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.

Arthritis in dogs

Do chocolate Labradors deserve a bad reputation?

Does a chocolate Labrador have a shorter life? A recent headline in the Daily Telegraph  proclaimed chocolate Labradors die younger and have more health problems than yellow and black ones 
as demand narrows the gene pool. The article stated breeders require two chocolate Labradors to produce chocolate puppies. This isn’t…

silver Labrador

Would a silver Labrador be right for you?

What exactly is the right colour? The Kennel Club’s breed standard states that “any shade of gold or cream” is acceptable for golden retrievers, while the American KC requires “rich, lustrous gold of various shades”. Colour is a contentious issue in many breeds. However, when it comes to controversial coat…

Dog training with a whistle

Most dog attacks are by Labradors. Seriously?

I have just been alerted to a story in The Times that the breed of dog blamed for the most dog attack claims in the UK is the Labrador. This doesn’t surprise me at all, despite the fact that almost all the Labradors I have met have been big softies,…

Labrador in water

Do Labradors really originate from Newfoundland?

Q: I read that Labradors originated from dogs used by fishermen in North America and were used for helping to retrieve nets from the sea and estuaries in their country of origin. Interestingly my own dog, since it was a small puppy, has always retrieved dummies from water by grabbing…

Eye health in dogs

Is my dog going blind?

I'm worried for my gundog's health! I have an elderly, but fit, Labrador and I am concerned that he may be going blind.

black Labrador puppy

What makes the perfect Labrador?

If you wanted to start an argument at a game fair, 
you couldn’t go far wrong with initiating a discussion about what the perfect Labrador should look like. Even the most casual countryside observer will be aware that there 
is huge variety in the breed. As it is the most…

Gundog breed Labrador

How to help a dog with arthritis

I agree, but many working dogs are affected by arthritis and it can be a very debilitating and frustrating condition. There are a number of steps you can take to help a dog with arthritis, improving quality of life. What is arthritis? Arthritis can be defined as inflammation of a…

Why are Labradors greedy?

A rogue gene could explain your Labrador’s  insatiable appetite. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a genetic variation in Labradors that, they suspect, makes some obsessed with food. The research was led by Dr Eleanor Raffan, who said: “This is a common genetic variation in Labradors and it…

Spaniel or Labrador

Should I choose a spaniel or a Labrador?

I go rabbit and pigeon shooting, and now intend to get a gundog. I am not sure which breed to go for. A friend says Labradors are born half-trained and spaniels die half-trained! I ideally want a dog to flush game and to retrieve it. Any advice, please?

male or female dog

Tips on training a Labrador puppy

Training a Labrador puppy in a class certainly has its appeal.  But as in all things it pays to do your research before you commit yourself and your dog to what will undoubtedly be the most formative period in your future working partnership. What to look for in a class…

Labradors and spaniels

There are big differences between Labradors and spaniels …

As the shooting season draws to a close it is time for us to reflect on what has gone well with our gundogs, but more importantly what has gone wrong and will need working on during the spring and summer months. For a few of us the search for a new shooting companion will start in earnest and the…

springer spaniel dream gundog

The dream gundog team

I’ll tell you what I want to see behind me when I am standing in a line of guns outside a likely looking covert. I want to see a bunch of pickers-up with sundry teams of likely looking dogs. I want them a good gunshot distance and where I can see them. I don’t want to…

Gundogs out in the field

My gundog embarrasses me in front of other Guns

A: You probably allowed him to hunt quite freely on his first big day as he was so well behaved, but hunting game is far more exciting than walking at heel. He got to enjoy meeting other beaters, who probably greeted him in a friendly way. Dogs quickly learn to do things when they gain pleasure from…

Labradors in pickup

Fruit-loving Labradors

Neil says: Clever boy indeed to be skinning his bananas himself! Patience with food such as this is unusual in Labradors. Yes they will eat anything. A Labrador patient of mine recently made a valiant attempt to eat the entire contents of the coal bunker. It took three days of enemas to get it all out. You could say a “miner” issue…

Chesapeake Bay retriever

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is the ultimate wildfowling dog

Looking down at  me as I write is a splendid drake pintail, a memento of a wildfowling excursion in February 1989 with fellow Shooting Times contributor Mike Swan. Mike shot the pintail and presented it to me afterwards. It had been retrieved perfectly by his golden retriever. Mike has always had golden retrievers, so it was completely unmarked and instead…

dog dandruff

How to treat a Labrador with flaky skin

A concerned reader asked this question regarding dog dandruff: Our two-year-old black Labrador has developed flaky skin that is visible when I pull back his coat. I first noticed it after I washed him down after a particularly muddy afternoon shooting woodies. It does not seem to bother him, he does…

Black and yellow Labrador retrievers

Why is the Labrador retriever such a favourite with shooters?

A versatile breed, this hunting companion is the eyes and ears of its owner, can be used to detect drugs, explosives, open doors and even post letters. It can guard, jump, swim, and is the epitome of man’s best friend. No article on the breed would be complete without mentioning the Buccleuch Labrador. The Buccleuch Labrador In the 1830s, the 5th Duke…