People choose Labradors as pets for many reasons. They are loving, loyal dogs with endearing personalities. Dogs are also seen as protectors and people like the thought that they will deter people from breaking into their homes. Can a Labrador be a guard dog?
A Labrador is not the best choice for a guard dog because it does not have the right temperament to protect your home. Labradors can be trained but are not naturally threatening: there are breeds more suited to the guard dog role.
A Labrador is far more suited to the role of a loving family pet and it would be a mistake to attempt to modify its naturally docile behavior.
What type of dog makes a good guard dog?
There are some breeds of dog that will naturally be protective around those that they have bonded and around those things they consider to be theirs. These breeds of dog are known as guardian breeds and all share similar qualities.
These breeds are usually medium to large in size and will alert you when (for example) someone knocks on your door or when it believes you have been put in a threatening situation.
I should say that not all large dogs make good guard dogs. For instance, the Scottish deerhound. These dogs perform this role instinctively but all require (ideally) formal training at an early age to ensure their aggression can be managed and controlled.
Some of the more well-known dogs that are typically considered as a guardian breed are:
- German Shepherd
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
There are actually many others but the above are the more popular to adopt this role. In fact, some of the others I found I hadn’t even heard of!
One of the attributes that all these breeds share is their possessive behavioral traits that put a strong emphasis on both people and their perceived belongings. These things may include their food, toys or indeed their owners and home.
What type of dog is the Labrador?
The Labrador is generally a friendly, sociable, and somewhat mischievous breed.
Their temperament has made them a firm favorite with families with children for many years and there’s a very good reason (actually, several good reasons) why the Lab is the most popular breed of dog in the Western world.
The Lab often makes for an ideal first-time pet as they are genuinely straight forward to look after as long as you know what you’re doing. Just keep them happy by feeding them good food, giving them space to have fun and exercise in and somewhere nice to sleep.
They are a dog that thrives on attention though and the more the better! They have a lot of energy which comes in useful when trying to encourage your kids to get some exercise. They don’t usually get spooked that easily and typically are well-behaved.
I’ve used the words ‘usually’ and ‘typically’ once or twice here as no two dogs are the same and any dog, if provoked enough, can lash out. Parents are wise to remember that there is no dog that is 100% safe around your children and they should always be supervised.
Can a Labrador be trusted to guard?
The first thing that you’ll notice when you come home after leaving your Labrador to guard it is that as soon as you open the front door it will come running up to you, tail wagging, of course, excited that you’re back.
If your property was the target of a burglar during the time you were out, let me explain what most likely happened during that time:
- A burglar came in through a rear window, suspecting no-one was home.
- He noticed quite a large dog (your Labrador) and the quite large dog noticed him.
- Your Labrador wagged its tail, glad of some company.
- Your Labrador approached the intruder who became nervous and considered making a quick u-turn and going back out the window.
- Your Labrador dropped his favorite toy at the intruder’s feet.
- The intruder picked up the toy and began to play with your Lab.
- The intruder and your Labrador became best friends.
- Several hours later, the intruder heard the front door open as you came home and so quickly escaped back out the window.
- The intruder realized he had forgotten to rob you.
- Hmmm, maybe Labradors are good guard dogs after all?
Okay, so thinking about it – maybe they do make the perfect guard dog! They’ll just become best friends with whoever thinks they want to steal stuff from your property and will amuse them for several hours.
Joking aside, the Lab does not make a good guard dog 🙂 It is not usually aggressive in any way and makes friends way to quickly sometimes.
Ask yourself why you want a guard dog anyway?
These days there are so many better options! Why not utilize technology to do the same job. It’s never a good idea to leave a dog home alone anyway.
Although some breeds deal with being alone better than others, it really doesn’t take long for them to start showing signs of separation anxiety which can lead to health problems.
Actually, if you’re going to have to leave them home alone for any amount of time, they should probably be in a crate (this helps them deal with the anxiety) and so this wouldn’t work for guard-dog duties anyway, right?
I can understand people using dogs to guard property in the years before technology provided us with some better answers. So, let’s take a quick look at these some better options…
There are better ways to protect your property
Rather than using an animal that needs to be fed, watered and looked after – why not use technology that only requires electricity! It’s far easier and can be trusted a lot more to get the job done 🙂
For instance, take a look at this PTZ Pet cam (link goes to Amazon in a new window). You can view via the camera what’s going on at home via your phone and can also get alerts when it detects movement. The idea though is to have them all clearly visible so they act as a deterrent.
All we’re trying to do here is make the potential intruder think that there might be better options than this one. Some people even have fake cameras that are enough to act as a deterrent.
Seeing cameras on the property and perhaps signs saying ‘Protected by CCTV’ may make the potential intruder move on to somewhere else, which is actually all we want to do here.
It should be pretty clear that the Lab does not make a good guard dog. It is not possessive of its things in a way that it would need to be to be able to make a good guard dog.
If you really want a guard dog for your property then there are many options available to you but you need not look at the Lab to do this job for you. Ideally though, you should consider other, more reliable options to protect your property other than an animal.