By Andrew Fischer
Are Labradors Good with Children?
You probably know that Labradors are loyal, active and friendly dogs, but you may wonder whether a Labrador will get along with your kids.
Growing up, I was surrounded by Labs and I believe that they are among the best dog breeds for kids. I never felt threatened. These dogs are very relaxed, friendly, even-tempered but may be a bit clumsy and bouncy.
You just need to make sure that you train your Labrador properly, that you teach your kids how to get along with dogs and that you keep an eye on them when they are together in one room.
Why Labrador Retrievers are great for kids
Labs are active
Labradors are very active animals and that’s what children usually like. These dogs are always up for any type of active fun. They love to run and play fetch and therefore can inspire your kids to move more and stay healthy.
Although Labradors also like some personal space they are much better at tolerating the unpredictability, directness and unrestrained behaviour of children than other dog breeds.
A well-treated and well-trained Labrador can deal very well with the unpredictable nature of children. Unlike some other dog breeds, Labradors are very unlikely to attack a child or any other person.
Labs have a soft bite
Every dog is capable of biting but Labrador’s bite is not as painful as a bite of other dog breeds. Labradors are retrievers and retrievers have a soft bite. This means, that even if a Labrador was to bite your children, it likely wouldn’t cause much harm.
I have seen a lot of Labs that endured being poked and more and when they had enough they simply shook the kids off and walked away without biting.
Labs are great companions
Labradors are very friendly and loyal dogs. They will love to accompany your children wherever they go and whatever they do.
Labs are even-tempered and tolerant
There may be exceptions but almost all Labs I met were able to remain calm even in a house full of loud kids. They are unbelievably patient and can manage a hectic environment very well.
People say not to trust a dog, especially when it comes to food, but from my own experience a lot of labs can leave children do what they want to them even when they are eating. I also saw some children pulling a lab’s tail and he didn’t care.
Labs are great teachers
Taking care of a Labrador is a great way to teach responsibility to your kids. You can let your children provide the dog with food and water or take it for a walk. This will teach children how to care for other being and to respect and be gentle to others.
Labs are protective
Labradors are very protective of children. They can feel the vulnerability of kids and stay with them even if they separate from the group. Also, it was more than once that I heard of Labradors successfully driving off potential burglars. A Lab is very loyal and will bark to let you know that strangers are around.
When Labs might not be the most suitable dog breed for your kids
Labradors usually prefer larger spaces. If you live in a small apartment, a clumsy Labrador may easily bump into your kids. Especially younger Labs may be very energetic and unpredictable and may run into children without warning. This could be problematic especially for younger kids in less spacious rooms.
Labs also need a lot of exercise and physical stimulation (at least around 2 hours a day). It’s very important to walk a Labrador regularly. If you don’t, they can be hard to manage. If your kids are not active and don’t like sports, a Labrador may not be the most suitable dog breed.
Although very calm and even-tempered, Labradors still must be supervised around children. Although they will not try to hurt a baby without a reason, this doesn’t mean you can leave your baby alone with it. Before buying a dog make sure you have enough time to supervise your kids when playing with it.
Any dog with a history of abuse should be carefully evaluated by experienced trainers prior to its introduction to children. I would encourage from adopting a Labrador if you cannot be certain about its history. It may have picked up bad habits and aggressive behaviour from its previous owner and may bite your child.
It all comes down to proper training
Labradors as a breed tend to be more tolerant than other dog breeds, but it all comes down to the individual dog, the child, the training and the circumstances.
I recommend you to get a Labrador puppy, especially if you have kids. A young Labrador may be easily taught how you want it to behave in front of your kids. Puppies will not have picked up any bad habits from their previous owners as older dogs might have.
If a Labrador grew up socialised with other dogs/animals it can behave well in the presence of kids. A dog that has never socialised grows up to be dangerous because it doesn’t understand the pain limits of other living creatures.
Labradors are very smart and can be trained easily. Just go with them through a full obedience training. This process will result in the dog being well-behaved in front of any children.
You also need to make sure that your child treats the dog with respect and doesn’t harass it. Even very tolerant Labs have their breaking point and kids shouldn’t be left alone with them, unless they were informed about the acceptable treatment of the dog. Although I described above that I know a lot of Labs that can tolerate children’s unrestrained behaviour it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t teach your kids about what does and doesn’t constitute acceptable treatment of the dog. Kids shouldn’t sit on the dog, pull its tail and ears, blow into its nose or ears etc. (1)