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Are Labradors Dangerous?

by Allison Marie
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The size of Labrador Retrievers sometimes begs the question “are Labradors dangerous?” in some people’s minds.

However, this also runs counter to how many perceive Labs to be wonderful pets.

So, which is it, exactly? Are Labradors dangerous dogs, or do they make loyal pets?

Knowing the answer to these pressing questions is important, especially if your kids are still young, so let’s find out the answers below.

Are Labrador Retrievers dangerous dogs?

Generally speaking, Labs are not a dangerous dog breed. They are naturally good-natured and have kind personalities, even when they are still puppies.

When you compare Labrador Retrievers to other dog breeds, they have extremely low aggression levels. For this reason, Labradors would make excellent family pets.

They often will not bite—or even growl—if a child pokes them or plays with them because they have a very low temper. Their patience makes them excellent furry additions to families with kids.

However, this does not mean Labradors can never be provoked. After all, like other creatures, they still have feelings.

An example of a situation when a Lab may become dangerous and act contrary to their gentle nature is when they attack an intruder in your home.

This is especially true if they believe that the stranger is a threat. At the very least, your Labrador Retriever will bark at the intruder to alert you.

It also depends on how the Labrador was raised. For instance, if you adopt an older Lab that came from an abusive home, they may show aggressive or fearful behavior.

However, it is not the Lab’s fault that they act that way as a result of their previous environment, so you need to help them unlearn those behaviors.

Why do some people think Labs are dangerous?

Some people are under the misconception that Labs are dangerous because of at least one of the following reasons:

  • The person feels threatened or scared of dogs.
  • They are unpredictable and energetic, especially if the Lab is 2 years old or younger.
  • The Lab is trained for guard duty, which may make them less friendly than other Labs.

What kind of personality does a Labrador Retriever have?

Among many others, the main trait that many Labs share is that they are kind. Most Labradors are friendly and sweet to people, even strangers that they meet on the street.

They are very unlikely to growl or show their teeth to people whom they do not know unless they sense danger.

They are also outgoing, which makes them great pets for active people. In fact, if you have a field Lab—also known as the American Labrador—they will gladly join you on your camping trips and hikes.

They are also intelligent and obedient dogs. Most people find Labrador Retrievers very easy to own because they are a breeze to train. They are smart and usually want to please their owners, so they tend to pick up quickly the lessons you want to teach them.

Because of these qualities, the question “are Labradors dangerous?” most often does not warrant more than an easy “no”.

Can Labs still show signs of aggression?

While Labradors are generally sociable, it’s not unheard of for Labrador Retrievers to show behavioral problems or signs of aggression.

In some cases, your Lab may be aggressive because they were provoked or they feel threatened. They may also be aggressive if they had past trauma.

Here are common signs of aggression that may lead you to ask if Labradors are dangerous:

  • Bites – These can vary in intensity. It can be a light snip, but very aggressive dogs may puncture the skin.
  • Snarling
  • Showing their teeth
  • Growling
  • Ears pinned back
  • Stiff body posture

What causes Labrador aggression?

As mentioned earlier, a Lab may become aggressive if they feel like they are in danger. This usually makes their behavior reactive rather than aggressive.

Trauma and abuse are also huge reasons why a Labrador may be aggressive. They learned to become aggressive because it is a way to defend themselves from perceived threats.

Even if they are not in danger, it may be a habit for them to act aggressively due to trauma. For instance, if you try to approach your dog or raise your hand above them to pet them, it could trigger their trauma.

It is also possible that their previous pet owners taught them to be aggressive, whether your Lab knows it or not.

An example is if you always allow your Lab puppy to play rough, bark at others, or jump on you. This may encourage them to continue their behavior as adults.

Illness or pain can also make your Labrador act aggressively. For instance, if your Labrador Retriever feels pain in their abdomen, and you try to pet that area, they may bark and bare their teeth.

It is not always a sign of distrust; it is simply because the pain makes them uncomfortable and act differently.

This may also come off as surprising to some, but your dog’s leash could also be the cause.

If your Lab is generally kind but starts to tug, bark, and panic when you put on their leash, they may have leash aggression. Leash aggression occurs because your dog feels frustrated and restrained by their leash.

How can I fix Labrador aggression?

Firstly, you have to determine the cause of your Lab’s aggression. For example, if they only act aggressively when you touch one part of their body, you may need to bring them to a vet because they are probably in pain.

In most cases of aggression, positive reinforcement training is a great way to help. Most dog experts will agree that shaming and hurting your dog to train them is a terrible way to make them learn because it leads to aggression.

Instead, regular rewards like treats and cuddles are the ideal way to train the aggression out of your Labrador Retriever.

You can also discourage dominant behavior. For instance, if your dog threatens you, you need to establish dominance by saying a firm no and showing them you are not scared. They need to remember that you are the alpha.

If your Lab acts aggressively around new people and other animals, you need to be patient and be sure that you do not overwhelm them.

For example, you can introduce one very gentle person to them at a public space and let your Labrador slowly approach them at their own pace.

As for leash aggression, you need to be calmer with your dog and make the leash look fun. You can do this by putting their leash on while you are in your backyard and letting them play with their favorite toys and eat a treat. This way, they will be able to associate the leash with fun and happier things.

In more serious cases of dog aggression, you need to consult an expert. There are classes and trainers that specialize in training your Labrador Retriever to stop being aggressive. It is the best method if your Lab is too hard to control.

You can also refer to our post here for tips on how to deal with aggression in your Labradors.

How to prevent your Labrador from developing aggressive or dangerous behavior

1) Be kind.

Your Lab will treat you the same way you treat them. Therefore, you need to give them positive attention if you want them to not develop aggressive behaviors.

2) Train them.

A good way to ensure that your Lab does not become dangerous is to train them. Proper and consistent training will help remind your Lab to be obedient and to behave.

All in all

So, are Labradors dangerous?

Well, in general, they are not aggressive dogs. They have very low aggression levels and are naturally kind. However, if they act in contrast to their gentle nature, something else like trauma or abuse may cause them to be aggressive.

To help your Labrador Retriever unlearn these negative behaviors, you may follow the pieces of advice that we have imparted above. Don’t hesitate to consult a professional, though, if you need expert advice.

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