Difference between American and english labrador retriever

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Pet me,hug- me,kiss me!
Barked: Fri Dec 26, '08 10:34am PST 
hi there!
I own a Lab mix named Spot.
I love labs and I am hoping on getting a purebred lab some day.
However I need to know the differences between american and english labs.I have looked in books but found nothing.I have tried finding more info from the net but I only managed to get confused since I saw photos of stocky labs saying that they are english and then I read that the stocky ones are the american ones!

I think that I need a little help!

Hurricane Ike- Pound Puppy
Barked: Fri Dec 26, '08 10:49am PST 
This website should be able to help you.way to go

English or American Lab?

Good luck!big grin
Abby NPC ~- CGC, TDI

Ban Breed- Specific- Legislation
Barked: Fri Dec 26, '08 10:51am PST 
I have one of each - I always thought that the big ones were the American labs though, but I could be wrong. You can go to our pages and see the differences in them. One is short and stocky and the others are the tall (usually lanky - I'm on a dietlaugh out loud ) ones. I think behavior wise they are pretty much the same though - just look a little differentsmile

Hershey Bear- (2003 - 2015)

Silly old bear
Barked: Fri Dec 26, '08 3:44pm PST 
They generally use "American Lab" to describe the Field-Bred, and "English" to describe the show bred.
From what I've read, English/Show-bred labs are more placid than the high strung, hyperactive American/Field-bred. Which makes sense considering that the field bred labs are bred to work.

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Fri Dec 26, '08 5:29pm PST 
The term English Lab is very misleading, a more correct term would be a show lab. They tend to be shorter, blockier, with squarer heads, while American Labs should be called field labs. They are rangier, taller and thinner in the head. In yellow labs, the field lines tend to be a darker color, while show labs will be very light.

In terms of temperament, the field labs are more "drivey," that is they have more energy and are harder in terms of temperament. The show labs have less energy (although that is still a lot of energy) and are softer (although they can still be rather hard-headed).

For most people a show lab is a better choice. If you spend several hours a day every day hiking or running than a field lab may be just the thing. A really well bred dog of either type should have a good off-switch if they get enough exercise and training.

Selli would like to say that many of her best friends are show labs with lots of exercise.

Pet me,hug- me,kiss me!
Barked: Sat Dec 27, '08 10:59am PST 
Sparky thsanks for the link,I visited the website and I think that I have understood what the two types are.Thanks!big grin

Abby,I saw your pages-both doggies rock!Labradors rock!wink

I think that I prefer the show type which is a bit shorter and heavier.However I don't want it to be too heavy like the one that is pictured on Sparky's link (photo number 6)

Hershey I agree with you.Everyone call them with a different name and that can easily confuse people!I believe that books that are deticated to the labs breed should contain a few pages about the two types,explaining the differences and showing some photos.

Selli,it sounds as what you said is correct,since I always see short labs with blocky heads(I find them charming!) in the streets with their owners.Additionally,the book that I have about labs only has photos of the american/show type.

Thanks all of you for your help.I think that Spot is a show type mix.What do you think?

Edited by author Sat Dec 27, '08 11:04am PST


I am the- Chocolate boy!
Barked: Thu Jan 1, '09 5:30pm PST 
I find where you live also depends on what you will call the lab. I have always used English because all the responsible breeders around here use it. Same with American.

However when I go up to Montana I find I use show/ field more when discussing labs.

It is a misleading term though. I try to mention whenever I talk about english labs that they are also known as english/british/show/bench. Americans are known as american/field/working.

I have talked to labrador owners in the UK and they will refer the show lines as British labs.

To me it changes where you live. The proper term however is show/bench or field.

Belgian comes from english/british/show/bench lines. I usually refer to him as a english labrador though.

Edited by author Thu Jan 1, '09 5:33pm PST


I am the- Chocolate boy!
Barked: Thu Jan 1, '09 5:44pm PST 
I looked at Spot's pictures. To me he looks more like he comes from American/Field/Working lines. English/ British/ Show/ Bench labs have block heads and short muzzles. American/Field/ Working lines have what is known as a bullet head. The head is narrower and the muzzle is longer.

Also keep in mind Labradors are incredibly over bred and many people cross the Show and field lines so sometimes even the looks can be decieving.

English labradors also carry more weight naturally. They are stocky and generally heavier. This is of courseputs them at risk for more health problems then labradors from field lines. Hip dysplasia is number one on the list. The English Labrador will also get overweight more quickly. Both lines need daily excerise but the show lines are generally more laid back while the field lines need to get out there and run. Show line labs do better in obeidence, conformation, etc. kind of sports while field line labradors are more suited for agility,flyball, frisbee,etc. Both lines do well in hunting but if you are a serious hunter go with the field lines. I do not reccomend people to do sports like frisbee with show line labs as this puts the dog at more risk for joint problems. If you do frisbee then don't make the lab jump as high as you would for a border collie. If you are looking for a jogging partner I would go for field line labradors as show lines can get tired after a bit of jogging.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have on labradors
Baloo RN CGN

Dog of all- trades
Barked: Thu Jan 1, '09 9:58pm PST 
Belgian knows her stuff and Selli is right on as well, I agree that it's less misleading to use "bench/show" and "field" to denote type, as technically, an English labrador is one who was born in England. big grin

It's also not just the "look" the determines which is which, as many labs in North America are simply pet-bred, which means they can have a very wide variety of looks to them as the "breeders" aren't breeding for anything in particular. So, just to muddy the waters a little more, I think it's more accurate to say the a "field" lab comes from a field breeder that competes in hunt tests and field trials with his/her dogs and is breeding for drive and workability primarily, and a show/bench lab comes from show/bench breeders who are looking for the next conformation prospect and actively show/title their dogs.

And there are many breeders who don't want to see the breed split and try to find a moderate middle, a dog who is mostly conformationally correct (as per the breed standard) but also has a lot of the retrieving drive that is such a hallmark of the breed. Baloo is technically 3/4 bench, 1/4 field in terms of his pedigree.

Clear as mud..? laugh out loud

I am the- Chocolate boy!
Barked: Thu Jan 1, '09 10:37pm PST 
To add I have noticed when looking at the shelters, pounds, rescues,etc. the majority of labradors are field bred. I rarely find show/bench lines in the shelter.

Backyard breeders and puppy mills also primarily breed field bred labradors and will pass them off as show lines. I know this because I have seen it and it gets me ticked off when I see it because from having experience with both lines, I honestly believe families when picking out a labrador should also consider the different lineages and what they want because the temperments are different. Field bred labs are bred to work. They have alot of energy and to me they are better off with a big yard and with people who are willing to put a few hours of excersise in them. The show lines are active but are laid back. They need daily excersise or otherwise will go hay wire but especially with Belgian, I can get away witha hour - a hour and a half of excersise before he mellows down and is ready to go back home.

Thanks!! You know your stuff to. I totally agree with you though. I should probably start calling Belgian a show lab but after using English lab for so long it sort of sticks.

It is funny though because I talk to the UK owners and they use different terms for the labs as well when it comes to to the lines.

Also maybe you can help me. I recently was talking to a Labrador owner who claimed they had a Canadian Labrador. They were talking about the lineage. I have never heard about this and never seen it. It sounds like someone trying to make a quick buck from inventing a new line of labradors to me. Have you heard about them?
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