Do Labrador Retrievers Make Great Family Dogs?
The Labrador retriever has found a way to fit into many of society’s roles, but his primary duty is to be a best friend.
The Labrador retriever is currently ranked as the most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club. This friendly sporting dog has consistently scored first place in the group’s popularity ranking for 27 years straight. AKC’s breed standard states, “The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non aggressive towards man or animal.
The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog.
A History of the Labrador Retriever
Labradors were bred to serve as a fisherman’s companion, selected to jump into the icy waters, swimming through the powerful currents and inhospitable weather, and pulling out the catch.
While other cold-weather dogs were bred to have long hair, the Lab’s was short. This was to prevent the buildup of ice and frost on the hairs when working in the subzero climate. The coat has an oily texture and the Labrador’s tail is broad, useful as a rudder, and referred to as an “otter tail.” These duties required the dog to have a tractable intelligence and a personality easygoing enough to handle all types of weather conditions and handler’s personalities.
When the British came to the island of Newfoundland, they were so impressed with the friendly and hard-working Labrador retriever that they took some back to England. There, the breed was developed as a gundog.
The versatility of the Labrador solidified his stable temperament through generations of selective breeding.
As the English dogs developed, they evolved into a thicker, sturdier version of the breed than what is typical of American dogs. The American “field Lab” has a leaner appearance.
Labradors maintained the same gentle retriever mouth, with the urge to carry things around perpetually, combined with the ability to carry a raw egg without breaking it. Regardless of color and body type, all Labradors are known for the affable disposition for which the breed is so well loved.
When investigating the breed, common questions include:
“Are Labs friendly?”
“Are Labrador retrievers easy to train?”
The answer is yes, on both counts with the right obedience training and socialization. The Labrador has a quick intelligence and can easily pick up on language, and body language cues. Labradors are good students in household obedience. His biddable and willing disposition has made him a force to be reckoned with in obedience, agility, disc, and other dog sports. Of course, he excels at dock diving also.
The Labrador is one of the primary choices for service work since he excels at retrieving items and is the perfect size to work in harness. He excels as a leader dog for blind people, and his tracking
skills make him ideal for search and
Because of his blend of intelligence, ability to focus, and sweet nature, he is a breed of choice for Paws With a Cause, Assistance Dogs International, and other groups. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and a combination of the two breeds are chosen above all others.
Is he right to be one of the Family?
Depending on the individual, a Labrador retriever can be a very demanding companion in terms of energy. Even the more laid back Labs require a regular dose of aerobic exercise. For an active owner, a Lab is an ideal companion.
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He will make a buddy for hiking or bicycling, he loves to play fetch, and he is the perfect choice for a swimming companion or vacation days.. Nearly all dogs have a serious need for physical activity, but once this is spent, a Lab will tend to be quiet in the home. His versatility makes him an ideal family dog.
Things to Consider Prior to Adoption
Are you kicking around the idea of bringing home a Lab puppy? You are wise to contemplate such a decision very carefully. Here are a few considerations
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How much time do you have?
Dogs are a big commitment, especially puppies. A large, active dog like a Labrador is typically best matched with a large, active lifestyle. Do you have outdoor hobbies, or does your favorite activity involve just curling up with a good book? If the latter is the case, you might consider adopting a senior Lab and giving him a nice, peaceful home in which to live out his last years.
How will a dog fit in with your family?
Do you have a houseful of kids, including a couple in diapers? A puppy may not be your best option. Puppies need a lot of training, and they can tend to be overstimulated (hard to calm down) when surrounded by an environment with lots of activity. However, an adult Labrador might be just the ticket for you. Labs are generally very patient with kids, and they tend to be an excellent choice for a household on the go. Include the dog on your outings, though. There is no sense in adding a dog if he will be left alone all the time.
Do you have enough room for a big retriever?
Having space is a big lifestyle factor for any breed of dog. Labradors are not ideal for apartment-style living. They need a lot of exercise. They are better off in a family-style home, with a fenced yard and lots of playtime and attention. Space for a game of fetch is ideal. Apartment living is a challenge in that regard.
Is a Labrador the right choice?
Having covered all the above factors, and thinking about your future, you can decide if a Labrador is what you need. If you have a family with kids, a Lab is usually an excellent choice.
Whether you live on a farm, a house in the burbs, or a cabin in the woods, a Lab will fit securely into your life. You get extra points if you own a boat or live on a lake! Be prepared to spend 10 to 14 years with your new family member. As to grooming your Lab, they do not need a lot of brushing, compared to other breeds. But they do shed, all year long, and they can be prone to seasonal shedding in spring or fall. You can pick the coat color – yellow, brown, or black – that best matches your furniture!
You will probably never have to worry about your Lab misbehaving in public, with the right dog training and socialization that is. He is typically easy to get along with, and strangers are just friends he hasn’t met.
His disposition is contagious, and he will provide you with many hours of fun and good cheer. He will rapidly work his way into your heart, happily joining in whatever adventures you choose to embark on. He will throw his whole being into his life with you. You will very quickly bear witness to all the reasons why he is cherished as America’s Number One.