Labs are widely considered to be good family dogs. And this is absolutely true, for a lot of families.
But not for all of them!
With their reputation for being outgoing, gentle and easy to train, it’s not surprising that the Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed.
While no two dogs of any breed will act exactly the same way, the general consensus is that Labs make wonderful family pets.
However, there are some characteristics of the breed to keep in mind before making a decision.
This article will look at the benefits and drawbacks of having a Labrador as a family pet.
Do Labradors make good family pets? Are Labradors good with kids? Let’s find out.
Are Labs Good Family Dogs?
Intelligent, loyal, friendly, even-tempered, kind—the Labrador Retriever has a long list of lovable traits, as evidenced in this video.
But are Labradors good dogs to bring into your home?
Your family dynamics and lifestyle should be considered before making a final decision on any breed.
Are Labradors Good with Children?
Labradors are known to be terrific with children.
Their chill, take-it-all-in-stride temperament and typically low aggression levels mean they are usually OK with being petted, cuddled and occasionally prodded.
This easygoing attitude also means most Labradors will get along with other pets.
However, the Lab is a large dog. He can be overly enthusiastic when it comes to playing and greeting.
Very small children and frail older adults might be knocked down and potentially hurt due to the Lab’s overly eager displays of affection.
A Labrador with kids in the home shouldn’t be an issue, but you will need to always be mindful of their interactions.
A Labrador Retriever is a much better match with kids who are older. Their equally high energy levels mean they can play together for hours without getting tired.
Are Labs Good Family Dogs or Can They Be Aggressive?
Despite the Lab’s stellar reputation for not being aggressive, any breed has the capacity to be dangerous in the wrong circumstances.
This often comes down to training.
Labs are people pleasers and quick learners, but they need to be shown how to adapt to the human world and be socialized from an early age.
While Labradors were found to be five times less likely to attack than a German Shepherd or a Doberman in this study.
But this article found the Labrador Retriever responsible for more personal injuries in the U.K. than any other breed.
Are Labradors Good Family Dogs for Families in Apartments?
Labs are an active breed. For the first three years, they require about two hours of robust exercise per day.
If they don’t burn off energy, this large breed will often act out by chewing.
Those big, wagging tails have a habit of knocking things off tables in small spaces.
A larger home with a good-sized backyard is a better fit than a small apartment for the Lab.
Are Labradors Good Family Dogs for Active Families?
Bringing a lovable Lab into your home can create plenty of opportunities for quality family time.
Whether it’s running in the park, hiking in the wilderness or camping in the great outdoors, a Labrador Retriever is the ideal companion for an active lifestyle.
Are Labradors Good Family Pets for Working Families?
Labs love loads of attention. They want to be around people, and will follow you around or flop at your feet to be close to you.
That being said, Labradors are not suitable for families who are gone for long periods of time.
They crave companionship. So if everyone in your house is at work or school throughout the day, you will probably need to get a dog sitter or take him to doggy day care.
Labrador puppies especially will need full-time attention.
If you’re bringing a new Lab puppy into your home, expect to take some time off while he acclimates to his new surroundings.
Are Labradors good family dogs? They are if they are not ignored.
If left to their own devices, they can become destructive, disruptive and very unhappy.
Getting a dog means recognizing the time commitment involved.
Is a Labrador Retriever a Good Family Dog for Neat Freaks?
Labradors are born chewers.
They’ll shed a lot, especially twice a year during shedding season.
Labs love to eat just about anything and all of the time. They’ll drag food off of the countertops and swipe garbage from the trash.
Literally born “retrievers,” they also like to carry things around such as your favorite cashmere sweater or new leather shoes.
When they pee in your backyard, it will probably kill the grass and leave brown patches.
If this kind of behavior is making you cringe just reading about it, seriously consider whether you want a dog in your home.
All puppies will chew when teething. There’s not much you can do about it other than keep your fragile and prized possessions out of reach.
This article will give you more insight about how to stop a dog from chewing.
Are Chocolate Labs Good Family Dogs?
Chocolate Labradors make wonderful family pets and have been known to be very playful, even by Labrador standards.
Unfortunately Chocolate Labs are sometimes labeled as less intelligent than Black or Yellow Labs.
This study found Chocolate Labs became more agitated when ignored and were harder to train than Black Labs.
This probably has less to do with color and more to do with Black Labs historically being bred as working dogs.
Chocolate Labs were bred for show, where more emphasis is placed on selecting breeding dogs for looks than intelligence.
Are Black Labs Good Family Dogs?
Black is the most common Lab color, but a Black Lab is anything but ordinary.
They quite likely have a gundog heritage.
This means they might require more exercise and will always be up for a game of fetch.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed Lab, then you might do better with a dog bred from show lines.
Are Labradors Good Family Dogs?
Labradors have lots of love to go around.
This means they’ll bond with everyone in the family, not just one person.
This capacity to love one and all makes them especially suited for families.
If you want to learn more, take a look at our guide to Labrador lifespan!
References and Further Reading:
- Bamberger, M., et al., 2006, “Signalment Factors, Comorbidity, and Trends in Behavior Diagnoses in Dogs: 1,644 Cases (1991–2001),” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Blackshaw, J.K., 1991, “An Overview of Types of Aggressive Behaviour in Dogs and Methods of Treatment,” Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Kobelt, A.J., et al., 2007, “The Behaviour of Labrador Retrievers in Suburban Backyards: The Relationships Between the Backyard Environment and Dog Behaviour,” Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Lofgren, S.E., et al., 2014, “Management and Personality in Labrador Retriever Dogs,” Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Nelson, K., 2016, “The Dog Breed Most Likely to Bite You Has Been Revealed,” Independent.
- Schalamon, J., et al., 2006, “Analysis of Dog Bites in Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years,” Pediatrics.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website