English Labrador: A Complete Guide to the English Lab

English Lab sitting on a concrete ledge near the beach

For several dog enthusiasts, there’s no doubt that the English Labrador Retriever is one of the friendliest breeds in the world. Their charming smile, kind eyes, and enthusiastic energy are enough to make anyone’s heart melt! 

With decades of being bred, you might think that you have everything there is to know about one of America’s favorite dog breeds. However, there’s much more than meets the puppy eyes of the English Labrador.

To help you fully understand the lovable English Lab, read until the end as I discuss facts about this woofer’s history, appearance, behavior, and everything else you need to know!

What Is an English Labrador Retriever?

English Labrador Retriever sitting on the grass side profile

An English Labrador is a type of purebred Labrador Retriever usually bred for conformation shows rather than field trials. Compared to the American Labrador Retriever, English Labs are shorter, broader, and have a thicker coat of fur.

Being one of the most versatile breeds in the world, English Labrador Retrievers are not only show dogs but also hard-working therapy dogs and seeing-eye dogs.

These lovable dogs are exceptionally playful, gentle, and very family-oriented, making them one of America’s favorite dog breeds for several years. 

They are also recognized by the American Kennel Club so they can participate in dog shows.

English Labrador vs. American Labrador: What’s the Difference?

Contrary to popular belief, English and American Labradors are the same breeds. However, differences in breeding have led to the distinction between the two dogs.

Much like their predecessors, the modern American Labs are impressive retriever dogs capable of bringing game to their masters from harsh terrains. 

American Labs or working labs are more athletic, energetic, and easily distracted. The American Labrador may have these characteristics because they remain bred for tasks that require such behaviors.

Here’s a picture of an American Lab if you are curious:

American Labrador Retriever with toned chest

On the other hand, the English Lab or bench Labrador did not stray much from being hunting dogs. Despite their similarities to the American Labrador, the English Labrador is a mellowed-down version of the former.

English Labradors are gentler, less energetic, and more attentive than American Labradors. This makes them ideal for dog shows that require plenty of discipline and training.

Here’s what an English Labrador looks like:

English Labrador Retriever front profile

Regarding appearance, American Labs are generally thinner and taller than English Labs. The legs, head, tail, torso, and even the coat are thinner for American Labs when put side by side with English Labs.

If you want a more detailed comparison between English and American Labs, watch the video below:

American Labrador vs English Labrador

English Labrador Origin and History

The name English Labrador Retriever is a misnomer because the breed actually came from Newfoundland, Canada. These working dogs were brought back to the mainland by English traders more than a century ago.

The St. John’s dog was the ancestor of many present-day retrievers and was prominently called the water dog. 

Like their successors, the St. John’s dog was highly favored by fishers due to their superb swimming skills and waterproof coats.

Due to their impressive retrieving skills, an affinity for water, and gentle temperament, traders started exporting St. John’s water dogs to England. 

Years of selective breeding eventually resulted in the modern Labrador Retriever. 

Although it is uncertain when the types of Labradors came about, the two Labrador Retrievers result from specialized breeding systems. 

Early Labradors bred for two different purposes eventually created the two types we know today.

The English Lab was mainly a show dog bred to suit conformation competition standards, while the American Lab was bred as a working dog used in canine sports and duck hunting.

Despite the American Lab being more similar to St. John’s dog, they still share the same breed ancestor as the English Lab.

English Labrador Appearance

English Lab with blue bandana resting on the grass

English Labs present quite significant differences from their counterparts. 

Starting with the upper body, the English Labrador Retriever presents a block head — strong, wide, and with a defined slope from the muzzle to the forehead. Set rather far back are medium-sized folded ears that hang close to the head.

The rest of the body is proportional to the head; English Labs have a broad and deep chest as well as solid and well-defined legs. Their coat is thick and dense, thanks to its double layer.

A distinguishing characteristic of these show dogs is their otter tail — thick on the base and tapering towards the end. Their tails run straight and are completely covered with dense fur.

Moreover, they have short double coats that come in an array of colors, including yellow, chocolate, black, and red, like American Labrador Retrievers.

Some English Labs may have features different from those mentioned above, such as charcoal Labradors. However, this does not necessarily mean that these Labs are not purebred.

English Labrador Size and Weight

English Labrador Retrievers are a moderately fast-growing breed. Most English Labs reach the peak of their height and weight from ages 1 to 2 years old.

However, male and female Labradors can vary in size and weight. American Labs are normally smaller than English Labs.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), an adult male English Labrador should be 22.5 inches to 24.5 inches in height, while a female should be 21.5 to 23.5 inches tall. 

Male English Labs usually weigh from 65 to 80 pounds, while females weigh from 55 to 75 pounds.

However, The Kennel Club (TKC) sets the standards to be 22 to 22.5 inches tall in males and 21.5 to 22 inches tall in females. Take note that purebred English Labs may sometimes deviate from the breed standard.

These standards may apply to both American and English Labs since these clubs recognize them simply as Labrador Retrievers. In addition, deviations from these standards may still occur.

English Labrador Kennel Club Recognition

English Lab chilling in the sand

Yes, English Labrador Retrievers are recognized by official kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club, and The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. because they are technically a variety of Labrador Retrievers.

Both American and English Labrador Retrievers are classified under only one breed, the Labrador Retriever. It’s not wrong to classify the breed into two types, but they’re simply just the same dog.

English Labs can be show dogs even participate in events for purebreds. In fact, English Labs are somehow preferred over American Labs for conformation shows since the former was primarily bred for these shows.

However, this preference made by show judges and participants does not strictly enforce which Labrador type should participate in which shows. 

An English Lab can always compete in field trials, and an American Lab can always compete in conformation shows. 

Since they’re both Labradors, they’ll just need to satisfy requirements such as club registrations, up-to-date vaccinations, and pedigree.

English Labrador Temperament and Personality

The English Labrador’s reputation as one of America’s most popular dog breeds owes itself to its impressive temperament. 

As assistance dogs, English Labs are extremely loyal to their masters and will do everything to please their human companions.

English Labs are extremely friendly to everyone, including strangers. They’re amazing with other pets and even children! 

Just to be safe, make sure that your English Lab undergoes proper training to tone down their natural instincts. Luckily, in most cases, they don’t bark at strangers.

They’re one of the most common working dogs you’ll see as therapy dogs, thanks to their gentle disposition and light presence.

Needless to say, they’re amazing family pets due to their friendliness, intelligence, and playfulness. If you’re looking for a good family dog, there’s a good chance that the English Lab is on your list.

English Labrador Lifespan and Health Issues

English Labrador Retriever sitting on a huge rock

English Labs are strong and active dogs that live for an average of 10 to 12 years. However, they still present a variety of diseases that are likely to affect them. 

Note that some conditions affect all dogs, while some are more likely to affect English Labradors.

Here are some of the health conditions that affect English Labrador Retrievers:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Commonly seen in German Shepherd Dogs and other large dog breeds, English Labrador Retrievers are also prone to hip dysplasia. This severe health issue generally affects the hind legs, rendering the leg unusable for walking and running.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia makes walking extremely difficult and even painful for the dog. Both hip and elbow dysplasia require extensive medical treatment.
  • Obesity: While all breeds can be obese, obesity in English Labrador Retrievers poses a greater risk. Conditions of the joint mentioned above make a recovery and treatment much more difficult since the affected legs will bear more weight than normal.
  • Gastrointestinal Disease: Although most conditions of the bowels have varying causes, English Labs are known to be susceptible to some. A plethora of conditions, such as pancreatitis, idiopathic gastroenteritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, prove fatal to English Labrador Retrievers.

Regular checkups with the veterinarian, high-quality dog food, sufficient exercise, and lots of care and attention can significantly reduce the occurrence of the diseases.

If properly cared for, an English Lab will live a long life. This breed is a healthy dog, but its lifespan may vary depending on the environment, food, lifestyle, and the dog itself.

How to Care for Your English Labrador Retriever

Despite the conditions mentioned above, an English Lab is actually a good first dog for first-time owners! 

Caring for English Labradors may be easier than caring for other dogs, but being a dog owner is a huge responsibility and privilege.

Food and Diet

Much like any other dog, English Labradors require high-quality dog food and a balanced diet. There are a lot of dog kibbles available in the market, but you’ll need to check the ingredients first. 

If you’re unsure what to give to your woofer, a quick consultation with the vet or animal nutritionist will provide you with the best dog food for your Lab. 

You can even step it up a notch by preparing home-cooked meals for your English Lab like some dog owners.

However, it’s important to know that no single dog food is best for all English Labradors. The individual needs, health, and lifestyle of the dog will always determine which dog food is best for them.

Cleaning and Grooming

Cleaning and grooming your pooch is undoubtedly essential in keeping them healthy. As a bonus, the task is a lot easier compared to other breeds since an English Lab is bred to love water.

In addition, expect seasonal coat blowouts from this breed. English Labs produce a new layer of fur twice a year, so you can anticipate mountains of fur when keeping one.

Labs are one of the notoriously smelliest dog breeds because of their double coat, so you’ll need to be strict with their grooming routine. 

Grooming your Lab once every four to six weeks is enough to make sure they stay clean and smell good.

Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing should also be included in their overall grooming regimen.

Training and Exercise

While English Labradors are mellower than American Labradors, they’re still the same dog breed that requires plenty of exercise. This makes them great running dogs you can regularly take to the dog park.

Regarding training, you can expect it to be quite easy since English Labs are extremely intelligent dogs. 

Years of being used as service dogs are enough proof for you to believe the capabilities of this family pet.

Generally, they will require about an hour of exercise every day. However, the time will still vary depending on your English Lab’s individual personality and temperament.

How Much Does an English Labrador Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

English Labrador Retriever walking in a bricked patio

Purebred English Labrador Retriever puppies are priced fairly at $400 to $1,500 from a reputable breeder. Definitely, prices will vary heavily on the bloodline, color, and gender of the puppy at stake.

Ultimately, the price of the English Lab puppy isn’t the only price you should consider. You’ll also need to take into account food, treats, grooming items, routine medical attention, pet accessories, and other expenses.

Here are some of the initial expenses when taking care of an English Labrador Retriever:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$70 – $150
Bowls$10 – $40
Toys$30 – $100
Beds$40 – $300
Collars and Leashes$15 – $50
Crates and Carriers$50 – $500
Grooming Essentials$50 – $250
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $500
Initial Vaccine Shots$50 – $300
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$40 – $300
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Microchipping$40 – $60
Dog License$10 – $20
Other Essentials$20 – $80
Total Initial Cost$505 – $3,150

The prices listed above will still vary depending on your location, the item’s quality, and your willingness to spend. 

If you’re not willing to spend a fortune on purchasing a puppy alone, you can always opt to adopt an English Lab.

Places to Find English Labrador Puppies for Sale and Adoption

The English Labrador and the Labrador breed, in general, is quite a popular dog, so it wouldn’t be much trouble to find places where you can get one. 

Look no further because here are some reputable breeders where you can purchase an English Labrador puppy:

  • Y-Farms Kennels – Based in Zachary, Los Angeles, this kennel is a Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. member with dogs competing in AKC performance competitions. All puppies from this kennel are produced by quality field-bred retrievers.
  • Belquest Conclusion – Breeding since 1972, Belquest Conclusion is a well-established kennel specializing in producing champion Labrador Retrievers. One of their dogs is the first Obedience Title champion to be awarded a Working Certificate.
  • Duty Dogs – You’ll be sure that this breeder has an eye out for quality because they specialize in breeding medical service dogs. Duty Dogs’ Labs also boast an extended lifespan of 15.8 years on average, surpassing the average Labrador Retriever.

If the price of an English Labrador puppy isn’t right for you, you can always choose to adopt and give a lucky dog a chance to have a loving family.

Here are some places where you can find English Labradors for adoption:

  • Lab Rescue LRCP – Based in Annandale, Virginia, this non-profit organization is responsible for rehoming nearly a thousand rescue dogs each year. If you are interested in adopting through them, their dogs range from $275 to $475, with a possible $100 discount on bonded pairs.
  • Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida – Established in 2000, this organization is committed to making a lifelong connection for all its Labradors. They go through every detail of each rescue dog, such as history, temperament, personality, and energy level.
  • Labrador Friends of the South – This all-volunteer organization’s ultimate goal is to find new, loving, forever homes for their Labs. They take necessary steps such as assessing each adopting family’s preferences, lifestyle, environment, and personality to make the best possible match for their rescues.

Whether you’re buying or adopting an English Labrador, it would be helpful to consult with a knowledgeable breeder or owner of English Labs. They can give you tips and advice to cut costs but still give the best life to your doggo.

Frequently Asked Questions

English Labrador Retriever side profile

Do English Labs Shed a Lot?

English Labradors have thicker coats than American Labradors, making them shed more than the average American Lab. In addition, their double coat makes them shed even more.

Compared to other breeds, the English Labrador sheds a lot. This characteristic becomes a common nuisance, especially in novice dog owners.

Are English Labs Calmer?

Compared to their American cousins, English Labs are calmer and mellower. Consider the English Labrador as a toned-down and friendlier version of the American Labrador.

However, note that English Labs still belong to the Labrador breed like the American Lab, which is quite active. They will still need regular exercise and playtime. 

Are English Labs Aggressive?

The English Lab is actually not aggressive despite being a hunting dog. In fact, their use in hunting is primarily for the retrieval of fallen games. This makes them ideal as family dogs.

They are generally friendly and don’t bark excessively like other breeds.

Are English Labs Lazy?

Not quite. The gentle disposition and playfulness of English Labs somehow balance out, making them all-around dogs. However, it is not recommended for an English Lab to lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Compared to the American Labrador, English Labs are less energetic than their duck-hunting cousins. 

However, English Labs are still on the more energetic side of the spectrum of dog breeds. This makes them perfect play buddies. 

They’ll last a day filled with lots of play, but they won’t bother you in your sleep asking for more.

Do English Labs Drool?

English Labs do not generally drool by default. They are less likely to drool due to their jowls just sitting right on top of their jaws. If your English Lab does drool, it might indicate an underlying medical condition.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve finished this article, deciding whether an English Labrador is right for you or not has become easier. 

With enough dedication and love, English Labrador Retrievers are undoubtedly wonderful pets to have in life.

While they are great beginner dogs for novice dog owners, an English Lab will still require plenty of attention and effort. Be reminded that their relatively low-upkeep lifestyle does not excuse neglect.

Always make sure that you’ll be able to provide the love and care it requires.

So, are you ready to be an English Labrador owner? Comment your thoughts on this popular dog breed below!

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