So, you have a Labrador retriever, but you're not sure whether your dog is a purebred Labrador or a mixed breed. There are a number of indicators that can help you determine whether your Labrador is a purebred Lab or a mixed breed, including knowing about Labrador characteristics and breed standards. Visual assessments are not accurate and can be complicated by the fact that some mixed-breed Labs may look like a purebred Lab.
What is a Labrador?
The pure Labrador is a highly intelligent, good-natured, energetic, and loyal canine. Lab breeds love to play, swim, and be with people and other pets. The Lab breed needs a lot of activity, and they can be destructive or problematic if they get bored. Early socialization is important, as is continued socialization throughout the Lab's lifetime. These dogs make great family dogs as long as the family is ready to give the dog plenty of exercise with careful attention to the dog's Lab instincts, like playing fetch and being in the water.
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Look for Lab instincts
Simply observing your Labrador's behavior and natural instincts could be a major clue as to whether your pup is a purebred Labrador or a mixed breed. The dog's inclination toward retrieving is the biggest clue. If he enjoys a game of fetch and brings the object back to you (chase and retrieve), that's a pretty good indicator that you have a full-fledged Labrador retriever.
However, if your Lab is mixed with another retriever, then retrieving tendencies will not reveal all there is to know. Labrador retrievers also have a gentle bite because that is how they pick up birds and wildlife as their natural instinct. They do not want to damage the prize; they just want to carry it back to their human.
Labs love water
One of the most obvious traits of the Lab breed is their love and enjoyment of water. Some Labs won't even come in from the rain or will spend all day in a lake or river. The reason is because it's in the Lab breed history.
The pure Labrador breed descended from the St. John's water dog in Newfoundland. The dogs were used to retrieve fish that evaded nets or fishing gear the fisherman needed. Later, the British began breeding the Lab for hunting and retrieving waterfowl. The Lab breed's double-layered coat keeps the dog warm and drier while swimming.
Other indicators to consider
One consideration when attempting to determine whether your dog is a purebred Lab is the breed standard. A pure Lab will grow to between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder and will weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. Female Labs are usually on the smaller end of that scale. The dog's head is wide, but perhaps the most identifiable trait is the "otter tail," which is a thick, tapering tail that aids the dog while swimming, much like the rudder of a boat.
Another sign of a purebred Lab is the dog's disposition, or temperament. A pure Lab is happy go lucky, outgoing, kind, eager to please, nonaggressive, gentle, and super intelligent.
Are you still not sure if your dog is a purebred Lab or a mix? There is the option of obtaining registration papers from the breeder or sending a DNA sample to a testing facility.
- The Labrador Site: Purebred Lab Or Not? How Can You Tell If Your Labrador Is Pure Bred?
- The Goody Pet: Purebred Labs VS Mixed Labs - How To Tell Them Apart?
- The Labrador Site: Why Do Labs Love Water So Much More Than Other Dogs?
- American Kennel Club: Labrador Retriever
- Breeding Business: What Documents Should I Expect From a Dog Breeder?
- The Kennel Club: DNA Testing