The Origin Of The Lab There are many theories as to the origin of the breed known today as the Labrador Retriever. One point on which all historians seem to agree is that the Labrador originally came from Newfoundland. They were known by several names like the St. John's Water Dog, the Little Newfoundlander and the Black Water Dog, before officially being dubbed the Labrador Retriever. Some believe that the Labrador was developed by the fishermen off the coast of Newfoundland and that he was the result of an attempt to scale down the Newfoundland dog. In other words, they wanted to produce a somewhat smaller dog because the Newfoundlands were a bit cumbersome. The dog had to be a good retriever. He also had to have good bone and strong limbs to pull heavy loads. He needed a dense coat thick enough to withstand the cold water, but one that would not ball up with ice. He had to be eager to please, able to swim great distances and happy to live on a diet of fish and whatever else could be scrounged up. The Labrador became that dog.