According to data from the Kennel Club, the Labrador is currently the UK’s top dog, reclaiming its spot last year after briefly losing it to the French bulldog. In the US, the Labrador has been the most popular breed for nearly 30 years.
Labradors are favourites because they are great all-rounders: they’re good-natured, playful and relatively easy to train. They are also highly intelligent dogs – canine psychology expert Dr Stanley Coren ranks them as one of the 10 brightest breeds – and they have the highest success rates for passing training programmes to become guide dogs.
Labradors also have fewer health complications than many other breeds. They typically live for around 12 years, although a 2018 study at the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College found that chocolate Labs have 10 per cent shorter lifespans, due to greater inbreeding. Probably the most common health issue that Labradors face is obesity. This isn’t just greediness: a 2016 study at Cambridge University reported that 25 per cent of Labradors have a genetic mutation that means they never feel full.