The Labrador Retriever ("Labrador" or "Lab" for short), is one of several kinds of retriever, and are the most popular breeds of dog (by registered ownership) in both the United States and the United Kingdom. more...
The breed is exceptionally friendly, intelligent, and good natured, and therefore makes an excellent companion, or service dog.
Labradors are relatively large with males typically weighing 60 to 80 lb (27 to 36 kg) and females 50 to 70 lb (23 to 32 kg). They are energetic outgoing dogs, and are black, yellow, or brown (called "chocolate") in color, in that order of frequency. Puppies of all colors can potentially occur in the same litter. The color is determined primarily by two genes. The first gene (the B locus) determines the density of the coat's pigment granules: dense granules result in a black coat, sparse ones give a chocolate coat. The second (E) locus determines whether the pigment is produced at all. A dog with the recessive e allele will produce little pigment and will be yellow regardless of its genotype at the B locus. Variations in numerous other genes control the subtler details of the coat's coloration, which in yellow labs varies from white to light gold to a fox red. Yellow labs can have black or pink noses; chocolate and black labs's noses match the coat color. Lab hair is usually fairly short and straight, and the tail quite broad and strong. The otter-like tail and webbed toes of the Labrador Retriever make them excellent swimmers. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming. The tail acts as a rudder for changing directions.
As with some other breeds, the English and the American lines differ slightly. Labs are bred in England as a medium size dog, shorter and stockier with fuller faces than their American counterparts which are bred as a larger dog. No distinction is made by the AKC, but the two classification come from different breeding. Australian stock also exists; though not seen in the west, they are common in Asia.
Many people unfamiliar with retrievers find that the Lab is quite similar to the Golden Retriever in size, general shape, and general color, especially when young and especially to those Goldens with lighter coats. The most obvious difference is the short straight coat of the Labrador Retriever (the Golden has long wavy fur) and the Lab's thick, otter-like tail compared to the Golden's plumed tail. To confuse the two breeds would be a serious faux pas to a fancier of either, of course.
The Labrador is believed to have originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is thought to have descended from the St. John's Water Dog (no longer in existence), a crossbreed of native water dogs and the Newfoundland to which the Labrador is closely related. The name Labrador was given to this dog by the Earl of Malmesbury and other breeders in England in order to differentiate them from the Newfoundland dog. The Labrador Retriever was originally called the lesser Newfoundland or the St. John's dog. Other origins suggested for the name include the Spanish or Portuguese word for workers, "labradores", and the village of Castro Laboreiro in Portugal whose herding and guard dogs bear a "striking resemblence" to Labradors .
Read more at Wikipedia.org