The exact origin of the Labrador retriever is unknown, but the first recorded instance of the breed comes from Newfoundland during the 1700s. During this period, Labradors were known as St. John's dogs or Lesser Newfoundland dogs, and evidence suggests that the Greater Newfoundland dog is part of the cross that produced the Labrador.
The Labrador retriever is a sporting or working dog with flushing and retrieval instincts perfect for retrieving birds after a shoot. Despite the name "Labrador retriever," coined by the Earl of Malmesbury during the 1800s, there is no indication that these dogs originated in Labrador. The Earl brought a number of these dogs to England and is credited with the creation of the first recognized Labrador kennel. He is also credited with playing a crucial role in the continuation of the breed.
Their short, dense water-repelling coat makes Labradors the ideal working dog, as does their intelligence, eagerness to please and their love of retrieval. These traits are the reason this breed was originally so popular, and in the modern era they remain popular as a hunting companion and an active family pet. In addition to being good working and sporting dogs, if properly raised, Labrador Retrievers have a fun, happy temperament. They are generally very good with children.