Should I Get a Labrador Retriever?

One of the most popular dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever is a friendly and intelligent family dog. Read all about the Labrador Retriever to decide if this dog breed is right for your family.

By Margaret A. Gilbert | August 27, 2012

The answer to the question "Why the Labrador Retriever?” too often seems to be "Why not!” Since there are literally millions of happy Labrador dog breed lovers around the world, why shouldn’t everyone love a Lab? However, even with this dog breed’s good looks, trainability, loyalty and intelligence, the Labrador Retriever is not the dog for everyone.

This dog breed will need lots of exercise. Labradors love to romp and play, preferably with their trusted owners close by. Since Labs are designed for chasing birds in the swamp or swimming toward fallen ducks, these dogs most definitely have energy to spare. Since most pet Labrador Retriever owners do not have the time or inclination to take their dogs out on weekend duck hunts, Labradors will need other outlets for their abundant energy.

The Lab is definitely not a lap dog. Sure he’ll want to "lap” and kiss you constantly, but this dog breed is too big to sit on your lap while you’re reading or spending time in front of the television. Labradors like to be close to you, that’s for sure, but 60 pounds (or more) of true love is too much for anyone’s lap!

Your Labrador Retriever will need a large back yard or a sizeable piece of property on which to exercise, and a fence is imperative. As a gundog, the Labrador does not have a strong sense of territory, and this dog will not guard his property the way a Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher will. This is not to say that this dog breed is not protective—the Lab is most protective of his family and home. However, if not fenced in your Labrador will more likely tear off in pursuit of a flapping pigeon than stay close by and stand watch.

The Labrador Retriever, for all his natural good looks and charm, does not fancy an owner that doesn’t want to get up close to him and spend time with him indoors and out. Like most of the sporting dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever likes to be near his family inside the home. While it is true that the Labrador’s ancestors were "kennel dogs,” today’s Labrador is strongly inclined to be indoors with his loved ones. To keep a Labrador Retriever outdoors exclusively will be torture to the poor dog, and such owners should consider a different dog breed or no dog at all. While the Lab is renowned for its adaptability with any lifestyle, this dog breed is best when kept indoors and given time to spend outdoors. A happy Labrador is the true Labrador, and close to you is where your Labrador will want to be.

The Labrador Retriever sheds. Even though this dog breed has a short, dense coat, he does not cast coat any less than any other dog breed. Furthermore, the Labrador is not, as a rule, a gentle or docile dog—he’s a "doggy” dog, and he likes to play inside and out. Lab owners will have to enforce the house rules immediately with the puppy, or else he may think he can roughhouse inside the house and out. Labrador Retrievers can be raucous, rambunctious and rowdy.

A Labrador Retriever requires a dedicated owner, whether the pursuit is basic obedience (such as sit, stay, come, etc., the commands necessary for a well-trained pet dog) or more lofty pursuits like obedience trials, field trials, agility trials, working trials, etc. Many Labrador Retrievers are so intelligent and have such a strong desire to please that they become "self-trained.” Labradors are excellent problem-solvers and quickly decide what pleases their owners and what does not!

The Lab owner controls what kind of dog his Labrador becomes. The owner provides the dog with training, guidance, encouragement and outlets for his energy and industry. The Labrador Retriever who doesn’t have proper guidance can develop behavioral problems, including destructive habits, aggression and fear-biting. The owner molds his Labrador into the dog with whom he wants to live. Investing time, money and love into a dog can pay off a thousandfold; skimping on the time and education that a dog as active and bright as a Labrador Retriever requires can be a dog owner’s worst mistake.

If you are certain that a Labrador Retriever is the dog with whom you want to share your life, this wonderful dog breed can become your world. Whether it’s a pet companion dog, show dog or field and working dog you require, the Labrador Retriever can become all you want in a faithful canine friend.


Excerpt from Labrador Retriever, part of the Comprehensive Owner’s Guide series, with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Labrador Retriever here.


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Ellie   Siitingbourne UK, International

7/8/2014 12:30:17 AM

that was would NOt change a thing about him but I can't edit lol

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Ellie   Sittingbourne UK, International

7/8/2014 12:26:20 AM

My Labrador Max barks,...a lot... He was a rescue because he was so gobby and people could not manage him. He shouts at me to look at this look at that, give me this but most of all FEED ME. He is a totally in your face and ears, under your feet bundle of energy and noise and this still at age 10!!. I would change a thing about him, love his fur off:)

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Melian and Tiny   Etna, CA

4/8/2013 11:53:19 PM

Labs are such good dogs. I think anyone would enjoy one.

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Robin   SEMINOLE, Florida

4/4/2013 2:55:34 PM

I've had 2 choc.labs, the best dogs EVER! But...we did go to pupppy class and Dog obedience classes faithfully and for the first yr. I kept wondering where all my slippers, socks, etc. were. It does take time and patience to raise a great dog. Now my 6 yr. old lab still loves to get in his crate (door always open) and loves all my grandkids and has never shown aggression. He is my shadow. We don't have a big yard, so have found a laser will get him running back and forth forever!! Just a 15 min. walk a couple times every day is enough for him now.

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