Reason why the friendly and loyal Labrador is the most likely dog to attack

Labrador retriever

The Labrador is considered to be a friendly and loyal dog but it may surprise people to know that they are the most likely dog to attack a person in the UK and in parts of the USA on the basis that this dog breed is responsible for the highest number of dog attacks causing personal injury (2016 for UK).

Labrador retriever

Labrador retriever. Photo: Joshua K├Âller via Pexels

We shouldn’t blame the breed, however. Dogs are pack animals. They work together to defend the group. For a domestic dog the group (their family) is the family of humans. The leader of that family is the dog’s leader. Potentially dogs will be aggressive to strangers which is why they bark at postman. It doesn’t matter whether the dog is a tiny toy dog or one of the huge and powerful breeds. In the minds of all individual dogs they are wolves and they respond instinctively to the underlying personality traits of wolves subject to their breeding, socialisation and domestication.

With that underlying premise in place, the reason why Labradors are most likely to attack people in the UK (as at 2016) is because they were the most commonplace dog in the UK. In 2020 the most popular dog breeds are said to be the Chihuahua followed by the Pomeranian and French bulldogs have become very popular during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Labrador is still very popular and a firm favourite. In 2015 there were some 32,507 Labrador puppies registered with the Kennel Club who describe them as “placid and loyal”.

In the USA, the Labrador tops the most popular dog breeds for the 29th year in a row according to my research. However, in the USA pit bulls have the highest incidence of reported bites at 22.5% followed by mixed breed dogs are 21.2%. Although the Chicago Injury Centre, USA, state that Labrador retrievers were the most common breed to be involved in attacks on people. Once again, in America, the underlying reason behind this statistic is that the Labrador retriever is a very popular dog not because the dog is particularly aggressive.

The number of dog bites by dog breeds depends upon the popularity of the dog to a large extent when bearing in mind that all dogs are all the same in terms of fundamental character.