Why Labs May Be Too Popular for Their Own Good

Judging by the number of responses to Monday's blog on AKC rankings, there are a lot of passionate breed-specific cheerleaders out there. And as a minority breed owner myself, I know how frustrating it can be to have your favorite dog overshadowed by the more popular breeds. But what I'd like to do today is riff on those results a little more, specifically focusing on the breed occupying the top spot - the Labrador retriever.

It's certainly no secret that the Lab is the most popular pet and hunting breed out there. In terms of total numbers of both participating and titled dogs, Labs utterly dominate the retriever hunt test/field trial world. They certainly inhabit more duck blinds than any other breed, and are used as upland flushers (and "pointers") more than any other retriever breed.

Does that mean Labs are an inherently "better" breed? Well, no, but Labs do have a lot going for them that appeals to a broad range of owners. On the pet side, they're friendly, cute and personable. From the hunting/trial/hunt test perspective Labs are very biddable, trainable dogs that learn quickly and take the pressure and repetition very well. They really are the Swiss Army knives of the hunting dog world.

But that massive popularity brings up an interesting question: In terms of its role as a gundog, is the Labrador getting too popular for its own good? Do you think the mind-boggling numbers of Labrador pups being churned out every year without regard to hunting ability is degrading or diluting the breed's original purpose as a gundog?

I sometimes wonder if the days of picking a Lab pup from any 'ol backyard litter and expecting to get a decent hunting dog are over. However, you could make the argument that that was never the case anyway, that you always need to do your homework regardless of breed and popularity. Let's hear from some Lab owners.