Once known as the Lesser Newfoundland, the Labrador Retriever originated in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Labrador is a direct descendant of the now-extinct St John’s Water Dog, the foundation for so many modern dogs, a number of the retrievers included, as well as the Newfoundland dog.

The Labrador Retriever, like its predecessor the St John’s Water Dog, was used by fisherman to retriever their nets from the icy waters of the Canadian fishing grounds.

While the Labrador Retriever was created in Canada, it appears to have been named in Great Britain, and re-exported back to Canada in the 1830s. Instrumental in this was James Harris, the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, a prominent Conservative politician, who began a breeding programme which saw the Labrador Retriever developed into the breed we know and love today.

The Labrador was granted breed registration status by the Kennel Club in 1903.