According to the American Kennel Club, the loyal, sweet-faced Labrador Retriever is hands down the most popular family dog in the United States.
Goofy, energetic, and wicked smart, the Labrador Retriever loves children and plays hard. Bred to retrieve waterfowl, Labrador Retrievers love swimming, running, hiking, hunting, long walks, playing fetch, and more.
Basically, any activity that involves doing something physical outdoors with its owner will thrill any Labrador Retriever and keep him calm and cuddly indoors.
Labrador Retrievers belong to the Sporting category of dogs, and as such, they need lots and lots of exercise and attention.
What Is the Typical Labrador Retriever Personality?
Labs are loyal, affectionate dogs with lots of smarts and boundless energy, which is why they are so often trained as guide dogs.
Labrador Retrievers have expressive, kind faces and love to cuddle and be petted. They are good with children and incredibly loyal.
One caveat: The Labrador Retriever needs to be trained early and firmly and then exercised regularly.
Because Labs are big, muscular animals with high IQs, they will not be happy just sitting around the house, nor will they thrive being confined to the back yard all day by themselves.
Labs need active playtimes with their owners. They enjoy being taught to fetch or find things by smell; anything that engages their intellect and their incredible energy.
If you are looking for a laid back, sleepy dog for companionship inside your home, think twice about getting a Lab unless you can hire someone to exercise your pet twice a day or more.
If you are looking for a dog that won’t get worn out by your active, noisy kids, a Lab just might be your best bet.
Do Labrador Retrievers Really Have a Goofy Side?
The answer, in a word, is yes. As this YouTube Video shows, no description of the Labrador Retriever personality would be complete without addressing the Lab’s naturally goofy side.
Left to their own devices, Labs will find ways to entertain themselves, and they often won’t be anything a human being could imagine, hence the importance of exercising them regularly and training them well.
Labs don’t just enjoy running, they need to run. One distinctive move you will likely see your Labrador Retriever make when it is having fun on a walk or during a game of fetch is that it will stop, get a crazy look on its face with its tongue hanging out and the white showing on its wide-open eyes, then tear off running all over the place at top speed, as shown in this YouTube video.
When a Labrador Retriever lets its energy out in this way it is pure joy for everyone. It also shows how vital good training for enjoying your Labrador Retriever.
Labs aren’t ‘escape artists’ like some breeds, but if not exercised regularly and given interesting things to do, they have been known to bolt while off-leash and get lost. Learn to walk your Lab on a leash and be sure your exuberant play takes place in an enclosed area.
Working Your Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are technically classed as Sporting dogs, but they make great working dogs too. Your Lab will not feel burdened by being taught a practical task. He will love you for it.
Some common jobs Labrador Retrievers enjoy include hunting, tracking and detection, therapy work with hospital patients, and pulling a cart or carrying saddle bags. Because of their intelligence and eagerness to please, between 60% and 70% of Canadian guide dogs are Labradors, According to Wikipedia.
Training your Labrador in a task can be fun for both of you, but first your Lab must learn basic commands: sit, stay, down, wait, come when called, drop it, lay down and stay, wait to greet, and heel on a leash.
This basic training should happen as early as possible. If you have a lab puppy, puppy classes are not too early.
During puppy training, your Lab gets used to socializing with other people and other dogs. After puppy training, your Labrador Retriever will be ready for basic commands.
The American Kennel Club offers a highly-recommended Canine Good Citizen certificate for dogs that have successfully learned basic commands.
Once your Lab has become a Canine Good Citizen, the field is wide open when it comes to tasks your pet can learn and enjoy. Labs have ‘smart noses’, meaning they are good at sniffing out and finding things.
Labs also love water sports. Dock Dogs organizes competitions for dock diving dogs, and explains how to get involved.
Dogs jump off of a dock and catch various items, a perfect activity for a Labrador Retriever, a dog developed in Newfoundland to dive off a boat and retrieve fish and birds from the water.
If competition isn’t your thing, Cesar Milan describes how to set up an agility course for your dog in your own back yard.
Comprised of materials you likely already have lying around, a standard agility course consists of seven basic tasks for a dog to negotiate:
- Weave poles.
- Dog walk.
- Standard jumps.
- Pause table.
- Tire jump.
- Teeter boards.
Teaching your Labrador Retriever to run an agility course in your back yard is a great way to reinforce basic commands while engaging your dog’s brain and exercising its muscles.
Home agility training is also a great way to get your kids away from the video games and outside with your Lab. Fun is guaranteed to be had by all.
Which Color of Labrador Retriever is the Best?
Labrador Retrievers come in black, tan, and brown, also called ‘chocolate’. Although Chocolate Labs have a reputation for being less trainable and more goofy than black or tan Labs, this reputation is hotly debated by breeders and vets.
A similar myth states that Black Labs are more aggressive than other Labs. No evidence exists to support this. Labrador Retrievers of any color tend to not aggressive at all.
They may bark to signal a stranger approaching, but they are otherwise not even very noisy.
All in all, if you are looking for an energetic, lovable friend with a pronounced goofy side, a Labrador Retriever will never let you down. Surprise you? Oh yes. Let you down? Never!