The Labrador Retriever can trace its roots to the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The breed dates back to at least the seventeenth century when they were known as the "Lesser Newfoundland." The breed is believed to have descended from the extinct "St. John’s Water Dog" which was a cross between native water dogs and the Newfoundland. Labrador Retrievers were initially trained to retrieve fishing nets from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Fisherman brought them to England in the nineteenth century where they were lauded for their swimming, retrieving and hunting skills. The Earl of Malmesbury is believed to have coined the name Labrador in order to differentiate them from their Newfoundland ancestors. During the 1800’s, a heavy dog tax in Canada and quarantine laws in Britain drastically cut the number of Labradors in the U.K., but a good breeding program replenished the stock. Labrador Retrievers were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917.