The Labrador should be a medium-sized dog, giving the appearance of a dog that is strong, muscular and active. The head, which includes a very specific kind and friendly expression, the coat and the tail, are the breed’s most outstanding characteristics. The head, coat, tail and marvellous temperament, all on the correct frame, are what makes, a complete Labrador.There are many theories about the origins of the breed known today as the Labrador Retriever. One point on which all historians seem to agree is that the Labrador originally came to the United Kingdom from Newfoundland rather than Labrador. They were known by several names such as the St. John’s Water Dog, the Little Newfoundlander and the Black Water Dog, before officially being dubbed the Labrador Retriever.Colonel Hawker, in his book “Advice to Young Sportsmen” (London 1814) describes the Labrador … “by far the best for every kind of shooting, is oftener black than any other colour… pretty deep in chest… has short or smooth hair, does not carry his tail so much curled… and is extremely quick and active in running, swimming… Their sense of smell is scarcely to be credited. The dogs were used by the fishermen… to haul in the winter’s wood and to retrieve fish that had become unhooked.” It seems that the fish which were taken at great depth often became unhooked near the surface and the dogs were sent overboard to retrieve them.

History also tells us that they carried the heavy hawsers from trawler to trawler in the North Atlantic and they retrieved the large ocean salmon, which spilled over the nets. Enterprising fishermen sold their dogs as well as their fish to the gentry at English and Scottish Ports. These dogs, because of their great sense of smell, swimming ability, obedience, and retrieving instincts were highly sought after by the sporting gentlemen in England and became one of the most popular gun dogs of all time.

Labradors are the number-one breed used as guide dogs in Australia, the United States and many other countries. They are easy to groom, willing to please and not easy to intimidate, which makes them prefect for the job. In addition to their working ability they also make first rate companions and enjoy family life.

Labradors are extremely popular in the United Kingdom. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II keeps and breeds Labradors under the Sandringham prefix as did her father King George VI.


The breed is said to have evolved in Newfoundland, as a fishing dog, helping to retrieve the catch from the nets in fishing dories. Some believe that they originated from the Saint Hubert’s Hound, others feel their ancestors were the larger Newfoundland Dog.

There have been many names applied to the breed such as Saint John’s Dog, Smaller Labrador, Newfoundland and English Retriever but in 1870 in England “Labrador Retriever” became the common and accepted name.

The first recorded imports into Australia to Victoria took place in 1929 when Mr & Mrs R.A. Austin brought in three puppies from “Liddly Kennels” in England. Since then the breed has become very popular as companion dogs, retrieval workers, guides to the blind, as well as in the show ring, where the three colours (Black, Yellow and Chocolate) are frequently admired by many.


General Appearance:Strongly built, short coupled, very active, broad in skull, broad and deep in chest and ribs, broad and strong over loins and hindquarters.Characteristics:Good tempered, very agile. Excellent nose, soft mouth, keen love of water. Adaptable, devoted companion.Temperament:Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression and undue shyness.

Head and Skull:  Skull broad with defined stop; clean cut without fleshy cheeks. Jaws of medium length, powerful not snipey. Nose wide, nostrils well developed.
Eyes:  Medium size, expressing intelligence & good temper brown/Hazel
Ears:  Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far back.
Mouth:  Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect regular, and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and setsquare to the jaws.
Neck:  Clean, strong, powerful set into well-placed shoulders
Fore quarters:   Shoulders long and sloping. Forelegs well boned & straight from elbow to ground when viewed from either front or side
Body:  Chest of good width and depth, with well sprung barrel ribs. Level topline. Loins wide, short coupled and strong.
Hindquarters:  Well developed, not sloping, well turned stifle. Hocks well let down, cow hocks highly undesirable.
Feet:  Round, compact, well arched toes and well developed pads.
Tail:  Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all around with short thick dense coat, thus giving “rounded” appearance described as “Otter tail”. May be carried gaily, but should not curl over back.
Gait / Movement:  Free, covering adequate ground, straight and true in front and rear.
Coat:  Distinctive feature, short and dense, without wave or feathering, giving fairly hard feel to touch, weather resistant undercoat.
Colour:  Wholly black, yellow or chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to fox red. Small white spot on chest permissible.
Size:  Ideal height at withers Dogs 56-57 cm (22-22 ½ inches) Bitches 54-56 cm (21 ½ inches).


Why not become a member of the Labrador Club?  Briefly, the objects of the Club are -

  • to promote pedigreed Labrador Retrievers and the improvement of the breed…
  • to educate and encourage members, and breeders…
  • to promote and support competition in all practical ways…
  • to promote public interest…
  • to promote good fellowship among those interested in Labrador Retrievers.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please click here to visit the SA Labradors Homepage.

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