You might be wonder, what are the differences between the English Lab vs American Labrador Retriever? Well, we have that answer and many more in this article here. First, we will give you some general info about both of the Labrador’s qualities, then their temperament for both breeds. We will then get into the meat of the subject, what are the differences between the American Labrador vs the English Labrador.
America’s favorite breed of dog, the Labrador Retriever, is an agreeable and friendly companion that is a popular choice for families. Labs are highly social and have a love for all people, children and animals alike, which explains their widespread popularity.
To set the record straight, there is only one breed of labrador retrievers. If you want to cut to the chase and see the list of traits, you can scroll down to the end. Meanwhile, here’s a bit of elaboration to put it all into perspective.
All labrador retrievers come from the same family tree:
Newfoundland, Canada, early 1800’s, named after the Labrador Sea… likely for their love of the water.
Like any family, there are variations in appearance, but the core DNA is the same. Within one small family of four humans, you can have different color and texture of hair, skin and body structure, though most are more similar than different.
In any given ethnicity there can be a wide range of variables, yet the DNA still traces to the same heritage. So too, for the Labrador family.
As with human ethnicities, some cultures have more variations than others. Same with dogs. Unlike the Maltese breed for instance, where all Maltese have the same color hair and build, Labrador retrievers have many color and hair length combinations.
Same thing with Rottweilers. There’s no mistaking a rottweiler, and they all come in the same size and color.
The Labrador Temperament
When it comes to temperaments, again, as with people, the dogs adapt and are influenced by their surrounding culture. As you will see in the comparisons below, the differences in the two breeds correlate to generalities about the differences in the American versus British cultures.
To delineate which side of the family tree a retriever belongs to, they’ve been classified into sub-groups. So now let’s take a look at the difference between the American and English Labrador.
Where did the Labrador come from? Canada! To be more specific they came from Newfoundland Canada near the Labrador Sea. The people needed a dog that would love to fetch all day long, and not get tired of it. The Labrador gained massive popularity, for there willingness to fetch the fishermen’s catches and duck hunters kills.
They also needed them to have a very soft mouth, a friendly demeanor, and most important a double coat so that they would not freeze up like a log the instant they jump into a cold lake, or sea.
The American Labrador is taller and leaner than her English cousin. With a more athletic build and supple appearance, American labs are always eager and ready to be active, so it’s no surprise that these dogs are, for many, the preferred choice for field trials and hunting. When they’re not hunting though…
….gotta tennis ball anyone?
Most Energetic Labrador?
The differences between American and English Labradors go beyond appearance. Can you guess which one is more energetic?
Being bred for work, the American lab is still a great family pet but has a higher energy level than her English counterpart. You probably guessed it, right?
American retrievers love to be on the go, or into something. They’re very mouthy, so be sure to have lots of chew toys at hand. Like her namesake, the American lab can be a reasonably headstrong lass, so owners need to make sure to train her well, or she may run circles around you!
“I would bring my lab everywhere. No matter how far away she wandered, a good trademark whistle would always bring her back” – Mark
The English Labrador
Now we can immediately calm down a bit because the English Retriever is the more mellow cousin. Slightly shorter and stockier, English labs have a thick, powerful neck, a thick—sometimes wavy—coat and a wider stance, giving the British variation of the breed a more powerful appearance.
Now you might be asking where did the English Labrador come from? Well in 1800, a couple of English noblemen were in Canada. They found out about the Labrador and decided that they needed a good hunting dog when they returned they had the ancestors to the English Lab.
The English Labrador Retriever is commonly bred for show and conformation, which is well-suited to their quieter and calmer personality. Being much more relaxed, (you might even say British style, ‘reserved’), the British lab is considered a better choice for first-time dog owners as they are generally easier to train and don’t have quite as much (American-style) over-exuberant energy. Make no mistake though; the English Retriever still loves to play and have fun.
“My golden Labrador Molly used to bring us presents whenever we returned home from being out. A shoe was her item her choice but she wouldn’t let go of it for ages! We had to teach her to ‘release!’” – Chloe
English Lab vs American Lab
The long and short of it:
- Energetic, can be rambunctious
- Short-haired coat
- Slim tail
- Slimmer head
- Longer, tapered muzzle
- Active, but calmer
- A longer, thicker coat
- Bushier tail
- Wider head
- Wider, shorter muzzle
So the differences between English Lab vs American Labs are both physical and in temperament, due to selective breeding over decades. The American lab tends to be more athletic and energetic, while the English lab tends to be stockier and friendly but calmer.
However, all the personality traits we love about the Labrador are present in both. So if you like one, you will also enjoy the other. All branches of the Labrador Retriever family are loyal, loving, affectionate and playful without an ounce of aggression.
Great Family Dogs
Labradors are great family dogs, but not great guard dogs. So yes… they’ll sound the “dog alarm” and likely bark if someone is at the door, but they’re just as apt to greet the visitor, tail wagging as a friend.
The Labrador family is loyal, loving, friendly and playful without an ounce of aggression.
Being such a versatile and loveable breed, it’s no surprise that Labradors are a popular choice to mix with other breeds. There’s the Labradoodle, Labmaraner, Lab Hound, Huskador and our very own Labrottie – a Labrador and Rottweiler mix.
All labrador retrievers are prone to obesity with age if they get too many treats but not enough exercise. Being an intelligent breed, they need something to keep them occupied and busy or else they can become obsessed with treats instead.
“Labrotties are high energy, loving, caring, protective, loyal, and a large goofball!” – Nikolai
For an extensive article with comparisons and photos of the differences between the two, you may enjoy this article, the source of the English and American Lab puppies, Tess and Rachel photo.