Pros & Cons Of Labradors (Are They Good Dogs?)

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Think the Labrador Retriever breed could be the right fit for your family? We’ll lay out all the pros and cons of this beloved breed.

Labrador Retrievers are known for their high intelligence and loving dispositions, but their shedding and high energy can cause issues for certain dog owners. Adopting any dog requires careful research and deliberation.

We’ve gathered expertise over many years, raising over a dozen dogs. Whether you adopt a small spaniel or a loving and loyal Labrador, we aim to help you make the most informed decision for your home.

What Are the Advantages of a Labrador Retriever? (Pros)

Labs are among the most popular family dog breeds for countless reasons. Their gentle and loving nature, loyalty to their owners, and sharp intelligence are just the start.

No dog breed is perfect, but we think these goofy dogs come pretty close. We struggled to find cons to owning a Labrador Retriever as we tried to lay out Labrador pros and cons. There are so many Labrador pros.

Are Labrador Retrievers Friendly?

Yes, Labs are among the friendliest breeds on Earth. If there was ever a dog breed that epitomizes the “man’s best friend” saying, it would be the Labrador. Labs are great with kids, too!

These dogs only want to please their families, and it shows; you’ll never catch your Lab causing trouble or pestering you for attention. Their marked gentleness is hard to explain if you’ve never spent time with one.

Our family Lab gets more excited for visitors than we do, wagging his tail a mile a minute with an angelic if goofy, grin. These dogs love nothing more than to spend time with people.

What Color Labrador Is Best?

Labradors come in a small rainbow of colors–black, chocolate, yellow, and white. Yellow Labs’ coats can be absolutely gorgeous in the sun, but nothing beats a silky chocolate Lab’s or black Lab’s coat, either.

Any color Lab will bring love and joy into your home. For the most part, Labrador’s personalities do not vary with coat color. Yellow Labs are popular service dogs and working dogs, but any hue of Labrador can be just as sweet as the next.

A word of caution from people like us that have learned the hard way: say goodbye to your solid black t-shirts if you decide to adopt a white or yellow Labrador. Their fur tends to cling. This problem isn’t unique to Labradors, however.

Are Labradors Easy to Train?

Due to their high intelligence and people-pleasing nature, Labradors are very easy to train compared to other dogs. You’ll find your Lab looking to you for new commands or guidance on its own!

Trainability is one of the biggest pros among the Labrador pros and cons.

Labradors are known for being quick to potty train and pick up more advanced tricks like rolling over and playing dead. Plus, Labs’ good memory means that time spent training your pup will pay dividends for years.

With patience, positive reinforcement, consistency, and the right little treat, training your Lab will be just as fun as playtime; we think so.

We recommend skipping expensive pet store treats and going for what works. All of our dogs prefer low-salt turkey cold cuts as a training reward. (Rip tiny slivers as you go!)

For potty training, in particular, kits like these are life savers. Smart dogs essentially potty train themselves with some nudging and the right tools.

Are Labradors Good Apartment Dogs?

Yes, actually. Labradors are wonderful apartment dogs if you make the effort to train them with love and consistency from the start. You’ll also need open space. Densely-furnished apartments are not suitable for Labradors.

Despite being fairly high-energy, Labs thrive in smaller environments just fine when their owners care for them properly. They will need daily play and an outdoor space.

Since your apartment doesn’t have a dedicated, fenced-in yard, a regular walk and play schedule will be more important than it would be otherwise. Any dog can grow restless and destructive without proper exercise and stimulation.

Labradors are not very loud. You’ll seldom hear them bark, which makes them well-suited to apartments, condos, and shared houses.

Remember, no dog is a good apartment dog without proper care. Consider a cat or lap dog for an apartment pet requiring little input or care. Labs want to be active with you.

Is a Labrador a High-Maintenance Dog?

Compared to other dog breeds, Labradors are considered fairly low-maintenance. It’s important to remember that you’ll never find a zero-maintenance dog; they all require consistent commitment and care.

Labs need weekly brushing to keep their coat and skin healthy and to reduce the amount of shed fur scattered around your home. Even though Labradors don’t shed much, it will accumulate if you don’t stay on top of brushing.

Regarding professional grooming, Labrador Retrievers should be groomed every 1-2 months unless you are comfortable bathing and nail clipping at home. We recommend Buddy Wash for your furry friends.

For at-home clipping, give the Zen clippers a try. We prefer to have our dogs’ nails cut professionally, but we have used these a handful of times.

Is a Labrador Retriever Puppy Good for First-Time Dog Owners?

Absolutely! Whether chocolate, yellow, or white, Labradors are great companions for new dog owners.

Their combination of intelligence, receptiveness to training, gentle disposition, and ease of care make them well-suited as first dogs.

It’s important to remember that every individual dog is different, even within the same breed. Labs can have all sorts of different personalities and needs; breed generalizations should be considered guidelines.

First-timers should consider contacting a local professional dog trainer to get off on the right paw with their new canine companion. Even as a one-time meeting, learning the right procedure can make a huge difference going forward.

Are Labradors Good With Kids?

Labradors are great with kids. Their good-natured signature Labrador Retriever temperament and trainability make them safe and fun companions for your little ones. They can become quite protective and attached to your little ones, too.

We’ve never known another breed with the immense patience and interest for kids that Labs have. Proper training and introductions between the children and the dog are always necessary, but these great pups make it easy.

Remember that the other half of this equation is you and your kids. Talk with them about proper ways to interact with dogs before allowing them to play unsupervised. Not even Labs will put up with being pulled, prodded, or ridden for long.

We know kids are the number one issue when families consider Labrador pros and cons.

Are Labradors Generally Healthy Dogs?

Labradors are commonly known for their exceptional healthy, but just like any popular dog breed, they are vulnerable to certain ailments and illnesses. In general, they are less prone to issues than other purebred dogs.

Labs are famous for being chow hounds. They love food. This is an endearing and fun quality, but it can lead to obesity without proper diet and exercise planning. Obesity can lead to your precious dog having related health issues like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.

Keeping your Lab at a healthy weight is easy. We strongly recommend no table scraps and a planned amount of food two times daily. Your Labrador Retriever will need up to 330 grams of dog food, depending on their weight.

Elbow and hip dysplasia is common in older Labrador Retrievers. Dysplasia is a condition where the joints develop abnormally, resulting in pain and mobility issues as your dog ages.

New owners should also be on the lookout for any skin sensitivities or rashes, as Labs tend towards these problems as well.

No popular dog breed is perfectly healthy 100% of the time, but the above collection of ailments is short and mild compared to many other types of dogs. This particular list tends to apply to all dogs as they age.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Labrador? (Cons)

It’s time for the less-fun side of Labrador pros and cons.

As close to perfect as they are, there are a few potential drawbacks to owning a Labrador. Doing your research is important before you make the decision to adopt one into your home.

The cons to owning a Labrador Retriever include their high attention needs, shedding, energy levels, dog allergies, and size. Being honest with yourself, your needs, resources, and limitations will ensure an adoption decision you’ll never regret.

Can Labradors Be Left Home Alone?

Labradors can be trusted home alone, but not for extended periods of time. For this reason, Labs aren’t suitable for people with long work hours and no one else at home.

Labs are lively and need attention and exercise. You can trust them alone for a while, but not all day. Leaving your pup alone from morning til night will encourage depression and bad behavior.

If you can’t commit to giving your pooch regular exercise and attention, consider a smaller breed or a cat companion.

Sometimes leaving our pets at home is unavoidable, and that’s OK. Before leaving the house, we always leave the TV or radio on for our dogs in the background, block off or close the doors to certain areas, and make sure they have toys and water.

This has resulted in a shockingly low number of chewed-up shoes when you consider how many dogs we’ve owned. Toys like lick mats and treat puzzles are game-changers for intelligent dogs like a Labrador Retriever.

Do Labradors Shed?

Yes, Labradors shed. Without regular brushing and grooming, some owners will find their homes covered in loose fur. This problem is even worse for owners of Yellow Labs and White Labs since the lighter fur tends to be way more visible.

We consider this a conditional con to owning a Labrador Retriever. Unlike other shedding breeds, Labs’ excess fur is very easy to keep under control. A couple of brushings a week, or even one, will be plenty to manage your Labrador’s coat.

The best brush around for controlling the shed is the FURminator.

Is the Labrador Retriever Breed High-Energy?

Labradors are high-energy dogs that need regular exercise, mental stimulation, and affection. This is a big con for owners without the time, energy, or desire to keep up with these needs.

Owners looking for a low-effort dog should look elsewhere. Labradors are easy to train and get along with, but a moderate amount of effort has to be consistent. They are far from independent dogs like the Shiba Inu.

Failure to keep your pup engaged and cared for is a surefire way to get your shoes chewed up. Lack of stimulation will have your Lab turning to your stuff or your furniture.

Are Labradors Hypoallergenic?

No. Labrador Retrievers are not good for people with dog allergies. They aren’t any worse or better compared to other breeds that shed and produce dander.

This is the one pure con to owning a Labrador Retriever. They are not suitable for people with severe dog allergies; brushing is not enough to mitigate the allergens.

Labs constantly shed all year round. If you are allergic to dogs, do not get a Labrador Retriever. Consider hypoallergenic dogs or dogs that only shed a couple of times each year. There are plenty of options that run the full range of sizes and personalities.

Here is the American Kennel Club’s list of hypoallergenic dogs. Both Poodles and Schnauzers make lovely companions comparable to a Labrador, but without the allergies.

Do Black Labs Cause Allergies?

Yes, but no more or less than other colors of Labradors. Anything to the contrary is an urban myth. As we’ve already said, Labs are among the worst dogs for people with allergies.

The color of a Labrador Retriever has nothing to do with dog danger, the allergen responsible for the allergy, that gets released into the environment. Vacuuming several times a week and using indoor air filters can help but will not erase the problem.

If you’re deadset on a Labrador Retriever, visit an allergist who should be able to administer tests and de-sensitizing treatments that will make co-existing with a dog easier and more comfortable.

How Big Are Labradors?

Labradors are medium-large-sized dogs. They weigh between 55 and 80 pounds.

Size is a potential con for a few reasons. Larger Labradors can intimidate certain people, small children and elderly people included, when they get excited or jump.

A well-trained Lab won’t be an issue, but keep their size in mind if you live with any very young children or elderly family members who could be injured by an excited dog. A smaller, lower-weight breed might be the right choice.

We think you should always be able to comfortably lift your dog in case of emergency or health issues. If you aren’t equipped to lift 55-80 pounds, and neither is anyone else in your household, we recommend going for a small breed for the dog's safety and yours.

While Labs and other big, friendly dogs can be exceptional companions for your family, it’s crucial to consider the unique responsibilities and hurdles that accompany owning a large breed.

Are Labradors Expensive Dogs?

Labradors are an expensive breed if you’re in the market for a purebred Labrador puppy. Reputable and humane breeders are more expensive than pet stores and are the only type of pet seller you should do business with.

Expect to pay between $500 and $1200 for healthy, high-pedigree Labrador puppies, regardless of color. Pure white Labs can be more expensive because of their rarity. This is a significant barrier for people with fewer resources.

Rescuing a Labrador is a cheaper alternative, but there’s no guarantee of breed availability, and each animal’s history can be spotty. Plus, adopting a dog six months or older is a big challenge when it comes to training.

Once you’ve decided a Labrador Retriever is right for you or your family, do even more research before you decide where to get your new puppy. AKC-approved breeders are the only people you should buy a purebred dog from.

Pet stores with their puppy mill dogs are tempting, but their business practices and treatment of the animals make them an option any decent person should avoid. Dogs from these sources are mistreated and come with more health problems and untraceable pedigrees.

After your initial investment, Labs require less money spent at the vet because of their overall health. Always consider the cost of high-quality dog food, care, and purchase price in your budget before you adopt a dog; these are costs and responsibilities not to be taken lightly.

The American Kennel Club offers a puppy marketplace platform with built-in pedigree listings. Champion bloodlines indicated a family history of show-winning dogs and good health and behaviors.

Consider this site a good place to start your search once you have a good idea of Labrador pros and cons. Note that being listed on this page does not necessarily mean that the puppy comes from an ethical breeder.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson