Labrador tug-of-war

Labradors are not good guard dogs because that is not what they have been bred for. They are bred to be working companion dogs.

It, however, depends on what you understand by “guard dog”. A Labrador can be a guard dog that alerts you about someone approaching, but a Labrador has not been bred to attack an intruder and defend people or property.

Most dog breeds make good watchdogs because of their acute hearing and smelling sense.

That means that a Labrador Retriever makes a good watchdog but not a good guard dog.

Why are Labradors not good guard dogs? Labrador playing with stick in water
Labradors are bred to be working and companion dogs

Compare Labradors with guard dogs

To see why a Labrador don’t make a good guard dog, let’s compare Labrador Retrievers with breeds that are considered guard dogs.

A guard dog is expected to alert its handler or owner to approaching people or animals. In addition, a guard dog must be able to protect people and property with aggression and force when needed.

Dog breeds that are not aggressive, who don’t bite or who are not physically large and heavy enough to take on an intruder, do not make good guard dogs.

Guard dog breeds include

There is a long list of dog breeds that are used as guard dogs.

All these breeds acknowledged as guard dogs have been bred to guard and protect.

The Labrador Retriever is bred to be a companion dog that gets along with people and animals. These are not characteristics of aggressive guard dogs.

Labrador Retrievers have all the characteristics to get along with people and other animals and to be focused on tasks and not defend or attack.

Within the breed, there are different characteristics that were identified in research but all these characteristics relate to working and being of service. None are related to aggression.

Interesting enough, these inter-breed differences show a correlation between observable characteristics and color of the dog.

Can Labradors be trained to be guard dogs?

Labradors can be trained to alert owners to sounds and approaching people and animals. They will then act as a warning system or a “guard” dog.

We must keep in mind that Labradors, like other dog breeds, have acute hearing and smelling abilities. This makes them just as effective as guard dogs as any other breed, but they will probably need a bit more training than dogs who are bred to be guard dogs.

A Labrador will notice sounds or approaching animals or people just as quickly as any other dog, but they may act differently.

Labradors will rather greet strangers than growl at them. They will not by nature bite other animals or people even if they are provoked or instigated. Labradors are more inclined to play than bite.

Technically, a Labrador can be trained to be a guard dog, but it is not their natural inclination or typical role.

While Labradors are not ideal for guard dog work, they can still be trained to protect their owners or alert them to potential danger.

This training can involve teaching the dog to bark on command, identify strangers, and be obedient to its owner’s commands.

However, it is essential to remember that while Labradors can be trained to protect, they are not likely to be as effective as dedicated guard dog breeds.

Can Labradors be trained to be aggressive?

Why are Labradors not good guard dogs like German Shepherds?
It is doubtful if it is possible to train a Labrador to behave like this

It is theoretically possible to train any dog to act contradictory to the breed’s nature. But it is doubtful whether a purebred Labrador can be trained to be an attack dog excluding or “outbreeding” all the natural Labrador personality traits.

Training a Labrador to attack will probably have to be based on utilizing the Labrador’s natural loyalty. It could then possibly be trained to defend its owner, but it is doubtful if a Labrador can be trained to attack random people on instruction or spontaneously.

They won’t attack unless they or their human family members are threatened, which makes it more of an act of self-defense rather than an attack.

Labrador and owner personalities

We must keep in mind the personalities of pets and their owners and whether that plays a role in the choice of a pet.

People with aggressive or combative personalities will rarely choose a Labrador as a pet while people with “mild”, relaxed or conciliatory personalities will choose Labradors or smaller dogs.

You won’t expect that a grandparent living alone will want a Pitbull, nor that an active sports person will want a lap dog.

People tend to choose their companions and friends among humans and animals based on what they feel comfortable with. Research suggests that prospective dog owners may want to consider adopting dogs who match their personalities.

The answer to the question of why Labradors do not make good guard dogs lie in the fact that people confuse guarding (watching) with protecting (attacking).

Why are Labradors not good guard dogs – Conclusion

The question should be: why would you want to have a Labrador as a guard dog when there is a range of guard dog breeds to choose from?

If you want it because of the temperament of the Labrador, then you want a mellow dog that gets along with people and animals.

Don’t expect any breed of dog to be what it was not meant to be.

Labradors could be trained to be guard dogs, but it would make more sense to get a breed of dog that attacks naturally rather than try and train a Labrador to attack.

The most important question is: why would you want your Labrador to be aggressive?

Additional reading: Who is taking whom for a walk? An observational study of dog–human interactions