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Among reasons to choose one of our Labradors as a hunting companion, obedience dog or family pet, temperament is primary.

Indeed, temperament is the fundamental distinguishing quality between British Labradors and American Labradors.

Our British Labradors are easy to train, and their temperaments are the key reason.

Important temperament traits in our Labradors include quietness and steadiness.

By quietness we mean the degree to which a dog barks in its kennel and whether it whines under pressure, for example while sitting alongside its owner while in a waterfowl or dove blind.

By steadiness we mean the ease with which the animal is "steadied'' during training. We do not consider a retriever trained for waterfowl or dove shooting, for example, unless it can remain steady, off-lead while in a blind.

In England, a dog "at peg" during a shoot must sit calmly alongside its master or handler while birds are driven overhead. Not unusually, 100 to 400 or more birds are shot before a single retrieve is made.

During this time, whether the dog is being tested under trial conditions or is merely participating in an estate shoot, no whining, shaking, moving or other telltale signs of nervousness are allowed. Should any of these be exhibited, the handler would be told to remove his dog from the field immediately.

Calmness under these conditions can be encouraged, but not "trained" as such. Rather, this trait is primarily one that is bred for. Because of this, British field-trialers use extreme care in selecting their breeding stock. For them it is critical to develop Labradors that can sit quietly and steadily under extreme pressure.

Seemingly paradoxically, for such animals to win in British field trials, they must, when asked to retrieve, show tremendous energy, enthusiasm and game-finding ability.

Therefore the goal in producing what we believe to be a proper Labrador is to develop what we refer to as "two-speed'' dogs, or animals capable of sitting quietly and calmly under pressure, yet animals that exhibit tremendous enthusiasm, athleticism and game-finding ability when released.

Compare that description to today's typical American field-bred Labrador. Such an animal is often very large, between 80 and 100 pounds, often extremely aggressive and difficult to control in the field, and oftentimes noisy and over-energetic in its kennel or in a vehicle while being transported.

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