Labrador Dog Breed
When you think of the most fearsome dog breeds – the loud-barking, teeth-baring type that present the greatest dog bite danger – a Labrador will probably not be at the top of your list. In fact, Labradors probably won’t even crack your top 20. Labs may have plenty of energy, but they are seen as the perfect good-natured family companion. This is just one of the reasons that Labradors are near the top of the pet popularity charts in America. But Labrador bites are far more common than many people realize.
Certain breeds of dog will naturally make people cautious. Even if they are well trained and well behaved, you might cross the street to avoid passing a Doberman or a Rottweiler, such is their aggressive reputation. The same cannot be said for Labradors. But that does not mean that you will not be attacked or bitten by a Lab. A dog attack can be extremely scary, and a Labrador bite can do some serious damage.
Here is everything you need to know about Labradors – the history of the breed, their nature and temperament, Labrador attack statistics, what to do in the event of a dog attack, and how you should handle a Labrador bite liability claim. Read on, or click ahead to the information you need.
History of the Labrador
The Labrador can be traced back to the St. John’s water dog – a now-extinct breed from 16th century Canada. A batch of St. John’s dogs were first imported to England from Newfoundland in 1820. The St. John’s breed gradually diminished, mainly due to historic Canadian dog ownership taxing, as well as British rules restricting animal imports to prevent rabies outbreaks. But those animals which had already been introduced to the U.K. were bred into a new class of dog, named the Labrador Retriever.
Labradors were noted for their remarkable retrieval abilities, both on land and in water. They feel at home in the water and are natural swimmers, while their short, smooth coats help to keep them comfortable, even in icy conditions.
The breed had become established in England by the late 1800s, and was first officially recognized by The Kennel Club in 1903. In 1917, the first Labrador Retriever was registered with the American Kennel Club, and the breed has been popular on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean ever since.
How Popular are Labradors?
As of 2017, an estimated 89.7 million dogs are estimated to live U.S. households – only trailing behind low-maintenance cats and fish as the most popular pets in the country. The American Kennel Club organization produces a list of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. every year, based on pet registration data. Here is the top 5 for 2017:
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- French Bulldogs
The most recent statistics show that the Labrador is sitting at the top of the charts as the most popular breed. Not only that, but Labs have been in the number one spot since 1991. While the popularity of some breeds goes through peaks and troughs, Labradors remain in the hearts of American dog lovers year after year.
While the Labrador is undoubtedly a popular pet, it is also widely used in a range of other capacities. This breed is employed across the globe to provide guide dogs for the visually impaired. In addition, Labradors are widely used in sport and hunting, due to their excellent sense of smell and retrieval abilities. They are also trained to act as care and therapy dogs, as well as being used in law enforcement.
Physical Features of Labradors
- Colors: Black, chocolate or yellow
- Height: Males – 22.5-24.5 inches / Females – 21.5-23.5 inches
- Weight: Males – 65-80 pounds / Females – 55-70 pounds
Labradors are referred to by color. They are either black, chocolate (brown), or yellow. The coloring of yellow Labrador can vary, ranging from almost white to a reddish hue.
They may not be the biggest or strongest of dogs, but Labradors carry more than enough size and weight to be imposing in the event of a Labrador attack.
The Nature and Temperament of Labradors
Labrador bites are not considered to be a common occurrence, because this breed is widely regarded as friendly, good-natured and even-tempered. Generally speaking, that’s all true. Labradors are energetic and enthusiastic, as well as being loyal and friendly companions. They are also highly intelligent and show a single-minded focus when they find something that sparks their interest. All of these qualities make it seem highly unlikely that you will ever become the victim of a Labrador biting incident. But Labrador attacks do happen, and are more frequent than many people know.
Why are Some Labradors Dangerous?
It is a widely-held belief that some dog breeds are aggressive, while others are mellow and family-friendly. This is a huge oversimplification! Just like people, every dog is different. Every dog can be good, and every dog can be bad, so Labradors can be as dangerous and unpredictable as any other breed. A Lab’s behavior will depend on a variety of factors:
It is believed that the temperament of a Labrador will be influenced by its genes. The genes are by no means the be-all and end-all of dog behavior, but they play a significant role. Studies have shown that a dog’s personality traits are heavily linked to those of its parents. In fact, a lot of the advice given to would-be owners of a dog is to look at the parents before deciding on a dog, due to the influence this can have on the temperament of the puppy. A Labrador biting problem has been shown to be more likely if the parents are aggressive.
The training that a puppy goes through from birth plays a huge role in its behavior through the rest of its life. Because of their good reputation, many inexperienced owners believe that Labradors do not need much training, but that kind of thinking can lead to a Labrador biting problem. A study published in the Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances in 2009 determined that 40% of dominance aggression in pet dogs is due to a lack of basic training as a puppy.
Widely searched-for terms on Google involve stopping Labrador puppies from biting. Young Labs are prone to nipping and biting frequently with some force, which often comes as a shock to new owners. The suggested methods of curbing this behavior can be confusing and contradictory, because different methods work with different dogs. If owners do not find a method that works for their puppy, they may end up with an increasingly aggressive Labrador who bites frequently.
One of the downsides of the Labrador’s loyal nature is that it will be protective of its owner and family. A Lab is not a natural guard dog, but its instinct will still be to respond if there is a perceived threat or danger. This is not specific to Labradors and is true of many dog breeds. But it explains why you may sustain a dog bite injury from an otherwise good-natured pooch in some instances.
Environment and Experience
In some cases, a Labrador might be more likely to bite if it has had negative experiences in its lifetime. A Lab in a loving family will have formed relationships and attachments with humans. While this might lead to a Labrador biting through protective instinct, a dog from a loving home is likely to be pretty good with people. However, in some cases a dog a dog may have been abused by a previous owner. This kind of negative experience can have a severe impact on a dog, leaving it fearful of humans, quicker to anger, and unable to trust. Labrador bites are much more likely to occur when you come across a distrustful dog with a history of abuse.
We all know the feeling of heightened aggravation when we are in pain. Well, studies show that the same applies to dogs. Researchers in Spain studied a test group of 12 dogs with aggression problems in a bid to find the cause. All 12 of the dogs were diagnosed with a pain problem. Of those studied, eight of the dogs had a condition called hip dysplasia – a hip socket problem which is developed by about 13% of all Labradors. Some instances of hip dysplasia can leave dogs in serious pain and even lead to lameness.
The researchers found that the pain-inducing conditions suffered by their test dogs were prompting aggressive and violent outbursts. This meant that mild-mannered dogs might snap or bite without warning, the behavior of older dogs with no prior biting issues could change, and an already-aggressive dog could become even more so. A painful condition could easily lead to a Labrador biting incident.
Labradors can and do attack, for a number of different reasons. But how frequently do people sustain Labrador bite injuries?
- Five people were killed in attacks involving Labradors across 2016 and 2017 in the U.S., according to research by dogsbite.org.
- The recorded Labrador bite deaths took place in Texas, Ohio, Washington and California, under a variety of different circumstances.
- Labradors were identified as responsible for the most dog attack personal injury claims in a 2016 report, released by insurance company Animal Friends.
- The Animal Friends researchers worked with U.K. delivery company Royal Mail to identify the Labrador as the breed involved in the most mail delivery attacks.
- About 1,000 people across the U.S. require emergency treatment as a result of dog bites. However, there is no way to know how many of these were caused by Labradors.
- Around 9,500 of those dog bite victims have to be hospitalized due to the severity of their injuries. Again, it is not known how many were caused by Labrador bites.
While Labrador bite statistics are limited, it is clear from those figures which are available that Labrador attack incidents happen more than most people think. Critics of the Animal Friends study say that the information released does not point to Labradors being the most dangerous dogs – only that it is the most-owned breed of dog, naturally leading to a greater volume of incidents. This is true, but the figures still show that Labradors can and will bite and cause injuries.
Another reason for the high number of Labrador attacks is that many people do not show any caution around these dogs. People just assume that a Lab will be happy, and do not hesitate to approach or pet the dog – sometimes at their peril.
What to do if You are Attacked by a Labrador – Top 10 Tips
- Avoid the situation and put distance between an aggressive-looking dog and yourself whenever possible.
- If the dog engages, stay calm and don’t panic – try not to run, make loud noises, flail your arms, or make direct eye contact with the dog.
- Try to stay as still as possible, even if the dog charges – if its intentions are over-exuberant rather than vicious, you do not want it to think you’re playing and encourage it to chase or charge.
- Watch the dog’s body language for its intentions – flat ears and raised hackles are signs of aggression.
- If the dog continues to look menacing, use something as a shield between you and it. This can be anything from a bag, purse, umbrella or jacket, to something you find around you.
- If you do not have a shield object, wrap an item of clothing around your arm and use the outer forearm to protect yourself. In the event of a bite, you want to keep your arteries pointed inward.
- Try not to hit the dog unless absolutely necessary – this may only make the attack worse.
- If you do need to fight back, hit the dog in a sensitive area. The nose and ribs are both good targets.
- If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and keep your head tucked.
- Do what you can to protect your extremities and sensitive areas – make a fist to protect your fingers and use your arms to cover your neck and ears.
Follow these steps to minimize your risk of sustaining a serious Labrador bite injury. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but this will help you reduce the impact of an attack.
What is a Labrador’s Bite Force?
Different animals have different bite forces – meaning, the pressure they can generate when they bite down. When it comes to a dog bite, this pressure is directly related to how much damage they can cause.
Some studies have been done into the bite forces of domestic dogs, but research has focused on the breeds which are thought of as traditionally aggressive. National Geographic researchers used a bite sleeve which had been fitted with high-tech monitoring equipment to provide bite force readings. They tested it on a number of animals, including a Rottweiler, a German Shepherd, and an American Pit Bull Terrier. The Rottweiler produced the top reading at 328 psi. This is still only a rough estimation though, as it is impossible to know whether the dog was exhibiting its full force capabilities.
There is no specific data recorded for Labs, but a Labrador’s bite force is likely to be a little less than the Rottweiler. Labradors also famously have ‘soft mouths’. They were bred for retrieval – both in work and hunting for sport – without leaving marks in the objects they are retrieving. But do not let this fool you. A slightly lower bite force and a so-called soft mouth will not stop a Labrador biting when it is aggravated, and it will not stop a Labrador bite causing very painful and potentially-deadly wounds.
Dog Attack Injuries
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but a dog bite can be very serious. Any injuries you suffer in a Labrador attack will likely depend on the circumstances of the incident – the cause of the aggression, the victim’s reaction to the attack, and much more. Here are the most common injuries suffered in dog attacks:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma
The most common dog bite wound will be puncture wounds left by the animal’s teeth. A bite can also cause scratches, cuts and soft tissue tears. Depending on where on a person’s body the bite is, it can also cause nerve, muscle, tendon, and even bone damage. There is also a very real risk of dog bite infections occurring, while a dog attack can also leave a person with crippling trauma and anxieties.
What to do if a Dog Bites You
Dog bite cases in general – and Labrador bite cases specifically – are extremely tricky. People love their pets, and any Labrador owner will likely see their pooch as the perfect family pet. Even if their Labrador is suddenly aggressive and leaves a person with major wounds, they may be desperate for no further action to be taken.
However, a Labrador bite incident is serious and should be treated as such.
Here’s how you should respond immediately after sustaining a dog bite injury:
- Get to safety. Make sure the dog can no longer reach you.
- Call for help – to people in the vicinity or by phone. Make sure you do not put anyone else in harm’s way if possible.
- Seek first aid for your bite wound.
- Involve the police – give a full report of the incident. Be honest and to not downplay the seriousness of the attack, or your injuries.
- Visit the hospital or your doctor for treatment, depending on the severity of your injuries. Keep your medical bills.
- Document every step of the process – take pictures of your injuries, request police and medical reports, and collect witness statements if anyone saw the attack.
- Contact a skilled dog bite lawyer at Bisnar Chase.
Who is Liable in a Dog Bite case?
In California, a dog’s owner is entirely responsible when it comes to compensating victims for actions which are adjudged to be harmful by their pets.
Costs can include:
- Hospital bills and other medical expenses in the event of an injury
- Compensation for damage caused
- Recompence for emotional pain and suffering
Know the state’s dog bite laws and make sure you are properly compensated for any incident.
A dog bite attorney from Bisnar Chase can help an attack victim claim financial compensation and damages for the injuries and trauma they have suffered.
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after an incident. Allow them to review your case by providing all of the details and evidence they will need to fight for compensation.
The best evidence you can provide in a Labrador attack case is:
- A full personal account outlining the attack, how it occurred, and all relevant details
- Police and medical reports from the incident
- Photos or video of the attack
- Photos or video showing your injuries
- Eye-witness testimonies
- Anything else you can think of to demonstrate the events
Key tip: Be organized and detail-oriented in your report. Provide a full timeline of the incident, complete with the exact time, location and circumstances. Be thorough and don’t leave anything out.
Bisnar Chase Provides No Win, No Fee Lab Attack Help
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a Labrador, contact the experienced dog bite attorneys at Bisnar Chase now.
Our team highly skilled and knowledgeable team has been winning cases and securing the best possible compensation for our clients for more than 40 years. We are dedicated to helping our clients on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis, and are proud of our 96% success rate.
Contact us now for a free consultation at 877-958-8092, and let our experts assess your legal options.