The Difference Between Labrador And Labrador Retriever

If you’re a dog enthusiast, chances are you’ve come across the terms Labrador and Labrador Retriever being used interchangeably. Some even choose to use Lab too. 

Is there a real difference between Labrador and Labrador Retriever?

Do they refer to the Labrador Retriever as a dog breed, or do they mean different things?

Even more, what does it mean for a dog to be a retriever?

The answers are all simple, and this short article will provide you with the needed information.

What Is The Difference Between Labrador And Labrador Retriever?

In a nutshell, there is no difference between Labrador and Labrador Retriever.

They both refer to the same breed, and “Labrador” is a shortened version—the same as “Lab”. This just makes it easy when speaking or writing. 

Chocolate Labrador Retriever Standing on Grass Looking Up
CaptureLight / Getty Images

The breed’s official name is “Labrador Retriever”, and the third Earl of Malmesbury was credited with giving it this name in the 19th century. 

Before it got this name, the Labrador Retriever’s ancestors were called the St John’s Dog or Lesser Newfoundland.

It originated in Newfoundland, Canada before moving to England. The St John’s Dog is now extinct, along with the old name.

Dive Deeper:
20 Fun Facts About Labrador Retrievers You’ll Love

What Do Labrador And Retriever Mean?

Labrador was coined from a region of the same name that existed in the Newfoundland colony, which is currently a province in Canada.

There was already a breed (still existing) known as the Newfoundland land. That was probably why Labrador was picked instead.

A retriever is a type of gun dog among others. Gun dogs were employed as hunters’ assistants.

They are divided into three major groups: Pointers, retrievers, and flushing spaniels.

The retriever’s job was to recover game for the hunter, both on land and sea. These dogs usually have a soft mouth so they won’t damage the prey. 

A good number of dogs have retrieving skills (like the Poodle and the Barbet) but there are strictly only six types of retrievers.

Besides the Labrador Retriever, other retriever types are:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Other Interesting Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Information

Yellow Labrador Retriever in the Woods
Ludmiła Sierakowska / Getty Images

Besides the meaning of its name, origin, and lineage, there are some other cool facts about this breed.

For starters, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States since 1991, making it 31 years it remained at the top.

It took over from the Cocker Spaniel and has reigned for long. Its only competitor now is the French Bulldog, but nothing has changed yet.

The winning temperament of the Labrador Retriever is the main reason for this popularity.

This breed is outgoing, friendly, agreeable, willing to please, intelligent, and also good with kids. It makes one of the finest family dogs, even for first-timers. 

Also, there are only 3 standard Labrador Retriever colors: Black, yellow, and chocolate.

In the past, Black Labradors were more favored, but that has started to change.

Some breeders sell Silver Labs, White Labs, and even Fox Red Labradors, but all of these are considered shades of the standard colors and are controversial.

Besides color classification, there are also two types of Labrador Retrievers — the English Labrador (bred for shows) and American Labrador (for the field).

The English Labrador is bulkier than its American counterpart.


Do not be confused when people use Labrador or Lab when talking about a Labrador Retriever.

All these refer to the same breed, America’s top dog.

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Labrador Retriever Vs Golden Retriever Differences & Facts

Reference & Notes

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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