The sociable and kind-hearted Labrador

The Labrador is a member of the gun dog group, which was originally bred to find and retrieve shot game. This means Labradors are often highly motivated to hold objects. From a young age they will pick up and carry their toys. This natural desire to retrieve is particularly useful for anyone who needs help to pick things up at home or retrieve important items like the phone.

Labradors can grow up to 30-40kg and are usually yellow, black, chocolate brown or fox red in colour. Their energy for life is contagious and they’re endlessly kind-hearted, sociable and playful. Most also love to be in or near water and will happily retrieve things from a pond or the sea.

As a working dog, Labradors can be robust and independent. But at Dogs for Good we select more passive Labradors because they make an excellent partner for people with physical disabilities.

We select Labradors that are happier following people and working alongside a strong leader. This personality allows the client to verbally guide and support the dog, making the dog feel safe, calm and patient. Since many of our clients have conditions that mean they require a little more time to do things, this patience is key.

Every Labrador is unique. As a breed, they share traits, but they have individual personalities too. Getting to know these individual traits is important in training any dog, not only Labradors.

Why do Labradors make great assistance dogs?

Labradors are easy to motivate because they’re willing to do almost anything for a treat! So, it’s fairly easy to train them to become life-changing assistance dogs.

There are two more excellent reasons as to why we train Labradors to help our clients.  Firstly, their size is perfect because an assistance dog needs to be seen easily when standing beside a wheelchair or at the side of the road. Secondly, their health issues are well-documented. Should there ever be a concern with the dog’s health, it’s likely that most vets will have come across the problem before. This can speed up diagnosis and subsequent treatment, avoiding any need to refer the dog onto specialists.

Click if you want to discover how we train our assistance dogs, including Labradors.

Coat Colour Differences

Scientifically, there is no proven difference between yellow, black, chocolate, and fox-red Labradors. However, having trained hundreds of Labradors to help people with all manner of support needs, we’ve noticed a few subtle contrasts between them…

Practical experience shows us that chocolate Labradors have very big characters and a higher level of drive. Their fox-red cousins have even more drive, which is typically too much for the needs of our clients.  So, with the odd exception, we tend to train mainly black and yellow Labradors.

Training Labradors

Dogs for Good trainer, Kat, is a big fan of Labradors: “All you have to do is look at a Labrador and they wag their tail! They have a friendly nature and enjoy being in the company of their human handler,” she says. “ They’re an intelligent breed and enjoy training. They look for human interaction, so training is the perfect way to do this.”

Kat says Labradors are great because they can be both working dogs and family dogs. “They have the energy needed for a working dog, but also have the ability to be calm as a family dog,” she says.

Things to consider when choosing a Labrador:

  • Labradors are water dogs, so keeping them happy is easy just by splashing in puddles and lakes!
  • With any large breed, it’s important when they’re younger to take care when they exercise. Since their bones are still developing, excessive running and jumping, boisterous play with other dogs or even going up and down the stairs too much can negatively affect their development
  • Although Labradors have short hair they do still moult and need grooming on a regular basis
  • Labradors thrive on being around people so they can’t be left alone for long periods of time
  • The amount of energy Labradors have isn’t always suited to everyone — it needs an outlet!

See how Labradors compare to other breeds we work with.