By Andrew Fischer
Do Labradors bite?
Do Labradors bite? This question becomes even more important if you have small children and want to ensure that you are not going to put them in a dangerous situation by introducing a dog that may bite them.
In this article I’m going to be looking at whether Labradors bite, whether they may become aggressive and how to stop any dog from biting. So let’s dig into it!
May your Labrador be aggressive?
All dogs are individuals and so every one of them has slightly different character. In general it’s very safe to say that the Labrador Retriever doesn’t usually bite. Labs are very friendly, sociable and obedient dogs that can get along with kids, adults and other animals.
From that info you can see that Labradors are not aggressive. In fact, you’d have to try really hard to find another dog breed that is less aggressive than Labs.
But that all doesn’t mean that you will be 100% never attacked or bitten by a Labrador.
When and why do Labradors bite?
Labradors usually only bite for a reason. If it’s trying to protect something, if it feels endangered, surprised or irritated.
Sometimes Labradors change their mood and want to be left alone. If they aren’t given their personal space and feel provoked they may bite.
A common form of unintended bites is through play. This usually happens to Labradors that were not properly socialized as puppies. Small Labs learn not to bite their family members by playing with their siblings and during the play they might bite each other occasionally. The pain and the high-pitched yelps of their siblings would teach them to avoid this kind of behaviour in the future. This means that you can decrease the probability of your Labrador biting you or your kids by buying a Labrador from a breeder who is able to guarantee that the dog was properly socialized.
Dogs who suffer from pain are more likely to be aggressive than healthy ones. For example once common condition in Labradors called hip dysplasia was found to leave dogs in serious pain and lead to biting problems.
Labs have a strong protective instinct. They will always try to protect themselves, you and their family. Although Labradors are not real guard dogs, they nevertheless have a natural protective instinct. This may be another reason why a Lab may bite you. To protect someone.
A previous negative experience may be another reason for Labrador’s aggressivity. Dog bites are much more likely to occur when the dog has a history of abuse. Labradors in peaceful loving families tend to be calmer and bite less often than those that grew up mistreated and abused. This negative experience may have strong impact on dogs leaving them unable to trust and always fearful.
How common are Labrador attacks?
Available data that we have indicate that around 2 people in the USA are killed by Labradors each year. This is not a lot compared to some other dog breeds. (1)
Partly because the Labrador Retriever is the most common dog breed in the USA, Labradors were identified as responsible for the most dog attack injury claims in recent years.
This may be surprising to many of us. It’s clear from those figures that Labrador attack incidents happen more frequently than most people think.
One possible explanation for this higher number of incidents is that many people are not cautious enough around Labradors. They just presume that every Lab is friendly and thus don’t exercise sufficient caution.
Proper training plays an important role in the behaviour of dogs. Many inexperienced dog owners believe that Labs don’t need much training. This approach however leads to many biting problems.
A study published in 2009 found that around 40% of aggressive behaviour in Labradors is due to the lack of basic training.
What to do if a Labrador bites you?
The most common dog bite wounds are puncture wounds left by the dog’s teeth. A Lab’s bite can also cause soft tissue tears, cuts and scratches. These can easily damage bones, muscles or tendons and lead to infections, trauma and even amputation.
In case of a dog’s attack try to get to safety as soon as possible and find a place where the dog can no longer reach you.
If an off-leash Labrador approaches you in an aggressive way don’t panic. Avoid screaming and eye contact with the dog. Don’t run, jump or flail limbs. If he attacks remember to keep your hands in front of your body to protect your vital organs (remember to protect your face, chest, and throat). Try to use a calm assertive energy to keep the attacking dog back.
Children should curl themselves into a small tight ball and be as silent and still as possible.
If you have something on you like a sweater, you can give it to the attacking dog to take a bait. He will attack your sweater and you will have an opportunity to slowly back out of the area.
If you are bitten, it’s advisable to avoid pulling the dog away. This may only make the injury worse through tearing your flesh. You should redirect the attacking dog to things you are OK with him biting. You can redirect him to some clothes, toys, snack etc. Some dog trainers also advise to stick your finger in the dog’s mouth and press on the back of his tongue.
You can also try to cover his eyes and blow onto their face.