Taking too long? Close loading screen.
puppy finder

Puppy Insights

July 8th

Can You Spot the Difference Between English and American Labs? Many Can’t.

Can You Spot the Difference Between English and American Labs? Many Can’t.

Labrador Retrievers are some of the cutest, smartest, and most lovable dogs you’ll find. This makes them a popular breed all across the world.

But not all Lab dogs are the exact same, and there are some regional differences. For example, you may have heard of both American and British Labs. Although similar, there are some significant differences between the two that any potential dog owner should know about.

History Of The Labrador Retriever Dog Breed

Before getting into the differences between the American and British Lab varieties, you’ll need some background on the history of Labrador Retrievers.

Originally, Labradors come from Newfoundland, a region on the eastern coast of Canada. Labrador is the name of the subregion where the breed originated.

They were used as work dogs, helping fishermen drag nets and chase after loose fish. At this time, they were known as St. John’s dogs, named after the capital city of Labrador.

Canada was a British colony at this point, and officials back in the mainland were won over by these hard working and hardy dogs. They imported St. John’s dogs back to England, mixing them with other retrievers and spaniels to create what we would recognize as a modern Lab.

American Labrador Retrievers

The American Labrador is a variety of the original Lab bred in England. It has a slightly leaner and more muscular build, as it was more traditionally used as a work dog. They are often still used for field work and for hunting, so their build is perfect for long days of running around and fetching.

There are a few traits that make American Labs stand out from their British counterparts, including:

  • Leaner frame
  • More defined bone structure
  • Longer, thinner legs
  • A longer, less nubby tail
  • Leaner head and neck
  • A shorter, thinner coat

American breeders focused less on the traditional breed traits and more on making their dogs suited for work. That means that there tends to be a greater variety among American Labs, as they were bred for specific working tasks.

English Labrador Retrievers

This variety of Lab is much more commonly found in Great Britain, which is the reason for its name. These dogs are often used for show, so they have more regular traits that their American counterparts, and tend to be less athletic.

Here are some of the most common traits found in English Labs:

  • Large, barrel chests
  • Short body with stubbier legs
  • A more filled out face
  • A thicker coat
  • A wider head and broader neck

English Labs have less variety than American versions, as they are bred according to strict standards.

Do English And American Labs Have Different Temperaments?

English and American Labs often have very similar temperaments. However, there are still some differences that dog owners should know about when picking a Lab.

American Labs tend to be a bit more energetic, as they are bred to work. They need to run around a lot, and if they don’t get enough exercise they may start to misbehave.

They also tend to be a bit smarter, as they were bred to work. That means that they are alert and curious, always paying attention to the environment around them. This also makes them a bit more stubborn, as they know that they are smart, and don’t always like being told what to do.

English Labs aren’t slugs. But they have a bit less energy than their American cousins. They tend to be calmer and more relaxed, as they aren’t bred to run around and work. They are still smart dogs, but they don’t always have the same alertness seen in American Labs.

English Labs won’t need to exercise as much, as they weren’t traditionally used for work. However, they still like to run around, and you’ll need to keep them active to prevent boredom.

Keep in mind that these differences are all on average. That means that there are some American Labs that are less active than some English Labs. When you are picking out a puppy, pay attention to their unique traits, not just the type of Lab that they are.

Are They Considered Different Breeds?

Although both dogs do have distinct traits, they are considered the same breed. Many dog breeds have subtypes, as breeders will select for certain traits depending on what they want to use the dogs for.

Since English Labs are often used for show, breeders are much more careful to select specific traits to give the dog a certain look.

American Lab breeders are much less interested in breeding dogs for show. Instead, they often focus on breeding athletic dogs, making American Labs leaner and more muscular.

Despite these differences, the two subtypes are considered close enough to still fall under the same breed category.

What’s In The Names?

Although English and American Labs do have noticeable differences, the names themselves are not official. That said, the two types are recognized as distinct dogs with their own builds and temperaments.

The American Kennel Club says that both versions of the dog are the same breed. However, they do recognize that the dogs have different traits, as the English variety is more suited for show, whereas American Labs are often meant to serve as work dogs.

Even though the American Kennel Club does not formally recognize the differences between the two subtypes, breeders on both sides of the Atlantic commonly use English and American Labs to describe their dogs.

Health Differences Between American And English Labs

Both English and American Labs are healthy dogs that tend to live long, happy lives. However, there are a few differences when it comes to health problems.

English Labs are less athletic, with shorter legs and a wider body. This makes them less agile and puts greater pressure on their hip and elbow joints. Because of this, they are more likely to develop hip problems as they age.

American Labs have a leaner, more muscular build, with longer legs and a thinner body. They can put more strain on their joints without injury, so they are a bit less likely to develop movement problems as they age.

Because of their stockier build, English Labs are also a bit more likely to become overweight. They also have less energy than American Labs, and tend to sit around more. It’s important that you keep your English Lab active throughout the day and to feed them a healthy diet to prevent weight gain.

American Labs are leaner and more muscular, so they don’t tend to put on weight quite as easily. They also have a lot of natural energy, helping them burn off extra calories and stay fit.

Which Type Of Labrador Is Right For Me?

As you might imagine, American Labradors are much more common in the United States. However, you can still find English Labs, and many potential dog owners wonder which type is right for them.

American Labs are more athletic and higher energy. They’ll need a lot of attention throughout the day, and they may start to act up if they don’t get enough exercise. This makes them a great dog for anyone who lives an active lifestyle and likes to move around a lot

English Labs still require plenty of exercise. However, they’re not quite as athletic, and they generally won’t have as much energy. This makes them a better option for people who want a dog that is a bit more laid back.

Find The Perfect Labrador

Still searching for the right Lab? Look no further. With our puppy finder, we work with some of the best Lab breeders and companies around, helping find you your dream dog.

All of the breeders and companies we work with follow strict breeding and ethical standards. That means none of their Labs come from puppy mills or backyard breeders.

About Uptown Staff

Hey there! We're here to help dog owners keep their puppies happy and healthy throughout the dog's entire life by sourcing and creating the best products, services, and learning materials on the planet.