You may be wondering “What’s a British Lab?” “Aren’t all Labradors the same?” Trust me, we were once asking the same questions. Let me give you a little bit of our background. We are an avid hunting family and we got our first dog, Jake, when our boys were still just little guys (notice the J’s – Jordan, Jesse, Jake). Jake was a big, loving, easy-going, but prone-to-wandering black American Lab. He tipped the scales at about 75 pounds. He was an excellent hunter and loyal pet to us all. When Jake passed away, we all mourned him and it took us several years before we started thinking about a new dog. During this time, we had been introduced to another kind of Lab- the British Lab. Smaller, calmer and typically easier to train? Yes, please! So that’s how Sky, Rain, and Storm came to be part of our family.
Appearance– British Labs are smaller than American Labs. American Labs generally run larger than their British counterparts and are, on average, 10-30 pounds heavier than British Labs. The British Labs will generally run 50-70 pounds depending on whether you have a male or female, while American Labs are typically 60-90 pounds.
Color– While both American and British Labs come in Black and Yellow, Chocolate is a common third color for American Labs. British lines will include dogs with a dark (fox) red coat as their third color. Rain – we call her our “super model” – has this dark fox red coat that shows in the sun under her black coat.
Temperament– This was the deal sealer for us! We learned that the major difference here is one of apparent energy. Both American and British lines produce very social dogs that are playful and intelligent and make excellent companions. The British Labrador generally tends to be somewhat more calm and relaxed. My wife said, “yes, please!” After all, I was asking her to allow three Labs into the house. The British Labs typically require a softer training hand with less pressure required. You can tell immediately if you’re not using a “soft” enough training hand or voice! They respond better with a soft touch. Our American Lab leaned toward a higher energy level and, obviously, required more firm correction. But don’t let us mislead you…Storm – our male- is very high energy. He’s very smart, easy to train, and responds immediately to any correction!
Hunting Ability– That’s probably why you’re looking at a British Lab, right?! Ok, so here’s what we found. Hunting ability comparisons between the American and British Lab is varied. Some will try to tell you British lines won’t get you excellent bird dogs. Our American and our British Labs have displayed all the natural behaviors of a tremendous hunting partner. I hunt both upland game and waterfowl. Both lines have shown me the toughness, agility, and natural retrieving ability that make a great bird dog. I’ve taken each of our British Labs separately when they’ve been as young as 4 months, and I’ve been very pleased! Our British Labs are calm, quiet, and studious hunters. They do not lack for the high-energy demands of the field or the water!
Compatibility–The British Labs are awesome family members. They enjoy being around people and since they are smaller than their American counterparts, they are much easier to have in the house. My kids’ favorite time to study is when they have one of the labs laying at their feet. I can’t say enough what great dogs, hunting companions, and family members they have been. I only wish I would not have waited so long before getting one.