Is a Labrador the right dog for you or should you rather look for a dog that will fit in better with your personality?
Just like humans, dogs also have personalities and temperaments. Some are specific to a breed and some are specific to an individual dog. Although much of the image a dog has are based on what people believe and not what the dog really is, some dogs and people are just not going to get along.
A person with a confident or aggressive personality will probably do better with a terrier or herding type dog while a person with a meek personality may find a sporting or toy breed a better companion.
Personalities of people and dogs
The difference between temperament and personality is that temperament is largely affected by genetic factors, while personality is the outcome of the interplay between temperament and environment (including individual experiences).
Based on this, numerous biological, environmental, and evolutionary influences affect the personality of dogs. Source (pdf) The same study reports on the boldness, sociability, trainability, calmness and reliability of dogs in general.
Other research indicates that the personality of the owner may find expression in the behavior of the dog.
- People have different personalities for which there are different personality tests and personality descriptions.
- There appears to be a difference in personality types between ethnic groups
- Labradors differ in “personality” or temperament.
Common sense would then dictate that people’s personalities would influence the type of dog they would choose as a pet or a companion. The purpose for which the dog is acquired may influence the decision but, in general, one could accept that people will choose dogs that they can relate to.
The “brand” of the breed will then play an important role. Pit-Bulls will attract a certain “type” of human while Labradors will attract another type of person.
- Gundogs had higher scores for ‘fetching tendency’ and ‘trainability’ than Showdogs or Pets.
- Chocolate dogs were more ‘agitated when ignored’ and showed more ‘excitability’ than black dogs.
- Chocolate dogs showed lower ‘trainability’ and ‘noise fear’ than both yellow and black dogs.
- Dogs exercised for longer periods showed less aggression, less fear of humans and objects and lower separation anxiety than dogs that were not as active. Source
Labradors were bred to be working dogs as well as companions for humans. To be good in both roles they have to have enthusiasm and stamina, they have to be intelligent and learn quickly and they must be sociable. They flourish in an active and social environment. They do well in a family set up where they receive continuous attention and stimulation.
They are not exclusively dependent on groups of people but must be in the presence of people as much as possible. That is why they make good assistance dogs for the disabled and the elderly.
Labradors make bad guard dogs because they are friendly towards strangers and they don’t bark unless they are startled. Do not get a Labrador if you are looking for a dog that will alert you to the presence of strangers or a dog that will defend you.
Because they are active dogs they tend to easily become obese. They need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day or they may become a nuisance as they tend to chew on everything when they are bored, much like bored humans
Labradors need to have a disciplined life and they benefit from formal training and learning new skills. Labs work in fields as diverse as
- explosives, drug and money detection,
- search and rescue,
- assistance to those with disabilities,
- game retrievers for hunters,
- dog competitions including show, field, agility and obedience,
- medical detection such as lung cancer.
People will choose a dog that fills the need they have at that moment.
If you choose a Labrador as a family or companion dog, keep in mind that they live up to 12 years, need attention, need exercise and suffer from serious separation anxiety especially when they are separated from their owners for longer than 8 hours.
Labradors are very special dogs, which is why they are repeatedly crowned the most popular dog. So, we know Labradors are special dogs with special abilities, but we don’t always realise that a special dog demands a special owner. They won’t be happy and won’t cope well with owners with a personality that actually demands another breed of dog.
Generally, it draws attention when a frail old lady keeps a Pitbull and the same when a rough 200lb muscled biker would walk around with a Chihuahua that fits in a teacup.
So, while we ask which dog fits us because the decision is ours, we should also ask whether a dog would choose us.
Are you the right person for a Labrador?
Would you fit in with the temperament of a Labrador?
If you are a couch potato you will be the cause of obesity, unhappiness and possible depression in your Labrador because they are intelligent dogs that need to be active and be kept busy.
If you have an aggressive personality, someone who makes things happen by force, a Labrador may be too mellow for you.
Dogs that have been bred to enhance certain characteristics (personality traits) and to reduce others, will logically have more of the traits for which they were bred.
Working dogs will be more “people-friendly” while guard, attack or fighter dogs may be less people-friendly. The purpose for which they were bred then becomes their personality.
People depend strongly on the difference in temperament between breeds to decide what breed of dog to get as a pet or companion.
Sixty-two per cent of Americans own a pet and research shows that extroverted people prefer dogs while introverted people prefer cats.
We know that Labradors are the first choice for dog owners in the US.
Much research has been done on the relationship between human personality and pet ownership. In a limited research project to determine if personality affects individuals’ relationships with pets, the following was observed:
- Individuals with high masculine scores preferred rottweilers, and individuals with high feminine scores preferred Malteses.
- Happier and more extroverted people preferred dogs over cats.
- There are personality differences between individuals that favor dogs and those that favor cats.
Dog owners show a bigger satisfaction with their dogs when the owner and the dog share certain traits.
Research is done on the link between the personality of people and the dogs they prefer. Some results indicate that matching the personality of dogs and their owners based on a few characteristics may predict owner satisfaction with the dog. This suggests that efforts to match prospective owners to dogs in terms of personality may be successful. It would substantially reduce the number of dogs abandoned by owners and the number of dogs left homeless each year.
The ASPCA offers a Meet Your Match evaluation that assists in matching people with the type of pet they are most compatible with.
But, eventually, the decision lies with you. You know what your preferences are and what type of lifestyle you follow. You know best what type of dog fits in with the kind of person you are.
As a responsible human being, it is important that you choose a dog that will enrich your life and not be a liability. You need to choose based on a commitment for the next 12 – 15 years. If you choose on a spur-of-the-moment emotion because of how you feel today or what dog movie you saw last night, you will do the dog and yourself an injustice. Unfortunately, the dog has little say in you becoming its owner.
When choosing a Labrador as your next dog, ask yourself if you will enrich the life of your dog with an active and stimulating lifestyle.
If not, choose a different pet, because a Labrador is not the right dog for you.