17 Reasons Why Labrador Retrievers Are the Most Popular Dogs in America

Labrador puppy is eating a bone with meat from a bowl
Want a dog who will go swimming with you, motivate you as you jog around the neighborhood, or be a good playmate for your kids? You might like Labrador retrievers. | iStock.com/manushot

Everybody loves Labrador retrievers. In fact, Labradors are the most popular dog breed in America. You’re pretty likely to see at least a couple of these energetic, eager-to-please dogs when you spend time outside at the park or in your neighborhood. Labs make great family dogs. They can learn to play gently with small kids. And they also make excellent hunting companions. Plus, Labrador retrievers are always ready for adventure, whether that’s a hike in the mountains or a trip to the beach. And they’ll even curl up on the couch with you.

Curious about some of the reasons why Labrador retrievers are the most popular dogs in America? It might be because Labs are friendly, helpful, playful, and highly trainable. Or it could be one of the many other things we all love about Labs. Read on to check out our favorite things about Labrador retrievers.

1. Labrador retrievers are intelligent and highly trainable


The AKC notes that Labrador retrievers are not only friendly, but they’re also smart. These intelligent dogs want to please their owners. So they’re highly trainable. As with any other dog, training is still work. But Labs are up for the challenge (unlike many other dogs, who resist the process all the way). Labs are loyal to their owners and will take their cues from you. They’ll go on a run around the neighborhood with you, or they’ll cuddle up with you on the couch if you need a quiet evening at home.

Next: Why families love Labrador retrievers

2. Labs love children


Another reason why Americans love Labrador retrievers so much? According to PetBreeds, these dogs make great companions for children. They love children. (And they definitely don’t make the list of dog breeds that are worst for families with small kids.) Like any dog, Labs need to be supervised around very young children. But they’re affectionate, patient, and often love spending time with the smallest members of your family. They also love to play fetch — a game both little humans and young dogs can easily figure out together.

Next: Why a Lab can be a part of your family for a long time

3. Labs live long and healthy lives


When you bring a dog into your home, you want him or her to stay a part of your family for many years to come. PetBreeds notes Labrador retrievers often do because they can live long and healthy lives. (That’s especially true if you feed them a balanced diet and help them get plenty of exercise.) Labrador retrievers live an average of 12 years. So one of these dogs can remain a part of your family for a very long time.

Next: Why Labs are pretty low-maintenance

4. Labrador retrievers don’t need expensive trips to the groomer


People who want easy-going dogs find a lot to love in Labrador retrievers — as do people who want to avoid expensive trips to the groomer. PetBreeds notes these dogs require only very occasional trips to the groomer. And unlike many dogs with long coats, Labs don’t need to be brushed for hours every week. Of course, that doesn’t mean Labs never need to be brushed or that they won’t need the occasional bath. But they’re much easier to keep well-groomed than many other dog breeds.

Next: Why Labrador retrievers make great therapy and guide dogs

5. Labs want to be helpful


Labs often become guide dogs or search-and-rescue dogs. Some even get trained as therapy dogs. Sure, it helps that Labs take training well. But according to the AKC, “The Labrador retriever’s willingness to please makes them outstanding search and rescue dogs, as well as guide dogs for the blind.” In fact, Labs are the breed of choice to serve as guide and rescue dogs. That means the breed’s desire to be helpful pays off.

Next: Why Labs can play with even very small children

6. Labrador retrievers can learn not to play rough


If you have small children, you might worry about a dog as big as a Lab unintentionally injuring one of the little humans in your family. But as Labrador Training HQ reports, Labs were bred “to retrieve downed prey, such as ducks, grouse, rabbits, etc.” The connection between the two? Even though a dog’s usual instinct “is to bite down on flesh,” that’s not true for the Lab. Labs have have “incredible control of jaw muscles,” and they can be taught to play (or to retrieve things for you) without biting down.

Next: Why Labrador retrievers are fun to have around

7. Labs have adventurous and playful personalities


Another thing Americans love about Labs? These dogs have adventurous personalities. Labrador retrievers are typically friendly around new people. In fact, Labs often want to be the first to welcome somebody new. And they often have no qualms about saying hello to strangers on the beach or in your neighborhood. Labs also do great socializing at cookouts and parties, which just makes them all the more endearing to their owners.

Next: Why Labs make good workout companions

8. Labrador retrievers are up for all of your favorite athletic activities


Not every dog can keep up with athletic and outdoorsy owners. But Labs are up for just about anything. Labs go hiking. They’ll go jogging. And they’ll even swim with you. Whatever you do to stay fit, a Lab will want to join in. Plus, he’ll have the muscle and energy to keep up with — or even outperform — you. Need some motivation to go running each day? A Labrador retriever might be just what you need. And if you want somebody to go swimming with you? Your Lab will probably jump right in.

Next: How a Lab can play sports, too

9. Labs make good athletes in their own right


Does everyone in your family play a sport? Your Labrador retriever can, too. The AKC reports, “With their combination of physical ability, intelligence, and eagerness to please, Labrador retrievers excel at dog sports like rally, tracking, field trials, obedience and agility.” Special training and competitions aren’t for everyone. But they can make a fun activity for Lab owners and their dogs to do together.

Next: Why most Labs don’t need expensive vet visits

10. Labrador retrievers stay pretty healthy


Even though Labs may be prone to obesity, they aren’t the most expensive breed when it comes to medical expenses. In fact, PetBreeds reports that Labrador retrievers are the 18th most expensive breed to own with regards to medical costs. That means a Lab is less likely to have costly medical issues than many other breeds of dogs. Labs still need to go to the vet, of course. But they often stay healthier than other types of dogs and aren’t prone to any specific injuries or health conditions.

Next: Why a Lab will likely get along with your other animals

11. Labrador retrievers like other dogs (and other animals)


Some dogs like to be the only pup in sight, whether they’re at home with you or out at the park. But Labrador retrievers love other dogs. They naturally get along with most other canines. That makes them a strong candidate for households that already have pets or are situated in neighborhoods where lots of dogs already live. We all love friendly dogs — especially when those dogs are friendly both with people and other animals.

Next: Why a Labrador retriever is easy to feed

12. Labrador retrievers aren’t picky eaters


Labs famously have big appetites. That means you won’t struggle to find a brand of dog food your Lab likes. The AKC reports, “Labs love to eat … and eat and eat and eat.” They need a healthy diet and lots of exercise. Labs may be more prone to obesity than other dog breeds. But Lab owners who restrict their dogs’ diets will help them live a longer, healthier life.

Next: Why Labs aren’t too big or too small

13. Labs are the perfect size for many families


Labrador Training HQ also notes many people love Labs because they’re the “Goldilocks” dog. (That’s not because of the color of adorable yellow Labs.) “At 22 to 24 inches in height and 60 to 75 pounds in weight for males, and 21 to 23 inches and 55 to 70 pounds for females, Labrador retrievers are the perfect size for an active family: Not too big and not too small.” They can exist in an apartment with plenty of exercise or feel right at home in a house with a medium-sized yard.

Next: How you can bring a Lab home for less than $200

14. Labs don’t cost a lot to adopt


Labs, like many other puppies, can be expensive to purchase from a breeder. (According to PetBreeds, they cost about $750.) But rescuing a dog from a shelter is the perfect way to give a great home to an animal who needs one. And adopting a Labrador retriever from a shelter or a rescue group costs an average of $175. Additionally, many young animals who come from the shelter have been spayed or neutered, which means you have one fewer agenda item (and expense) to worry about.

Next: Why Labs are quieter than other dogs

15. Labrador retrievers don’t bark as much as other dogs


Another reason PetBreeds thinks Labs are such popular dogs? They don’t bark nearly as much as other dogs. So a Lab is less likely than other kinds of dogs to annoy you, and your neighbors, with incessant barking. Of course, most dogs bark at least occasionally. And you probably shouldn’t get a dog if you can’t tolerate any barking at all. But with proper training, you can teach your dog not to bark excessively (or to use barking to get what he wants).

Next: Why Labs can live in just about any climate

16. Labs can tolerate a wide range of weather


PetBreeds notes Labs are also well-suited to households that move a lot. That’s because they can tolerate both hot and cold weather. You don’t have to worry about Labrador retrievers in any but the most extreme weather conditions. Mostly, you’ll just need to exercise common sense. If it’s extremely hot and sunny, make sure your dog has access to shade and fresh water. And if it’s ever cold or snowy, make sure you get him inside to warm up.

Next: Why Labrador retrievers are so irresistible

17. Labrador retrievers are adorable


The American Kennel Club notes that if Labs went to high school, they’d easily win the award for “Best Looking.” Labrador retrievers come in three photogenic colors: black, chocolate, and yellow. And according to the AKC, the Lab’s “‘otter’ tail, dense weather-resistant coat, and friendly expression” all contribute to his uniquely adorable appearance.