Do Labradors Attack Their Owners? Truths You Don’t Want To Know

Labradors are America’s favorite dogs, and anyone who has ever met a Lab can easily tell you why; they are super friendly and gentle with everyone around them. However, Labradors are still dogs, and when dogs get pushed too far, they will become aggressive.

This even includes Labs, and the aggression can be directed towards anyone that is pressing the dog’s buttons, even if that button is their owners. And yes, this means exactly what you think it means.

So, do Labradors Attack their owners? Labrador Retrievers can attack their owners if they are pushed too far. Labradors can attack their owners when the owner is physically hurting the dog whether intentionally or unintentionally, but Labradors will almost never attack anyone unprovoked.

This means that while there is a chance that a Labrador can attack their owner, it will almost always be caused by the owner in some way, shape or form.

To understand how you may be pushing your Labrador towards aggression whether intentionally or not, keep on reading…

Do Labradors attack their owners? 

do labradors attack their owners featured image

Although this might be an unbelievable truth that you wouldn’t want to hear, but yes, it happens, let this serve as a warning that dog attacks can occur, and while they are uncommon, they may be fatal.

As a matter of fact, Labradors have the highest number of assaults compared to other breeds, , which is a surprise finding given the dogs’ kind demeanor. Many dogs, however, develop violent tendencies as a result of their training, rendering owners liable for their hostile outbursts. 

This demonstrates that no one should presume that a dog is friendly just because of its breed or look.

11 Reasons why a Labrador may attack their owner? 

Reasons may vary – sometimes there is some type of external “trigger” for labradors to act violently towards their owners to the point of attack, while other times, causes are internal.

Here are 11 reasons why your labrador may attack you:

An act of Instinct – Prey Drive

One theory is that if the dogs detect a “prey,” and the owner interferes with them when they are pursuing it, this will cause them to refocus their anger against their owner.


Another scenario is that if the dogs are rebuffed in their efforts and become frustrated, this will attack their owner.

Act of Violence with human intervention

There may be some initial hostility, and when the owner attempts to calm the dog down, the dog reacts with aggression.

Lack of Human and animal Interaction

A sudden, harmful attack may be coming from the fact that they are being confined in a kennel or having minimal to no human interaction or interaction with other animals.

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses put a dog in a heightened state of fear, aggression, or compulsion. Having a brain disorder may cause the dog to act unusual, which may include hurting their owners.

Lack of Training

The owner is considered the dog’s alpha since they have total control over the dog. If labradors are not properly guided and trained, they may attack their owners.

Owners Influence

Because the dog mirrors the owner’s attitude, the dog is more likely to behave aggressively, attacking his master if the owner is hostile with people around him.


Stress is a major cause of dog bites; When a dog experiences stress, it may become too much for him – When this happens, he is all too likely to bite another animal or person impulsively.

Being a rescue dog (past trauma)

It’s not unusual when the dog is a rescue dog that has previously been abused and has developed violent defensive mechanisms attacks his/her owners due to emotional trauma.


When a dog is in pain, instinct tells them to keep things away from the painful area of their body. But, unfortunately, that can easily lead to biting someone. If a dog doesn’t show triggers and is seemingly unprovoked, then getting a veterinarian involved would be wise.


A Labrador’s character is said to be impacted by its genes. The genes are not the be-all and end-all of a lab’s behavior, but they certainly play a part.  It has been found that aggressive parents are more likely to breed a labradors with an anger problem. 

There is quite a lot more to Labrador aggression, but one thing that people often think affects Lab aggression is the color of their coat. You can learn Whether black labradors are more aggressive here and find out what’s true and what’s a myth.

Is a Labrador attack dangerous? 

Some dog breeds are violent, while others are calm and family-friendly, which is a widely held but misunderstood idea. 

This is a gross simplification! Every dog is unique, just like every person. Because every dog may be friendly or dangerous, Labrador attacks can be as dangerous and unpredictable as any other breed.

Several incidents have proved that a labrador’s attack maybe dangerous to the extent of death; but that tends to happen under uncommon circumstances, and not repetitive at all.

Infact, According to recent statistics, Labradors were responsible for just 30 incidents (0.5%) of 5460 dog assaults that resulted in harm.

Here is how they compare to other dog breeds;

Rank Dog BreedNumber of Attacks
1Pit Bull3397
2Rottweiler 535
3German Shepherd 113
4Bull Mastiff 111
5Wolf Hybrid 85
7Akita 70
8Boxer 64
9Chow 61
10Labrador 56

So, Generally speaking, regardless of any exceptions Labradors are extremely sociable dogs that make excellent family pets. They are not dangerous dogs.

You can learn more about why Labradors bite here. I also have another guide on why Golden Retrievers bite here that you should check out.

Aggression signs to watch out for 

Labrador Retrievers are well-known for their lively dispositions; they are entertaining to be around, active, loyal, and protective of their mates, yet aggressiveness is not unusual in them, as it is in all other breeds. It’s always fun and games until something serious happens.

Aggression, in my opinion, is always avoidable if it is seen and resolved early on, thus I always urge you to pay great attention to detect whether your dog is ready to become aggressive.

Here are the red flags you should look out for on your dog to avoid any unfortunate events:

  • A posture that is rigid and immovable
  • Ears tucked in
  • Growling, whether loudly or softly, with or without exposing teeth
  • scowling and shaking all over
  • Quick snips directed towards other canines or people
  • threatening barks
  • Leaping forward in a lunge while avoiding eye contact
  • Sharp teeth that tear the skin
  • Bite hard enough to create a bruise
  • Bite that causes puncture wounds

What to do if a labrador attacks you? 

An attack is usually preceded by a rapid approach, so here are two things you can do if a dog is approaching you rapidly:

 To begin, standing motionless, looking down, and breaking eye contact – but only if you can refrain from panicking and acting out of fear

Call out to the owner, drawing their attention to the potentially harmful feelings.

Remove visual stimuli and place something between you and the dog to redirect his focus away from you (umbrella, car, garbage pail, blanket, etc.).

Try standing upright and telling the approaching dog a known command like “sit” or “stay.”

To surprise them, toss them a huge quantity of treats if you have any on you,   The larger the distraction, the more time you have to flee.

Another approach is to stand your ground and move directly at the dog; this demonstrates to the canine that you are nothing to chase and that your presence is a threat to the advances.

If a dog is aggressively attacking you, the main goal should be to protect yourself and keep a loved one, or your pet alive. To protect yourself from an aggressive dog, you may need to become physical.

Keep your hands and arms in front of your body to defend yourself.

Do not put your hand near the jaws of fighting or aggressive dogs, or touch them in places where they may quickly swivel around and bite you.

Refrain from grabbing the lab’s collars.

If the dog bites you and refuses to let go, slide your arm or body part into the dog’s mouth rather than attempting to pull it out. This will protect you from further harm caused by ripping.

If the dog does not release, keep shaking its head or your body.

I I understand that asking you that would be illogical, but please abstain from:

  • Screaming
  • Running
  • Panicking
  • Making direct eye contact
  • Up and down jumping

These behaviors may encourage the dog even more and lead to a more hazardous assault.

What to do if your labrador is attacking someone else? 

If a labrador is attacking your child: 

  • Even if it is hard, children should roll themselves into a tight ball and remain as motionless as possible.
  • If possible, teach your child to avoid squealing or crying since this will just incite the attacking dog.
  • If the worst happens, wrap your arms around your child and take the attack.

If a labrador assaults your dog:

  • Do not place any part of your body between the two dogs.
  • Find things to place between the two dogs to make a barrier.
  • Don’t think about picking up your dog, this is likely to cause the attacking lab to jump up on you, potentially injuring you.
  • Don’t swing your dog back and forth against the assaulting labrador if you do end up acting instantly and picking them up.
  • If at all possible, avoid kicking or punching the attacking labrador or answering violence with violence (that might escalate in their arousal).
  • Try to put yourself and your dog between some sort of barrier that cannot reach the assaulting labrador.
  • Lean into a wall or if necessary even throw your dog in a closed space. Keep in mind that the attacking lab can leap over that fence.
  • Lastly, As soon as the attack is over, remove yourself, your dog, or your child away from the area. Don’t turn around, attempt to regain control of the situation, or look for the owner. Simply leave.

You can also check out what your Labrador will do with an intruder here.

How to train an aggressive labrador 

  • Use positive reinforcement training – Rewarding reactions to behaviors you wish to encourage can help your dog become calmer and less aggressive based on trust rather than fear.
  • Keep an eye on your dog – Don’t ignore him or leave him alone for lengthy periods of time.
  • Neuter your lab – Neutering your lab helps them relax, become naturally calmer, and enhances their overall well-being.
  • Pay attention to their reaction in each situation – Every time your Labrador reacts aggressively, they are strengthening the neural pathway that makes that behavior more likely and difficult to change; it becomes their default and may be used in situations other than the initial trigger in the future.
  • Don’t let your dog be a subject of trauma; aggressive behavior that has generalized in this manner is far more difficult to alter.
  • Keep your dog distant – If your dog is more prone to respond violently to other people, dogs, or children, keep your distance from them. If your Labrador is reactive to other dogs when out for a walk, try to locate a different location with fewer dogs.
  • Avoid circumstances where the dog feels the need to employ aggressiveness – Stay away from these situations and eliminate any provoking elements that may cause your dog to become violent.
  • Regular high-intensity exercise for your dog can help to release any pent-up energy that might lead to aggressive behavior.
  • Ensure that your dog is not bored –  a bored dog is a destructive dog. If you don’t keep your aggressive lab occupied, he’ll channel his energy in the wrong areas. Purchase some puzzles and mazes to keep it occupied.
  • Avoid tight places and apartment living in favor of an open area – the lab will struggle with the limited space and frequent noise.
  • Avoid unexpected meetings – make surprise visits, since an aggressive lab already perceives outsiders as a danger.

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

Related Questions 

Can Labradors be guard dogs? 

Yes, Retrievers Labrador can be trained as a guardian dog. Actually, most dogs can have the proper amount of training as a guardian dog. Training Labradors to become guarding dogs is a little harder than with other dogs, as they are inherently less aggressive and more human-friendly. 

Can Labradors be watchdogs? 

Yes, Labradors can be good watch dogs if they got the proper training, although labradors are not your average guard dogs, Labs are intelligent and agile, so they can sense danger in particular contexts and grab your attention making them alert and sensitive as watchdogs.

Are Labradors protective? 

Labrador retrievers are not often perceived as protective as traditional breeds. They may not attempt to defend your home from anything that you see as a threat if an incident occurs or an attacker breaks in as not many conferences are categorized as threats to the open-hearted lab.

Can labradors attack you? 

Yes, Labrador Retrievers are capable of attack, just like any other breed, or animal in general, but it’s worthy of notice that this breed is gentle, social and loyal, therefore it is one of the most popular pets in the family;  so it is exceedingly unusual for a Labrador to assault.

It’s tempting to dread dogs and think of them as dangerous creatures with all of the images of dog bites and dog assaults in the media and internet, but they’re not. 

Dogs are not prone to attack people unless they perceive a threat to themselves, their territory, or their group.

Helpful Resources 

Breed differences in canine aggression – Deborah L.Duffy – YuyingHsu – James A.Serpell

Understanding dog aggression: Epidemiologic aspects: In memoriam, Rudy de Meester (1953-2012) – Gina Polo, Néstor Calderón, Suzanne Clothier, Rita de Casssia Maria Garcia,

Behavioural testing for aggression in the domestic dog – Willem J.Netto – Doreen J.U.Planta

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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