The Little-Known Secrets to the English Lab (English Labrador Retriever)

English Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is by far the most popular dog breed in the world with more and more people deciding to keep them as companion pets.

In recent years, the terms “American Lab” and “English Lab” have gained much currency in canine circles.

But what is the difference between an English Lab and an American Labrador Retriever? Is it just their country of origin or are there other differences between the two? Or you may be wondering if this is the right breed for you?

If you’re looking for more information about this breed, please continue reading. Our complete guide to the English Lab will give you answers to those questions and many more!

So, let’s get started!

Breed History: Where Did the English Labrador Come From?

The Labrador Retriever traces its origins to Newfoundland, Canada.

In the early days, the breed was a favorite among fishermen. Soon, the British were impressed with the breed’s ability to survive in very cold conditions and took a few of the dogs to their motherland.

Those dogs were later interbred to produce what is now known as English Labrador Retrievers. This breed was named ‘English Lab’ simply because they are more common in the UK.


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Fun Facts about the English Lab

Generally speaking, the Labrador is a favorite among dog lovers. In fact, Labs have starred in several movies and shows.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Labs have topped the list of the most popular dog breeds in America for the 28th year in a row. So, it’s no surprise that there have been so many famous Labrador Retrievers over the years.

For instance, a Labrador called Endal is regarded as ‘the most decorated dog in the world’. This noble Labrador Retriever has bagged many awards, including being named ‘The Dog of the Millennium’ and earning the ‘PDSA Gold Medal’ for his loyalty and Devotion to Duty.

Additionally, the Labrador Retriever is considered the best breed for service animals. This is mainly because of their loyalty, intelligence and ability to learn fast.

Labrador Retriever Puppy Biting His Toy

The breed is also widely used for search and rescue operations and as military and police dogs.

Now that you know where the English Lab came from as well as some fun facts about the breed in general, let’s take a look at the physical differences between the English Lab and the American Labrador Retriever.

English Lab Vs American Labrador

The Labrador breed standards are basically the same. They depict exactly the same breed of dog. But why do people claim there are two different types?

What you need to know is that there is only one dog breed called the Labrador Retriever (Canis familiaris). Within the breed, there are two different versions, namely the American Labrador and the English Labrador.

The breed standards may be essentially the same, but when compared side by side, the two types of Labs are quite different. Comparing an English type Labrador and an American type Labrador Retriever side by side actually does reveal some amazing differences.


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As their names suggest, the English Lab traces its roots to Britain, and the American type can be traced back to the United States.
However, the main difference between English Labradors and American Labradors is their body structure.

When compared to the American Labrador, the English type Labs:

1. Look more powerful with a much heavier look to them. Bigger and blockier in structure, they are clearly wider and much more solid looking.

2. Have wider heads with a shorter muzzle and a fuller face, which adds to their more ‘solid’ appearance.

3. Have thicker and noticeably stronger necks.

4. Have thicker coats.

5. The English type Lab has a thicker, wider and straighter tail.

6. Have shorter legs and therefore, don’t stand as tall as their American counterparts.

7. Have a shorter body.


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Developed for conformation, the English Lab is generally much closer to the breed standards than the American Lab.

Despite the above structural differences, the English Labs and their American cousins still belong to the same breed of dog.

If you’re considering either an American Labrador or English Labrador, do your research first, and choose the one that would best suit your lifestyle.

If you know exactly what you need before you even approach a Lab breeder, then you are more likely to get a Lab that best suits your lifestyle, and the Lab will end up with the best owner for them.

ALSO READ: Golden Retriever Vs Labrador – Which Breed Makes A Better Pet For You?

English Labrador Appearance

A very beautiful dog, the English Lab is known for its striking, chiseled head, and a wide, tapering tail.

The English Lab also has huge eyes that are set well apart and are sure to melt your heart.

Overall, they have a broad body, deep chest and a well-proportioned neck. You’ll certainly fall in love with his thick and heavy tail that tapers to a fine point.


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English Lab Size & Height

So, how big do English Labs get?

Well, the English Lab is considered to be a medium-sized dog. Generally, males stand 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall while females stand 21.5 to 23.5 inches in height.

English Lab Weight

The build of the English show Lab is sometimes reflected in its weight. These dogs are generally heavier than American Labradors of the same age.

A male English Lab weighs around 70 to 80 pounds while females weigh around 55 to 70 pounds.

English Lab Coat

It’s no surprise that the English Labrador Retriever originally developed to endure the icy conditions of Newfoundland has a double coat that is water resistant.

And although they might not swim in icy conditions, English Show Labs have been able to retain their amazing coats. On the other hand, some working English Labs have lost their thick coat.

Some American Labs do not have the waterproof double coat that is found on show Labs.


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English Lab Colors

Both American Labradors and their English cousins come in three major coat colors: black, yellow and chocolate. The yellow type can vary from a pale cream to a deep, rich golden color. The White English Lab is the palest shade of the Yellow Lab.

The White English Lab

White English Labs are very popular show dogs. In the United States, this type of Lab is also known as the English White Lab. English Labs differ from working or American Labs when it comes to their build and personality.

Generally speaking, the White English Lab will be a fun-loving dog. He may be a bit silly, but still very friendly with people and other pets.

He might take a bit longer to reach maturity than American Labs and may be less inclined to run or retrieve all day long.

A White English Lab might also have a broader head and chest, as well as relatively shorter legs.


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Silver English Labs

The silver-colored Labrador is a relatively new (and sometimes controversial) version of the English Lab.

The silver color is due to a gene that tends to dilute the chocolate color. Interestingly, Silver Labs are classified as chocolate. You are less likely to see Silver English Labradors since the color is not recognized in the show ring.

English Labrador Temperament

There are some startling differences in temperament between American and English Labradors, but they are not always as clear as you might imagine.

Both types are friendly, well-behaved dogs. Nonetheless, the English Lab tends to be less energetic than the American version. He isn’t as driven outside and in some cases, this might make it much easier to handle.

At the same time, the English Labrador may also be more active and playful. He might be happier to play with other canines than to pay fetch with you. In some cases, this might make him more difficult to control.

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American Labradors are determined dogs with great hunting and retrieving skills. They require plenty of exercises to remain calm. If they get enough physical activity and mental stimulation from working and training, they can become great companions in the house.

However, if physical and metal exercise needs are not met, they can become anxious and destructive at home.

On the other hand, the English Lab may be a calmer housemate, even if he doesn’t get as much exercise. He may be quite energetic at a young age, but will soon mature into a calm and affectionate dog.

Is The English Lab a Good Family Dog?

English Labrador Retrievers are known for being great family companions.

If they are well trained and socialized at a young age, they will get along well with all members of their family.


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If socialized at a young age, English Labs can also get along well with cats, rabbits and other household pets. Be sure to monitor interactions at first to ensure that your pets are behaving properly and let them get used to each other slowly.

While the English Lab is known for being patient, it is extremely important to keep in mind that all dogs are different.

Although it is important to teach your pup how to play with kids, it is just as important that your kids learn how to play with your dog.

LEARN ABOUT IT: 5 Signs Of A Jealous Dog And How to Deal With It

English Labrador Training

English Labradors are very intelligent, making them highly trainable dogs. These dogs are known to work as service dogs and guiding blind people, among other life-changing tasks.

As with all breeds of dogs, English Labs do best with lots of positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, patience and consistency.

Positive reinforcement is a great training technique that has proven to work wonders for all dog breeds. This is particularly true for dog breeds that are ready to learn and eager to please, like the English Lab.

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Exercise Needs

English Labs are known to be a bit lazier than their American counterparts. On top of training, you also want to ensure that your English Lab is getting sufficient amounts of exercise each day.

Even the well-trained English Lab can be vulnerable to unwanted behavioral issues if they are under-exercised.

These dogs will need a long walk once or twice per day as well as quality playtime in a fenced-in area.

Generally, these canines require around 60 minutes of physical activities. Ideally, this 60-minute exercise duration should be divided into two daily walks of 30 minutes each.


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Known to be a playful dog, the English Lab will also enjoy playing a game of fetch. Also, provide your English Lab with lots of interactive dog toys to keep him busy and mentally stimulated.

When properly socialized, the English Lab is also a good candidate for regular trips to the dog park. He is very social and enjoys running around freely.

Unlike the American Lab, the English Lab was bred for water hunting. This means that they have a natural love for swimming.

Bear in mind that Labrador Retrievers are generally prone to some health problems that could hinder physical activities. Watch out for joint problems, like hip and elbow dysplasia. English Labs are also prone to bloat, also known as gastric dilation-Volvulus syndrome.

If not treated early, this serious condition can cause death. Strenuous exercises immediately before or after drinking or eating can increase the risk of bloat in canines.


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That’s why experts suggest keeping water and food away from your dog at least one hour before or after exercising.

If your pooch is extremely thirsty, it’s advisable to give them small amounts of water to drink gradually.


If you’re wondering, ‘do English Labs shed?’ you need to know that this is a very high shedding dog. Therefore, English Labs are not ideal for people with allergies.

These heavy shedding coats will require brushing almost daily, particularly during the seasonal coat blowouts.

Labradors are known to suffer from skin dryness and irritation, so bathing should be done only when it’s absolutely necessary. During bathing, use a specially formulated shampoo to avoid irritation.

Also, make sure your dog is completely dry, as trapped water in the coat can cause skin dryness.


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Feeding Information

English Labs are speedy eaters, so you need to monitor their eating habits to help prevent health problems, such as boat and obesity.

Owners should give their dogs smaller meals, preferably in a puzzle feeder. These dogs require high quality dog food that is rich in protein.

Generally, English Labs need to eat 2 to 3 cups of kibble/food every day. This should also be divided into two to three meals per day.

English Lab Life Expectancy

The English Lab has a lifespan of around 12 to 13 years. However, some English Labradors have been reported to live up to the age of 18 years.

English Lab Health

Like all purebred dogs, the English Lab is prone to certain genetic disorders. Many of these genetic diseases can be avoided by buying English Lab puppies from heath screened parents.


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The most common health problems among English Labs include:

Joint problems: English Labradors are prone to joint issues such as hip dysplasia ad joint dislocations.

Eye Problems: English Labs are also prone to cataracts and other eye problems

Cancer: both American and English Labs are also prone to cancer.

Diabetes: Labs can suffer from diabetes, but proper care and attention can he prolong their lives.

The AKC recommends getting your English Labrador Retriever tested early to ensure you offer your puppy the best care possible.

Some of the recommended heath tests for English Labs include:

– Elbow evaluation
– Hip evaluation
– Ophthalmologist evaluation
– Exercise – Induced Collapse (EIC)
DNA testing


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Rescuing an English Labrador

Adopting a dog is a great way to give back to the community by not only giving a dog a forever home but by also helping to reduce overcrowding in animal shelters.

English Labs are some of the dogs who fill rescue centers and animals shelters in the country and require a forever home.

Generally, adoption fees are much less than the cost of purchasing a puppy from reputable English Lab breeders, with rescue fees being anywhere between $50 and $300.

Finding English Lab Puppies For Sale

The price of English Labrador puppies is around £650 to £850. This is the average price for an English Lab puppy that has been well-bred. If you want to get your English Lab from a breeder, it’s important to do your research first.

Going through a reliable source can greatly influence your puppy’s overall temperament and health.

Just make sure that your breeder has tested their puppies by requesting to check the paperwork.

Once bring your puppy home, taking care of your English Lab will be almost the same as caring for any other puppy.

Is an English Labrador Retriever Right for you?

The English Lab has all the qualities of a great family dog. These canines are playful, smart, friendly and ready to learn.

However, your English Lab will need a lot of exercise, training, and early socialization to develop into a well-mannered dog.

As long as you’re active and can take proper care of your dog, the English Lab has the potential to be an excellent companion for you and your family.


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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