Labrador Retriever Temperament and Behavior
Because the Labrador Retriever temperament is so cheerful and outgoing, they have been the most popular breed of dog in the world for many years. That doesn't necessarily mean they are the perfect dog for all circumstances.
The ancestors of this breed first appeared in Canada, but the modern Labrador Retriever was developed in England during the 19th century. They were used in the hunt to retrieve ducks that had been shot. This means that they are an athletic breed that needs to work, or they can be difficult to manage.
This dog's temperament is best suited for an active person who is willing to exercise their dog both physically and mentally. If your idea of a pleasant afternoon is curling up with a good book, then I'd recommend you don't choose a Lab as your canine companion. Otherwise your dog will be bored, and that's when behavior problems will appear.
Check out the concentration on this Labrador Retriever while playing fetch
The Need for a Job
The Labrador Retriever is first and foremost a working dog. Your Lab needs the opportunity to use his considerable intelligence, or he will use it for mischief. A bored Lab will dig, bark and pull the washing off the line; all of those boredom related behaviors we dislike so much. This type of dog temperament is ideally suited to dog obedience and agility training. Your Lab will not only enjoy the sport, but he will also enjoy working with you as a team.
There are some lines of dogs that have been specifically bred for good working instinct, instead of for appearance. You can expect this type of Labrador Retriever temperament to be a real challenge. These dogs need a competent trainer and a firm consistent leader. I don't recommend them for a novice dog owner, and prefer to see them in a home with someone who has owned dogs before.
You may be able to find some retrieving trials near where you live. This is ideal for your dog, because it gives him the opportunity to do what he was bred to do. I've found that the physical and mental effort of this type of work leaves a dog happily tired out for quite some time.
As with other working dog temperaments, the Labrador can be extremely focused on what has caught his attention. He will follow a scent until he finds its source, and this can lead to him escaping from his yard to continue the hunt.
The Labrador's job was to go out into the field and bring back the downed bird in their mouth. They still enjoy using their mouth to carry things around, or to chew various objects. Chewing is a common behavior in a Labrador that doesn't get enough physical exercise, and it definitely isn't appreciated by his owner. You may find that your Lab also likes to mouth your hands. Fortunately, they have a very soft mouth and don't usually hurt, but it's not a behavior that you want to encourage.
The way to manage this behavior is to give your dog plenty of chew toys that he is allowed to gnaw on. Some examples are stuffed Kongs or nylon Dentabones. If he starts to mouth your hand, turn his attention to something he will like better, such as a rawhide chew. Take him for a good run every day to keep his energy levels under control.
Watch the Waistline
One of the best known characteristics of this dog's temperament is his love of food. Labradors will eat just about anything, and plenty of it. This means that they tend to gain weight. Ultimately you can control how much your dog eats. Don't give into those pleading brown eyes. Feed him just enough to keep him lean, and he won't fall victim to those obesity related diseases such as arthritis or diabetes. Not only that, but if you avoid excessive weight gain, your Lab will live up to two years longer than if he was overweight.
It isn't always easy to identify the right dog temperaments for your lifestyle, but it's easy to see the type of home that best suits this breed. The happy and outgoing Labrador Retriever temperament is the ideal canine companion if you are an active person or family, and he will love to share all your outdoor adventures.
Other Sporting Dogs
The Labrador Retriever belongs to the Sporting Group of dogs. They love the outdoors, make great hunters and require lots of vigorous exercise. Here are examples of the temperaments, and characteristics of a few other Sporting Dogs: