Do Labradors Ever Attack Their Owners? Reasons Labs Might Snap

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Labradors are usually known for their friendly personality. However, some people have also reported attacks from this gentle breed, leading to the question of whether it is common for Labradors to attack their owners.

Although generally a friendly breed, Labradors can still attack their owners if pushed too far. Labradors can become angry and attack their owners when they face any kind of physical abuse from their owners, or if raised in an unhealthy environment. However, without provocation, Labradors will not attack their owners.

It's important to understand some of the common reasons this may occur to avoid any dangerous interactions. Additionally, I'll share some tips that may help when dealing with an aggressive Labrador.

In this article

Reasons Labradors May Attack Their Owners

Labradors are very unlikely to be aggressive. Their friendly and laid-back personality makes it difficult for them to attack their human friends in general. Even Labradors with behavioral issues can be trained to behave better, so there's often no need to worry about this breed.

However, if you think about it, there are a few situations where a Labrador can snap upon its owner. Some of the common reasons might include stress, fear, or mental illness.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons.

Stress From a Disruption of Their Routine

Stress is a big culprit in Labradors turning against people, whether owners or strangers. Dogs are generally created to be habitual, and that's why it's possible to train them to behave in specific ways. 

However, a disruption of the routine can cause your canine friend stress. Labradors do not like stress, and anything that will cause stress can easily become too much for them. 

When stress from a disruption in their routine occurs, most labs instinctively turn to bite other animals or humans. It puts your lab in a fight or flight situation, and most times, they choose the right option because they don't have anywhere to run to.


Fearful dogs are generally prone to developing aggressive behaviors. 

As hunting dogs, Labradors might naturally exhibit aggressive behaviors if they sense a danger they can't escape from or feel the need to turn to self-defense. For example, a lab may attack its owner if it is backed into a corner by the owner or if it thinks that your raised hand means you'll hit it.

On the other hand, if your Labrador dog begins to exhibit more fearful or aggressive behavior than usual, it's probably a sign that it has been neglected, abused, or survived a traumatic event. 

It could also be a sign of a lack of adequate socialization as a puppy. 

labradors growl


Another common reason why a Lab may turn against its owner is frustration. This kind of aggression is commonly referred to as barrier frustration or redirected aggression, and it typically occurs when a dog that is frustrated from not being able to access something takes out its frustration in another way.

For example, Labs are hunting dogs, so their first instinct is to chase prey when they see them. If an owner tries to interfere with a Lab while it is going after its prey, the dog may redirect its aggression on the owner.

Mental Illness

Although many people fail to realize it, dogs can suffer mental illnesses like humans and other animals. This condition is one situation where attacks may happen without cause. In most instances, this occurs from poor breeding or inbreeding. 

It's a very tragic answer to the question, "why do Labradors turn against their owners?"

There are several reasons why a dog may develop a mental illness. Some of the most popular reasons include separation anxiety, OCD, excessive aggression, or excessive fear. Any of these conditions can cause a Lab to bite its owner.

Do Labradors Attack Humans?

The lovable nature of Labrador Retrievers makes it seem like an unlikely candidate for a dangerous dog. However, there have been reports of attacks in the past.

Labradors do attack humans, and although there are only a few cases of fatal harm caused by these dogs, they are known to still bite their victims. Despite their kind and gentle nature with their human pack, they can get aggressive to other humans to protect their pack and territory.

When Labradors inflict injuries, they can be as damaging as injuries caused by any other large dog, causing emotional and financial trauma on their victims.

Do Labradors Protect Their Owners?

Just like any other dog, you'll naturally want to know whether a Labrador Retriever is protective of its owner before buying or adopting one. Yes, they are friendly dogs, but the question is, "does the friendliness of a Lab automatically translate to being able to protect its owner?"

Labradors are known to protect their owners. Although their ability to defend their owners depends on training, their instinct pushes them to react when they sense that their human friends are in danger. Labradors can differentiate between normal situations and threatening ones.

While determining a Labrador's protective nature, you must be careful to differentiate their protective behaviors from their possessive behaviors. Possessive behavior involves trying to keep something that they consider desirable, while protective behavior involves trying to keep "one of their own" from danger.

How To Train Your Aggressive Labrador

The first step to train an aggressive Labrador is to identify who he's focusing his aggression on. If there's a particular situation that triggers your dog's aggression, then it'll be best to begin by addressing that situation. 

However, if your dog's aggression is becoming too frequent, you can use any or all of the following tips to help him overcome his aggression.

  • Reward reactions to calm behaviors. Much like children, your dog needs some conditioning not to act out. An excellent way to condition your Labrador is by encouraging him to become calmer and less aggressive. Give it a treat every time it doesn't act aggressively, and with time, it'll learn to prefer calmness over unfounded aggression.
  • Keep an eye on him. One significant reason why a Lab may get aggressive is leaving him alone for too long. Staying with him and showing that you care can make him less prone to becoming aggressive.
  • Separate your dog from everything that may cause trauma. Since trauma can cause aggression in dogs, you can help your Labrador calm by taking away everything that may cause trauma.
  • Expose your dog to regular exercises. Regular exercises can also help release stored-up energy that your dog will exhaust while being aggressive. A tired dog may most likely ignore a situation that would have triggered it.


We can now see that Labradors can attack their owners despite their friendly nature from all we've discussed so far. However, this is often rare and can be caused by stress, fear, or mental illness. 

There's no better way to quench aggression in Labs than by training it correctly. Positive reinforcements and exposing your Lab to regular exercises will help him learn to be calmer with time. Never forget to rush a dog-bite victim to the hospital for proper medical attention.