I'll always love my mutts. That said, there are several purebreds that have caught my eye, and the Labrador Retriever is one of them. Not only are they adorable puppies and beautiful adults, they are also loyal, noble, friendly, intelligent goof-ball kinda dogs! Their family is their number one priority, if a ball isn't in sight, that is! Just about everyone who's anyone knows the Labrador Retriever, or has at least heard of their nickname, the "Lab". However, did you know that there are actually two different types of Labrador Retrievers? There are both American and English versions of this dog. It's the same breed, just two different styles.
When you think of the Lab, a boxy, barrel-chested, strong-looking dog probably comes to mind. This is the most common type of Labrador Retriever (though, both types are currently prevalent in the U.S.). He's the English Labrador Retriever.
Naturally, the English Lab originated from England.
The English Labrador Retriever's build is thick and barrel-chested. His legs are shorter and stockier than the American Lab, the head is broad and square-shaped. The entire face is boxier, and the tail shaped like an otter's. In fact, some Labs are even ticker in build than the dog pictured above.
In the U.S., we are now so used to seeing the American Lab that we often mistake the English type as an overweight version of the American. But, that is not so! They are actually at a perfect weight for their breed.
The English Labrador Retriever is, on whole, calmer, less energetic, and friendlier than the American Lab. Both have excellent dispositions, but the English Lab will be better suited as a family pet while the American Lab will be better suited as a sporting dog. The English Labrador Retriever is most commonly used as a conformation dog, or, show dog, as they're more commonly known as.
The origin of the American Lab is also in it's name...America.
The American Labrador Retriever is more aerodynamic in build. It's thinner body, thinner and shorter coat, and whip-like tail differs tremendously from the English Labrador. Naturally, the American type is more agile, better suited for pointing (the Lab was bred to retrieve the quarry their hunting owners shot down), and more energetic. Just looking at the American Lab, you can notice the narrow muzzle and leaner body. The legs on the American type are lankier as well.
While both types are extremely energetic, the American version is high-strung while the English is more mellow. Both have a friendly, eager to please disposition. For those of you interested in the breed, look at it this way: If you want a jogging and possibly hunting companion, you would want to go with the American type. If you're looking for a low key, easy-going, even lazy companion, you would most likely want to go with the English.
The interesting thing with the two different types of Labs is the fact that there is only one breed standard describing the breed as a whole. It never even acknowledges the English versus American Labrador Retrievers! However, there is clearly a difference between these two types of Labs.
As far as health goes, the English is more likely to suffer hip and elbow dysplasia. They are also more prone to weight gain. The American type often struggles against Canine Neuromuscaluar Myopothy as well as slipped discs (often caused by over working himself and strenuous exercise). Like the English, they will generally suffer hip, elbow, and eye dysplasia.
Eager to chase any ball visible, vulnerable to jump into the nearest body of water, undoubtedly willing to give you a hundred kisses a day, and forever your faithful companion, the Labrador Retrieve will be the most determined beggar and most loyal furry friend you've ever met. In the end, the English versus American Labrador "debate" is purely personal preference. Both types can make excellent pets if matched up with the right owner!