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Are Labradors Good At Retrieving?

Jan 20, 2008
Every once and awhile I will hear someone ask can a Lab really retrieve and how do they match up against other retriever type dogs? Can a Lab really retrieve or did they acquire that name from a time that has long passed us by. Here is my response to that question.

I grew up on Lake Austin and living on a lake brings a lot of perks. You can go skiing whenever you want, ride jet skis, fish, and just swim at any time during the day. However, there was another perk to growing up on Lake Austin, and that perk was Morgan. Morgan was a Labrador that belonged to a friend of mine. What's weird is that I remember the dogs name more than my friend's name.

What made Morgan so cool was that she lived up to everything we would think a lab to be. The UK Kennel Club Standard said this about Labs. "They are Good-tempered, very agile, excellent nose, soft mouth, keen love of water, adaptable, devoted companion. Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please. They are also kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness."

I would say this described Morgan to a tea. She was all these things and more. However, the one thing that made Morgan stand out was her ability to retrieve. I am not talking your everyday run of the mill toss and catch. I am talking about she took fetching to a whole new realm.

One thing Morgan loved to do was fetch rocks, YES rocks. I am not talking about throwing a rock on a solid piece of ground, but throwing a rock in the water. I'm also not talking a small pebble but a pretty good size rock. We would take a rock that she liked and literally throw it in the water. I am not talking kiddy pool; I am talking a Lake with some depth to it.

Every time that rock made ripples on the lake she would move into action. Without hesitation she would launch herself off the dock and land in the water. She would then position herself over the spot we threw the rock and then dive. Yes dive! She would take every bit of herself and dive straight down, and believe it or not, all you would see were bubbles coming up. If you ever been on a boat while someone was diving with an air tank, that is what it was like.

Now I can't recall one time that Morgan did not dive down and bring that rock back. She would go and get the rock and bring it back and wait for us to throw it again. What was weird being a kid on the lake was that I just thought it was a natural thing to have a dog diving for rocks. I just assumed all dogs dove and fetched rocks underwater. I mean who doesn't have a dog that dives and fetches rocks under water?

Of course I know now that not all dogs do this. However it taught me one thing about Labs. They do live up to their name. They are retrievers! But even though we all live in the suburbs now and take our dogs to parks or beaches to get their exercise, labs do have a history of swimming and retrieving. BBC wrote an article about labs and this is what they said. Centuries ago Labs were trained to drag fishing nets from the boat to the shore; they said that the love of swimming was a characteristic of the breed. We also know that their double-layered coat keeps them warm in water, comprising a soft downy undercoat and a harder, water repellent topcoat, which helps them shake dry when they climb back onto land.

I also read that they instinctively enjoy holding objects and even hands or arms in their mouths, which they can do with great gentleness. It is stated that a Labrador can carry an egg in its mouth without breaking it. Labradors will retrieve pretty much anything from land or water. All this combined with a good sense of smell has made them a popular choice of gundog, pursuing and retrieving wounded game over practically any terrain.

Not only in my own experience but by the things we read about these dogs, I would say that it is true that even in today's modern time, Labs make great retrievers. Whether you are looking for a great family pet to retrieve rocks out of the water, or to fetch more important things, like your slippers, the Labrador Retriever is the dog for you.
About the Author
Phillip Longmire has a web page dedicated to Chocolate Labs,
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