Searching for a faithful, lively friend? Labrador Retrievers from both the English and the American breeds are popular for their friendly temperament and their readiness to please. But did you know that these two are very different Labs? This complete guide will cover all the necessary things about English vs American Lab, from their histories and looks to their personalities and hunting suitability.

We'll be looking into their special features and answer the common questions to help you choose the best Labrador Retriever for your life.

English Lab Vs American Lab

photo of an English labrador

English Lab

The English Lab, also known as the British Lab, is famous for its composed and steady nature. These polite friends are easier to train and tend to be less energetic than their American counterparts. Constructed for hunting waterfowl in thick cover, they are the best at retrieving birds with a soft mouth. Their taller build makes them able to move through the brush and water without any difficulty.

photo of an American labrador

American Lab

The American Lab is a strong and enduring retriever breed that is fueled by determination and energy. They have a lot of energy and need many exercises. Their physique, being fit for a long distance and retrieving waterfowl in open water, is the reason they are the perfect duck gunners. American Labs are known for their enthusiasm to please and trainability, thus they are the perfect hunting partners.

Now, let's explore the key differences:

English Vs American Lab Differences

Origins: Both are Labrador Retrievers, but breeders in the US have emphasized different traits over time.


  • English Lab: Stockier build, broader head, shorter legs.
  • American Lab: Leaner build, narrower head, longer legs.

Size & Weight

  • English Lab: Slightly shorter (21.5-22.5 inches) and lighter (60-80 lbs.).
  • American Lab: Taller (21.5-24.5 inches) and heavier (70-100 lbs.).


Both Labradors come in black, yellow, and chocolate fur.


  • English Lab: Calmer, easier to train, less intense.
  • American Lab: Higher energy, more drive, eager to please.

Life Expectancy

Both of them have an average life expectancy of 10-12 years.

English Lab Vs American Lab For Hunting

1. Can They Be Used As Hunting Dogs? 

Absolutely! The English Labs and the American Labs are specifically bred for hunting purposes and have exceptional skills that make them the most valuable companions in the field. Their love of water, natural retrieving instincts, and a strong desire to please their handlers are just a few of the qualities that make them both top contenders in the world of hunting dogs.

2. What Are Their Abilities As Hunting Dogs? 

Both share a love of water, a retrieving instinct, and a strong desire to please. Their keen sense of smell allows them to locate and track prey.

English Labs excels at close-quarter retrieves in dense cover due to their calmer temperament and stockier build. They can be stealthier when flushing birds.

American Labs have high energy and athleticism that make them ideal for covering long distances in open water and retrieving birds over vast areas.

3. What Hunting Activities Are They Suitable For?

Both excel at waterfowl hunting but have additional strengths.

  • English Labs: Well-suited for waterfowl hunting in dense cover and upland bird hunting due to their quieter nature.
  • American Labs: Ideal for waterfowl hunting in open water and retrieving upland birds in open fields due to their higher energy and stamina.

4. How To Train Labrador For Hunting? 

Hunting your Lab entails hard work and patience, but in return, you get a strong working relationship and a dependable hunting buddy. Here's a breakdown of the process:

  1. Foundation

Begin the training at an early age (4-6 months old) with the main goal which is basic obedience. This sets up a solid ground for communications and control in the field. Direct the pupils to commands like "sit", "stay", "heel" and "come".

The idea is to let the passers-by meet other people, animals, and different environments which is a part of socialization. This, in turn, enables them to stay calm and concentrated while hunting.

  1. Building Retrieving Skills

Start with the little exercises that involve the bumpers or dummy birds that are meant to motivate and encourage the kids just a little bit and bring in the talent. Awarding the child for bringing back and giving the object back to hand.

Step by step, the difficulty is increased by changing the distance, direction, and the type of terrain for the throws. Water retrieving in calm, shallow areas is started, then it is advanced to deeper water as confidence increases.

  1. Advanced Training

Simulate hunting scenarios: Dress dummy birds in cover or water, and let your Lab find and catch them using hand signals or whistles.

Add the bird scents to help the bird track. The commercially available bird wing scents or dragging a winged bird across the training area is a way of making the training area more lifelike.

Think about taking professional gundog training classes. Certified trainers are specialists who can give you one-to-one advice and make sure that you learn the right methods for building your skills.

  1. Important Tips
  • Age & Stamina: Modify the training load according to the age and the development of your Lab. Puppies have a shorter attention span, so keep the sessions short and engaging.
  • Positive Reinforcement: At all times, use the positive reinforcement methods which are characterized by praise and rewards for the desired behaviors. Don't use strict correction methods that can stop progress.
  • Gunfire Desensitization: Slowly immerse the sounds of gunfire in a controlled environment. The sound should be linked with positive reinforcement if one desires to avoid fear or anxiety during hunts.

labrador retriever training


1. Are English or American Labs calmer?

English labs are usually regarded as more peaceful than American labs. They are usually more relaxed and need a lower amount of exercise. So, they are a good option for beginners or those in search of a less active buddy.

2. Which Lab has the blockhead?

The English Lab has a very popular and unique "blockhead" appearance which is why it is famous. This is the difference in the entire shape of their head with the shorter muzzle and the leaner head of the American Lab that has a longer muzzle. The English Lab's blockhead is an outcome of their breeding history, which was dominated by the development of a muscular body to move well in dense cover while retrieving prey.

3. Do English Labs bark a lot?

English or American Labs do not have a reputation for being excessive barkers. On the contrary, any dog can bark a lot if not trained or due to anxiety issues. Steady training and socialization will surely lessen the barking of both breeds.

4. How big do English labs get?

English Labs are a bit stiffer than the American Labs. English Male Labs are usually 60-80 lbs. and 21 high. 5-22. The 5 inches average height at the shoulder for the males and the 55-75 lbs. and 21-22 inches average height at the shoulder for the females. Thus, they are a bit taller and lighter than their American counterparts.

5. What are English Labs known for?

English Labs are full of serenity and have a very docile personality, which makes them the perfect family dogs. Besides, they are also very trainable and manage to perform tasks requiring patience and concentration very well such as hunting in dense cover.

6. Are English labs more expensive than American labs?

Although, there is not a great difference in the price between English and American Labs. The cost can be different according to the reputation of the breeder, pedigree, and location. Usually, the price you have to pay for a well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder ranges from $800 to $2000.

7. Are male or female labs easier to train?

No one has defined the sex that is easier to train. Both males and females are of the two ways. Males are generally more energetic and need extra training, while females have more independence. In conclusion, the training of a dog is based on the individual dog's nature and the consistency of the training methods used.


English Labs are better suited for the thick cover, while America Labs are the best at open water. Both need training, the following training is based on positive reinforcement and starting at an early age. Reflect on their temperament, size, and activity level to be able to find that ideal hunting buddy for you.

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