It’s safe to say that the Labrador breed has risen to the top of the dog popularity poll.
They’re lovable, cuddly, playful, and loyal – but, like all breeds, they have their faults.
Labradors are great dogs, but they are also incredibly difficult to train. They possess minimal working instinct and lack the hunting instinct of a typical hound.
They also lack the desire to please and will happily trot off on their own, never to return.
Why Some Labradors are Dangerous?
It is a widely-held belief that some dog breeds are aggressive, while others are mellow and family-friendly. This is a huge oversimplification! Just like people, every dog is different.
Every dog can be good, and every dog can be bad, so Labradors can be as dangerous and unpredictable as any other breed.
It is believed that the temperament of a Labrador will be influenced by its genes.
The genes are by no means the be-all and end-all of dog behavior, but they play a significant role. Studies have shown that a dog’s personality traits are heavily linked to those of its parents.
In fact, a lot of the advice given to would-be owners of a dog is to look at the parents before deciding on a dog, due to the influence this can have on the temperament of the puppy.
A Labrador biting problem is more likely if the parents are aggressive.
How Often do Labradors Bite?
Labradors can and do attack, for several different reasons. But how frequently do people sustain Labrador bite injuries?
- Five people were killed in attacks involving Labradors across 2016 and 2017 in the U.S., according to research by dogsbite.org
- The recorded Labrador bite deaths took place in Texas, Ohio, Washington, and California, under a variety of different circumstances.
- Labradors were identified as responsible for the most dog attack personal injury claims in a 2016 report, released by insurance company Animal Friends.
- The Animal Friends researchers worked with U.K. delivery company Royal Mail to identify the Labrador as the breed involved in most mail delivery attacks.
- About 1,000 people across the U.S. require emergency treatment as a result of dog bites. However, there is no way to know how many of these were caused by Labradors.
- Around 9,500 of those dog bite victims have to be hospitalized due to the severity of their injuries. Again, it is not known how many were caused by Labrador bites.
While Labrador bite statistics are limited, it is clear from those figures which are available that Labrador attack incidents happen more than most people think.
Critics of the Animal Friends study say that the information released does not point to Labradors being the most dangerous dogs – only that it is the most-owned breed of dog, naturally leading to a greater volume of incidents.
This is true, but the figures still show that Labradors can and will bite and cause injuries.
Another reason for the high number of Labrador attacks is that many people do not show any caution around these dogs.
People just assume that a Lab will be happy, and do not hesitate to approach or pet the dog – sometimes at their peril.
What is a Labrador’s Bite Force?
Different animals have different bite forces – meaning, the pressure they can generate when they bite down.
When it comes to a dog bite, this pressure is directly related to how much damage they can cause.
Some studies have been done into the bite forces of domestic dogs, but research has focused on the breeds which are thought of as traditionally aggressive.
National Geographic researchers used a bite sleeve that had been fitted with high-tech monitoring equipment to provide bite force readings. They tested it on many animals, including a Rottweiler, a German Shepherd, and an American Pit Bull Terrier.
The Rottweiler produced the top reading at 328 psi. This is still only a rough estimation though, as it is impossible to know whether the dog was exhibiting its full force capabilities.
There is no specific data recorded for Labs, but a Labrador’s bite force is likely to be a little less than the Rottweiler. Labradors also famously have ‘soft mouths’.
They were bred for retrieval – both in work and hunting for sport – without leaving marks in the objects they are retrieving. But do not let this fool you.
A slightly lower bite force and a so-called soft mouth will not stop a Labrador biting when it is aggravated, and it will not stop a Labrador bite causing very painful and potentially deadly wounds.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Labrador Retrievers
- Enthusiastic attitude toward life
- Short easy-care coat
- Cheerful, tail-wagging nature
- Thrives on exercise and athletic activities
- Steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
- Peaceful with other animals
- Very responsive to training
- Needs a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
- High energy and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Sheds a lot
- Risk of serious health problems
Are Labrador Retrievers easy to train?
Yes, training most Labrador Retrievers is easy. They housebreak quickly and are usually willing to please.
But this breed is strong and energetic, especially in adolescents.
Many Labradors between one and three years old are dropped off at animal shelters or rescue groups because of dog behavior problems such as pulling vigorously on the leash and jumping on people.
Focus on teaching loose-leash walking, indoor calmness, and no jumping.
Do Labradors shed a lot?
For such a shorthaired dog, Labrador Retrievers shed more than you might think – on the high side of average (at least).
The bulk of their shedding occurs twice a year, for three weeks in the spring as their thicker winter coat switches to a cooler summer coat, and three weeks in the fall as their summer coat switches over to a winter coat.
But they also shed some all through the year.
Labs need more brushing than some other shorthaired breeds because of the high shedding.
If you don't diligently pull out the dead undercoat during regular grooming sessions, it will all fall out on your floors and furniture.
On the plus side, obviously, Labs need no trimming!
Leaving a dog home alone while you work
In most modern families, all the adults work full-time.
Both up to and after the births of their children.
In the UK, many ordinary family homes are locked up, quiet, and empty, from around eight in the morning, until after four in the afternoon when children start trickling home from school.
In residential areas, whole streets may be eerily empty during the working week.
Yet in many of these streets, behind each front door, lies a dog.
If you listen carefully outside the window, you may hear him snoring quietly, or pacing up and down.
Of course, not all dogs accept their solitude in relative silence.
Some home-alone dogs can be heard howling from several streets away.
But are these noisy dogs, or indeed the quiet ones, suffering?
Is it wrong to get a dog and then leave it alone all day?
How long can you leave a Labrador alone?
The sixty-million-dollar question is of course ‘how long can you leave a Labrador alone’.
No one can tell you what you should do with your Labrador, but it seems reasonable to state that leaving a Labrador entirely alone for a full working day, is not at all ideal.
Unless your dog has access to a secure and dog-proof outdoor enclosure you need to think about his bladder capacity.
In an emergency, some adult dogs will cope with being left for six to eight hours occasionally. This doesn’t mean this is nice for the dog, though.
And dogs that are repeatedly left for this long may develop behavioral issues such as soiling in the house, destroying flooring or furniture, or barking incessantly.
The people I meet who work full-time and have happy dogs all seem to have some kind of arrangement in place to ensure that their dog is never alone for more than four or five hours.
Of course, this won’t be possible for all of us. And if it isn’t possible for you, then it may be that this isn’t the right point in your life for you to get a dog
Dog home alone – make a choice
Whether or not you should get a dog will depend on many factors
But your full-time job need not be an impregnable obstacle if you are willing and able to arrange care for your dog in your absence.
Working parents of young children have to make childcare arrangements. Likewise, we need to take the responsibility of dog ownership seriously.
And fulfill our obligations to make sure he is looked after properly and his needs met.
If you can do this, there is no reason why you should not have a dog.
You may suffer and miss your dog terribly whilst you are at work. But, if he is regularly visited and exercised by a caring person whilst you toil at your office, he should come to no harm.
If you cannot afford daycare or a dog walker and don’t have anyone to help you, then right now might not be the best time for you to bring a Labrador into your life.
Leaving a highly social dog alone day in and day out is asking for trouble. The comments on this website clearly demonstrate this.
It isn’t an easy decision, but it needs to be the right one.
When Labrador Become Destructive
The difference between a good Labrador Retriever owner and a disastrous one depends on whether or not that person leads an active lifestyle.
To put it in simple terms, labs were bred to be extremely active when in the company of hunters, from dawn to dusk.
They used to run, swim, and retrieve foul for up to 16 hours each day, or more.
Labs have extremely high energy levels and just because your Labrador Retriever does not go out hunting, it does not mean that this dog is missing its inner expression to release the same amount of energy.
This is great news for active people who like to swim, jog, and play fetch games as often as possible.
The term ‘disastrous dog owner’ would best describe a person who is raising a Lab but absolutely hates going outside and being active.
There are many people out there who love nothing more than to sit around the house all day watching television while they expect their Lab dogs to lay quietly alongside their feet with no need at all to run and play.
These types of people tend to complain that their pets are ‘overactive’ and causing too much trouble around the house.
However, the truth is that the dogs are perfectly healthy and literally wired and itching to move around. It is the way they were genetically programmed. It is what they were bred to do.
Therefore, the problem lies within the owner, not the Lab.
Think Long & Hard Before Buying A Lab Puppy
Most people who run out and buy a puppy, especially one as active as a Labrador Retriever, tend to overestimate the amount of play-time they can invest in their dog.
Eventually, the excitement and joy of playing with a new puppy subside and when the dog owner gets bored, these little balls of energy are left to entertain themselves.
Adult Labrador dogs need a minimum of one hour each day, both in the morning and again at night, to participate in strenuous, interactive physical activities. This does not mean simply letting your dog out in the yard by itself while you cook dinner. This will not suffice as ‘playtime’.
Labs need a partner to run and fetch with. Left to themselves for physical activity will prove unsuccessful as Labs tend not to exercise by themselves constructively.
When Labs Become Destructive
You can’t just open up the door and tell your Lab to go play. While some dogs are independent enough to run around outside by themselves, Labrador Retrievers need someone to play with and if you are not around then they may become destructive.
Behaviors such as non-stop barking, chewing, and digging up the yard will become commonplace.
Should your Lab start to demonstrate these types of negative activities, the last thing you want to do is become frustrated and deem your pet aggressive.
The truth is that he is just doing what you wanted him to do: entertain himself.
Unless you are there to direct your Lab and be the ‘leader’ while taking fun trips outside in the form of a hike, a jog, or retrieving games in the water, you must take responsibility for his destructive behavior and know that it is your fault and your responsibility to take charge of your Lab’s physical needs.
My experience with the Labrador
Nearly every obedience class I've ever taught has included at least one Lab. That's not because the breed has a lot of behavior problems – they don't – but simply because it's the most popular breed in the United States.
And rightfully so.
The Labrador Retriever is one terrific family dog – that is, when given enough vigorous exercise (including daily fetching games, and swimming if possible).
You can't just leave this breed in the backyard every day with one walk around the block.
Too much confinement and not enough exercise can lead to rambunctiousness and destructive chewing.
One of the best dogs for children of all ages, Labrador Retrievers are kindly, good-natured, and take most things in stride.
Also more independent – though quite biddable and responsive to obedience training, some Labs have a noticeable stubborn streak. Some have necks like bulls and barely notice tugs on the leash.
You must control this breed's tendency to chew on objects and to mouth, your hands – provide a box filled with toys that he can carry around in his mouth.