Labradors have a number of qualities that make them excellent watchdogs since they have a very strong protective instinct and are very loyal to their family.
However, they are not usually aggressive, and so will not attack a burglar outright. Instead, they will attempt to intimidate the intruder into leaving by growling, lunging, and barking. This will make the burglar nervous in most cases and encourage him or her to move along as quickly as possible.
Are Labradors Good Guard Dogs?
What Is A Guard Dog?
A guard dog is a dog that is trained and used to guard property or livestock.
A sheepdog would fall into this category as well as your usual home guard dog.
A guard dog might alert like a watchdog, but they are also expected to engage if necessary.
Typically, a guard dog will be trained to display and alert before moving in to bite the threat.
Their aggression display is their first attempt at dealing with the situation while engaging with the danger is usually the last option.
Size and strength are critical to a guard dog.
While watchdogs can be smaller, guard dogs are usually larger breeds.
Guard dogs and watchdogs are commonly employed together.
There are many breeds of dogs that are designed to work together to keep an area safe and guarded, such as the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Mastiff or the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Important Characteristics Of A Guard Dog
Of course, some traits are more important than others.
The most important attributes of a guard dog are high aggressiveness, high attentiveness, trustworthiness, high activity level, fast mobility, and intelligence.
For example, Chihuahuas tend to be aggressive towards strangers, which could make them the perfect guard dog… in their minds at least.
However, a Chihuahua is obviously too small to be a guard dog and will be unable to stop any threat that enters the home.
Can A Labrador Be A Guard Dog?
Any dog can, theoretically, become a guard dog with the proper amount of training.
However, this does not necessarily mean that any dog can become a good guard dog.
Both physical and mental traits play a crucial role in whether or not a dog will be a decent guard dog or not.
A guard dog must be large and threatening.
Because guard dogs are supposed to engage with a threat, they must be physically able to do so.
A tiny dog won’t be an excellent guard dog no matter their training.
At the same time, a guard dog must have at least some level of aggression towards strangers and threats.
A dog that is always friendly will probably never engage with danger properly.
Dogs must have the correct traits in both of these areas to become good guard dogs.
Why Are Labradors Not Good Guard Dogs?
Labs are usually not used as guard dogs for multiple reasons.
Perhaps most importantly, Labradors have a very low level of aggression.
Many good guard dog breeds were bred to guard property or livestock. The Lab was not, however.
Instead, the Lab was bred to be flushing and retrieving dog.
In other words, their job was to scare the prey out of hiding and then retrieve it.
Because of their job, Labs were bred to flush prey instead of hunting it.
This has led them to be very unaggressive.
After all, it takes a very laid-back dog to not hunt flying waterfowl.
On top of this, Labs were also designed to bring the prey back and give it to their owners.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes even getting your pooch to let go of a shoe is difficult.
While Labradors are large, strong, tenacious, and courageous they typically don’t make good guard dogs. Labradors are loving and affectionate dogs. They are also very gentle dogs. Most of them are outgoing and friendly. They love to run around with people and interact with them.
A Labrador is even-tempered, which means he isn’t provoked easily to aggressive behavior. A good guard dog needs to be ready to be aggressive. Labradors are not that way by nature.
A Labrador may bark loudly when they see someone at the door but once that person is inside they are all licks and cuddles. Labs usually very friendly with almost every person they meet and they don’t consider anyone a stranger for long, especially if they happen to have a treat with them.
Are Labradors Good Watch Dog?
What Is A Watch Dog?
A watchdog is usually trained to alert their owner if something is not right or if a threat presents itself.
This usually takes the form of barking, but some watchdogs are trained to alert in other ways.
However, a watchdog is not supposed to engage with the threat.
They are not there to take care of the problem themselves but to alert their owner to the problem.
Typically, a watchdog will alert that there is a problem and then retreat until backup shows up.
Detection dogs would fall into this category somewhat.
These dogs can come in all shapes and sizes.
Unlike guard dogs, watchdogs do not have to be big or intimidating.
Important Characteristics Of A Watch Dog
The key characteristic of a watch or protection dog is that it operates under the direction of one or more handlers rather than simply acting off of its own volition. This is what separates them from guard dogs, who protect and defend a site rather than people while using its own initiative.
A good protection dog must possess a number of qualities and traits which include (but are not limited to) friendliness, approachability, calmness, intelligence, obedience, and of course a protective edge as and when required. For a protection dog to be truly effective, it must combine these traits and qualities.
While they may initially seem like unusual additions to this list, we cannot stress the importance of friendliness and approachability for any effective protection dog. Before it is used for security purposes, a good family protection dog can be enjoyed for being and live as a dog.
This is particularly important if you have children, as your dog will also likely act as a companion for them as they are growing up. To this end, a protection dog that can successfully assimilate into a family environment will – with the right people it has been socialised with – be friendly, playful, and enjoy their company.
Similarly, it should be approachable enough to allow normal interactions without demonstrating undue aggression or protectiveness. To aid the development of these traits, we ensure that all of our dogs are fully socialised around adults and children, thus helping them to make smooth transitions into family environments.
Additionally, a good protection dog should be calm, especially when it will live in a normal home setting. While certain breeds such as the Malinois have extremely high work drives that makes them excellent for military and police protection work, this renders them unsuitable for most types of home protection. They will simply be too hard for the average owner to adequately care for.
Instead, naturally calmer and more relaxed breeds are often more appropriate. We have found German Shepherd Dogs, Giant Schnauzers, Dobermann Pinschers, and the Cane Corso to be most adaptable to home environments, but occasionally find individual dogs from other breeds with an appropriate degree of calmness.
Also of paramount importance are intelligence and obedience. Intelligence is necessary to learn commands and how to respond in certain scenarios (i.e. the difference between an approaching postman and intruding burglar), while obedience means that your dog will follow your commands.
If a dog is disobedient, then you will struggle to adequately control it, which is always an undesirable situation to be, especially with dogs as powerful as those that we sell.
To ensure that you will not find yourself in this situation, all of our dogs undergo an extensive course of obedience training, and we are always available to help clients develop their own post-purchase continuation training programmes.
Obedience training is also an excellent way of developing a strong handler-dog bond, and we recommend that this is conducted on a very regular (ideally daily) basis.
An effective protection dog must also have strong protective instincts so that when necessary, it will protect you and your family. However, this should not be confused with being aggressive. A protective dog can be controlled and commanded to hold, bite, or release at the appropriate time.
An aggressive or overly driven dog will not respond to such commands, and as such should be avoided.
The simple act of releasing an apprehended suspect on command is one of the most important protective skills we teach all of dogs before selling them, so that while they will protect with or without command, they can still be fully controlled at all times.
Can A Labrador Be A Watch Dog?
As you can see, the answer to “are Labs good guard dogs” is no.
Your average lab is not going to make a good guard dog.
However, Labs can make good watchdogs if trained correctly.
Labs are commonly utilized to be watchdogs in some situations.
For example, Labs are used as drug detection dogs.
Why are Labradors Great Watch Dogs?
Labradors are very alert and attentive. They are also quite intelligent. They are aware if something is amiss.
They notice every person or animal that comes anywhere near your house. A Labrador will usually sound the alarm if there is a stranger (or even a leaf blowing across your lawn!).
Labradors tend to look at their owners as the pack leader. They will let the leader know there is a threat or issue to be taken care of. Then they are happy to step back and let the pack leader take care of it.
Labradors are loyal to their families and want to keep them safe. This is one of the reasons they make great watchdogs. They want to protect you from harm so they will let you know if they perceive any threat.
Sometimes this can get a little annoying, as they will bark at anything and everything they see as a threat- a person, a car, the mailman, a fly. However, with some guidance and training, you can help them learn when it is acceptable to bark and when it isn’t.
Is Labrador Good For Security? - Summary
Protective behavior in dogs is largely instinctive, and not easily taught.
Labrador Retrievers are not one of the cluster of closely related dog breeds associated with strong protective instincts.
However, they are loving and loyal dogs, and given their size, it’s likely that you’ll feel safe just for having one nearby anyway!