Why a British Lab?

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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.

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5 responses to “Why a British Lab?

  1. I am truly pleased to read this web site posts which consists of lots of helpful data, thanks for ptoviding such information.

  2. are the british and english labs the same?? They say English labs are more mellow not so high spirited.

    • Sorry I didn’t see your comment left on our website, Shearers British Labs. In regard to the difference between British and English labs, there is none. Same breed. British labs are very calm. Once in awhile you can get an active one, but all in all, they train the same.
      Our female, Rain, is expecting her third litter any day now.
      Thanks,
      Linda Shearer

  3. We just got an English lab for the ‘calmer’ aspect and curious as to your thoughts on his activity level. Granted we have only had him for two days but he seems very sluggish and just wants to sleep. Tossed him the ball a few times and doesn’t seem interested at all. Hoping bc he is maybe still too young and still adjusting. Did you have the same experience? We like the calmer aspect of English but still would like him to be a retriever at the same time! Your thoughts?

    • Hi David,
      I’m assuming since you just got him, he’s around 7-8 weeks old. None of our puppies sent to new homes have been lethargic or sluggish. Healthy puppies should nap most of the day, but have periods awake where they “potty” and then want to play. If there are other pups or children around, they are eager at this age to bond and play. If you haven’t done so yet, take him to the vet. Typically, around 8 weeks they are soon due for another vet appointment. WE encourage all of our new owners to schedule appointments with the vet of their choice immediately. They can even test the feces for worms if that may be a concern with the sluggishness. So, start there! Also, your breeder should have already had him vaccinated once and dewormed every 2 weeks from about 2 weeks of age on. If it is determined there is a real health issue with your new puppy, notify your breeder immediately! They will need to know. Sometimes they are just missing their littermates, and will find comfort in an old towel or blanket that has the scent of their mother or the other mates. If your breeder is in the same town, perhaps they can provide one. We send a “security” blanket/towel home with each pup. That will be demonstrated at night as well with fussing from sleeping alone in their crate. But that should only last about the first night or two. Puppies should adjust rather quickly to sleeping alone in their crate without fussing. It is typical for a new pup to need to be taken out to “go” part ways through the night. They will demonstrate this with whining. If you don’t respond, they will be forced to go in their kennel, and they do not want to do that anywhere near where they sleep.
      If new pups are missing their litter mates, they will find great comfort in playing and being around their new owners. They should be demonstrating signs of wanting constant attention from you. They are not too young to play! Try tossing or dangling a corner of a blanket or towel. They love taste and tug. They will also want to attack your feet and shoes and jump up on you. Those are opportunities for training! A ball will be new, but they’ll be curious. They won’t know to “fetch” unless you work with them. That comes after some time. So the “calmer” British lab (English and British Labrador Retrievers are the same thing) isn’t a sluggish dog! Good luck with your new mate!

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