What Are The Different Types of Labrador Retrievers?

different types of labrador retrievers

Last Updated on August 26, 2021

Have you ever noticed that some Labrador Retrievers look completely different? Some of them are big, blocky, while others are thin and more hyper than a sugared-up toddler. If you’re looking to add a Lab to your home, you may need to see the differences between the two “strains”. What are the different types of Labrador Retrievers?

The truth is, that there are two separate breed variants of the Labrador Retriever. And while they share enough similarities to be classified as the same breed, many Lab experts will tell you that these are two completely different dogs.

Different Types Of Labrador Retrievers:

  • American Labrador Retriever
  • English Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever Breed Standard

Labradors are truly water dogs. They absolutely love swimming, and they are also built for it. After all, they were bred to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl.

Labrador Retrievers have webbed paws for powerful swimming and a thick “otter tail” that acts as a rudder in the water.  Because they were originally bred to stand the cold waters of the Atlantic, they also have a waterproof double coat that can protect them from harsh weather and temperatures from sub-artic to humid.

Similar to other dog breeds, males are often larger than female Labradors. Labradors stand 21.5-24.5 inches tall and weigh from 50-80 pounds.

The Differences Between American And English Labradors:

The American Labrador Retriever is the original breed variant, coming from the St John’s Dog from the Atlantic Coast. Upon coming west, British sailors loved the Labrador so much that they brought them back to be bred and selected to be thicker, broader, and better for companionship.

The Kennel Clubs don’t technically recognize the different genetics in the two variants. But, there are a couple of noticeable differences that can help you determine which is the right Labrador for you.

The American Labrador Retriever:

different types of labrador retrievers - american

Otherwise known as the field breed, the American Labrador has been falsely named. In fact, it’s Canadian. The Labrador Retriever originated on the Canadian east coast. Newfoundland and Labrador, to be precise. The American Labrador was bred for military and hunting work.


The American Labrador is slenderly built, much thinner than the bench breed. They also have longer legs, bred for running and swimming with a better stride than the English Labrador. 

The American Labrador also has a thinner coat, but it’s still heavy and waterproof to suit ocean waters and cold winters. The field breed coat sheds less, but much more often than the bench breed.


The field Lab has an insane amount of energy when compared to their English counterparts. After all, these dogs were bred for high-energy jobs like hunting, fishing, and military usage.

They have to have their wits about them at all times, which is usually the hardest part of training a lab. When it comes to training, the field lab may prove to be more difficult to train. It may be hard for them to focus at first, especially during the first three or four years with all that energy. 

The English Labrador:

different types of labrador retrievers - english

Also called the bench breed, the English Labrador was selectively bred from the original American Labrador when they were brought back to England and specially bred to be bigger and better for a show-ring lifestyle.

These dogs were originally bred exclusively for showing and companionship purposes. However, bench Labs can still make excellent hunting dogs.


The English Labrador is on the higher end of the weight scale, being a much more heavy-set dog than the American. The bench breed is built with a thick neck and “blocky body”, which is much wider than the field breed. They also have thicker and shorter legs.

The bench breed’s paws are wider and their coat is heavier, which is still waterproof like the field breed. Because their coat is heavier, these dogs have a  heavy shedding season that will need daily maintenance during the season.


Compared to other dog breeds, the British Labrador Retriever is a high-energy dog, but they tend to be calmer than the American Lab. However, this makes them optimal as a family pet.

Because they have a quieter disposition, bench Labs are great for use as service dogs for the blind, or in a working situation that doesn’t require too much physical activity.

Different Labrador Coat Colors:

Both the American and English Labrador produce up to five colors. Two of these colors, however, are highly controversial among experts. 

  • Golden Lab: Can be a darker yellow or almost white
  • Black Lab: Flaxen fur with lots of shine when healthy and groomed properly
  • Chocolate Lab: Rich chocolatey brown coat.
  • Fox Red or Ruby Lab: red fur, comes from the golden lab just a deeper coat than the golden lab.
  • Silver Labrador: gorgeous silver-grey. There is a lot of controversy between experts and breeders over whether this is a genetic mutation or a crossbreed with a Weimaraner.
english and american lab

Conclusion – Different Types of Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers are one of the best dogs you could ever have. But, to find the perfect match, you need to research into the different types of Lab.

There are two different types of Lab: the smaller, spunky American Lab, and the shapely yet trusty British Lab. While they are different, they’re too close in genetics for the kennel clubs to recognize separately. 

So, if your heart is set on a Lab, choose wisely according to their needs and the time and effort you can put in. Lastly, remember that whatever the breed standards say, every dog is different. Much of what you get in return from your beloved dog depends on the love and care you put into them.

different types of labrador retrievers

3 thoughts on “What Are The Different Types of Labrador Retrievers?”

  1. Pingback: Are Labs Hyper Dogs? | Caring For A Dog

  2. Pingback: Are Labrador Retrievers Hypoallergenic? - Caring For A Dog

  3. We have an Black English Lab. She has the shiniest coat I have ever seen. What we face at the vet is that she is too big. She has always been very hefty from 6 weeks when we met her. Our vet is constantly putting her on a diet and perhaps she might be slightly too heavy, I would blame it on the fact that we are up in age ourselves and have less energy than her! She does walk with my husband twice a day 1 1/2 to 2 miles each time however. She is at 100-110#’s. For sure she is a lover of food. We are counting the calories where she is limited to 1,200 in food and another 100 in treats a day! Can you give me an idea of where in weight she should be? She looks exactly like the picture above.

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