Before we begin, to see our English Lab or American Lab puppies visit our puppies for sale page. Before we look at one or the other, let’s talk about both. As of the time of writing this article there is no official recognition by any organization of the dog breed difference between an English Labrador Retriever and an American Labrador Retriever. All Labs are registered as that, Labrador Retriever. The difference is such that the English Labrador Retrievers are more common across the pond in the UK and the American Labrador Retrievers are more common in North America.
Both types of labs are a good choice for a family pet, service dog, working dog, family dog, or hunting dog. There are however some slight differences between the two that I will discuss below.
Our breeding program does not focus on the look of the Lab which is the primary difference between English and American Labrador retrievers. Because we breed to donate for service dogs our focus is on genetic health, increasingly smarter dogs and middle of the pack temperament. Our dogs don’t need to win a dog show, they have to be healthy, easily trainable and have a temperament that is not shy, not crazy but rather right in the middle. We can’t even imagine going to a breeder and choosing a dog primarily based on the look of it without considering health, intelligence and temperament first. See more on our breeding program here.
To make it very simple, the American Labs (of which most silver labs are) are in general a little taller, a little leaner and better suited for agility and hunting trials as they are more athletic. The English Labrador Retrievers are thicker and a little shorter. They are the conformation labs that represent the breed standard or Show dogs. A show lab though can still be a good field dog if trained to retriever properly.
There is no clear line where an American Labrador Retriever stops and an English Labrador Retriever begins. So you can’t completely place a stamp on one or the other, rather one Lab might be more American Lab in certain ways and English Lab in others. Both have double coats and are the favorite breed among dog lovers.
Here you can see one of our English Labrador Retrievers in front of the wood pile and one of our American Labrador Retrievers on the grass. What some call a Field Labrador is a dog who is somewhere in the middle of an American Lab and a British Lab. As breeder, we will at times mix the two styles together or breed within the same style in order to achieve our breeding goals.
When choosing your Labrador Retriever I want you to consider that the important things should be health, intelligence and temperament. It doesn’t make sense to have a dog you love to look at if the vet bills are in the thousands, they are not easily trainable and end up eating your table legs, couch, carpet and walls. The important factors for you to have an enjoyable experience with your Lab for ten to fifteen years are that it listens to you and is healthy.
You will fall in love with who he/she is not how pretty she is. We normally don’t even talk temperament with our Labrador Retrievers anymore because we have been developing the bloodline for over 12 years. There are no ill tempered dogs in our stock. All are great with children, people with disabilities and other animals. That is if they are trained and socialized properly. You can’t take royalty, raise them in a prison and expect miracles.
For the training side, we highly recommend www.PuppyTrainedRight.com to get started. The site is excellent at providing you all the information on bringing your puppy home, socializing it properly, training it in basic commands and housebreaking/crate training it. Their slogan is “Train, Don’t Complain.” We tend to agree.
So as you are conducting your research please take some time to figure out just why you are looking for specific characteristics in the Labrador Retriever you seek. There is no real answer to the question which type of Labrador is better: American or English. But if you are looking to show your dog or compete in agility or hunting trials then you may want to have the best Lab for the job. If your Lab puppy search is for a family pet then there would be no need to have one lab over the other.