10 Reasons Labrador Retrievers Make Great Family Pets
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.