Labrador Retrievers are known to be America’s number one breed that is registered to the American Kennel Club, a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States. These dogs are mostly described as having a good nature of being friendly and loyal to their owners. At the same time, they are very warm and provides great companionship.
If you are in the middle of trying to search the internet for what breed of dog to choose as your own, you will also probably want to know if Labrador Retrievers are truly protective and if they would really have your back.
To answer your question, Labrador Retrievers are not commonly considered as protective as the traditional guarding breeds that we know of. However, these dogs would definitely try to protect their territories from things that they deem as threatening.
Read through this article as we discuss Labrador Retriever’s instincts when it comes to protecting and whether they can be trained and trusted to have your back throughout life.
Are Labrador Retrievers Protective?
First, it is best to start by defining what “protective” means when it comes to these dogs’ behaviors. Let’s take the memory lane as we remember that dogs are naturally social species.
Their great canine ancestors lived together in packs, and usually, the large, strong members of the pack would protect their weak and vulnerable fellows such as infants, nursing, or pregnant females.
They protect their fellows from threats that opportunistic predators usually bring. The strong members need to protect those who can’t defend themselves for survival. Apparently, larger packs of dogs have more hunters to find food and survive. More females will also be able to continue bearing the next generation.
Nowadays, domestic dogs most likely identify and consider other dogs and humans that they live with members of their pack; therefore, they would try to protect them against any threat that they may perceive. To give you a very common example, these dogs would usually bark at unfamiliar visitors as a way to protect the “members” of their pack.
Are All Dogs Protective?
As mentioned earlier, dogs are naturally social species; that is why all breeds of dogs are very much capable of having a protective behavior. However, young puppies aren’t that protective yet; well, when it comes to survival, they are not the protectors yet, but they are the ones being protected.
Protective behaviors usually develop at the start of adolescence as these puppies reach their social maturity.
You may also be curious if there are differences between the male and female dogs when it comes to their protective behavior. There is no significant difference between these two. Although female dogs usually don’t display protective aggression, they may develop this when they rear their little puppies.
It is also worthy of remembering that either of the sexes might actually display an increase in their protective behavior once a newborn puppy joins the household.
Protection vs. Possession
Most owners have this common error in mistaking the differences between protective behavior and possessive behavior.
Mostly, dogs, including Labrador Retrievers, guard resources that they consider to have a high value, and most of the time, dogs that are protecting their family members or the dogs that are living with them can be considered as guarding something that is valuable.
However, some veterinarians are concerned with including humans in the list of things that can be resource guarded because apparently, possessive aggression and protective aggression are two different stories to tell.
Protective aggression is when a dog tries to prevent someone that they consider of their own from being harmed or injured. On the other hand, possessive aggression or resource guarding is how a dog keeps something that they deem valuable to himself.
This is why everything that is being resource guarded by dogs doesn’t really mean that they are protective. They really just want to keep those things to themselves hence the aggression.
Do Labradors Protect Their Own Humans?
According to a Dutch study, Labrador Retrievers are more likely to be protective of their territories or what they consider as a home than their owners. However, this is really not a bad thing because excessive protection of their owners is considered as one of the most common behavior problems that owners complain about.
This may really be a frustrating, time consuming, and expensive behavior problem to overcome given all the dog behavior expert consultation and training fees that one has to pay for, but then again, this will be of great help to understand the root of your dog’s behavior and immediately help your dog overcome as well.
How Protective Aggression Works
A balanced and controlled protective behavior is usually difficult to teach. Dogs that are in their guardian roles and can pull this behavior off easily are mostly those who have inherited instincts to behave protectively hardwired into them.
Some breeds that have this natural and balanced protective behavior are the German Shepherd Dogs and the Mastiff breeds. Their protective behavior instinct is related to an innate mistrust of unfamiliar people, places, animals, and things.
When owners train their German Shepherd and Mastiff dogs to work as livestock guardians, they usually encourage their puppies to establish strong social bonds with their packs at a very young age. As these dogs mature, their owners would often give them rewards for being mindful of their members’ whereabouts and what’s going on with them.
At the end of the day, bear in mind that behaving protectively of the herd is usually followed by a natural combination of being mindful and spending time with them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be taught, as this behavior can come out naturally.
Will Your Lab Attach Intruders?
Although Labrador Retrievers are naturally friendly and approachable in meeting new people, that doesn’t mean that they are always happy to be around everyone they meet.
Even these dogs can be anxious and wary of the new people they meet, especially if they were not used to socializing when they were young, have bad experiences with meeting new people or intruders in the past, or when they get startled.
Your Labrador may act really aggressively to an intruder either because of their protective instinct that was triggered or because they are frightened.
However, aggression is usually a dog’s last resort. Before the attack, dogs perform several behaviors to communicate that they are already wary of someone’s presence. This includes adopting a tense standing position, baring their teeth, growling, snarling, barking, snapping their teeth, and even lunging without making contact.
Sometimes, dogs that have been punished for doing them in the past, or when the intruder ignores them and is still very pushy, dogs skip these pre-attack behaviors.
Are Labradors Loyal as a Friend?
A definite yes. Bear in mind that a dog’s protective behavior doesn’t reflect how they feel about you but largely because dogs feel very unfamiliar with people or animals. If you treat your Labrador kindly and friendly, ensuring that all their needs are met, you’ll eventually witness their loyalty.