Many times individuals will ask us if we have the English type Labrador or the American type Labrador. In order to understand what that may or may not mean, let’s look briefly at the history of the introduction of the Labrador Retriever into the U.S. in the early 30’s.

Labradors were imported from England approximately in 1930 by individuals in the upper class of society of the United States. They had seen these dogs hunting primarily upland game in England, under great control and with groups of individuals. There was very little water work done at that time. Once the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. was formed, field trials evolved in which Labs were tested and given awards for 1st, 2nd, etc. placements determined by their keenness in hunting and retrieving.

Throughout the years, training and talents improved greatly and the retriever trials became more difficult. The LRC, Inc. recognized the title ‘Dual Champion’ ….. a Labrador who was a Field Champion and a breed ring Champion.

As the field trial competition became more and more competitive, the marks (where the bird is thrown or shot) became longer retrieves and other aspects of the tests became more complicated. This required a somewhat different ‘form’ of Labrador. Especially during the last 10 or 15 years, some Labrador breeders who are competing began breeding a lab which could run very quickly towards a 300 or 400 yard mark. This is also where you may hear the term, ‘Form follows function.’ Some individuals may call this more of the ‘American’ type Labrador. However, all of our Labradors originated in England.

In the meantime, other Labradors were also being imported and being bred within the United States which were structurally different. They had more bone, broader skulls and an ‘otter’ like tail. Some individuals refer to these Labs as the more
‘English’ type. Their temperament was somewhat similar to the original Labrador in England which hunted under great control and calmness due to their countryside and topography.

The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. adopted the Standard which is outlined and found on their website as well as the American Kennel Club website. In order to participate in a conformation class, a Labrador should meet this standard. There is no requirement that a dog participating in an AKC Field Trial or Hunt Test meet these requirements.

Our goal at Duckback Labradors throughout the years is to breed a Labrador which meets the breed standard of the American Kennel Club as well as perform the function for which the Labrador was originally bred to do. We promote soundness, intelligence and an excellent temperament. This wonderful companion will lie quietly at one’s feet beside the fireplace as well as be enthusiastic about going out and retrieving a Frisbee, running in the park or hunting in the duck blind. In other words, we thrive to breed the dual purpose Labrador.

Our participation in the AKC Hunting Retriever Tests gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our Labrador’s ability to continue the original purpose for which the breed was developed. Today’s AKC field trials and hunting retriever tests are entirely different events. It is an awesome sight to view a Labrador run out with such swiftness to a 400 yard retrieve and pick up a bird with accuracy in a field trial. Handlers wear white coats as well as the gunners who retire back so they are not seen after shooting the game.

In the AKC Hunting Retriever Test, scenarios are set up in order to attempt to simulate actual hunting conditions. Handlers wear hunting or camouflage clothing and the retrieves are approximately 100-125 yards long. These tests require great control of the dog and probably are somewhat more similar to the English hunting tests.

Unfortunately, there have not been any Dual Champion Labrador Retrievers in quite a few years. However, many individuals strive to have the most difficult and coveted award CH. Master (AKC Hunting Retriever Test highest level) Hunter title, since there have only been 43 since the beginning of the AKC hunt tests in 1986. That is why we feel so privileged, honored and blessed to have owned the 6th Champion Master Hunter in the country, CH. Duckback’s Hi-Hope, CD, CGC. Many of our puppies’ lineages go back to her lines.

Labradors are just like multiple children in a family … they can look and act entirely differently, but they are all loved.