What is a Lab?
Is a Lab for You?
Based on the number of AKC registrations, Labrador Retrievers are by far the most popular breed of dog in the United States. In fact, there are more than twice as many registered Labs as there are of any other breed. But, they are not for everyone, and there are a few things you should carefully consider in deciding if a Lab is for you.
Labs are known for their trainability and intelligence. Through years of use they have become the #1choice as guide dogs, used as therapy and assist dogs, for search and rescue, drug detection, and bomb sniffing. However, an untrained Lab can be "too smart for his own good," finding mischievous ways to get in trouble. If you aren't willing to expend at least a little effort to train your dog, a Lab is not for you. If, however, you are prepared to spend some time teaching your Lab manners, you will find a willing student who will follow your leadership.
Labs are very social dogs, typically loving almost everyone and other dogs, too. They love to be with "their people" almost all the time, and will want to go with you everywhere. This means they are often underfoot, leaning on the door you want to open, or leaning on you. They run to the door when you reach for the car or boat keys and bound with glee at the thought of going anywhere with "their people." If you find this type of behavior annoying and /or don't have the time, means, or inclination to have a dog with you a lot of the time, then a Lab is not for you. But, if you are looking for a best friend who would love to jog, hike, or fish with you, a Lab may be a good choice.
Labs are usually happy in nature and those tails for which they are known swipe shelves, clear coffee tables, topple toddlers, and whatever else is at their level as they wag with great gusto. The Lab coat is made to keep the dog warm in icy water, thus it is a very thick, double layered coat which sheds somewhat regularly and is "blown" twice a year. If loose dog hair or a perpetual wagging tail bothers you, then a Lab is not for you. Those who find a wagging tail an irresistible "welcome home" after a long day will adore a Lab.
Labs love water. Pure joy can be found galloping repeatedly through a mud puddle, splashing into the mud, then lying in it; diving for toys dropped in the water bowl; biting the spray as you attempt to wash the car or water the garden; and even surprising you mid-shower. If frequent rinsing and towel drying a dog, floor and wall, or any of those other dog activities don't amuse you [at least some of the time] then a Lab is not for you. Labs are for those people who can put up with a soak to see the sheer joy of an animal fully enjoying every drop of life.
Labs are excellent retrievers of anything and like most retrievers, are very "mouthy". They love to hold and carry things - It may be your hand, sleeve, your shoe, your unread newspaper, or preferably a toy. Labs have a high demand for toys. They don't need to be fancy or expensive, but if you don't supply a number of dog safe toys you can be sure your Lab will "find" his own - which are often potentially dangerous. If you prefer a dog to be seen rather than interact, then a Lab is not for you. But, if you want a dog you can train to go get your newspaper on chilly mornings (and are willing to put up with a slobbery paper for it), your Lab will relish the job!
Mostly, Labs just want to be a part of your family. If you are not interested in making time to be outdoors walking and playing with your dog every day, and for all the other responsibilities of owning a large, active dog, then a Lab is not for you. But, if you want a happy, affectionate, fun loving pal who wants to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it, who just loves being with you, you need look no further than a Lab. Every moment you spend with your Lab will be repaid with boundless love (not to mention a few doggy kisses).
If you still have more questions about Labrador Retrievers, please visit our Links page. There you will find many Lab resources, including the Labrador FAQ site, a very comprehensive site with all kinds of information about Labs.