About Black Labs: History of Black Labs

To understand the orgin of the Black Labrador Retriever, it almost requires a study of the history of Newfoundland. This so called "Newfoundland" was known by whalers and fisherman as early as the fifteen century. The Labrador Retriever originated on the cold reaches of newfound. This small water dog worked for the fisherman. The fishing boats could not come close to shore and it was the dog's task to swim in the icy water, dragging the full fishnets to the men on shore. The Black Lab performed many other useful services for the fisherman. For example, they could gather up fishing nets and carry ropes between boats. There are even stories of Black Labs saving crew members from drowning. Black Labs were natural retrievers - even then.

The English Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1903. However, at this time no definite standard breed was agreed upon. Fortunately for the breed, its followers were primarily interested in the development of working qualities. Unhampered by a standard, they were able to continue their breeding schemes, with occasional outcrosses, and were responsible for producing the multi-purpose dog that is our present-day Black Labrador Retriever.

According to some records, the Black Labrador's first appearance in the show ring took place as early 1860. It is said that King George V had a great deal to do with bringing the interests of the Black lab to the forefront. The lab population grew considerably based on their work merits. As a result of this increased competition, breeders redoubled theirs efforts to refine and strengthen the Labradors valuable qualities, each striving to outdo the other. This healthy competition produced the foundation that is responsible for the proficient working ability of the breed today.

Americans knew little of the Black Labrador's true usefulness until after World War I. At that time they gradually began to be imported. But it was not until the middle 1930s that they gained any sort of widespread acclaim. One of the reasons for the lab's swift rise in popularity is that over the years he has consistently proved his worth in all fields and truly earned the title "all around dog". It was once said the Black Labrador "was so intelligent that it seemed he might speak at any moment".
Ron Colangelo

Wolf Creek Labrador Sculptures