15 Pros and Cons of Owning a Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States. There are numerous reasons for the desire to have one at home, ranging from their friendly nature and outgoing attitude to their willingness to try almost anything.

When you have this breed at home, there will be plenty of affection to go around for everyone. They are a larger dog, but by no means unmanageable at 70-80 pounds for most individuals. Many of them live to be 10-12 years of age, although some individuals can live for up to 20 years. Spaying or neutering will help to encourage longevity and reduce the risk of unwanted offspring.

The build of the Labrador retriever is one that speaks of balance and strength. There are three coat colors from which to choose: black, chocolate, and yellow. They have a wide head, eyes that sparkle with mischief, and a tail that always seems to be wagging in happiness.

If you are thinking about the inclusion of a puppy in your home soon, then these are the pros and cons of adding a Labrador retriever into the mix.

List of the Pros of Labrador Retrievers

1. Labrador retrievers are stable, friendly dogs.
Although every breed can have individual dogs develop conditions that can promote instability in their character, mood, and behavioral reactions, Labrador retrievers are generally sweet and happy most of the time. They connect with humans on an emotional level, which is why they are so effective as support dogs. You are almost guaranteed a smile every day when you share your home with one.

As long as you don’t mind taking time out of your day to play, whether that’s out in the backyard or out at the beach, then you will have a friend for life.

2. These dogs are exceptionally patient.
Labrador retrievers will put up with almost anything if they think it has the potential to be a good time. They work well with kids because they can put up with the tail pulling, fur yanking, ear grabbing behaviors of young ones without an adverse reaction. Give this breed a bed near your favorite chair or the fireplace, and they will be eternally appreciative of a spot that they can call their own.

These dogs are willing to try new things, invent new games, or horseplay on a quiet afternoon. Their personalities develop into a complementary role with your family, which is why they seem to fit right in all of the time.

3. Labrador retrievers are very easy to train.
This breed is one of the most intelligent dogs that you will find today. They are easily trained because they love to satisfy the needs of their owners. Playing fetch is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to have a Labrador retriever for a friend. Although their smarts can get them into trouble sometimes, especially if they figure out how to open the refrigerator door, it tends to be a better relationship since you are working together in life instead of telling the dog what to do all of the time.

Because they have a strong food motivation, treats are an effective way to get your Labrador retriever to learn new behaviors. You’ll want to be careful about the number that you offer because problems with weight can develop quickly.

4. This breed loves water as much as they love you.
These high-energy dogs love to go for a swim. If there is any water around for them to find, then you are going to have a pup swimming around all day long. Most are well-behaved, which is why a trip to the beach is often the best trip for this breed. A dog park where they can run without a leash and have access to a pool is another great option to consider. Since they have lots of energy, the low-impact exercise of swimming can help to wear them out so that their destructive boredom behaviors don’t come out when you get home.

5. Labrador retrievers are generally healthy dogs.
This breed is generally healthy from an overall perspective. Responsible breeders will screen for issues like hip dysplasia and elbow issues. Heart disorders, muscle weakness, and eye conditions can happen in this breed at times as well. There is also a condition called Exercise Induced Collapse that can happen with some young adults.

These minor issues can be discovered with a simple veterinarian exam. You’ll want to ask about a hip, elbow, and eye evaluation to ensure that the most common health problems aren’t present or that you can develop a treatment plan for them. You may also wish to consider an EIC DNA test to eliminate the threat of sudden collapse.

6. Their soft mouth is perfect for fetching.
In the earlier days of this breed, Labradors were selectively bred to encourage the retrieval of various prey while hunting. They can track down ducks and other fowl exceptionally well, and then this trait allows them to avoid damaging the catch so that it becomes usable food. This habit of not biting down roughly applies to all forms of play as well, which is why it is safer and easier to train these dogs not to bite. Even if they feel threatened, a damaging blow tends to be rare.

7. Size is rarely an issue when owning a Labrador retriever.
Unless you are a renter where the size limit for a dog is 40 pounds or less, a Labrador retriever is a good boy (or girl) who will live with you almost anywhere. Their loving nature will usually turn the most stubborn landlords around too. Expect to pay a larger security deposit and more rent if you lease, but that’s about the only issue to consider when owning a Labrador retriever.

This breed doesn’t get so large that they become unmanageable, but they are also not so small that you worry about what happens if they get underfoot for some reason. They also make for the perfect lap dog, even if only half of them will fit there at any given time. Hopefully you get the smiling end for the snuggle instead of the wagging end!

List of the Cons of Labrador Retrievers

1. Labrador retrievers keep their youthful tendencies for some time.
Labrador retrievers may be cute puppies who can manipulate human emotions with a single look, but they also maintain their youthful ways up until the age of four. That means you’ll be dealing with a lot of chewing problems with this breed, especially if your dog has high levels of separation anxiety or boredom at home during the day. You’ll want to make sure there are some entertainment options available to save your furniture from harm during these formative puppy years.

2. Shedding is a significant problem with this breed.
Labrador retrievers get a thicker winter coat that likes to come out during the late spring. That means you will see fur start flying everywhere with this breed when you need to comb out the old coat. There are times when you can get enough of it off of the dog that it seems like you could create a whole other pup from the leftovers. If you stay on top of this disadvantage, then it won’t be so bad in most homes.

Houses with hardwood floors tend to be the exception. The fur from the Labrador retriever likes to settle along the edges and corners of your wall. Daily cleanings are necessary to ensure that you can maintain a healthy environment. You’ll want to trim their nails regularly and get their teeth brush a few times per week.

3. If you want a guard dog, then don’t get a Labrador retriever.
Labrador retrievers are initially protective of their property and people. All of that attitude goes away when they realize that there is another person at the door. These dogs are friendly to a fault, which means most of them do not work well as a guard dog. Their reputation for companionship is so profound that they can make friends with some of the largest animals in the world, including elephants.

4. Labrador retrievers need help with their eating habits.
This breed comes with a lot of energy. That means their natural instinct is to download a bunch of food every day to fulfill their activity requirements. If you’re not getting your dog outside for a couple of walks each day and some playtime a few times per week, then obesity could become a problem that you’ll need to manage. Most individuals in this breed do not have the self-regulation to stop eating.

You will find that this disadvantage can also create chaos at feeding time because the Labrador will usually try to steal the food of others in their pack. It may be helpful to speak with your veterinarian to determine how much your dog should be eating each day.

5. You should use a high-quality dog food with this breed.
Whether you purchase a commercially-prepared dog food or make it at home, the diet needs to be reflective of the high-energy needs of the dog and your lifestyle habits. Labrador retrievers don’t do well with the cheaper products that don’t offer complex dietary nutrients, often gorging themselves on these inexpensive items as a way to get the resources they need. You’ll want to check with your vet to determine which human foods are safe for them to eat and the ones that you’ll need to avoid.

6. Early socialization is necessary with Labrador retrievers.
If you want to maximize your relationship with your Labrador, then you’ll want to expose your new puppy to a variety of different places, situations, people, and animals between the ages of 2-4 months. Early obedience training will help to develop their personality into a well-adjusted, loving companion. If you don’t have the opportunity to take care of this need, then the intelligence of the breed can start to work against you.

Dogs that don’t receive socialization lose their zeal to please others. Instead of being an outgoing individual, it is not unusual for an isolated Labrador to become introverted. This process can lead to hyperactive behaviors and an increased risk of destruction when left to their own devices.

7. There is a cost factor to consider with this breed.
Because Labradors are such a popular breed, especially in the United States, the cost of ownership from a responsible breeder can be exceptionally high. It is not unusual for the price of a single, documented puppy to be $1,500 or more. If there are championship qualities to the dog, then that price can triple. When one of the parents has experienced success in shows, then the cost can rise to five figures.

One of the ways to get around this disadvantage is to adopt a Labrador retriever from a rescue society or the local rescue shelter. You’ll still pay between $300 to $500 because of the popularity, but these easy-going guys and gals will quickly adapt to your new home. Both options also have an annual care cost that averages about $1,000 that you’ll need to budget for as well.

8. The curiosity of a Labrador retriever can get it into a lot of trouble.
Labrador retrievers love to explore. That’s why a big backyard is a definite advantage if you’re considering this breed. If you leave them alone for too long, then they will start to see what is going on in the world around them. Their curiosity will take them into unexpected directions that you might not even consider. If there is a hole in your fence, a usable latch on a gate, or a garden that doesn’t have any holes in it yet, then your dog is going to find a way to make things happen.

Chewing is a considerable problem with this breed, but so are digging behaviors. You’ll want to think about this issue if you have soft ground and a fence that promises a possible escape attempt.

Conclusion of the Pros and Cons of Labrador Retrievers

Is a Labrador retriever the right breed to add to my family?

If you have other dogs, kids, or pets that share your home already, then this breed will fit right in without a problem. Although there is always the risk of behavioral issues with the occasional individual, the outgoing and eager-to-please approach will create an enthusiastic companion that wants to go everywhere and do anything with you.

It is essential to identify bad habits immediately, and correct them through training, to encourage a healthy development process. You will also want to complete the recommended health tests from the National Breed Club to ensure that your dog can life a happy and fulfilling life.

There may be some disadvantages to consider with the pros and cons of Labrador retrievers, but this breed is the most popular choice in the U.S. for a reason. These dogs are friendly, energetic go-getters who will love everyone in the family.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.