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Labrador Retriever : Appearance Around the World

February 12, 2022 - Reading time: 6 minutes

The appearance of Labrador Retrievers Around the World

In the United States, the breed gained wider recognition following a 1928 American Kennel Gazette article, "Meet the Labrador Retriever". Before this time, the AKC had only registered 23 Labradors in the country, in part because US and UK hunting styles had different requirements.

Labradors acquired popularity as hunting dogs during the 1920s and especially after World War II, as they gained recognition as combining some of the best traits of the two favorite United States breeds as both game finders and water dogs.

Outside North America and Western Europe, the Labrador arrived later. For example, the Russian Retriever Club traces the arrival of Labradors to the late 1960s, as household pets of diplomats and others in the foreign ministry.

The establishment of the breed in the Commonwealth of Independent States (ex-USSR) was initially hindered by the relatively small numbers of Labradors and great distances involved, leading to difficulty establishing breedings and bloodlines; at the start of the 1980s, home-born dogs were still regularly supplemented by further imports from overseas. Difficulties such as these initially led to Labradors being tacitly cross-bred to other types of retrievers. In the 1990s, improved access to overseas shows and bloodlines is said to have helped this situation become regularised.

Demography of Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador is an exceptionally popular dog. For example :

  • Widely considered the most popular breed in the world.
  • Most popular dog by ownership in the USA (since 1991), UK, Australia, New Zealand Canada, and Israel.
  • In both the UK and USA, there are well over twice as many Labradors registered as the next most popular breed. If the comparison is limited to dog breeds of a similar size, then there are around 3 - 5 times as many Labradors registered in both countries as the next most popular breeds, the German Shepherd and Golden Retriever.
  • Most popular breed of assistance dog in the United States, Australia, and many other countries, as well as being widely used by police and other official bodies for their detection and working abilities. Approximately 60–70% of all guide dogs in the United States are Labradors (see below).
  • Seven out of 13 of the Australian National Kennel Council "Outstanding Gundogs" Hall of Fame appointees are Labradors (list covers 2000-2005).

There is no global registry of Labradors, nor detailed information on the numbers of Labradors living in each country. The countries with the five largest numbers of Labrador registrations as of 2005 are 1: the United States 2: the United Kingdom and France (approximately equal), 4: Sweden, 5: Finland. Sweden and Finland have far lower populations than the other three countries, suggesting that these two countries have the highest proportion of labs per million people:

OFA statistics suggest that yellow and black labs are registered in very similar numbers (yellow slightly more than black); chocolate in lesser numbers.

Note: number of registrations is not necessarily the same as the number of living dogs at any given time.

Famous labradors dog

As both the most popular breed by registered ownership and also the most popular breed for assistance dogs in several countries, there have been many notable and famous labradors since the breed was recognized.

A selection of a few of the most famous labradors within various categories includes:



EndalOn-Demandcashpoint, the world's most decorated dog, wearing his PDSA Gold Medal.; Assistance dogs

Endal is a service dog in England. Among other distinctions, "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium" and the PDSA’s Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty), the first dog to ride on the London Eye, and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card. By his death in March 2009 Endal and his owner/handler, Allen Parton had been filmed almost 350 times by crews from several countries, and a film of a year in Endal's life was in production.

Labrador Retriever as Police, military, rescue, and detection dogs:

Lucky and Flo, twin Black Labrador counterfeit detection dogs who became famous in 2007 for "sniffing out nearly 2 million pirated counterfeit DVDs" on a six-month secondment to Malaysia in 2007. Following the multi-million dollar, 6-arrest Malaysian detection, they became the first dogs to be awarded Malaysia's, "outstanding service award", and software pirates were stated to have put a £30,000 contract out for their lives.

Famous Labrador Pets

Former President of the United States Bill Clinton's Labradors Buddy and Seamus.

Former Russian President, and current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Labrador 'Koni'.

Fiction and media:

Labradors have featured variously as pets and significant characters in sitcoms and other TV shows, as well as other portrayals in the media. Bouncer in Neighbours, and Luath in The Incredible Journey, are two TV examples.

Marley is an American Labrador portrayed in Marley & Me, a book by John Grogan in which Grogan recounts his life and times with Marley.

Mascots and advertising:

Since 1972, a yellow Labrador pup known as the Andrex Puppy has been an advertising symbol for Andrex (Cottonelle) toilet tissue.

Michigan State University has an ongoing tradition of Zeke the Wonder Dog. The original "Zeke" and "Zeke III" were yellow labs and "Zeke II" was a black lab.

Nigger, a black labrador, was the official mascot for the famous Dambusters Squadron and still currently is. Nigger was the dog that the squadron used to take onboard for missions.

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