Labrador Retriever Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Labrador Retriever Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The Labrador Retriever is one terrific family dog -- given enough vigorous exercise (preferably including swimming and fetching games) and not just a walk around the block once a day. 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.
Most Labrador Retrievers are very friendly with everyone, though compared to Golden Retrievers, many Labs are just a bit more conservative with their affections.
Also more independent -- though quite biddable and responsive to obedience training, some Labrador Retrievers can 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.
The Labrador Retriever matures slowly, remaining a spirited teenager for several years, which sounds fun . . . but does require patience and training to manage.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large and bouncy, with an enthusiastic attitude toward life
- Has a short easy-care coat
- Has a cheerful, tail-wagging nature
- Thrives on exercise and athletic activities
- Is steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
- Is peaceful with other animals
- Is eager to please and responsive to training
A Labrador Retriever may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
- Potential rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young or not exercised enough
- Mouthiness – carrying and chewing objects, mouthing your hands in play
- Heavy shedding
A Labrador Retriever may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Labrador Retrievers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Labrador Retriever to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of Labrador Retrievers
If I was considering a Labrador Retriever, I would be most concerned about...
- High energy when young. Young Labrador Retrievers (up to two or three years old) romp and jump with vigor. That means things can go flying. If you have toddlers, or if you or anyone who lives with you is infirm, consider adopting an adult Labrador Retriever from a rescue group. Adults have a more settled temperament and you can specifically look for a calm one.
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Labrador Retrievers were developed to be hunting dogs. They are athletic dogs who need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored, which they may express by becoming rambunctious and destructive. Control your Labrador Retriever's bounciness AND keep him mentally stimulated by following the training program in my book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
- Lots of shedding. For such a shorthaired dog, Labrador Retrievers shed much more than you might think. Much more than you think. You'll find hairs all over your clothing and furnishings. Be sure you're okay with that, because it's part of the deal when you own a Lab!
- Finding a healthy one and keeping him healthy. Unfortunately, Labrador Retrievers have become a risky breed for long-term health. Many Labs do live to 12 or 13, but many others are lost at age 7 or 8 years of age, to crippling joint and bone diseases, heart disease, epilepsy, or cancer. Read more about Labrador Retriever Health.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.