Written by FOTP Team
Labradors have a reputation for being loyal companions, and incredible family dogs. In this guide, we’re exploring 10 of the reasons Labradors make the best family dogs. Some reasons may be familiar to you, but others may surprise you to learn.
At your local dog-walking spot, you are always likely to run into a Labrador. They have been top of the AKC registry list for over 25 years! Did you know, Labradors root back to the 1800s? St. Johns Water Dogs from Newfoundland were sent on trading ships from Canada to the UK, where they were bred with hunting dogs. This created what we now know and love as the Labrador Retriever across the world today.
So why do they make such great family dogs?
Labradors are №7 in Stanley Coren’s ranking in “The Intelligence of Dogs” out of over 100 breeds. Labs have a reputation for being seriously smart.
Not only are they smart, they respond happily to training. Labradors love to please you, so if you are happy to put the time in, you will find that your four-legged friend can quickly learn good habits or even tricks.
If you need a truly great family dog, they must be good with children. Labradors have a few deep-rooted traits that mean they fit this description.
Labs tend to be very laid back. Kids being loud or running around the house is unlikely to phase them. On top of this, their loyalty and love of being “part of the gang” means they want to protect, and keep everyone in the family safe and happy.
Lots of popular dog breeds and cross-breeds have longer fur. It can look cute, but it can also be difficult to maintain and quick to tangle. Your Labrador avoids all this with a short coat that is unlikely to matt and doesn’t need a lot of brushing. Labs are easy to bathe, too, and tend to enjoy the water due to their origins as hunting dogs.
If you’ve had a puppy before, you will know that biting can become an issue if not straightened out quickly.
Labradors were originally bred to retrieve, this means they would go and collect a downed duck or other bird, after a hunt. They had to do this without breaking the flesh. This shows that the nature of a Labrador enables you to train them to control their instinct to bite, even when something delicious is at stake!
Even playful biting can be a problem if you have a young family. Most puppies will bite and nip a little, but this can be easier to control with gentle-mouthed Labradors.
With some of the more unusual or uncommon breeds of dogs, it can be hard to find a puppy. There are also some terrible practices that go on within the industry, such as puppy mills. If you’ve been searching for a particular breed for a long time, you might let your guard down.
Because Labradors are so popular, you will almost always be able to find puppies, and check on the reputation of the breeders. The Humane Society even provides a guide to finding responsible breeders.
Some people need a dog to keep them on their toes. Dogs vary massively in terms of how much exercise they need. Labs all have their own tolerance, but they usually won’t be shy of going for a walk or joining in with your morning run!
Labs generally need up to 90 minutes of exercise a day. If you need a buddy for hiking or trekking, a lively Labrador might be your answer. For a family with kids, this means your dog will have plenty of energy for playing.
Labs love company! Although it isn’t always easy to integrate your Labrador with other pets, they are usually great with other pets after a bit of training. They need to learn to be obedient and control some of their inhibitions, especially as they are strong dogs.
After a small amount of training, most Labs are happy to welcome other dogs and pets into the family, as long as their own supplies of love and affection aren’t threatened.
This ties in with some of the other points we have made in this list, but it is worth noting on its own. Labradors have been studied in detail, and one particular study found that they are five times less likely to be involved in a dog bite attack than a German Shepherd or Doberman.
Of course any dog can bite if scared or provoked, regardless of their breed. However this study supports the Labradors placid temperament and suggests a higher level of tolerance before resorting to bite.
Some dogs are more independent than others. Labradors are renowned for loving to be surrounded by others, and they will want to be friends with every member of the family. This has positives and negatives. If you are out of the house a lot a Lab might act out and chew your furniture. However, for large families, there is often always someone at home. You can keep your Labrador company, and they will repay the favor with their undying love.
Many dogs have predispositions to health problems due to genetics or their physical body shape. Brachycephalic dog breeds (those with short muzzles like Pugs) are known to suffer from breathing difficulties as well as having predispositions to spinal problems.
Of course Labs can get ill, but the main predisposition they have is to joint disease and obesity. Both of which can be managed with careful dietary management and lifestyle support. Starting your Lab on joint supplements as a young adult can help to maintain joint mobility into their senior years.
Labradors aren’t for everyone, as they need loads of love, attention, and exercise. For the active family who love bonding and spending time with their pets, the Labrador breed can be one of the most rewarding and well-suited family dogs.