11 Labrador Retriever facts that might surprise you

Chocolate Labrador Retriever
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve been considering welcoming one of these spirited pups into your home, our Labrador Retriever facts will fill you in on everything you need to know. Loving, affectionate, exuberant, and intelligent, Labs make wonderful companions for anyone with an active lifestyle.

The Labrador Retriever comes in a variety of colorings and has a fascinating history. With a reputation for being incredibly well-rounded, there’s not a lot this versatile pup can’t do - which is probably why they remain one of the world’s most beloved breeds.

Because of their high energy levels, you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of the best dog food and toys on hand to fuel their busy days and keep their bodies and minds happy and healthy. That being said, there’s a lot more to this pooch than their turbo-charged personalities.  

So, whether you already have a Lab, are in the process of adopting one, or simply want to find out more about one of the friendliest dogs in the canine kingdom, here are 11 of our favorite Labrador Retriever facts to help you get to know this ever-popular pup….

1. They have endless energy

If you’re someone who enjoys a gentle daily stroll and a relatively quiet life, then a Labrador Retriever is definitely not the dog for you! While they have a laid-back personality, these dogs were built to move and are happiest when they’re running, swimming, or working. To avoid them becoming bored and engaging in destructive behaviors, Labs need ample exercise each day. 

2. Labs love the water

Labradors absolutely adore the water, which is no great surprise given that they were deliberately bred to be super fond of the wet stuff. Their webbed feet make swimming a breeze and they also have a double coat that insulates them, preventing them from getting cold even when they’re in very cold water.

3. They’re America’s favorite breed

Named by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2022 as the most popular dog breed in America for the 31st year in a row, the Labrador Retrievers' versatility and friendly personality make them unbeatable as both a working dog and a much-loved family pet. 

4. Their name is a little misleading

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Labrador Retriever hails from, well, Labrador! And while they did indeed originate in Canada, they actually began life a few hours away on the island of Newfoundland. Once known as St. John's water dogs, these smaller canines eventually went extinct but paved the way for the modern (and larger) Labrador Retriever that we know and love today. 

5. Labs make wonderful guide dogs….

The most commonly used breed for guide dogs in America, the Labrador Retriever has long been viewed as the best breed for the job thanks to their gentle nature, strong desire to please, and how easy to train they are. 

Labrador Retriever

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. ...and outstanding search and rescue pups too

Not only are Labs the most popular guide dog breed and the most popular family pet, but they’re also the first choice when it comes to search and rescue missions too. With an outstanding sense of smell and an incredible knack for handling any terrain, these cool, calm, and collected canines are wonderful in an emergency. 

Yes, they’re extremely sweet, gentle, and friendly, but Labs are also strong, bold, and full of energy, so if you decide to welcome one into your home, proper training and socialization is an absolute must. Thankfully, Labs are also eager to please and highly intelligent, which means training this beautiful breed is a pretty joyful experience. 

8. A Lab once went to prison….

We know, it sounds like an old wife's tale, right? But, believe it or not, a Lab did indeed wind up in prison! According to prison records in Pennsylvania, a Lab was sentenced to life in jail without parole for killing a cat that belonged to the governor's wife. The pup lived the remaining 10 years of his life in the Eastern State Penitentiary, where he became a companion to one of the guards. 

9. …and another one became mayor

In 1981, a black Lab mix named Bosco beat out two human candidates to become the honorary mayor of Sunol, California, a position he held until his death in 1994. Running for the Re’pup’lican party, Bosco used the slogan “A bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner” to secure his victory. 

10. Labs were originally bred for fishing

While they serve in a number of important roles today, the Labrador Retriever was originally bred to help fishermen bring in their nets, pull ropes between boats, and recover escaped fish. 

11. They make wonderful family pets

Friendly, patient, and trainable, Labs are outgoing and play extremely well with others. This high-spirited breed loves kids, adults, and other animals and their sweet demeanor means they become instant best friends with everyone they come across. Super affectionate, the Lab has more than enough love to go around, making them fantastic family pets. 

Interested in more great canine content? Check out our guide to the best dog toys for plenty of fun playthings to keep your pup mentally and physically stimulated.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.