American vs. English Labradors

Typical type of American Labrador

Typical type of English Labrador

Gypsy's Sire Ody

The American Labrador

The American Labrador is for field work and hunting. The subtype earned the title “American Labradors” since they are more common in North America.

When compared to English Labrador, the American Labrador has distinctive physical traits, such as

  • taller with a standard height varying from 21.5 to 24.5 inches
  • slimmer and more athletic build
  • finer bone structure
  • more agile look
  • narrower head
  • longer muzzle
  • longer and thinner neck
  • thinner coat
  • thinner, less ‘otter-like’ tail
  • longer legs

American Labradors or field-type Labradors are bred for better working ability. This indicates the lack of willingness on the part of American Lab breeders to strictly follow the breed standards set by kennel clubs. They focused more on the their needs than set parameters.

The English Labrador

Coop one of Rusty's puppies

These Labradors have been labeled English since they are more common in the United Kingdom. English Labradors are more suitable for show and conformation.

Compared to the American Labrador, the English Labrador has following diverse physical features:

  • shorter body and legs with a standard between 21.5 and 22.5 inches
  • stockier, blockier, and heavier built and bone structure
  • thicker and straighter tail
  • barrel chests
  • wider heads with a more pronounced and defined stop
  • thicker neck
  • thicker fur
  • fuller face
  • shorter muzzle

Since English Labradors were bred for conformation, they look a lot closer to Labrador breed standard set by various kennel clubs.


Aside from the physical variations, the biggest difference between English Labradors and American Labradors in my opinion, is their temperament, energy levels, and activity.

  • Temperament: The English Labrador is generally calmer, sweeter, and more docile than the American Labrador, which is a field dog. American Labs are also smarter and more headstrong.
  • Energy Level: Since American Labradors are working dogs, they have a higher energy level than their English counterparts. However, this does not mean that the latter are lazy. Both types need regular exercises to stay fit and get adequate physical and mental stimulation.
  • Activity: Because it is a gun dog and more suitable for hunting, the American Labrador is more high-strung and in constant need of activities.

Generally, English Labradors are show dog while American Labradors excel in hunting and field work. But there is no restriction when these dogs swap their jobs. The terms “American Labradors” and “English Labs” are not official and absolute. Those terms are a mere guide in determining the type of Lab available. As long as an American Labrador meets the breed standards set by the AKC or any other kennel club, he can join a dog show. Similarly, English Labradors may also work in field trials and hunt without any constraint.