When was the last time you read in the news about a child or adult being attacked by a Labrador? Sadly, we seem to live in an age when getting a tough-looking dog for questionable street-cred is deemed more important than considering whether such a (large) dog is suitable for life in a family home. On the contrary loyal, lovable, clever Labrador puppies and dogs make excellent pets for any family home. They, too, need plenty of exercise and attention.
Yet many Labradors end up in the care of animal charities like the RSPCA because they have grown too large or cost too much to feed for owners who have bought their dog without thinking through the lifelong commitment that is involved in caring for a dog. Others have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their owners. Some have developed complex health needs due to the inherent nature of breeding of pedigree dogs – these can prove costly to care for and some owners feel that they cannot afford to pay for ongoing therapy costs.
Many Labradors end up in rescue centres simply because irresponsible owners have not supervised them properly and found their pet pregnant with mixed-breed puppies that they cannot sell.
Indeed, the number of Labrador-type dogs in rescue centres run by the RSPCA is surprisingly high. These Labradors seldom come with pedigree papers and may not be purebred. But the traits typical of Labradors of intelligence, obedience and loyalty usually shine through and anyway each Labrador in the care of the RSPCA is assessed by their trained staff to determine which dogs would suit which types of home.
Regardless of the personality traits that are typically associated with different breeds, if any dog is not cared for properly it can display undesirable traits including aggression, barking and destructive behaviour. Labrador rescue is often undertaken by the RSPCA when neighbours have complained about nuisance barking or aggressive dogs kept unattended in gardens. All dogs need socialisation, attention and affection and if this is not given then the dog is unlikely to be sociable, attentive or affectionate in return. The staff at the RSPCA are often able to rehabilitate such dogs by offering consistent care and boundaries so that those dogs are capable of being rehomed.
If you are interested in adopting a Labrador then check out the RSPCA’s website to look for that breed in your area. If there are no such dogs currently available and you have your heart set on that breed then you can ask to be put on a waiting list in case one arrives in the near future, or you could consider travelling further afield to meet a dog at a different shelter. The staff will want to know about your family and work circumstances so that they can advise you whether a Labrador (and which Labrador in particular) will be suitable for your home.
Make sure that you have the time, energy and space for a Labrador before you decide to go any further with an adoption and think carefully about the long-term costs involved in owning a dog. That way you and your dog will be able to enjoy being part of a family for the rest of its life.