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The Different Types of Labrador Retrievers

At A Glance

Two main types of Labrador exist — English Labradors and American Labradors. American Labradors are sensitive in nature and are known to have slim, agile bodies with a more athletic appearance.

English Labradors are bigger than their American counterparts and notable for their thick neck and coat of fur. Silver and fox red Labradors exist but are not officially recognized by kennel clubs. Chocolate brown English Labs are the rarest Labrador type.

Last Updated on: Feb 14, 2022

Different types of Labradors have been developed over the years. Today, two main types exist—show-bred English Labradors and traditional working American Labrador.

Labrador Retrievers are known for their kind, gentle, and outgoing nature. This non-aggressive breed has plenty of love to give and is the perfect pick for families and dog lovers.

Let’s explore the different kinds of Labradors and the classic differences between an English Labrador and an American Labrador. Their notable distinctions will help you decide which type of Labrador will work best with your lifestyle.

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American Labradors

Labrador in a park

The traditional American Labrador is an energetic breed inclined to chase after small animals. Keeping the Lab on a leash will help them refrain from chasing squirrels, hens, or rabbits that he may spot from a distance.

They’re active dogs that need plenty of space to run and exercise, so it’s best to take them on regular long walks. This type of lab will prove an excellent pick for those living in the country or a city with plenty of open space such as a backyard, garden, or neighboring parks.

American Labs are known to be sensitive by nature, so it’s important not to startle them with loud noises or sudden movements.

Also Read: Pros and Cons of Owning a Labrador


English Labs

Unlike their American cousins, English Labs are more relaxed and tame by nature. As young pups, English Labs are extremely playful and easily distracted, making them a little challenging to handle in public areas.

They can get a little noisy or whiny. Comforting Labs will help calm their nerves. Watch out, though, as it could also be a sign of neediness. Using this signal to carve out a particular time for a Lab is crucial.

Even if they aren’t as active as their American cousins, these dogs need regular exercise. English Labs are easy to train and take on walks since their hunting instincts aren’t as strong as American Labs.

Fun Fact: Labradors are among the most versatile dog breeds you can own as pets.

English vs. American Labradors

labradors sitting in a park

The UK Kennel Club, the AKC and other national registries or clubs do not consider Labs different. They’re Retriever Labs despite the labels given to the two main kinds of Labradors.

Many people ask, “How many types of Labs are there?

Essentially, two main types of Labs exist that get their names from the countries they originate from (the US and UK).

If you’re wondering which color Labrador is the best, there isn’t one particular coat that stands out since this will differ from breed to breed. Silver and fox red are not common colors, but they do exist.

However, besides the standard chocolate brown, black, and blonde coats, official kennel clubs do not recognize these colors officially.

A few stark differences make English and American Labs unique in their own way. Let’s look at what makes these two kinds of Labs different.


You’re probably wondering, “What is the largest breed of Labrador?

While Labs generally grow to a height of 22.5 to 24.5 inches (male) and 22.5 to 24.5 inches (female), some breeders have been known to mix breeds to procure larger variants. In Michigan, the largest Lab is a Great Dane mix named Zeus, standing at 3.7 ft. tall.

English Labs, in general, are known to be bigger than American Labs. Both types of Lab can weigh anywhere between 55 to 80 pounds.

The physical attributes of these Labs greatly differ. You’ll be able to tell the two apart when presented with an English or American Lab.

English Lab

  • Solid, bulky build and wide in appearance
  • Short muzzle, wide head, and a full face
  • Thick neck and coat of fur
  • Stocky, wide, and straight tail
  • Short body and legs, making it appear chunky in appearance


American Lab

  • Slim, agile body with a more athletic appearance
  • Defined, longer muzzle and narrow face
  • Long, slim neck and light coat of fur
  • A long, straight tail that sometimes has a curl on the end
  • Long legs that make it look taller and nimble



American Labs were bred as working dogs, meaning they were meant to be out on the field all day. Hunting was their main sport, hence the Lab’s lithe, agile body. If you’re wondering which type of Labrador is best, it comes down to whether you prefer a laid-back or active, high-energy Lab.

American Labs are the better choice for owners who find themselves constantly on the road. They’re also ideal for hunters who need a great hunting partner or pet owners interested in entering their dogs in field trial competitions.

English Labs are perfect for families who prefer a mellow, mostly tame dog due to their subdued nature. Both breeds are lovable, affectionate, and highly intelligent. They can be a tad headstrong, so consider getting a trainer when the Lab is still a juvenile.

Origin and Traits Of Labradors

an image of a Labrador outdoors

This breed originated from Newfoundland, Canada, where it was initially called St. John’s dog.

They were popular duck and fish retrievers in the 1800s before English nobles took notice of the breed. Shortly after, the nobles returned to England with the dogs. The dogs were then bred to feature a more standard, purer appearance and were thus, renamed Labs.

Many will recognize an English Lab’s otter tail that helps it swim and turn in the water. American and English Labs have double water-repellent coats that shed and require frequent cleaning.

Some Labs show hyperactive or destructive behavior if not exposed to frequent exercise. This is important for any dog but more so for Labs. Labs tend to turn obese quickly if they’re fed high-calorie foods. Whether made at home or commercially bought, dog owners should mindfully choose the Labs’ meals and treats with the help of a trusted vet.

You’ll find that a Lab’s intelligence and ability to adapt easily to places make it an ideal household pet. Labs are also one of the friendliest dog breeds in the world.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Labradors top the list of the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds for 24 consecutive years?

Which Type Of Labrador Makes The Best Pet?

labrador with his owner

American Lab and English Lab can prove to be the best pets, depending on the pet owner’s lifestyle. American Labs are high-strung dogs that require plenty of attention, exercise, and outdoor time.

Since American Labs are spirited animals, keeping them constantly cooped up indoors could hamper their health and mood. Simply put, if your energy doesn’t match that of an American Lab, then getting one isn’t the best idea.

When caring for a dog, regardless of its breed, owners must be mindful of its physical and mental health.

English Labs are easier for families who need a mellow dog that requires less frequent, strenuous exercise. Its calm nature makes it a better choice for homely environments. If you plan to breed Labs or enter one into a conformation show, English Labs will be a better option.

Still, it doesn’t mean dog owners should not provide adequate exercise. Remember, when not given a chance to spend their energy, Labs can resort to destructive behavior.

Also Read: Are Labrador Retrievers Good Apartment Dogs?


dog with a girl

As man’s best friend, a dog makes a great housemate for families and pet lovers. You’ll find that the types of Labradors are pretty similar, with a few unique traits that set them apart. You can choose based on their looks and temperament.

Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of life you can provide for your Lab so that they are happy, content, and cared for in the best way. When Labs feel loved and cared for, they will return the same love with loyalty and companionship.


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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.