Just like many other purebred dogs, Labrador Retrievers have many specific characteristics that can differ between each dog. These traits are usually heightened by selective breeding, and some of these traits are requirements for a dog to be an exemplary representation of the breed in a dog show. Though many of these traits have no effect on a Labrador Retriever’s temperament or health, they are still seen as desirable traits by some dog breeders.
The term “blockhead” refers to a Labrador Retriever whose head is more square, or block-shaped than most Labrador Retriever. Due to the selective breeding of the English Labrador Retriever (as opposed to the American Labrador Retriever), English Labradors have retained many of the characteristics associated with the original Labrador breed. American Labrador Retrievers have evolved differently, and have not been as selectively bred for the “blockhead” characteristic.
A blockhead Labrador Retriever is able to be used for showing, since this is a desirable breed trait for Labrador Retriever show dogs. Most pictures of Labrador Retrievers show dogs with a “perfect blockhead”, since this is seen as an ideal and correct representation of the Labrador breed. This is becoming a rare characteristic, since many breeders are instead choosing breed-based traits such as temperament, resistance to disease, and being genetically free of defects.
Labrador Retrievers that do not have the “Blockhead” characteristic are usually referred to as “field dogs”. This term refers to a Labrador that is suited for any other task than being a show dog. Field Labradors have a much narrower head, since their muzzle tends to be much thinner and longer than Labradors with a blockhead. Due to their potential as a show dog, Labrador Retrievers who have the blockhead characteristic are usually a lot more expensive to purchase.