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The names American Labrador Retriever and English Labrador Retriever must have appeared at some point if you’ve read anything at all about Labrador Retrievers. These terms are often used to describe the two main types of Labrador dogs. What do these phrases signify, though? How did these words come to be used so frequently? Do they differ from one another in ways other than just where the dogs were born or bred?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences and similarities between an English Labrador Retriever and an American Labrador Retriever. To help you in choosing the ideal breed of Labrador for you, we’ll also analyze and explore each of these magnificent dog breeds and highlight their strengths.

The History of the Labrador Retriever

It’s a little unclear where Labradors actually came from. They were initially discovered in the northeastern Canadian province of Newfoundland. The exact time when these water-loving canines first appeared is not well known.

Early Labs were devoted to cooperating and residing with fishermen and explorers involved in the trade routes between Europe and Canada. The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom has claimed that they were in the region as early as the 1500s. These active puppies assisted in the retrieval of nets in the ocean and of wildlife on land.

When touring Canada, English noblemen found the Labrador Retriever’s recovery abilities to be quite useful. They came home with dedicated dogs they believed would excel in the field. In particular, during the mid-1800s, Colonel Peter Hawker and the Earl of Malmesbury attempted to breed Labradors into gun dogs. Later, in 1903, the Labrador Retriever was approved as an official breed by the Kennel Club.

American Labrador Retrievers

The American Labrador is a quick-thinking, quick-moving dog that often has a highly sensitive soul and a desire to please. Extreme sensitivity can occasionally cause anxiety, although temperament is generally good throughout the breed.

Training the hardworking American Labrador Retriever is a bit easier than training its English cousin. For instance, it will likely be easier for novice owners to train them to walk well on a leash. American Labradors may have extremely strong hunting instincts and be more prone to seek out local animals when they are out in the open. For people who live in rural regions or walk their dogs in locations where there are rabbits or squirrels, this may be an issue.

Some American Labs, though not all, will have so much drive that a novice owner may find it difficult to maintain control when they go on their regular walks together. This is especially so if they don’t give the dog adequate attention throughout the day. If you enjoy relaxing and catching up with friends while out walking, you might want to consider the English Labrador instead.

Yellow Labrador Retriever
American Labrador Retrievers (pictured) are bred as working and hunting dogs in addition to being pets.©sanjagrujic/

English Labrador Retrievers

All Labradors are quite active when they’re young, but some show-bred English Labradors mature into dogs who are a little calmer, more reserved, and more relaxed. That being said, some of their field-bred counterparts tend to enjoy long, high-energy lives.

If you exercise your English Lab in crowded dog parks where they will be mingling with many other dogs, it might be difficult because some English Labradors can be quite lively and easily distracted as puppies.

Some show-type English Labs are more challenging to train because of their fun silliness. Compared to American Labs, show-bred English Labs may be more loud or prone to whining. However, this trait has been largely bred out of show dogs in the last few years.

Yellow English Labrador Retriever
The English Labrador Retriever (pictured) has a slightly different appearance than the American type and do well as show dogs.©Judal/

What is the Difference Between an American Labrador and an English Labrador?

Although there isn’t a formal distinction between English and American-type Labrador Retrievers, the variations between them are obvious and the two types are now generally recognized. The two phrases are commonly used, well-known, and approved nicknames for Labradors with lineage from the relevant nations as well as those that have been bred for various purposes.

So, are there actually two different types of Labrador dogs? Not quite, as all contemporary dogs are thought to be descended from the same Newfoundland breed line, and the majority of Labrador breeders adhere to the official breed standard accepted by both the American Kennel Club and The UK Kennel Club.

There is some ambiguity over the varieties of Labrador Retrievers that are available and how they appear since some breeders adhere to the Federation Cynologique Internationale standard, which is somewhat different from the US and UK versions. Nevertheless, these two varieties of Labradors differ in a few key ways.

How Are English Labradors and American Labradors Similar?

When it comes down to it, the English Lab and the American Lab are the same breed of dog. They are simply two different varieties of the same breed.

The major coat colors of Labrador Retrievers are recognized by both breed standards as being black, chocolate, and yellow in hue. Additionally, they both have swimming adaptations like webbed feet, multiple layers of fur insulation, and strong tails that serve as rudders to help these swimmers navigate the water. They also have blocky skulls that are similar, though the English variety tends to be a bit blockier.

Both of these dogs are quite brilliant and learn effectively through positive reinforcement. Additionally, the overall attitude is the same. The ideal temperament of the Labrador Retriever is one of sweetness, sociability, and tractability. Both types should also be eager to please and non-aggressive toward people or animals. People are drawn to the Labrador for a variety of reasons, including its sweet nature, intellect, and adaptability.

How Are English Labradors and American Labradors Different?

The English Labradors and American Labradors can be classified as either hunting dogs or display dogs. These types of Labrador dogs are often sociable, trustworthy, good-natured, and lively, and they enjoy being around people. They are liked as service and companion animals.

Due to their prevalence in the UK and the fact that they were developed for show and conformation, English Labradors have gained widespread recognition. Given that they are far more prevalent in the USA, Labradors bred for field trials and hunting have come to be recognized as American Labradors.

However, confusingly, there are American Labs that compete in dog shows and English Labs that are used for hunting and field trials. The labels “English Labradors” and “American Labradors” are more of a helpful reference to the sort of Labrador Retriever being discussed in conversation than they are absolute and rigorous terminology. Numerous exceptions exist.

Significant Differences in the English Labrador’s Appearance

Comparing a Lab with an American type and an English type reveals some jarring contrasts. The English type seems heavier and more solid when compared to an American Lab. They have barrel chests that are notably broader and more solid-looking, and are blockier and bulkier overall. The English Lab appears to be more firmly built due to its broader head, more obvious and well-defined stop, fuller face, and shorter muzzle.

Compared to their American counterparts, English Labradors have a larger, thicker, and typically straighter tail as well as a bigger, more powerful-appearing neck and coat. Because of its shorter torso and legs, the English Lab doesn’t stand as tall as the American type. Due to the fact that English Labs are developed for conformation, they often resemble the industry breed standard much more than the American Lab.

Significant Differences in the American Labrador’s Appearance

The American Labrador is lighter and more slender than the English type. They appear more nimble and amped up to go due to their more athletic physique, which is lithe and finer-boned. The American Lab has a narrower head than its English cousin as well. In comparison to the English Labrador, their muzzle is longer and more streamlined, and their skull and face are notably thinner.

The American Lab has a longer, slimmer neck, which contributes to its more athletic appearance. Its coat is also significantly thinner. The American Labrador’s tail is often shorter and less otter-like than the English Lab’s. It looks longer and some even have a slight curl.

When compared to an English Lab, the American Lab is taller because its legs are longer. Their appearance of agility is further enhanced by their thinner frame in combination with this long-leggedness. The breed standard is virtually never precisely matched to the working American Labs since breeders have far less incentive to strive for it.

English Labrador Temperament

Compared to the American Lab, the English Lab is thought to be calmer, less energetic, and quieter by nature. When compared to American Labs, they are often regarded as being sweeter, mellower, incredibly calm, and quieter. They are also thought to be easier to train and live with for less-experienced and laid-back owners.

The English Lab is much less demanding when it comes to activity and will more quickly relax at your feet at the end of a long day. However, they are still driven and appropriate for life as working dogs.

American Labrador Temperament

The American Lab often has more energy and drive than its English relative. This is because they are developed for labor and field trials. They are far more energetic and always on the go. With responsibilities like working and hunting all day, a dog obviously needs larger quantities of energy.

American Labs have a reputation for being more high-strung because of their increased activity and drive. They are always moving and require care and attention. They are said to have a more headstrong temperament than an English Lab. This type will require a more experienced and strong-willed owner to maintain control and produce a well-behaved and balanced companion. This may be because of the combination of high intellect and high energy.

Show Labradors
Regardless of which type you choose, Labrador Retrievers (pictured) make fantastic family pets.©Anna Goroshnikova/

Choosing the Right Labrador Retriever

Of course, the question “Which type of Labrador is best?” is never easily answered.  Just as well, it somewhat depends on where you live and what you want from your dog. A working American Labrador may be the ideal choice for you if you wish to be active with your dog and perhaps participate in various Labrador sports or activities. An English Labrador may be better if you’re looking for a dog based purely on relaxed temperament and aesthetics. When you are about to get one, a DNA test should help you ensure that you’re getting the right breed, along with more details about their health.

American Labrador: Outdoor Recreation and Hunting

American Labs respond well to frequent interactions with people and more moderate outdoor activity. However, they tend to be impatient if you take a break on your walk to chat with friends. These dogs are also more likely to be attentive to their handler and to respond well to instruction. If you wish to participate in a sport or activity that includes your dog, this might be useful.

English Labs might not have the agility to participate at a high level in the popular sport of dog agility, in which American Labs usually excel. An American Lab is your best option if you want a pet and hunting partner. Consider a Lab that has been bred with the typical hunter or shooter in mind if you don’t want to compete in field trials. In both the United Kingdom and the United States, dogs bred for field trials might occasionally be a bit hot for the untrained handler.

English Labrador: Aesthetics and Family Pets

An English Lab could be the best option for people who don’t want to spend much time training. Opt for this type if you prefer to go on lengthy family walks through the countryside where your dog can run free.

Additionally, owing to its less severe hunting tendencies, this show-type Lab may be easier to handle outside. However, the fact that they are loved for their physical appearance may be the key factor in influencing people who are not seeking a hunting partner to pick an English Lab. But what exactly makes the English Lab preferable for aesthetics? It all comes down to their noggins.

The heads of the two different types of Labrador dogs are their most distinguishing differences. English Labs have the traditional boxy Labrador head and swooshing otter tail, which usually makes them preferable as show dogs.

Just keep in mind that English Labs tend to be more lively, slower to mature, and more eager to introduce themselves to any passing stranger. Naturally, everyone has their own definition of beauty as well. You might prefer the look of an American Lab instead. Additionally, some people who have an American Lab at home may find the English Lab unappealing due to its larger head and shorter legs. Although any variety of Labrador can make wonderful family pets, the English variety may be slightly less likely to exhibit shyness or anxiety.


You can’t go wrong with a Labrador Retriever! This stands true whether you need a proficient hunting dog or just want a loving, lively four-legged family member. Avoid American Labs if you don’t want to hunt with your dog. These dogs were bred to work and won’t be content without a task to accomplish.

No matter what kind of Lab you choose, we advise picking a reputable breeder. Ask the breeder if they examine their dogs for health issues, and ask for complimentary health certifications. This is a common practice because elbow and hip dysplasia and eye issues are very common in Labrador Retrievers. Any trustworthy breeder will be more than pleased to provide you with information on the health of their dogs.

Regardless of which types of Labrador dogs you choose, these dogs are very loveable creatures that make excellent pets. Either type would work well with families or as show dogs, though the American Lab will be preferable for sport.

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