According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard on Labrador Retrievers, “The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non-aggressive towards man or animal. The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog.”

The AKC registered its first dog of the breed in 1917, but it wasn’t until 1991 that Labs topped AKC. The Labrador has reigned as America’s favorite dog breed ever since.

1. The Labrador Retriever is actually from Newfoundland. English nobles visiting Canada in the 1800s saw these traditional waterdogs of Newfoundland working as a duck retriever and fisherman’s mate. These sporting earls and lords returned to England with fine specimens of “Labrador dogs” but no one knows exactly why these dogs of Newfoundland became associated with Labrador (except “Lab” sounds a lot better than “Newf” — but we’re just guessing).

2. Labs are built for cold weather. Their short, dense weather-resistant coat was perfect for the work they did during long Canadian winters. In its ancestral homeland, a Lab working with a fishing boat would be tasked with retrieving the fish that came off the trawl in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

3. They’ve got webbed toes. In addition to having the perfect coat for cold water, they’re great swimmers. The webbing can also act as a snowshoe in colder climates, as it keeps snow from collecting between their toes.

4. This tail ain’t just for wagging. The Labs’ tapering tail is called an “otter tail” and serves as a powerful rudder, constantly moving back and forth as the dog swims and aids the dog in turning.

5. Peter of Faskally and Flapper are the two most influential Labs with pedigrees that go back as far as 1878.

6. In England, no Labrador can become a show champion unless it also has a working certificate.

7. The original Labrador breed gradually died out in Newfoundland as a result of government intervention. A heavy dog tax along with English quarantine law effectively ended the importation fot he dogs in England.

8. For a time, many Labs were interbred with other types of retrievers. Fortunately, Labrador characteristics predominated and anti-interbreeding laws were finally adopted by fanciers.

9. It is possible to have puppies in every color — black, yellow and chocolate — all in the same litter. Now that’s diversity!

10. In addition to hunting and fishing Labradors have working roles in search and rescue, therapy, hunting, assisting the disabled and tracking.

11. A Lab named Endal was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal (an animal bravery award) in 2002. When his disabled owner fell unconscious, Endal pulled him into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket, retrieved his mobile phone and went to get help once his owner regained consciousness.

12. As highly trained trackers Labs have a sense of smell so keen they can smell sausages 30 years before sausages were invented. Ok, maybe we’re kidding about this last part, but it’s just one of the reasons we love Labs so much we’ve created a Limited Time Design to revel in their awesomeness.