Are Labrador Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

You may want to own a guard dog for many reasons. They protect your property and keep intruders away. I’ve been thoroughly researching traits of Labradors. And I’ve come to find out whether or not they make good guard dogs.

So, are Labrador Retrievers good guard dogs? To sum it up, some Labradors are great guard dogs but others are completely useless in this regard. Their friendly and social nature makes them way too loving towards everyone, even strangers. Despite their loyalty to their owners and strong build, their temperament makes them incapable of fulfilling the duties of a guard dog.

Well then, what are Labradors good for? How can you train them to be protective? If not Labradors, then which other breeds are suitable for this job? Find all the answers by reading through this post!

Nature of Labradors

In order to understand why Labradors are not the best choice of guard dogs, you must first understand their traits. Let’s start with their behavioral features.

Labradors are very well-known for their weather-resistant, thick coat and fishing abilities. This is because they were originally bred as fishermen’s companions. The high intelligence and obedience led them to be used as shooting companions too. It is true that Labradors have served many purposes which is why they are so multitalented. All these jobs have also helped mold their temperament.

Talking of temperament, these dogs are extremely kind and calm. Some Labs may be aggressive as puppies but with the pace of time, they all become rather tolerant. They can bear a lot in terms of their physical build as well as temperament. Generally, their nature is described as friendly and social.

Here’s the thing:

You’ll hardly ever find a Labrador who will be rude or unfriendly, even if you’re a stranger. This is why they aren’t a suitable breed to become guard dogs. Display of mercy from humans can quickly melt a Lab’s heart.

Nature of Labradors (Video)

 

There is not a single ounce of doubt on a Labrador’s loyalty. They will always do what they deem safest for their owners. This is where their training and obedience comes in. However, it can be hard for these dogs to distinguish between an intruder who is faking to be a friend and a real friend. Since they are easy-going dogs, intruders can trick a Lab rather easily. But, as long as a Labrador is well-aware of the danger to its owner, it will go to all possible extents to create a safe environment.

Now:

This is somewhat confusing. If you successfully train your Labrador to understand everything that may be harmful to you, there is no better protector than a Labrador. But again, this is kind of impossible because you don’t know what tactics an intruder may use. At the time when you need the dog’s aggression to peek through, it is highly likely that the friendly side will make an appearance. This is the risk that you can avoid by opting for a different breed as a guard dog.

How to Train your Lab

In some cases, Labradors can be trained to be excellent guard dogs. If you want to try it out too, follow this training guide to increase your chances of success.

The first, most important tip is to start training your Labrador as early as possible. Some dog owners tend to wait until the dog gets to the age of 6 months. But in reality, those 6 months are the most crucial. This is the time when you can mold your dog’s personality according to your liking. If you do it right, you can suppress the socialite in your Lab and bring out its protective nature, even more, hence making it an ideal guard dog.

Next comes the basic training which includes commands like sit, stay, run, etc. Make these commands as strong as possible to increase the obedience levels. Gradually, you’ll have to start taking help from outside. You can try out obedience classes for dogs. This is where professionals train guard dogs.

Moreover:

Your pet will also get to meet other guard dogs. Other help you’ll need is from random people who will pretend to attack you or steal your belongings. In the beginning, you will have to divert the dog’s attention to this ‘threat’ yourself. You may use a specific verbal command or simply point in the direction. Bear in mind that the helpers may get attacked by the dog. Before you get on with this practical approach, be prepared for the consequences.

Lastly, in the case of any sort of training for Labradors, use a lot of praises and treats. Punishment and reprimands can scare the dog. Labs are prone to getting nervous. Therefore, be as calm as possible to increase the success rate.

What Makes a Good Guard Dog

When you get a guard dog, there are two possibilities. The most likely scenario is that you’re getting a puppy that you will be training or getting trained. Another situation can be that you get a pre-trained guard dog. In either case, you must look out for certain qualities to ensure that your guard dog is a good one.

It is ideal if you get a puppy. Look out for courageous and alert dogs. You can test out whether the puppy has these traits or not by using a simple tactic. Do anything sudden, such as open an umbrella or drop something heavy. The noise and unexpected movement will show you what the puppy’s instincts are. Dogs that run away are not suitable for this job. On the other hand, dogs that stay and investigate the cause of the noise are the right ones.

Also:

Test out the puppy’s level of aggression. A dog that is ready to attack a threat is great but a pet that can possibly attack its owner is not a trustworthy choice. This test can be done by the previous puppy owner. Ask them to move around the dog’s food or belongings. If this triggers bad behavior, reject the pup. Moreover, always go for the leader. One that can pave its own path and be self-sufficient will be the one to protect you too. A dog that can be easily dominated by other dogs will not be a good guard.

You should look for similar characteristics in an adult too. The difference is that you’ll have more time to further polish the puppy’s behavior. Another issue is that the adult dog will take time to acknowledge you as the new owner. The shift of loyalty will be harder than training a puppy from scratch.

Best Guard Dog Breeds

So, as you’ve probably guessed by now, the majority of guard dogs are trained based on their natural traits. You can help bring out certain aspects and polish some. But, you cannot magically make a disloyal dog become protective. This is why certain breeds are recommended for the job while others aren’t.

However:

All of these suggestions are based on the assumption that the dog will be similar to its breed’s generic qualities. There can always be exceptions so take this information with a grain of salt.

One major trait in a guard dog is its strong build. In this regard, Bullmastiffs take the lead. This courageous dog is big enough to stand in any intruder’s way. Also, if this dog jumps onto the threat, that alone will be enough to scare it off or even sometimes hurt it. The Giant Schnauzer is also a breed with similar traits.

Next in line are Rottweilers. This breed is extremely loyal. What’s even better is that Rottweilers are not friendly at all with strangers. On the contrary, they love the people they are familiar with. The high sense of loyalty along with their smartness makes them an ideal choice for being guard dogs. Doberman Pinschers are pretty similar too.

German Shepherds are a common police dog. This is due to their remarkable nature. Other than that, Komondors are used to protect herds of sheep. Therefore, both these breeds are trustworthy.

Training Tips for Guard Dogs

But:

When it comes to training guard dogs, the requirements are a tad bit different. You can opt for the method of your choice. But what’s important is that you include these pieces of training in the process.

One of the most common ways is to train the dog to attack. You have to decide your preferred protection in order to begin training. The trick is to bring out the traits of your dog that are necessary for protection. These include loyalty, aggression, and also protectiveness. In order to successfully do so, you need to be well aware of your dog’s personality since every dog is different.

Next, try out fake scenarios in the process of training. You cannot train your dog well-enough without real-life examples. Moreover, do not just train the dog to be aware of strangers. Sometimes familiar people can also bring harm. One thing you can do is train the dog to act on a certain ‘code’ command so that no one except your dog understands that it’s time to attack.

So, basically:

Just like humans, dogs can also misunderstand situations. There is a possibility that your dog may interpret something as a threat and proceed to attack. If this ‘intruder’ actually meant no harm, your dog could end up hurting an innocent person. Therefore, you need to train the dog very strictly for commands. As soon as you notice that the dog is getting triggered by something that is not harmful, you need to order the dog to stop. Training is vital in this regard because when the animal is under attack-mode, it may not listen to you. Hence why I consider this to be the most important part of a guard dog’s training.

Guard Dog vs. Watchdog

The titles of these jobs are pretty self-explanatory. A guard dog is supposed to ‘guard’ you, which includes protections. On the other hand, a watchdog only has to keep an eye out for danger. A watchdog is also called an alarm dog.

Here’s the thing:

A guard dog basically does the job of a watchdog too. But, with the additional aspect of the possible attack on the intruder. This could be whatever you train the dog for, ranging from a simple jump on the threat to a fatal bite. Usually, a guard dog acts as a watchdog for the most part. They only proceed with attacks when the threat takes a step forward too.

Although Labradors aren’t a recommended breed to be guard dogs, they do make exceptional watchdogs. Their curious nature and high alertness give them the ability to sense the slightest changes around. They begin to bark loudly when they notice something unusual. You could also blame or credit their nervousness for this. Whatever the cause, they can alert their owner in case of a threat.

So:

If you don’t really need protection but would like to be warned against potential danger, you should get a Labrador. You’re in good hands if you have either a guard dog or a watchdog. Although, some people like to have both for extra protection.

Why You Should Get a Guard Dog

It is clear by now that owning a guard dog is not easy. Despite the protection they offer, you cannot ignore the immense amount of effort that goes into training them. It is way more hassle than owning a pet dog. So, is it all worth it? Why should you even get a guard dog?

A guard dog is a perfect choice for you if you are in need of a fool-proof protection method. You should definitely get a guard dog if you have trust issues, attract creepy people or own a property or house. Consider this option especially if you live alone. While CCTV footage can get corrupted, human guards can be bribed or hurt, and door locks can be maneuvered, a guard dog will stand tall against the intruder.

The best part is:

There is no chance you wouldn’t get alerted. Yes, the dog may not be able to bring down the intruder or block the way. But, the loud barks will definitely give you the red flag so you can take steps to save yourself. All in all, it is 100% worth it to go through the hassle of training a guard dog. The results are actually life-saving for people who experience day to day threats.

Related Questions

Are Labs good watchdogs?

Labradors are very reliable. Their high levels of obedience along with their understanding nature make them easily trainable. Therefore, they make great watchdogs. Although their social nature contradicts with the job of a guard dog, they are pretty good watchdogs. Their smartness is also a major contributing factor.

At what age do Labradors calm down?

It is true that Labs can be rather aggressive or impatient in their early days. This is especially a problem with new dog owners. But you shouldn’t worry much about it. If you consistently handle them well, Labradors start to get calm as they age. By the time of their first birthday, most Labradors get a settled temperament and behavior.

Will a Labrador protect its family?

Just because Labs lack the skills to become a good guard dog does not mean they aren’t protective. In fact, there is no doubt in the fact that Labradors are very protective of their family. They can go to any extent to keep their owners safe.

Which color Labrador is the most intelligent?

There is a common misunderstanding among people that black Labradors are the smartest. This misconception may have arisen due to the high number of black Labs. However, the truth is, all colored Labradors are equally intelligent. There are definitely more black Labs than any other color because the genes of the color black are dominating. Other than that, all Labradors, regardless of their color, are pretty clever.

What is the rarest Labrador color?

As of the current situation, none of the Labrador colors are rare. Although, black is the most widely available. According to logic and science, if Labradors were only breeding through natural means and lived in the wild, chocolate-colored Labs will be the lowest in number. This is simply because of the genetic combination that makes chocolate the most recessive gene. A chocolate-colored Labrador is only born if both parents were also chocolate in color.

Do Labradors get angry?

Generally, Labrador is a very well-behaved breed. As mentioned before, they are pretty easy to train and are very obedient too. But, this doesn’t rid them of emotions and anger is definitely something that they experience. However, this anger is only triggered rarely. Some Labradors may start nipping and biting in anger. This is something you can train the dog against by using verbal punishments.

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