Are Labs The Friendliest Dogs?

Introducing the Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever, often abbreviated as Labrador or Lab, is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Labs originated in Newfoundland, Canada in the late 1800s as water dogs used for retrieving fishing nets and lost lines and tackle. The breed’s friendly, energetic personality and intelligence made them excellent working dogs and loyal companions.

Labs are medium-large dogs, typically weighing 55 to 80 pounds. They have a short, dense, weather-resistant coat that comes in three colors: yellow, black, and chocolate. Physically, the Labrador Retriever is muscular and athletic. They have a broad head, hanging ears, and an otter-like tail.

The breed’s most defining characteristic is its enthusiastic, outgoing personality. Labradors are famously friendly, affectionate, and eager to please. They make excellent family dogs due to their playfulness, patience, and tolerance of children. Their high intelligence also makes them easily trainable for tasks like guide dogs and search and rescue dogs. Labs are adaptable and sociable, getting along well with people and other animals.

Labrador Retrievers were originally bred for retrieving birds and small game during hunts. Their name comes from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador where they worked alongside fishermen. References to the “Lesser Newfoundland breed” or “St. John’s Dogs” can be traced back to the late 1700s and early 1800s [1]. Selective breeding in Britain in the 19th century refined and standardized the breed into the Labrador Retriever we know today.

Assessing Dog Friendliness

Defining dog friendliness relies on understanding key personality traits and behaviors in dogs. Friendliness comprises several factors including sociability, playfulness, tolerance, and lack of aggression. According to the American Kennel Club, friendliness refers to a dog’s confidence, curiosity, and desire to greet and play with new people and other animals (

Sociability specifically measures a dog’s tendency to approach, greet, and interact positively with unfamiliar people and dogs. Highly sociable dogs actively seek out social interactions. Playfulness indicates a dog’s inclination to initiate and engage in play. Playful dogs often bring toys to their owners or initiate play by bowing, pouncing, or offering another play signal. Tolerance signifies a dog’s ability to cope with a variety of people, environments, and situations without reacting negatively. Tolerant dogs are less likely to show fear, anxiety, or aggression in novel settings.

Lack of aggression and low reactivity also characterize friendly dogs. Friendly dogs are not prone to growling, lunging, biting, or other aggressive behaviors, even when scared or annoyed. Their threshold for reacting is high, meaning they can maintain self-control even in stressful situations. Assessing friendliness therefore requires evaluating a dog’s typical demeanor, response to strangers and novel stimuli, play drive, and overall ease in social situations ( The friendliest dogs have an exceptionally outgoing, social, playful, and tolerant temperament.

Labrador Retrievers’ Reputation for Friendliness

Labrador Retrievers have a well-earned reputation as one of the friendliest and most gentle dog breeds. According to the American Kennel Club, “The sweet-natured, highly adaptable Lab has the reputation of being one of the most sweet-natured breeds, and it’s well deserved” (source). Labs are known for being loyal, eager to please, and good with children and other pets.

Labradors are often considered one of the best dogs for families. As the Your Purebred Puppy website states, “Most Labs are friendly with everyone, though compared to Golden Retrievers, many Labs are just a bit more conservative with their affections” (source). Their gentle temperament and sociable nature make them ideal family companions.

Overall, the Labrador Retriever has developed a sterling reputation as a friendly, sweet-tempered breed that lives to please its human owners. Their playful personalities and tolerance of children cement their status as one of the friendliest dog breeds.

Studies on Dog Breed Friendliness

Various studies and surveys have looked at which dog breeds tend to be the friendliest and most sociable with humans. Research published in 2023 by ScienceTimes analyzed the friendliness of over 10,000 dogs across 101 breeds. The study found that bull-type terriers, teacup dogs, and golden retrievers topped the list as the breeds with the highest sociability and friendliness towards humans.

The research looked at key personality traits like trainability, sociability, excitability, and aggressiveness. Labrador retrievers ranked high on trainability and sociability, though they did not make the top 3 friendliest breeds overall. The study still highlighted Labs as one of the breeds most eager to please their owners.

Another survey conducted by Newsweek in 2023 also analyzed dog breed friendliness. This study named bull terriers, golden retrievers, dachshunds, whippets and Irish setters among the top 15 friendliest breeds. Again, Labrador retrievers scored well for trainability and human-directed sociability, though other breeds edged them out for the top friendliness accolades.

While Labs may not always rank at #1, research consistently places them among the most trainable, sociable, and human-friendly breeds. Their loving temperament shines through even when compared to other notoriously friendly dogs.

Labs’ Friendly Temperament

Labrador Retrievers are known for their friendly, affectionate nature. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Labs are “friendly, outgoing, and high-spirited companions who have more than enough affection to go around for a family looking for a medium-to-large dog.”

Labs were originally bred as working dogs to retrieve game for hunters. However, they were selectively bred not just for their working abilities, but also for their gentle and agreeable temperament. Hunters wanted a dog that was non-aggressive and sociable. This made labs ideal candidates to become companions and family pets.

Today’s Labs continue to be bred for their sweet, gentle, eager-to-please personalities. They are exceptionally social dogs that crave human interaction and bonding with their family. Labs are often cited as one of the best breeds for children due to their patience and tolerance. Their affectionate nature also makes them sensitive dogs – they do not do well isolated from people and require a good deal of love, attention, and socialization to be happy and well-adjusted (Petplan).

Labs’ Trainability and Eagerness to Please

One of the reasons Labrador Retrievers are considered such friendly dogs is that they are highly trainable and eager to please their owners. According to sources, Labs are known for being one of the easiest and most trainable dog breeds due to their intelligence and desire to “work” with humans ( Their genetics make them highly responsive to positive reinforcement training methods.

Labs aim to please their owners and will happily follow commands in exchange for praise, play, or treats. Their friendly nature means they are not aggressive or dominant, but rather patient and willing to be molded by proper training. Labs’ friendly temperament translates to an eagerness to learn in order to gain approval. With the right positive reinforcement training, Labs become happy, obedient, and friendly companions.

In summary, Labrador Retrievers’ high trainability and need to please contributes to their reputation as one of the friendliest and most easygoing dog breeds. Their intelligence allows them to learn quickly, while their desire for human approval motivates friendly behavior and strong bonds with owners.

Labs’ Love of People

One of the top reasons Labrador Retrievers are known as such friendly dogs is their insatiable love for people. Labs thrive on human interaction and affection. They are often described as “velcro dogs” because of their desire to be constantly by their owner’s side.

According to the American Kennel Club, “The Labrador thrives on human company and needs to feel as though he is part of the family.” This breed truly enjoys being around their family and people in general, whether it’s cuddling up close, playing fetch, or going for walks and car rides.

As examined in an article from iHeartDogs (, Labs express their love through actions like counter surfing, whining or barking when you leave, obeying commands quickly to please you, leaning on you, and staring longingly into your eyes waiting for affection.

While Labs tend to bond very closely with their primary caretaker, they have more than enough love to go around to the rest of the family and any visitors. Their sociable and outgoing nature makes them one of the friendliest breeds suitable for most households.

Potential Limitations of Lab Friendliness

Though Labs are known for being a very friendly breed overall, some individual Labs may exhibit shyness, fearfulness, or aggression, especially if not properly socialized from a young age. According to the Your Purebred Puppy review, “Some male Labs can be aggressive toward other male dogs. And Labs must be watched around small animals that look like prey, such as cats, squirrels and guinea pigs.”

Labs require extensive socialization and obedience training from a young age. Without proper socialization, a Lab may become fearful or reactive around strangers, children, or other dogs according to the Labrador Retriever as Family Dogs article. While most Labs love children, some adult Labs that were not exposed to children during puppyhood may be wary or nippy around kids.

It’s important to carefully select a responsible breeder who breeds for temperament and health. Backyard breeders may not focus on breeding friendly, stable Labs. The Quora article notes that some Labs may be barkers or chewers if bored, so providing enough physical and mental stimulation is key.

Overall, while the Lab breed is known to be incredibly friendly, each individual dog is unique. With proper socialization, training, exercise, and care from a young age, Labs generally make wonderful family companions. But Labs do require dedicated training and care to reach their friendly potential.

Comparing to Other Friendly Breeds

Labrador Retrievers have a well-deserved reputation as one of the friendliest dog breeds, but how do they compare to other famously friendly breeds like Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and companion breeds?

According to the AKC, Golden Retrievers tend to be a bit clingier and more dependent on their owners than Labrador Retrievers. While both breeds are very people-oriented, Labs are often more independent (AKC: Golden Retriever vs. Labrador Retriever: Similarities & Differences).

Cocker Spaniels are known for being gentle, affectionate, and eager to please, similar to Labs. However, some sources suggest Cockers may be slightly more reserved initially with strangers compared to Labs, who are typically more outgoing (Your Purebred Puppy: Cocker Spaniel).

Among companion breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Havanese, Labs may be a bit more energetic, athletic, and requiring more daily exercise. However, small companion breeds share the Lab’s reputation for incredible friendliness and trainability (Your Purebred Puppy: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel).

While comparing friendliness between breeds is difficult, most experts agree Labs rank near or at the top for friendliness, sociability, and people-pleasing temperament. Their outlook and affection toward both family and strangers is exceptional and defines the breed’s popularity.

The Friendliest Dog Depends on the Individual

While Labs tend to be very friendly dogs, it’s important to note that each dog has an individual personality and temperament based on genetics as well as their specific environment and experiences while growing up (1). So while breeds like Labs, Retrievers, and Poodles are often considered some of the friendliest breeds, there can be variation even within a breed.

According to one 2022 study published in the journal Science, while breeds may share tendencies, environment plays a very large role in shaping a dog’s personality (2). The study analyzed the personalities of over 18,000 dogs from over 100 breeds using owner surveys. While some personality traits like trainability did show correlation with breeds like Border Collies, other traits like friendliness showed lots of variation within breeds.

The conclusion is that while breed tendencies exist, judging a dog’s friendliness based on its breed alone doesn’t always give the full picture. Much depends on early socialization, training, and how the individual dog was raised. There are friendly and unfriendly individual dogs in most breeds. So the true test of a dog’s friendliness is getting to know their unique personality.



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