The Labrador Retriever has consistently been dubbed top dog in annual lists of America’s favorite breed. In fact, Labs are so popular that they even have their own pet holiday, which takes place on January 8! In celebration of National Labrador Retriever Day, we’ve fetched a few fun bits of trivia about our tail-wagging chums!
Labrador Retriever Trivia
AKC recognizes three coat colors: black, chocolate and yellow. Black is the most common shade for a Lab’s fur, while chocolate is the most rare.
Lab lovers can visit a likeness of their favorite dog (as well as that of a Newfoundland) at Harbourside Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian province where both breeds originated..
Although the average life span of a Labrador Retriever ranges from 10 – 12 years, a Labrador Retriever named Bella, who was adopted from the RSPCA, celebrated 29 birthdays– that’s 203 in dog years!
King Buck, a National Champion Retriever, was the first Labrador Retriever to appear on a US postage stamp, back in 1959.
Labs in The Limelight
Here are just a few of the canine characters who have been portrayed by Labrador Retrievers on the big and/or small screen:
Dickens — “What the Dickens?” If you are a fan of the British crime drama Grantchester you’ll recognize the frequent exclamation of vicarage housekeeper Mrs. Maguire that served as the inspiration for the name of the black Labrador Retriever in the popular series. Dickens answers to the name off-screen as well as on.
Isis — Although in recent years the name has sadly become synonymous with terrorism, Anglophiles will remember Isis as the faithful canine companion of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, in the popular British series Downton Abbey. Isis was named after the Egyptian goddess way of tribute to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered King Tut’s tomb. In real life the yellow Labrador retriever who portrayed Isis answered to the name “Abbie.”
Pharaoh — The pup whose wagging tail signaled the start of each episode of Downton Abbey was named after an ancient Egyptian ruler. In real life, the yellow Labrador Retriever, who starred in the first season of the long-running drama, answered to the name “Roly.”
Tiaa – As Downton Abbey came to a close the Earl of Grantham continued his tradition of choosing a name associated with ancient Egypt for his canine companions when he welcomed another furry family member into the Crawley clan. Named after the Queen consort of Pharaoh Amenhotep II, the pup who portrayed Tiaa was named Pringle.
Vincent — Oceanic Flight 815’s four-legged survivor in the hit series Lost was portrayed by two Yellow Labrador Retrievers– Madison and Pono– over the course of the show’s six-year run.
Zuma — Animal-loving little ones cheer on the heroic Chocolate Labrador Retriever rescue dog in the cartoon series PAW Patrol.
Reckless — For the first eight seasons of The Waltons, Reckless the Labrador Retriever was the four-legged friend of John-Boy, Jason, Ben, Jim-Bob, Mary-Ellen, Erin and Elizabeth.
Chum — A Labrador Retriever starred alongside Adam Sandler in the romantic dramedy Spanglish.
Luath — A dog called Rink portrayed the lovable Labrador Retriever Luath in the original 1963 Disney adaptation of The Incredible Journey.
Yellow — A Yellow Labrador Retriever named Dakotah took on the role of a stray dog who saves the boy who befriends him in the 1996 adventure film Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog.
Famous Pet Parents with Labrador Retrievers
To date only one Labrador Retriever, Bill Clinton’s canine companion Buddy, has had the opportunity to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only three months old when he arrived at The White House in December 1997, Buddy and Socks (a tuxedo cat with whom he did not get along) fascinated young animal lovers, several of whose penned letters to the First Fido and First Feline would be compiled into Hillary Clinton’s book Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters To The First Pets. Although Buddy crossed Rainbow Bridge in 2002, the former President’s love for Labs continued when he welcomed Seamus, another chocolate Lab, into the Clinton family.
Nemo, a Lab/Griffon mix named after the main character in the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, turned the page to a new chapter in his life thanks to the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. Becoming First Fido in 2017, Nemo found his famous father while in the care of the rescue La Societe Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) Refuge d’Hermeray. Wanting to help his fellow four-legged friends in need, in 2020 Nemo took part in a video to promote pet adoption and raise awareness of a bill which would earmark funds for animal shelters and give harsher punishment to those who abuse animals.
Royal families have always known that dogs rule! Over the years several regal Labrador Retrievers have called palaces and castles home, including:
Sabre, Sherry, Snare and Sydney: Queen Elizabeth loves Labs just as she has loved her Corgis!
Harvey: A four-legged friend of Prince Charles in the early 80s.
Widgeon: Answering to a name associated with freshwater ducks, the black Labrador Retriever was a young Prince William’s barking buddy.
Pula: A much loved member of the family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Lab Pula (which means “rain” in Setswana) joined The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a photo for their 2020 Christmas card.
Pepper & Storm: Like her grandmother Queen Elizabeth, royal/equestrian Zara Tindall loves Labs, and welcomed two black Labs named Pepper and Storm into her heart and home.