The History Of The LABRADOR
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The Story of the Labrador Retriever starts with another now-extinct breed: The Saint John's Waterdog and "Labrador dogs." The Waterdog and so-called Labrador dogs hailed from Newfoundland, Canada. It served as a retriever for hunters and a companion for fishermen who set out on the Labrador sea. They would help bring in nets full of fish, and there is even mention of them diving into the water to retrieve fish who had happened to slip the hook. The breeds were impressive one, and in the 1800s, when British Aristoracts came to Newfoundland, it was no surprise they took a fancy to them.
Enter James Harris, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury. He was a sporting gentleman and had long since aspired to breed the perfect shoot companion for himself. He found the beginnings of what he was looking for in the Saint John's Waterdog and began importing a few specimens back to England.
It was a few years later when the breed caught the attention of yet another English Nobleman. Walter Scott, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, also brought some of the dogs home with him across the Atlantic with intentions to breed his own sporting dog. Though the name "Labrador dog" stuck became the official name for the dogs, these kennels produced.
For years these two breeding programs continued improving and refining their dogs and neither knowing about the other. It wasn't until the 1880s when the sons of these two nobles who started it all met while shooting. Malmesbury made a gift of two males from their kennel to the Duke of Buccleuch after the chance meeting. These two dogs were bred to the Buccleuch Kennel bitches, which resulted in direct ancestors of the Labradors we know and love today.
In 1903, the Labrador became an official breed recognized by the Kennel Club in England, and the breed began to surge in popularity. Many other Kennels started to open up. They led to the formation of the English Labrador club in 1916 with assistance from Lord Knutsford, owner of Munden Kennels and Lady Lorna, Countess Howes owner of Banchory Kennels.
History Fact Number One:
The Buccleuch kennel still exists and breeds Labradors to this day. They produce top quality dogs for Field Trails.
The Labrador in America and the rise of Chocolate and gold.
The Labrador didn't get inducted into the AKC, or American Kennel club, until 1917 and at first, it wasn't a popular breed. Ten years later, in 1927, the AKC only had 27 labs in the registry. It was a year later in 1928 that the AKC released an article about the breed in their Gazzette that the breed started to become more widely known and started the massive surge in popularity in the twenties and after World War II.
Up until this point, the Lab came in one color: Black. White markings were acceptable. Chocolate had already expressed itself in 1892 and gold or yellow in 1899, but they weren't widely accepted, and the dogs were normally culled from programs.
It wasn't until 1929 when a yellow dog named Kinclave Lowesby was produced and became the first "yellow" Lab registered in the AKC studbook. And this started the trend in accepting some other colors prevalent in the breed.
But, in the 1930s, Chocolate started to become a more popular color, and it resurfaced in two English kennels: Tibshelfs & Cookridge. The chocolate gene was thought to be carried by a Buccleuch kennel Lab and made its reappearance in the offspring of FC Banchory Night Light from the Banchory Kennel, owned by Lady Lorna. While Night Light was a black dog in 1932, some of his pups displayed this variation in color.
Across the Atlantic in America, in 1932, the first chocolates were also appearing. Diver of Chiltonfoliat was born and was the first chocolate lab to be registered with the AKC.
In 1933, a Lab, by the name of Ming, an import from England, was the first US field trail Champion for a yellow dog. It wasn't until 1996 when the first Chocolate Lab, by the name of Storm's Riptide Star, earned a Feild Trail Championship title.
The Labrador became massively popular over the years between, especially after World War II. in 1991, the Labrador was the most registered breed in the AKC. It took the number one spot of America's most popular dog breed, an honor it still holds today.
History Fact Number Two:
Most Chocolate Labs were developed through linebreeding from the lineage of two specific dogs: Buccleuch Avon, born in 1885, and Banchory Night Light, who was born in 1932.