American vs English Labradors: What is the Key Differences?

Are you considering purchasing a Lab puppy but unsure about the distinctions between American and English Labradors? Both attitude and appearance can differ between Bench and Field laboratories.

Read the full article to know American vs English Labradors Key Differences:

American vs English Labradors History

The breeds of English and American labradors (L and R) are identical but differ in key ways. The original Labrador Retriever was not English, American, or from Labrador, further complicating matters.

The Labrador Retriever was first known as the St. John’s dog when he first arrived in Newfoundland, Canada, in the 19th century.

The St. John’s dog was initially bred as a working dog, primarily to work on the water collecting ducks, fish, and several other tiny water critters. He is primarily known for being the fisherman’s companion and having a strong affinity for the water.

After returning to Great Britain by visiting the English nobility, St. John’s dog generally gained more acceptance. The breed was standardized, improved, and given a new name in England; hence, it is referred to as a Labrador Retriever, not a Newfoundland Retriever.

Since then, they have established themselves as a firm family favorite worldwide. The Canadian fisherman kept breeding him to improve his productivity. The English gentleman was struck by his work ethic, but his good looks especially took them.

The two subspecies of Labrador were developed in this region, which explains why the traditional working Labradors are known as American Labradors and the ideal display Labradors are known as English Labradors.

Since the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Labrador in 1917, he has become one of the most well-known canines worldwide. Out of a whopping 193 breeds, the AKC ranks him the most popular dog in America. For 26 years, The Lab has been the undisputed champion!

American vs English Labradors Key Differences

It’s vital to clarify that in this comparison, the lab types we’re referring to are the “bench” lab and the “field lab.”  People unfamiliar with the breed frequently refer to them as “American or English” dogs. The field and bench Lab breeds are produced worldwide, but most frequently in the US and the UK. There is just one “labrador” breed.

While we can draw generalizations from our experience, it’s crucial to understand that. Because each dog has a unique personality, they can all vary. No two dogs are alike, but depending on how they are bred, there are some generalizations we can make about the different labrador kinds.

Show or conformation Labradors are more commonly referred to as English Labradors. Working Labradors are referred to as American Labradors. These labels are the final product of years of selective breeding based on the function you wanted your Labrador to perform.

Their appearances are different. The English Labrador is often shorter and stockier. Taller and more athletic is the American Labrador. The English have a calmer temperament, while Americans are far more optimistic. In all other respects, they are comparable.

Attributes American Labrador English Labrador
Height 21-25 Inches 21-25 Inches
Weight 55-80 Pounds 55-85 Pounds
Temperament Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly Intelligent, Friendly, Loving
Energy Intense High Energy
Health Average Average
Grooming Average Average

1. Appearance

The look of the English and American Labrador is marginally different. Despite the official kennel clubs ‘ denial, there is a slight difference between the two. Red-coated puppies or silver-coated dogs are often avoided for competition purposes in the lab’s field and bench varieties.

According to the AKC, the breed standard is between 55 and 80 pounds with a height between 21.5 and 24.5 inches. The spectrum has males at the higher and females at the lower.

The only reason the English Labrador is bred is for display. They are therefore bred to as nearly resemble Labrador standards as feasible. Compared to their American counterpart, they are stockier, with shorter legs and deep barrel chests. Unexpectedly, they possess thicker fur and an otter tail than working Americans. English Labradors typically fall between the shorter and taller ends of the height spectrum. Additionally, they fall in the heavier category of weight.

The American Labrador will typically fall within the aforementioned limitations. However, They are not bred for looks; therefore, they may occasionally only partially adhere to the guidelines above. The American has a tendency to appear thin and slightly taller.

Field Labs are at the upper and lower ends of the weight and height spectrums, respectively. He is less bulky and more muscular. His working prowess is aided by his thinner coat, longer neck, muzzle, and longer neck.

2. Temperament

If their goal doesn’t dictate which type of Labrador to purchase for you, their temperament is typically the deciding element. The temperament of the English and American Labrador may differ from one another more than their appearance.

Compared to the American Labrador, the Bench Labrador tends to have a calmer disposition. The Field Lab was bred to be more productive and to have more energy.

Depending on your degree of skill, the Field lab may be braver than the English and appreciate a good challenge, whilst bench labs may be less active and simpler to train. The American is more resilient and thus more difficult to exhaust.

Because of their laid-back personalities, both the Bench and Field labs like a good cuddle, make excellent family pets, and are affectionate with their family. They both have a strong desire to please their owners.

3. Activity Levels

Because the American Labrador is more active, training them may seem more difficult due to their high levels of energy. For 13 years, our managing editor at this website had a field lab and a puppy until she was four. She would exhaust herself by swimming in the pool for hours since she was constantly looking for more exciting tasks.

Whether you want a bench or field lab, it’s vital to consider your dog’s energy level when choosing a breed. Give your dog many opportunities to exercise, whether you choose a bench or field lab.

It would help if you kept in mind that every dog is unique. The labrador breed is the most popular family dog in the United States for a good reason, and both the field and bench labs make lovely family pets.

4. Exercise Comparison

Regardless of whether they are English or American Labradors, Labradors have high energy levels. Both of them are working breeds by nature. Both will require daily activity for at least 60 minutes.

They can also play in the garden or tug-of-war with their owner. Be aware of their apparent ethereality. They will repay the favor by trashing your home and harming your valuables if you don’t take care of their workout demands! The very lively Labrador is a perfect example of a dog that becomes destructive when bored.

Due to his showmanship, the English Labrador may be less demanding than the American Labrador. Bench Labs are likely to require less exercise and be calmer. The American Lab will need to discharge bundles of energy.

He can be trained to work as a Labrador using this practice. If you don’t, you’ll have to spend more time working him out than you would an English Labrador.

Due to the fact that they both have prior experience working in the water, they enjoy retrieving sticks or balls from the water. If you live near a lake or have one in your garden, this is the ideal approach to exercise and cognitively challenge them.

5. Training Differences

Among many other canine vocations, the Labrador is the breed most frequently chosen as an aid dog for blind people and a search and rescue dog. This is a result of their exceptional intelligence and dependability! Labs have the same amount of intelligence as Golden Retrievers.

Make sure you are looking at harnesses built for labs, as they tend to be more secure if you intend to teach them with a harness while they are walking. The American Labrador takes a little longer to train than the English Labrador.

This is because he requires a stricter master. After all, he is more independent, disinterested in following instructions, and would rather be out fishing. They are both quite intelligent dogs, though; with constant training, they will quickly learn commands.

Early socialization is essential to ensuring that kids develop into well-behaved family members and are at ease in a range of settings with both unfamiliar people and animals.

An excellent method to make sure they are comfortable with everything is to expose them to noises early on, such as the hoover in the house or moving cars while they are on the sidewalk. Positive reinforcement training makes this journey much more pleasurable and, of course, quicker for everyone by ensuring that every experience is a positive one.

6. Health Comparison

Since the English and American Labrador are the same breeds, they have similar health issues despite being usually healthy dogs. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, an abnormal formation in the elbow and hip joints that can eventually lead to severe arthritis, is a prevalent condition in Labradors. In the world of dogs, especially in medium to oversized canines, this is a rather prevalent health problem.

Additionally, he is prone to vision problems like cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy, which is the degradation of the retina and can eventually result in vision loss.

Exercise-induced collapse, characterized by an abrupt loss of muscular control after high exercise, can affect some breeds, including the Labrador. The pup may pass away instantly in extreme circumstances, although the regular event might take up to 25 minutes. The signs can range from immobile to dragging their limbs behind them as they run.

Research the breed before getting a puppy, and be on the lookout for any significant signs. Speak to your veterinarian if you need more clarification on anything. The best approach to maintain your dog’s health is to keep all vaccinations current and go to yearly check-ups.

7. Nutrition Comparison

On average, a Labrador retriever will eat three cups of food each day. Depending on how active he is, you might need to feed a Field Labrador a bit more or an English Labrador a little less.

Whether it’s a bench or a field lab, this depends on the dog and the activity level. The Bench Lab and the English Lab should consume dog foods appropriate for Labradors.

Like any dog, feeding your dog high-quality food is an easy way to maintain their health and ensure they receive the optimum nutrition. To prevent consuming extra calories, food should always be age-appropriate.

You’ll want to feed your puppy chow high in glucosamine or chondroitin as they age.

Make sure to watch your Labrador’s snack intake because they are known to be food motivated and borderline obsessed. If you don’t, they could quickly develop into a pig-like puppy. However, always give them in moderation. Treats are ideal for rewarding good behavior or utilized in puzzle-treat games to keep them mentally busy.

8. Grooming Comparison

Like a typical puppy, the Labrador will require a bath approximately every six weeks. Both the English and the American Labrador will experience this.

Make sure to bathe him once every six weeks to avoid harming their natural coat oils, which can lead to various skin problems. You can use dog wipes and dog fragrances from your neighborhood pet store if he gets soiled while you’re out playing.

The double coat of the Labrador serves as its natural defense from the chilly Canadian climate. They shed because their coats function similarly to a wetsuit. Once or twice a week, the Americans and the English will require brushing.

To keep warm during the Winter, their undercoats become thick and dense. Their undercoat sheds when Spring and Summer start. A Labrador living in colder climates will develop a thicker coat naturally. They will both require daily if not twice-daily, brushing during the shedding season to keep their fur under control.

9. Price Differences

The typical price of an English or American Labrador from a reputable breeder is more than $1,200. If you buy a bench lab that you intend to use for exhibits, be prepared to pay more. Show dogs are bred for specific features from their parent history and ancestry. They are more expensive as a result.

You can anticipate spending extra, up to $2,000, for a dog from a winning bloodline, whether working or a bench bloodline. However, in most cases, there isn’t a significant price difference between the bench and field Labradors. The breeding lines make a real difference.

Remember to purchase from a reputable breeder whether you purchase a bench or field lab. This will ensure that the Labrador you receive is healthy and not a product of a puppy mill. Don’t give in to the urge to cut corners on the purchase price. As a result, you will likely incur future veterinary expenses totaling thousands of dollars, if not more.

There is also always the choice of rescuing. For 13 years, our managing editor worked in a field lab. At six months old, she was adopted as a rescue dog. Saving money via rescuing is often possible. However, your dog can have some baggage that needs to be addressed.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Which Lab breed variant is better for duck hunting?

For hunting, American or “field” Labradors are preferable. While bench Labradors make great hunting partners, field Labs was created with this in mind. When in the field, they are leaner and have more vigor.

Which Lab breed variant is easier to train?

Due to their hyperactive behavior as puppies, you may need to invest more time and energy in teaching a field lab, but both breed varieties are equally easy to train and rapidly catch up on new commands.

Are there any differences in their tails?

Their tails don’t differ much from one another. Both their length and width are the same. Bench Labs could have a little thicker tail, but only because their entire build is thicker.


Overall, there are many similarities between the English Lab and the American Lab. They are merely different variations of the same breed. Because one is a show dog and the other is a hunter, there are small differences in their temperament and looks.

Not that the English Labrador would be ineffective in the field. We wouldn’t even say the American Labrador is less attractive. Both puppies make wonderful family pets and real Labradors.

Whether you’re looking at a bench or field lab, remember that they are both of the same breeds. The energy levels in each type of lab are marginally different. Despite having slightly distinct physical characteristics, they are the same dog.

Each dog has a different personality and pup size. Both are excellent choices for a family companion, in general. Regardless of whatever side of the pond your dog is from, you can be sure that you will be hosting a global icon.

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