs first thing in the morning. This was especially noticeable after he had been for a long walk the previous day and we are now limiting…

Labrador picking-up training

Training a young Labrador to start picking-up

Q: I have a young Labrador bitch I want to start picking-up with this season. Should I take her along with my older and experienced bitch, or would it be better to take her on her own so 
I can devote more time to her? A: Hopefully, your young bitch…

Arthritis in dogs

Are chocolate Labradors poor retrievers?

I was asked recently about my opinion on a dog’s eye colour. The inquirer felt if a Labrador had light-coloured eyes, it was more prone to be skittish and wild. It was something I had never even considered. I have always preferred a Labrador with darker pigment around their eyes…