Understanding the Labrador Character
It is believed the Labrador Retriever is always smiling with a twinkle in his eye. He's been described as loving the world. A Labrador with ideal temperament is 100-percent unflappable. No matter what's going on around him, he's cool, calm, and collected — unless, of course, he's being called on to play ball with the kids or show his talents in the field, when he can let loose with his natural exuberance. The loving Lab tolerates and forgives toddlers that pull his tail and tug on his ears in an effort to stand up. That doesn't mean, however, that he should be expected to put up with those things. The ever-patient Lab should be protected from mistreatment, however innocent the intent might be.
The Lab's very best qualities are that he's intelligent and easy to train. On the flip side, he likes to be busy, especially in puppy-hood. This is not a couch-potato dog that will be content to lie around all day, at least not until he's older. While a mature Lab is more laid back, the Lab puppy or adolescent that's not occupied with play, training, or work will turn to chewing, barking, and digging to keep himself entertained.
The ideal Lab is kind, outgoing, and willing to please. He's never aggressive toward people or other animals. Any sign of aggression or shyness is not typical of the breed and should not be excused, either in the show ring or in the home.
As a watchdog, the Labrador is neither the most territorial nor the least territorial of dogs. As befits his easygoing personality, he falls somewhere in between. A Lab will usually bark if the doorbell rings or even if he hears someone walk up to the door. He'll gauge your reaction to a stranger before deciding how to act. Once he's given the signal that someone is okay, he turns into a wiggling bundle of joy at the opportunity of having someone new to pet him.
Well-bred Labs with good temperaments usually get along just fine with other dogs and cats. Family birds might need to watch their tail feathers, though. A Lab will sit and stare at a bird in a cage all day long, just waiting for his big chance to retrieve it. Other pets a Lab might drool over are hamsters or guinea pigs.
The breed's most outstanding quality, without a doubt, is its adaptability and versatility. With training, the Lab can do just about anything you ask, short of typing your novel or giving a speech. Because of his love for people, the Lab is receptive to training, eager to “do for” and please its person. That's one of the reasons the breed makes such a great guide or assistance dog.