As a true dog lover, I simply can’t see a dog without petting it. However, due to their incredibly affectionate temperament, Labradors are my undeniable favorite dog breed.
I don’t think I’ve ever been in the vicinity of a Lab and hadn’t had an ear-splitting grin plastered on my face.
Even smaller pets and young children often echo the Labrador’s cheerfulness and energetic temperament.
The best part is that they seem to welcome a friendly gesture and are willing to return it tenfold with hand-licking and playing around.
This got me wondering, why are Labradors so friendly?
Labradors are so friendly because aggression is simply not in their nature. These dogs were initially bred to retrieve hunted prey for their human companions, so aggression was never a favorable trait in this breed.
Origins of Labradors
As with most current dog breeds, Labradors originally came from another breed a long time ago. Specifically, they came from the St John’s Water Dog. This was a breed that could be found assisting fishermen in Newfoundland, Canada 200 years ago.
When the English ventured into Newfoundland, they were enamored with the St John’s Water Dog’s personality traits and physical abilities. This made them take some back to their home country and breed them to be working companions.
These dogs were bred for specific work, which was to accompany hunters and help them retrieve their prey. However, their human companions also used them for help in other endeavors. Labradors, as we see them today, are a result of this breeding process.
How Come Labradors Are So Friendly?
The temperament of any dog is partially a result of how it was bred and for what purpose it was bred.
If a dog was bred to be a hunting dog or a guard dog, aggression would be a trait that breeders encouraged and coveted in that dog.
For instance, German Shepherds were bred to guard herds of sheep, so they were taught to be confrontational and aggressive towards those they were unfamiliar with (humans and animals alike).
The reasons that Labradors were bred for didn’t require them to be aggressive or confrontational. As a result, breeders didn’t reinforce such traits in Labradors, which made way for affection and amiability.
Due to over a century of human companionship, Labradors are now one of the friendliest dog breeds out there. Just keep in mind that this is not the case 100% of the time, as we’ll see in later sections of this article.
Are All Labradors Equally Friendly?
It’s in Labradors’ nature to be friendly and affectionate towards those around them. However, not all of them are this way to the same extent.
Just as genetics play a role in determining a Labrador’s personality, so does nurture and the environment it grew up in.
Labradors that have experienced unpleasant and traumatic encounters at a young age are likely to be wary of humans. They may display fear and avoidance, and this fear may actually manifest itself in the form of aggression.
Additionally, if your Labrador has just given birth to a litter of puppies, you’ll notice that each of them has its own quirks and personality. Some of those puppies may simply be born with a less friendly nature than their siblings.
That being said, you’ll almost never see a Labrador that’s outright aggressive to the point that it’s dangerous to be around.
How to Spot an Aggressive Labrador Puppy
If you’re planning on adopting a Labrador puppy, you may be wondering how to tell if it’s aggressive or not.
When attempting to do so, it’s crucial to know the difference between typical Labrador puppy behavior and behavior indicative of a hostile demeanor.
If the puppy growls and playfully bites when you interact with him, this is no cause for concern. Although Labradors are friendly, they’re still dogs, and this type of behavior is completely normal.
On the other hand, aggression in puppies is often the result of fear. Labrador puppies that have gone through traumatic experiences are likely to shy away from humans.
However, if they’re unable to put enough distance between themselves and the human, they may become aggressive as a form of self-defense.
How to Deal With an Aggressive Labrador Puppy
Aggression is simply not in Labradors’ nature. If your Labrador puppy is acting aggressively, there’s probably an underlying reason issue.
Your Labrador may have been abused and mistreated by humans in the past, and in turn, he doesn’t trust you. His aggression may also be the result of pent-up energy that he isn’t releasing sufficiently through physical and mental exercise.
Offer to play with your puppy and take him out for walks. If he resists, the cause of aggression is most likely trauma.
Once you’re sure that trauma is the cause of your Labrador’s aggression, you should keep a few things in mind.
When trying to gain a traumatized dog’s trust, you must keep in mind that your Labrador won’t get over his trauma overnight. You should expect this journey to be a long one with incremental progress.
That’s why you must constantly do everything possible to show your Labrador that you’re a friend, not a threat.
Does a Labrador’s Color Affect Its Temperament?
Some people believe that yellow Labradors are friendlier and more affectionate than their chocolate and black counterparts. However, this is a misconception that has virtually no evidence supporting it.
The resemblance between yellow Labradors and Golden Retrievers, another breed notorious for its friendly disposition, could be the source of this unfounded belief.
Another reason for this misconception is that people may confuse the causes for personality differences in Labradors. If a Labrador is relatively less friendly than others, it’s most likely due to a traumatic experience in its past that’s suppressing its jolly nature.
Labradors make ideal family pets for a reason. They’re one of the friendliest dog breeds you’ll ever come across.
Labradors’ friendly demeanor stems from their origins and the purposes they were bred for. These dogs were bred to accompany and assist people in their everyday tasks. Therefore, there’s been a great deal of trust cultivated between Labradors and their human companions.
However, some Labradors may be less friendly than others due to past traumatic experiences that have made them wary of humans.
If your Labrador is displaying uncharacteristic aggression, make sure to pinpoint the reason why and take the necessary steps to bring back that friendly nature.