Labrador Retrievers consistently rank as America’s most popular dog, and it’s easy to understand why. With their goofy charm, even-temper, and affectionate demeanor, they’re an ideal fit for most families.
Despite the breed’s origin in neighboring Canada and their current popularity across the country, these pups had a somewhat convoluted journey to the U.S. from Great Britain. The high demand for Labs on both sides of the Atlantic led to a divergence in genetic priorities—with the dogs primarily bred for hunting in the U.S. and showing in Britain—resulting in the American Labrador and the English Labrador.
Though the American Kennel Club recognizes Labrador Retrievers as only one breed—with no official distinction between English and American—some characteristics tend to differ between the two types. If you’re curious to learn more, Snowy Pines White Labs published an article that offers dog lovers a great introduction to the contrasts between English and American Labs. However, if you’re thinking of adopting one of these furry friends and want to dig deeper into which one suits your family best, here are five key differences to keep in mind:
Certain physical features often set American and English Labradors apart, which can be one of the easiest ways to distinguish between them. English Labs tend to be solidly built, with a barrel chest, stocky legs, thick fur, and wide tail. On the other hand, American Labs have a shorter and an athletic frame, with a slender neck, chest, head, muzzle, and tail. English Labradors are much closer to the official breed standards because of their show dog pedigree.
Height and weight
Labs are between 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall and 55 and 80 pounds. American Labradors are typically on the taller side of the height spectrum and—depending on their level of activity—can fall anywhere on the scale when it comes to weight. Despite their shorter stature, English Labs are often relatively heavy due to their sturdy build.
American Labs come with the standard yellow, black, or chocolate coats, while English Labs differ, with white and red (fox) coat colors. Though these are technical variations of yellow fur, the color contrast can be drastic.
While all Labs have a happy and excitable disposition (which makes them such popular family dogs), English Labradors tend to be a bit calmer and more relaxed than their American counterparts. However, both need daily exercise to maintain a healthy weight and avoid boredom, but American Labs generally have more stamina.
Think about your activity level and hobbies when considering which dog to adopt. If you lead a very active lifestyle or need a working dog, an American Lab may make a better companion. If you’re looking for a pup who is happy to go for walks and play in the yard but is equally thrilled to be a couch potato, an English Lab might suit your situation better.
Labradors are smart dogs and are highly-trainable with proper techniques. American Labs may require stricter training than English variations. However, both require adequate training and care to reach their full potential. Their high energy levels can make them headstrong, so owners should be prepared to be firm, consistent, and practiced with their methods. As English Labs are often more laid back, they’re receptive to learning from a less experienced owner, something first-time dog owners should consider before purchase.
Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular breeds for their versatile personality, drive, and need to please. Both English and American variations make excellent hunting, family, or agility dogs, perfect for owners with differing lifestyles. If you’re looking for a loveable, loyal canine companion, consider taking a chance on Labrador Retrievers.