The Labrador Retriever breed originated not in Labrador, but on the coast of Newfoundland in the 17th century. They were trained to bring in the fishing nets through the icy waters and, in the early 19th century, were brought to Poole Harbour in Great Britain. They were so attractive and with such appealing personalities that the fishermen had umpteen offers from Englishmen to buy them. The breed with their working abilities was instantly successful as a gundog. The Earl of Malmesbury became fascinated by these dogs, known at that time as Saint John's Dogs, and he started breeding them, calling them Labrador Dogs. Today Labradors are still used as working gundogs as well as being beloved family pets.
The Golden Retriever’s full history is slightly unclear in parts but it seems that once again, it was a member of the British aristocracy that can claim the foundations of this breed. Sir Dudley Marjoribanks (Lord Tweedmouth) took a liking to the yellow colour that was sometimes found in retrievers and so in 1865 he acquired a dog called Nous from Brighton. Nous was the only yellow puppy in a litter of black Curly-Coated Retrievers. He bred this dog to a liver-coloured Tweed Water Spaniel bitch called Belle who was an excellent retrieving dog. This produced four yellow puppies and in the following 20 years of further breeding, he continued trying to breed his idea of the perfect dog by bringing in Red Setters, other Tweed Water Spaniels, other retrievers and possibly even a Bloodhound or two. In 1908 the breed was registered and shown as Golden Flat Coats until 1913 when the listing was changed to Golden or Yellow Retrievers. Today Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular of all breeds, and some are still used as working gundogs.