Labrador Retrievers are probably the most popular type of retriever. They were bred, in the first place, as working dogs for waterfowl hunting. They enjoyed the water and appeared to thrive and excel at entering the water and retrieving the game that had been shot. To this day, the Labrador retriever still loves water and swimming.
Although Labradors are tremendous pets, both loving and affectionate, they also make excellent working dogs. In the United States, there are in reality two types of the Labrador retriever, the field line and the show line.
The show line is used for show ring functions and is bred for compliance and temperament. Needless to say, the Labrador stands out in both these fields, and many owners have had the satisfaction of seeing their dog win a prize at one of these events.
The field line is bred for the purpose of field and hunting ability. The main difference between the two lines is that Labradors in the field line will display a little more drive and energy, though the show line has a great deal of energy as well.
As working dogs, some of the work in the field that the Labrador does is symbolic of their name, retriever. They are outstanding at hunting and retrieving the game after the kill. They are very easy to train due to their inbred hunting and retrieving drive as well as the intelligence they possess.
Their temperament is first-class, and they very rarely show displeasure. When the Labrador retrievers were given the American Temperament Test, over 91% of the Labs passed.
The American Temperament Test focuses on the different sorts of temperament such as shyness, stability, aggression, friendliness and protectiveness with the owner in the case of a threat. No wonder they are such popular dogs.
Apart from the basic hunting and retrieving work the Labrador does in the field, their great work ethic and intelligence have gained them many esteemed awards for challenging work tasks.
One Labrador, Endel, as assistant dog, pulled his unconscious wheelchair owner to a safe position when he was hit by a car. Endel then covered up the man with a blanket, found his cell phone and then went to a nearby hotel to attract attention to get help. This deed won Endel many citations and awards.
Labradors are true working dogs and are used as assistance dogs such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf or a service dog for a disabled person. Service dogs also help care for seizure victims and are used as psychiatric service dogs.
Psychiatric service dogs are used to help prompt an individual that they need to take their medication or as a brace if they are dizzy, or simply to be alert to unusual or distressful behavior.
Labradors are also employed as therapy dogs to visit patients in nursing homes, retirement homes, hospices, etc. It has been proven that these types of patients benefit from the affection and attention they can experience from contact with a dog.
The dog must be gentle, affectionate and allow cuddling and petting for all sizes and ages of people, and the Labrador is the perfect working dog for this job. Around 60-70% of all guide dogs in the United States are Labrador retrievers, a job that formerly belonged more often than not to the German shepherd.