I grew up in a house full of Labrador Retrievers, so I'm a little biased, but there are many reasons why labs make great family pets.
- They are highly biddable, which means they aim to please and are relatively easy to train. Labs respond well to clear guidelines and are quick learners. They do best with a little bit of structure and can get into just a little trouble when left to make their own decisions.
- Their dispositions lend themselves well to family life, and they are typically quite good with children. When socialized thoroughly as puppies, they adapt to pretty much any situation you can put them in. They're steady dogs and quite gentle.
- Labrador Retrievers don't require a lot of grooming, but they do shed quite a bit seasonally. Just an occasional bath is all they need, a bi-weekly coat brushing, a nail trim, and they're in business. You won't need to visit the groomer every three to four weeks like with some other dog breeds.
- Labs don't tire particularly easily, and they're great adventure companions on camping trips and other outdoor activities. They are happiest when they get plenty of exercise, whether it be hiking up a mountain or playing with the kids in your backyard.
- They are happiest when they're at your side. Most Labs have lap-dog syndrome and are totally unaware of their size when it gets to be quiet time. They will happily crowd the bed if you let them and will try to sit as close to you as possible on the sofa, if not on top of you.
- They make for great shop vacs and will happily help you out with the kitchen floor should you drop a scrap or two while cooking. Beware, though—should they get used to handouts at the table, they are remarkably difficult to resist and quite persistent beggars. If this is highly undesirable behavior for you, never introduce the idea.
- Labs are silly creatures. If you've ever seen a Labrador Retriever at the dog park, you know what I'm talking about. When they're having a blast running around, they get this creepy low-butt-to-the-ground posture as they sprint like maniacs. Their ears flip inside out, and they look quite ridiculous. They also are totally lazy when they sit down. Their top half looks pretty and proper while their bottom half is a disaster, legs splayed out to the side in an ultra-sloppy fashion.
- They take work time as seriously as playtime, and sometimes it's difficult to differentiate between the two. It would seem that every third Labrador Retriever born gets the die-hard must-retrieve-things-all-the-time-gene. These super serious retrievers will work well past the point of exhaustion with every bit as much enthusiasm as when they started.
- Even though they are considered a large breed and are quite strong, they are very family-friendly. They can switch gears and adapt to situations quickly. They will rough-house, and then five minutes later, they will patiently let toddlers tug on their ears, poke their noses, and grab their tails.
- Labs find fun wherever they go. Even if it's just flopping down in the backyard with a nylabone, they're very easy to keep happy. Get them the proper amount of exercise they need, give them consistent guidelines, keep their bellies full, and give them loads of attention, and you'll have a happy, healthy, well-adjusted family dog.
Labs make for great pets, but there are a handful of things to keep in mind.
- Labrador Retrievers are notoriously mouthy. They are avid chewers and need to be taught early what is okay to chew and what is not. With clear guidelines, they won't wreck your stuff, but they can be a little on the sneaky side, so keep things out of their reach to stay on the safe side. It is extremely important to supervise them since they're big on exploratory chewing and can easily swallow dangerous items.
- Labs have big strong tails and will absolutely knock anything in wagging range off your coffee table. Lab owners keep all kinds of things in funny places for this reason.
- They are big strong dogs and can be very rambunctious if they're not getting enough exercise. They need vigorous play and about half an hour of walking or running each day. Every dog is different, and some require more exercise than others. When getting a pet, it's important to acknowledge the time commitment that pet ownership requires.
- Labs are total pigs. They love food and eating. They can put on weight easily and are crafty opportunists if given the chance to swipe things off the counter or out of the garbage. They can get themselves in serious medical trouble with their love of food, and will eat well past their stomach's capacity if left alone with their food bag for instance.
- They are an increasingly popular breed because they have a lot of wonderful characteristics, particularly for families. The downside of being a popular breed is that irresponsible breeders don't always select for the best traits and temperaments, so there are some challenging labs out there who may be more prone to bad behavior and health problems. If you choose to buy from a breeder, make sure they're on the up and up, and if possible contact your local lab rescue organization because there are thousands of dogs nationwide who need a good home and who will become fantastic members of your family if given the chance.
Mehak on April 18, 2020:
Do you know anything about how labs will act around small animals? I have two Guinea Pigs and I’m currently looking for a lab to be an addition to my family but I’m starting to think that I might not be able to get a dog or may have to give up the guinea pigs.
Paul on April 29, 2019:
I’m on my third set of black labs over twenty plus years. We take litter-mates so they have each other and a familiar scent when we share away. None of my labs have ever chewed a piece of furniture or wood trim of house or fence. These black labs are the very best! We did get a dog from The Seeing Eye Dog foundation, she flunked out of the program but was a wonderful loving family pet so yes Che CJ thos organizations for a perfect family pet. You will love your lab, what ever color you choose. 12 year long partner, the end is always sad but the 12 years of joy are irreplaceable! Please walk them, play catch/fetch.......and you will be life’s hero to your dog.
Linda Hanneman on December 07, 2018:
We have a black lab Bella. We got her at 6 wks old. My heart smiles every day. Bella is so very loving and very much in tune with my feelings. Extremely intelligent. Gentle and loving with children. When im sad,or ill, she lays right beside me to comfort me. They make EXCELLENT therapy dogs.
Why do you need to know?! on April 30, 2018:
This was very helpful. My family might get a lab, and I've been researching them for the last month.
Judy on March 22, 2018:
My husband and I work full time and have kids that go to school. Should I get a lab?
dp on September 20, 2016:
I Love my "Tyson"....Cute Boy....Good Boy.....
D. Hatton on April 26, 2015:
Our Yellow Lab, Butters, is the absolute best family dog ever. We have 2 younger kids, 5 and 7, and I have no trust issues with our dog. The kids can take a cow bone right out of her mouth, put their hand in her food bowl, or climb on her like a horse. When she was a pup, she ate through my spa cover, destroyed my lawn furniture, ate stucco off my house, ate countless kids toys, and I wouldn't give her up for anything! Labs require lots of patience and can't get enough attention, but they are well worth it. So loyal, so sweet.
remo on January 25, 2015:
We have a 6 yr.old black lab. He chewed on the rocking chair i rocked our baby in. The rest of the time he chewed on my husbands shoes. He is the best. Everything you said is true. Tks s bunchI
Allison on January 12, 2015:
There isn't a single point made here that isn't our dog Bart. He's a chocolate lab, and we've had him since he was 10 weeks old. I'm sold on the breed for life.
Christopher Hyer from Midland, Texas on July 26, 2014:
Thank you for this article. am getting a Lab and I know nothing about dogs and the only thing I heard about a Lab is how they eat your furniture up. Well , needless to say, I have never owned a house so I have not ever had a dog of my own . Great article, and Thank You..
hunter hemiller on March 19, 2014:
yeah i heard they are really good with young kids and are really protective but wont bite any one
theresa whaleb on February 15, 2014:
Labrador retrievers are so awesome I have 6 of them
lillian on January 25, 2014:
i have three labs one gold two chocolate i just love them so much the best dogs in the whole world, my darlings shilo,zac, and harley.
lab_lover on January 23, 2013:
I have two labs and they are so friendly and sweet. I think they are the best family pets to own.
Sam Symmonds from Cape Town, South Africa on September 13, 2012:
I love Labs! Hands down the best pooches around!
LOL on April 22, 2012:
i really want the labrador retriever it seems like a great family dog, and has a few set backs but it's okay, any dog is like that. Labradors are amazing...especially with KIDS!
kwonshonz on April 22, 2012:
tt on January 20, 2012:
well my dog begs a lot i don't know what to do i have a golden lab she is 3 years old her name is sadie she is a great dog she loves attention and she loves the snow she is so cute!!! i love her she loves to sleep she is the best dog i have had yet
leshey from England on October 09, 2011:
Great Hub. I have a four year old chocolate Lab. They really are awesome dogs!
camdjohnston12 on September 30, 2011:
Cute Labrador Retrievers. Awesome hub.
Blackwolf0617 on September 04, 2011:
Labs are the best my first dog was a lab and she lived for 9 years but she was great and now I have 2 more lab pups and they love to run and especially swim and every chance they have the will lay on my lap.
Food Fairies from London on May 22, 2011:
So true! I love this hub... My chocolate lab Theo is certainly a lap dog and takes the first opportunity to scramble up for a cuddle!
lauryn on December 19, 2010:
duncanlauder from South Eastern PA on August 27, 2010:
They really are great dogs - highly intelligent and wonderful family companions. But I will echo the sentiment that Labradors - especially as puppies or if left alone - will resort to chewing.