Are Labrador Retrievers Good Guard Dogs? Are They Protective?

Are Labradors good guard dogs

Labrador Retrievers are known for their affectionate and easy-to-get-along temperaments, but are they good guard dogs?

Are Labradors good guard dogs

Before owning a new dog, people often look for temperaments like friendliness, playfulness, protectiveness, etc., in the breed.

It’s a blessing to have a dog that knows the difference between a guest and an intruder, i.e., a dog who knows when to bark and when not to.

We all know Labradors are very friendly and great family companions but are they protective?

So, are Labradors good guard dogs?

The answer is NO. Labradors aren’t good guard dogs because they were bred to be friendly and unaggressive. However, it is possible to train Labs to be guard dogs. As they are gentle and affectionate, training a Labrador to become an aggressive guard dog can be challenging.

Ultimately, it comes down to the individual Lab’s personality and training.

Though Labs are not ideal guard dogs, they can be good watchdogs when trained properly. Their deep and loud bark can scare the intruder and keep you alert about it.

Before I elaborate the difference between a guard dog, a watchdog, and an attack dog, let me give an overview of this breed.

Labrador Retrievers

Labradors are intelligent, sweet-natured, outgoing, and friendly dogs. In terms of popularity, the breed has ranked 1st since 1991, making it the most popular dog breed in the USA.

Labs are highly energetic. So, their physical needs are quite high. Plenty of exercise and playtime is what they need to stay happy.

Their easy-going and fun-loving temperaments make them perfect dogs for families. Not just families, they are good with other dogs and even strangers.

So now you know why Labs aren’t the best guard dogs out there.

Watch Dog Vs Guard Dog Vs Attack Dog: Know The Difference

Watchdog, guard dog, and attack dog are often used interchangeably; however, they aren’t the same.

Owners often get confused between watchdog vs guard dog and guard dog vs attack dog. Know the differences to figure out which one’s right for you.


A watchdog barks when it notices something suspicious. A watchdog barks loudly to alert its owner when it comes across anything unusual.

Watchdogs are smart and can differentiate between what’s suspicious and what isn’t. Note that watchdogs bark and don’t attack.

Guard dog

If you want a dog that not only barks but also attacks when needed, get a guard dog. In addition to loud barking, guard dogs have the ability to attack.

They don’t bark and attack everyone. They are trained to differentiate between an intruder and a friend.

When they suspect an intruder, first they bark to scare and clear out the territory. If that doesn’t work out, only then they attack.

Attack dog

Attack dogs are trained to attack on command and also stop on command. They react aggressively to anyone entering the territory/property. They may attack without command when they see an intruder facing the owner.

Also Read: Are There Miniature Labrador Retrievers?

What Makes A Good Guard Dog?

As we have seen, guard dogs are courageous and have the ability to bark (to scare the intruder) & attack. If you are planning to get a guard dog, these are the qualities you need to look for in the breed:

Intelligence and responsiveness

Firstly, the dog needs to be smart and responsive. The purpose of a guard dog is not to attack everyone it comes across. It’s to first differentiate between friend and foe, react aggressively toward the intruder, and attack only when needed.

Training a low-intelligence dog to be a guard dog is difficult. Teaching such a dog to differentiate between usual and unusual activities can be challenging. And poorly trained guard dogs can be dangerous.

In a nutshell, you need a dog that’s smart, alert, and responsive to your commands.


Loyalty is something that will make the dog protect its owner. The way a dog is treated affects loyalty. Build a strong bond with your canine, reward him for good behavior, and treat him like a family member. In return, you can expect loyalty. A loyal guard dog would do anything to protect its people from danger.

Moderate aggression

Aggression is another trait you should look for in a guard dog. Without aggression, how will the dog protect its members and the territory from danger?

Note that too much aggression is also a big NO! The overly aggressive dog can be dangerous for you and your family, even if it’s well-trained. If you have children, be more concerned about it.

Large and loud

Small dogs don’t make good guard dogs. Many small breeds like Chihuahua and Pomeranian bark loudly, but that’s not enough to be a guard dog. Large and loud dogs make good guard dogs. In most cases, the dog’s large size and loud bark are enough to scare away the intruder.


Get a guard dog that’s playful and affectionate. You want to make sure it would be safe to live together. When you get a dog that is aggressive toward everyone he comes across, it would be dangerous for your family (especially if you have a kid in your home).

Are Labradors Good Guard Dogs?

In the above section, we have seen that there are five main traits that make a good guard dog, i.e., intelligence, loyalty, aggression, size, and playfulness.

Labrador retriever with a little girl

Labrador Retrievers are intelligent, loyal, large in size, and very playful, but they are not aggressive. They are not known to be aggressive. They were bred to be loving and unaggressive.

The breed, in general, is friendly and playful in nature. So, don’t expect that aggressiveness and attacking behavior from Labs.

Labs are so fun-loving that they get along with everyone, including other dogs and even strangers.

Thus, using a Labrador as a guard dog isn’t a good idea.

“If not guard dogs, are Labradors good watchdogs?”

The answer is YES! When trained correctly, Labradors can be good watchdogs. Start training early to get the best out of a Labrador as a watchdog.

Right from puppyhood, you need to train your Lab pup to alert when it notices anything unusual and to differentiate between friend and foe.

Proper training at 8-12 weeks can turn an average Labrador into a good watchdog.

Can You Train A Labrador To Be A Guard Dog?

Yes, a Labrador can be trained to be a guard dog, but it can be challenging.

What holds back Labradors from becoming guard dogs?

Well, the reason is a lack of aggression. Labs have the majority of characteristics the owner looks for in a guard dog, i.e., loyalty, loud bark, activeness, obedience, and intelligence.

A guard dog’s important trait is moderate aggression, which is lacking in Labradors.

Even if you train your Lab to be aggressive toward strangers, the chances are a gentle hand, and a treat can make your Lab to be friend with the stranger.

To be affectionate and get along with everyone is in the personality of Labradors. That’s why training a Lab dog to be a guard dog is a bit of a challenge.

What Are The Best Guard Dogs For Families?

It’s great to have a dog that is affectionate, playful, as well as protective. People think guard dogs are very aggressive and should not live with families.

However, there shouldn’t be a problem when they are trained properly and socialized well with family and friends right from puppyhood. Well-trained guard dogs are so loyal. They can do anything to protect their people from danger.

Here are the best family guard dogs:

  • Rottweiler
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • German Shepherd
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Akita
  • Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Appenzeller Sennenhund

Related Questions

How strong is Labrador’s bite?

The average bite force of Labs has been measured at 230 PSI (pounds per square inch). Surprisingly, Labrador is on the list of top dog breeds with the strongest bite force. Regardless of strong bite force, Labs have soft mouths.

Can Labrador be aggressive to strangers?

Labradors are not known to be aggressive to strangers. They are usually friendly with everyone, including strangers. However, temperaments can vary from one individual dog to another depending on so many factors (like training, socialization, sickness, and more).

What is the difference between a guard dog and a watchdog?

Guard dogs have the ability to bark and attack. A guard dog first warns the intruder with its loud bark. It observes the actions of the intruder, and if the warning gets ignored, only then it attacks.

Watchdogs, on the other hand, aren’t trained to attack. Their main duty is to bark when someone unsuspected enters the territory.

Do Labrador Retrievers naturally protect their owners?

Labrador Retrievers aren’t considered protective. They are sociable and affectionate in nature. So, don’t expect guarding qualities from this breed.

Final Thoughts

Labrador Retrievers are the best family companions. When trained properly, a Lab can be a watchdog, but training it to be a guard dog is difficult.

Despite being large, loud, and intelligent, Labs don’t make good guard dogs. The reason being is they were bred to be fun-loving and not to be aggressive.

If you want a guard dog that also makes a wonderful family pet, consider breeds like Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Akita, or Rottweiler.

Also Read: Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?


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Brandon Dickinson

Brandon Dickinson

I love playing and spending time with pups. On RetrieverPaws, I share tips, guides, and my experiences with retriever dogs (Labrador and Golden Retrievers mainly).

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