Are Labradors Aggressive And How To Calm Them

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds. They are a friendly family dog breed that many people love. But are Labradors aggressive?

Labradors are considered one of the least aggressive dog breeds. They are friendly and adapt easily to all situations. This makes them a great family dog breed to have at home. But just like with anyone, there are some reasons why your Labrador might get aggressive.

The Labrador Retriever – A Friendly Dog

Labradors are middle-sized dogs with a friendly temperament. They are kept as family dogs because they like children and they want to be around their owners. These dogs are very friendly with other strangers and dogs and are very good at adapting. They are even friendly with cats so you can have both at your home.

You won’t hear much about a Labrador aggression problem, but sometimes even these lovely dogs can get angry. There is a misconception that chocolate Labs are more aggressive than other colored labs, but that is completely false.

Reasons Why Your Lab Might Get Aggressive

Even if it’s usually a good-natured dog breed, here are a few reasons that will make cause aggression in your Lab.

Fear Aggression

Your Labrador’s aggression can be fear-based. Fear can arise from past bad experiences with previous owners or other animals. The Lab can come from owners or puppy mills that abused the pup, so it developed aggression as a defense mechanism. You can also notice aggression and fear in a pup during bad thundery weather and fireworks.


You can notice Labrador aggression in a Labrador that is suffering from some health condition. Local pain like arthritis, ear pain, and stomach pain, can cause aggression when you touch the painful areas. Generalized pain deriving from the flu, cancer, or some other problem can cause mood swings and aggression in your pup throughout the day. Mental illness can also cause aggression.


Just like humans, dogs can get frustrated as well. The reasons for this frustration can be many. Maybe your dog doesn’t want to go somewhere like someone else’s car, or the dog kennel. Unclear training cues or games that promote aggressiveness like tug of war can also lead to frustration.

Evolutionary Development

If you have an aggressive Lab puppy, maybe the reason behind the aggression is hiding in its genes. If your pup’s parents came from an environment that was harsh they may pass their genes for aggression. This might also be noticeable in pups raised in environments like police stations and illegal dog fighting rings.

Lack Of Training And Excercise

Labrador Retrievers are high-energy dogs and they need proper exercise during the day. If you don’t play with it or take it on walks, it will become angry and frustrated. They also need proper training and socialization, especially during the puppy phase. If not trained properly, it can easily develop territorial tendencies that bring aggression.

Food Aggression

Labrador food aggression happens due to an instinct connected to survival. Labs, just like any dogs, tend to protect what is theirs. This can be their offspring, toys, and especially food. If some other dog or animal is taking your Lab’s food, expect it to become aggressive and protective over it.

All dogs get aggressive when protecting their food. It is common to see a Rottweiler growl and rumble in this situation.

Signs Of Aggression In A Labrador

There are a few signs that you will notice when your Lab becomes aggressive. These include:

  • Growling
  • Showing teeth
  • Becoming stiff and still
  • Ears pinned back
  • Hackle raised
  • Barking
  • Lunging
  • Biting with various intensity

Labradors have a bite force of 230 PSI, which is higher than what the Belgian Malinois bite force is. So you can imagine the damage a bite from an aggressive Lab can do. If you notice any of these signs in any dog, not just a Labrador, you should work out a way to diffuse the situation.

How To Deal With An Aggressive Lab

Can Labs be aggressive? In some instances, yes. But can they be helped? Yes, very much so. Here are a few things to do if you want to prevent aggression in your Labrador.

Understand Your Dog And Be Patient

The most important thing to do first is to understand why your dog is being aggressive. The reason will most likely not be coming from your Lab. If someone is playing rough with it or being aggressive towards it, it will react accordingly as it should.

Your Lab can also just be frustrated at some things. Maybe its toy is making a sound that it doesn’t like. There’s an easy way to solve the aggression problem.

Another very important note is to be patient. Don’t expect to “fix” your dog in one day or training session. Some problems require work and time.

chocolate labrador playing with another dog

Train Your Lab

Some people don’t know the obligations of being a dog owner and fail at training their dogs properly. Labrador aggression can be a result of this improper training.

You should start training your Labrador from its puppy age. Start slowly and increase the time and intensity in time. Use positive reinforcement to prioritize positive behaviors and give treats and praise to your pup when it does well. Try not to give treats too often or award negative behaviors.

You can also prevent food aggression by feeding your Lab on the same day every day. Train your dog to be patient and wait for the food until you give the order.

Socialize More

You should start socializing your dog from an early age. It can first meet your family members, even the cats and other pets you might have. If you have another dog, it will teach your Labrador to not show aggression towards other dogs. 

After this, you can start socializing by getting your dog to the dog park. Besides exercising it with walks, you can let it be around new people and other dogs. In time it will gather the courage to communicate with them.

You shouldn’t force the new meetings. Let your dog adapt to new people and animals, let it be curious, and in time it will learn to easily meet new people.

Do Enough Excercise

Labradors are high-energy dogs and they will require a good amount of workout throughout the day. Adult labradors require around 80 minutes a day of high-quality exercise. Exercise will stop the frustration, aggression, and zoomies in your pup, but it will also prevent obesity.

To prevent having a mean Labrador, you should start exercising your Lab from a small age. Take it on walks at least twice a day. Visit the park and go for a little run. Go hiking or swimming if you live in areas that allow that. Socialize it with other dogs and let them play around together. Play some games or get a new toy to have fun with.

Ask For Help

If you can’t seem to help your dog in any way, consider asking for help. If you think the problem is a behavioral issue due to the bad training of your dog, hire a professional dog trainer. They will help you get your Lab on the right track no matter what age it is.

If you think your Labrador is showing aggression because of some health problem, contact your vet. Try to notice first what other symptoms your dog shows. Check for signs of local or generalized pain. Your vet will test your dog and find the problem. The vet might suggest some calming medicine like valerian root. In time you will have a healthy and happy pup.

How To React During An Aggressive Episode

If your dog starts barking excessively and getting aggressive, the first thing to do is to remain calm. Notice the signs of aggression and slowly start to de-escalate the situation. Do not react aggressively.

Do not corner or punish your dog but find out what ticked it off and address the problem with a calm soothing voice.

Move calmly and slowly and don’t turn your back on the dog or start running away. You will see that the Labrador attacks if you react scared and jumpy.

Try to remove the trigger for the aggression if you can. Exit the situation slowly and leave your dog alone to calm down for some time.

labrador in the lavander

So Are Labradors Aggressive?

Labrador Retrievers are good, friendly dogs that are perfect for your family. They are not known for having aggressive behavior, but sometimes they may be pushed into aggression.

Some reasons for aggression in your Lab might be fear, frustration, health issues, or food aggression. The reasons can also come from its upcoming and natural instincts. If it doesn’t get enough exercise, proper training, or socializing, your Labrador might react aggressively in some situations. Also, the Labrador can be protective of its food due to its instincts.

To prevent this behavior you should know the signs of aggression and react appropriately. Try to train and socialize your Lab from a young age and give it enough exercise. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your vet or a professional dog trainer.


Are Chocolate Labrador retrievers more aggressive than other colored Labs?

No. This is a misconception that has been scientifically proven untrue. The color of the Lab’s fur is not connected to its temperament and they are all lovely dogs.

Do Labradors protect their owners?

Yes. Labradors get attached to their families and consider them a part of the “pack”. This means that your Lab will protect you if it believes that you are in danger.

Are Labradors aggressive towards their owners?

Labradors are not known to be very aggressive, especially towards their owners. Most Labs will consider you a part of their family and protect you.

What should you do if you are bitten by an aggressive Labrador?

Seek medical attention. Dog bites can bring a lot of bacteria and viruses so be sure to visit the hospital immediately. Also, you should inform the authorities that there might be an aggressive dog on the loose.

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