|Photo by Lomyx|
The versatility of Labrador retrievers made them very popular all over the United States, but originally, these dog breed came from the province of Labrador, on the Northeastern coast of Canada. By the name Labrador, we can assume that Labs are called after the province where they came from, but according to some theory, Labrador is a Spanish term for "farm worker", well this may also be sensible since Labs are commonly used as farm helpers during the early centuries.
In addition, Labrador during the early days was also called as cani di castro laboreiro, or dogs of the Portuguese fisherman. Labs were referred with this name because aside from being farm helpers, they were also used as water dogs by fishermen. Labradors during those years were tasked to pull nets out of the water, swim messages from one boat to another, retrieve people who fell overboard and signal the fishermen and other boats with their barks. Furthermore, Labrador Retrievers during the eighteenth century were also believed to be descendants of the Pyrenean mountain dogs from the Labrador-Newfoundland area, specifically, Labs were believed to descend from the breed of St. John's Dogs or the Lesser Newfoundland dogs.
How did the name of this dog breed become popular as "Labrador"? The name Labrador was first coined by the Earl of Malmesbury in 1887. After that, Richard Wolters wrote a book entitled "Labrador Retriever", telling about how the Brits grouped together the territory of Labrador in the Northwest of Newfoundland, then from this, it was speculated that the dogs referred to as Labradors were the breed coming from the Newfoundland area.
Even though it was not exactly determined where the name Labrador came from, many writings about these pliant and hardworking dogs were found. Some of them contained information about the dog's distinctive characteristics, including its color varieties. Labrador Retrievers were originally noted to have yellow and chocolate colored coats. These coats were described to have great water resistance, explaining why Labs were then used as water dogs. Their coats can repel water and it can stand to water's cold temperature for longer hours.
You might be wondering where the black colored Labrador came from? In 1807, the ship Canton was wrecked during its travel going to Poole, England. The ship carried two St. John dogs for the Earl of Malmesbury's Labrador Kennel; one was black and the other was chocolate in color. These dogs were believed to be the breed where the black Labrador came from, but because of the recessive genes, yellow and chocolate Labradors often came out from the dog's offspring.
Not all information about Labs was noted to be spectacular and positive. It was also noted that Labrador Retrievers almost became extinct like the St. John dogs, which is now no longer in existence in Newfoundland because of the sheep raising program of the Newfoundland governor in 1780. St. John dogs were banned from the land to avoid any threat for the sheep. Fortunately for the Labs, some dog lovers like the 6th Duke of Buccleuch took the effort to save their kind. The duke was able to import new breeds of St. John dogs during 1933 and then started to raise the breed again.
Looking through the history of Labrador Retrievers, we can assume that generally, the dog's name came from the breed in the Newfoundland area and within all of its color varieties, chocolate is the color that mainly appears from the Labrador breed. Today chocolate and black Labradors are the most sought after color for this breed. Of course, it still depends on your preference whether to opt for a black, chocolate or yellow Labrador retriever.