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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...types of Labs? By this, I don't mean black, yellow and chocolate; what I mean is the different "lines" or "types" or whatever. For instance, I have heard people on this forum refer to "hunting" labs, "working" labs, "show-quality" labs, British-type labs, American-type labs, field lines, bench lines, etc. etc.

Can someone give me an education on the various "lines" of labs, how to tell which "line" or "type" your lab might be, and what this means with respect to a given lab's strengths/weaknesses/potential?

Thanks so much -- I am SO confused!

Steve
 

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I'll try.
English and Bench mean the same thing. The terms refer to a Lab that conforms to the standards set by the AKC on what a Lab should look like. I don't have the specific measurements in front of me, I'm sure Laura/Labby has a link. Generally it describes a Lab that is a medium sized dog that is short and muscular through the chest and hindquarters. A Show-quality Lab is a dog that exhibits close to the ideal of the AKC standards. A Lab may be of an English style but not show quality, because of slight imperfections or some quality a judge wouldn't find up to breed standards. Remember sometimes breeding is more like alchemy than science; the breeder has a good idea what they will get when they put two dogs together but they never know exactly.
American and Field mean the same thing. It describes a Lab that is taller and not as deep chested as his English cousin but he has a longer, leaner muscle mass.
The term "hunting Lab" I've never been comfortable with and am not sure its true. Labradors are a retrieving breed.
As far as the differences in strengths/weaknesses/and potential I think the dog's personal history, how well he has been trained, and his handler are more important factors than whether the dog is a bench or field style. I think people tend to use "type" of Lab they have as a crutch to support a weak argument. I don't know how many times I've heard owners in denial tell me their dog isn't fat, their dog is an English Style Labrador; or their dog is hyper because they are a Field Style Labrador. Give me a break.
Olie
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone;

By "deep-chested," I'm not sure what that means; I would picture that to mean a lab whose front legs may appear a bit shorter, due to a stout, full, "low-hanging" chest. Is this what you mean? In other words, a more "stocky" look? I think to summarize what I would interpret Oonas Dad as saying, "American," or "field" labs are taller, thinner, and less "stocky," (presumably with a somewhat longer "snout,") while "English" or "Bench" or "AKC-standard" labs are shorter and stockier...maybe like a "linebacker" build as opposed to a "wide receiver" build (which might be more like the American labs). Dawson Creek Girl, Rowan definitely looks stockier/stouter than Misty, who looks thinner/less stocky -- more like her mother. Her dad looks a bit more like Rowan.

Felix, I'll check out the link.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh, Oonas Dad --

One other thing...what I mean by potential is that I have heard some references/debates alluded to which might suggest that some hunting "instinct" might have been unintentionally bred out of the English labs, since for so many generations apparently those dogs have done less hunting and more "showing." There seems to be some idea out there, and again I have just heard bits and pieces and occasional allusions to this -- that if you want a "hunting" lab, you might want to get a "field" type lab, whereas if you want to run in the dog shows, you might want an "English" type lab...

I have NO idea if this is true or whatever, but just wanted to have someone describe some of this...

Steve
 

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I have heard people on this forum refer to "hunting" labs, "working" labs, "show-quality" labs, British-type labs, American-type labs, field lines, bench lines, etc. etc.
Hunting/working/field Labs are all the same thing. The British/American thing is a common mistake people make when describing the two types. Implying that only all British Labs are show dogs and all American Labs are field Labs is wrong, as you know. The 'split' exists on both sides of the Atlantic.

A true field Lab is a one with working background (parents, grand parents, great grand parents, etc., are titled). Many people describe pet bred Labradors are "field types" because they are longer and leaner. Pet bred Labs are NOT field bred. As I said, field Labs will come from a working/trial kennel and will have a strong working ancestry.

Pet bred Labs are by far the most common 'type'. Pet breds come from BYB's, puppy mills and one off breedings between two pet dogs. While dogs from such places may well make fantastic pets, people who purchase puppies from such establishments are supporting irresponsible breeding. Of course, this is not the puppy buyers fault. The majority of puppy buyers (first time buyers especially) don't know how to find or locate a responsible breeder. So therefore getting a puppy from a pet store or responding to an add in the local newspaper is the easiest way.

Then you have the show breeders who also work their dogs. Show Labs rarely work to the same level as field trial Labs but this does certainly not mean to say that they can't work. Show Labs should also possess plenty of drive...they are still Labrador RETRIEVERS after all. Some show breeders are guilty of breeding drive out of dogs but equally many field breeders are guilty of breeding 'type' out of field Labs. So its a lose lose situation. Sometimes dogs who are outstanding in the ring AND the field come along but they are few and far between on the grand scale of things.

There seems to be some idea out there, and again I have just heard bits and pieces and occasional allusions to this -- that if you want a "hunting" lab, you might want to get a "field" type lab, whereas if you want to run in the dog shows, you might want an "English" type lab...
A field Lab won't ever win in the ring so that rules that out. I think generally, if you want a Lab for working you should buy a field Lab. Most serious hunters/gundog folk are not going to take the risk of getting a show bred puppy and hoping it will make a great gundog when they can get a puppy from working/titled field trial parents. Equally, serious show folk are not going to take a 100% field bred puppy and hope it grows up to look like a show dog. It won't happen.

My personal preference is a nice moderate field type. I'm probably bias but that is what I feel like my two boys are. They don't look like whippets or cross bred dogs like some field trial Labs do...they are medium sized, kinda stocky but lean and athletic. They have incredible drive and a super work ethic. They are also happy to switch off and have a lazy day. That is a Lab to me. Not a hyperactive or super lazy dog, but an active, fun, canine all rounder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interesting and informative post, Trickster.

What did you mean by "a field lab won't ever win in the ring so that rules that out..."? Is that due to its looks not being "standard," or what? Also, you are from Great Britian, right? If so, do the British "field" types look similar to the American "field" types -- i.e. more slender and longer in the snout, than the "bench" types? Or no?

Thanks,

Steve

P.S. Could you please help me a bit on my geograpy "across the pond?" I shamefully admit that I am not too familiar (but should be, since most of my ancestors came from your area), but can you help me understand Great Britian, England, the United Kingdom, and how Wales, Ireland, and Scotland all fit in there? What is the proper terminology for which part of the area? If I'm not mistaken, England is a country, Wales is a country, and Scotland is a country, each with separate governments, but all are a part of the United Kingdom. Is Ireland? And what is meant by Great Britian? Thanks so much from a geographic moron from America!
 

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What did you mean by "a field lab won't ever win in the ring so that rules that out..."? Is that due to its looks not being "standard," or what?
Pretty much. Field trial dogs are not bred for standard. I think looks are important but if want a proper working dog obviously the temperament/workability factor is priority number one. There is no point in having a dog that looks fantastic but can't perform. And of course, everyones opinion of what looks "fantastic" is will differ.

Also, you are from Great Britian, right? If so, do the British "field" types look similar to the American "field" types -- i.e. more slender and longer in the snout, than the "bench" types? Or no?
You'll have to excuse the so-so quality of this picture, (take with my old Canon!) but these are both my boys in the back yard, taken last week. Both are field bred. Dog on the left (Murph) is field trial bred with titled parents/grandparents, etc., and dog on the right (Joker) is from a gamekeeper. His parents are working gundogs and although they are not titled, his grandparents/greatgrandparents, etc., are. Both are pretty typical examples of a British bred field Lab. Of course, the look of each dog varies from line to line, but as you can see they are not 'extreme'. They look like Labs and not Whippets, if you get what I mean.



but can you help me understand Great Britain, England, the United Kingdom, and how Wales, Ireland, and Scotland all fit in there? What is the proper terminology for which part of the area? If I'm not mistaken, England is a country, Wales is a country, and Scotland is a country, each with separate governments, but all are a part of the United Kingdom. Is Ireland? And what is meant by Great Britain? Thanks so much from a geographic moron from America!
Correct. England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are all part of the United Kingdom and are all separate countries. "Great Britain" is another word for UK, although I'm not so keen on the 'Great' part. ;)
 

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I agree with Trickster in that the majority of dogs on this forum and around this county are PET BRED. Rider is. He has some ancestors that are bench champions and some that are field champions. The fact of the matter is that only the decent reputable breeders are producing standard labs and all of the rest, while amazing dogs, are just pet quality....even though they are bred anyways.
 

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Steve when someone refers to a Lab as "deep chested" they mean broad chested. Your allusion to an English style Lab being similar to a linebacker and a Field style as a wide receiver is perfect.
Olie
 

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English/British/Show all refer to the same show-type Lab. American/Field all refer to the field-type. Generally, show type Labs are shorter legged, stockier, shorter muzzled with more coat. Field type Labs are usually longer legged, leaner, longer muzzled with less coat (some with single coat).

As far as depth and width of chest, I don't think there is a huge difference between the two types. Many field type Labs have deep and wide chests, which they need to carry their large lungs and hearts that allow them to work for long hours.

Both sides, show and field, believe that they breed to the standard. This is really an argument that cannot be won. Both sides believe that over the years, they've been improving the breed. There are extremes on both sides with some show Labs looking too short and too heavy and some field Labs looking too much like racing dogs. I personally starting to appreciate the moderate type more and more. One thing I want to add is that I went to some local field events and was surprised to see some very decent specimens of the field type Lab, which I think should be able to win in the ring except it is not the type that is preferred today.

If you are seriously interested in learning about different types of Labs, I would suggest that you go to some shows (and specialities if near you) where you'll see exclusively show type Labs, some field trials where you'll see exclusively field type Labs, and some hunt test where you'll see a mix of both types. The next best substitute is to try to find photos and movie clips online.
 

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steveandginger said:
Oh, Oonas Dad --

One other thing...what I mean by potential is that I have heard some references/debates alluded to which might suggest that some hunting "instinct" might have been unintentionally bred out of the English labs, since for so many generations apparently those dogs have done less hunting and more "showing." There seems to be some idea out there, and again I have just heard bits and pieces and occasional allusions to this -- that if you want a "hunting" lab, you might want to get a "field" type lab, whereas if you want to run in the dog shows, you might want an "English" type lab...

I have NO idea if this is true or whatever, but just wanted to have someone describe some of this...

Steve
Tell my little Abby (who is bench lines through and through) that she doesn't have a hunting "instinct". She's a bird murderer around here! LOL
 

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I tried to host your picture, trickster, but it said I didn't have access when I clicked the link..

maybe just put it in as an attachment or something?
 

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Every once in a while you do get really good dogs in all venues. My agility trainer has a lab (Kobe) that has a Breed Championship(show dog), a MACH (Master Agility Champion) a UD (Utility Dog title in Obedience) a MH (Master Hunter Title) 3 JAM's (Judges Awards of Merit in hunting) and she plans on starting Tracking with him when he slows down a bit (he is only 9 1/2 years old now). He is one of the most sought after dogs for breeding by both field and show and she is always shipping wigglers across the country. He is also the only dog in the country with both a Ch and a Mach. I love to watch Kobe work he has a very good attitude and always has a grin. I would love to one day get a Kobe Puppy. Here is the link to the their site.
http://www.citrushill.homestead.com/Kobe.html

Kelly and Amber
 
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