Labrador Temperament: 5 Essential Things to Know About Them

Labrador temperament is one of the first things that you should consider when buying or adopting a pet dog for your home.

Is the Labrador retriever energetic? Are they playful? Or do they have a destructive streak?

Fortunately, a Labrador ticks all the great marks in terms of temperament. They are loving and friendly dogs that are great for families or fieldwork.

Here are a handful of essential temperaments that you have to know about Labradors.

Labrador Retriever Temperament #1: Playful & Energetic

First of all, a Labrador is incredibly energetic and playful. The breed comes from a line of working dogs, and to this day, they participate in gun dog and working dog activities. Their lineage makes them very energetic and high-energy dogs that need more than just the standard two-walks-a-day exercise.

If you live a sedentary lifestyle, this characteristic could be a double-edged sword. While their activity levels may encourage you to become more active yourself, there is also a likelihood that you won’t be able to keep up with their energy.

The thing about a Lab’s energy is that if they don’t spend it playing or running around, they will turn to destructive traits, such as chewing on your furniture or even your shoes. Younger Labs have a high tendency for this, so training them and spending time with them is incredibly important.

when to train a Labrador retriever puppy
A Labrador puppy hard at play

The Labrador is a breed that needs constant affection and playtime, so it’s the first thing you should take note of if you want to adopt or buy one.

Of course, as they get older, their playfulness will subside, and they won’t always be high-energy. But keep in mind that Labs are very youthful dogs and will spend many of their good years playing around and acting younger than their age.

There are also common beliefs about Labrador temperament based on their coat color. In this study, for example, researchers found that Chocolate Labradors tend to act out and be more hyperactive when their owners ignore them. However, take note that none of this data is conclusive, and these are just case studies. They do not directly mean that all Chocolate Labs act the same way.

Labrador Retriever Temperament #2: Gentle

Another characteristic that makes Labradors the most popular breed in the world is its reputation for being gentle. As you probably already know, Labs are famous for being family dogs and for being good with children. Their people-oriented streak allows them to be gentle with prodding kids or strangers.

Take note, however, that a Labrador’s size means a lot in playing. If they haven’t been trained, no matter how gentle your Lab may be. It is possible that they can still injure someone or knock the person down while playing.

Something you should also remember about gentleness is that it might not be the same across all Labs. Dogs with anxiety or illnesses may easily irritated and prone to acting out aggressively. A study on dog aggression says that medical conditions can be contributors to how anxious and aggressive a dog is acting.

This means that gentleness in Labradors is not a 24/7 thing. They are also living beings that can feel stressed out by situations and circumstances.

Labrador Retriever Temperament #3: Even-Tempered

Even though the behavior of a Labrador can shift depending on circumstances and other factors, they are still famous for being very even-tempered dogs. Labradors, when trained properly, are able to adapt to many situations well without being too agitated. Their people-pleasing personality allows them to get along well with strangers in different contexts.

Labrador Retriever Temperament #4: Intelligent & Trainable

To add to their growing list of great qualities, Labradors are also very intelligent and respond well to training. They are excellent work dogs and guide dogs and are often great assistants to those with visual impairments or are on the autism spectrum. 

The Labrador breed also has a rich history of being a working field dog. In fact, they were originally bred for that purpose.

Back in the 19th century, Labradors were used as hunting or retrieving dogs to fetch gunned-down game without maiming or damaging the bird. Their lineage gives them that extra boost of trainability and obedience that makes them such great working dogs and house pets.

Labrador Retriever Temperaments #5: Friendly

To top it all off, Labradors are extremely friendly pets. Their personality leans towards pleasing other people ,and that makes them warm up to others quickly. This is a great trait to have in a family dog since they are less likely to be aggressive towards new visitors or strangers.

On the other hand, Labradors are not the best guard dogs, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. Many people who want a Labrador as a family dog also want them to be a guard dog. However, this is an unrealistic expectation to set in a Lab.

For one, Labradors are a dog breed that’s popular for being gentle, and if you want them to act that way, they will.

Next, dogs do not easily understand very complex requests, such as acting one way around family and another way around those who aren’t. It’s a huge responsibility to put on your Lab’s shoulders. As a pet owner, it is not something you should ask of them.

Of course, friendly as they are, Labradors can still feel threatened and act aggressively in certain situations. There is no ultimate template as to how they act in all situations.

For this reason, training them from the early puppy days is so important. If a Lab has undergone proper training, they will know how to stay calm in different situations.


All these characteristics will not manifest to their full potential unless your Labrador has been trained.

Although they have a natural propensity for all these characteristics since these are their natural temperament, the lack of training could make Labradors difficult to control or guide.

A Lab is naturally obedient and trainable, which adds to their already charming personalities.

Thus, every Lab owner should train their dogs properly so that they become a model Lab.

Authored By

John Lab

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