10 reasons why Labrador Retrievers make great family pets

Updated on October 4, 2009
There's nothing cuter than a Lab puppy... I should have included that part.
There's nothing cuter than a Lab puppy... I should have included that part.

I grew up in a house full of Labrador Retrievers, so I'm a little biased to the breed, but there are many reasons why Labs make for great family pets.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 beggers.  If this is highly undesirable behavior for you, never introduce the idea.
  7. Labs are silly creatures.  If you've ever seen a Labrador 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.
  8. They take work time as seriously as play time, 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.
  9. 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. 
  10. 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 acknowlege the time commitment that pet ownership requires.
  • Labs are total pigs.  They love food and love 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.    

Comments

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    • profile image

      Why do you need to know?! 

      2 months ago

      This was very helpful. My family might get a lab, and I've been researching them for the last month.

    • profile image

      Judy 

      3 months ago

      My husband and I work full time and have kids that go to school. Should I get a lab?

    • profile image

      dp 

      22 months ago

      I Love my "Tyson"....Cute Boy....Good Boy.....

    • profile image

      D. Hatton 

      3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      remo 

      3 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Allison 

      3 years ago

      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.

    • tomy101 profile image

      Christopher Hyer 

      3 years ago from Midland, Texas

      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..

    • profile image

      hunter hemiller 

      4 years ago

      yeah i heard they are really good with young kids and are really protective but wont bite any one

    • profile image

      theresa whaleb 

      4 years ago

      Labrador retrievers are so awesome I have 6 of them

    • profile image

      lillian 

      4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      lab_lover 

      5 years ago

      I have two labs and they are so friendly and sweet. I think they are the best family pets to own.

    • samsymmonds profile image

      Sam Symmonds 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I love Labs! Hands down the best pooches around!

    • profile image

      LOL 

      6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      kwonshonz 

      6 years ago

      wow!

    • profile image

      tt 

      6 years ago

      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 profile image

      leshey 

      6 years ago from England

      Great Hub. I have a four year old chocolate Lab. They really are awesome dogs!

    • camdjohnston12 profile image

      camdjohnston12 

      6 years ago

      Cute Labrador Retrievers. Awesome hub.

    • profile image

      Blackwolf0617 

      6 years ago

      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 profile image

      Food Fairies 

      7 years ago from London

      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!

    • profile image

      lauryn 

      7 years ago

      you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • duncanlauder profile image

      duncanlauder 

      7 years ago from South Eastern PA

      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.

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