One of the most popular dog breeds of all time, labrador retrievers have made a name for themselves as phenomenal family pets. But are labradors good with other dogs? Thankfully, the answer is yes! There is, of course, a number of things to keep in mind about this statement.
It’s almost always a good idea to have more than one dog around. Not only will they keep each other company, but they’ll also have a partner in crime to play with. The kicker is that different breeds socialize differently, and here, we’ll discuss the labradors’ tendency to get along with other canines.
Do Labradors Get Along With Other Dogs?
Everyone knows by now that labradors are some of the most family-friendly breeds of all time. Easy-going, friendly, and just a tiny bit too trusting of anyone and everyone, you’re very unlikely to be disappointed with a labrador. Even when it comes to getting along with other dogs!
Since they’re very energetic and strong, it is imperative for you to train your labradors from early on. A well-behaved dog leads to a happy owner. After all, you don’t want your lovable 70-pound goof to drag you across the neighborhood.
How Important is Dog Training For a Labrador?
It’s not very likely that a labrador will grow into a particularly aggressive animal, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want them well-socialized. In fact, proper socialization and training are both absolutely crucial if you ever want your labrador to live along with another dog.
Depending on the breed of the other dog, some of your labrador’s less desirable traits may grow stronger. If you’re not looking to get your furniture ruined, start working with your labrador early on. Your time and effort will pay off!
Are Labradors Good With Small Dogs?
Small dogs are often a particularly important consideration. Even the most good-natured giant could accidentally harm their fun-sized pal during playtime!
Thankfully, since it’s relatively easy to properly train a labrador, it’s not hard to make sure that your small dogs, children, and even tinier pets such as guinea pigs are totally safe with them. The most important thing to consider here is how energetic your labrador is. Some might be couch potatoes in the making, but many will be extremely spirited.
Aside from providing them with obedience training, you’ll also want to ensure ample opportunities to blow off steam and spend any excess energy they might have.
Best Companion Dogs for Labradors
Now that we’ve got all the general stuff about labrador companionship out of the way, you’re probably wondering which dogs are best suited to live with them.
While each and every dog does have a personality all of its own to consider, thinking generally in terms of breeds is not a bad idea. Here you’ll find no less than ten great choices for you to check out as potential companion dogs for labradors.
Phenomenally adaptive and with an almost identical temperament to that of labrador retrievers, golden retrievers sit right at the very top of our list of best companion dogs for this breed.
Golden retrievers grow to a size that’s similar to that of the labradors, which means you won’t have any of those small dog problems we mentioned above. Better still, they are just as happy-go-lucky and energetic as labradors, too. A perfect match for long-term companionship!
American Cocker Spaniel
The American cocker spaniel is, much like the labrador, one of those breeds that will get along with anything and everything. Better still, they’re easy to train, and enjoy playing with other dogs they’re comfortable with.
With good training and enough attention, pairing up a cocker spaniel with a labrador is an easy choice. You’ll get a pair of loving and gentle dogs that are very unlikely to cause issues. Not to mention how adorable they’ll be!
The ever-popular beagle is an amazing match for highly energetic labradors that aren’t content with sitting around all day. There’s no real reason to worry about beagles during rougher playtime, either, as they’ve got great endurance comparable to that of larger breeds.
While these two make for an easy match-up, it might be a good idea to get animals of different sexes for maximum compatibility. Keep them sterilized, too, unless you’re interested in fostering a litter down the line.
English Springer Spaniel
In many respects, the English springer spaniel is a labrador with a fancy hairdo. Both are highly energetic breeds, for example, and they will need lots of socialization with humans and other dogs to stay content. They also agree when it comes to temperament. Raise them well, and they’ll be the friendliest pair of dogs you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
A potentially major upside to getting an English springer spaniel matched up with a labrador retriever is that there’s every chance they’ll end up doing their daily exercise together. Nothing beats a healthy and happy dog! Except, perhaps, a pair of them.
While the Boston terrier might not be a great match for the labrador when it comes to sheer size and bulk, it’s every bit as enthusiastic of a breed.
It should be pretty easy for a Boston terrier to come to a mutual agreement with a labrador, but they might not be a great match-up for families with children. Members of this breed can be more easily irritable than, say, beagles are, so that should be a major consideration for prospective owners.
Boxers are pretty similar to Boston terriers when it comes to temperament, except they are slightly calmer. They are also almost ridiculously energetic. Easily more so than an average labrador!
What makes the boxers a good match for labrador companionship is that they’re fairly adaptive and aren’t particularly jealous when it comes to human affection. Since labradors can get pretty keen on that front (more on that later), that’s a potentially desirable trait.
The Bouvier breed is about as gentle and calm as it is tousled.
While most other breeds on this list are eager to interact with other dogs, the Bouvier will prefer to ignore them instead. This makes it a good choice for owners of those labradors that aren’t too energetic, and who would prefer a bit of peace and calm instead of regular playtime.
Note that proper dog-to-dog socialization will make or break long-term companionship with a Bouvier. They’re not too happy with being introduced to new dogs later on, so be sure to start training them for companionship as early as possible.
The Havanese breed is also known by its adorable nickname of “Velcro dog”, owing to its tendency to stick really close to its owner. If that reminds you to some extent of the labrador, you might be onto something.
While it’s going to be important to teach your labrador not to run over the Havanese in your care, chances are that they’re going to get along perfectly fine. Both breeds are prone to separation anxiety, so if you can’t help but leave the pair alone every so often, they will easily keep each other content while you’re away.
A properly socialized German Shepherd enjoys company about as much as a labrador does. They’re also of a similar size and energy level. In fact, if you raise them both together, they probably won’t even know they’re not of the same breed!
What might cause some friction is that a German Shepherd may seek dominance in this match-up. Getting dogs of different gender will ensure maximum compatibility, even if they’re sterilized, so make that an option to consider.
Pugs may as well be tiny labradors with squashed faces, considering their general demeanor.
This breed’s tiny frame contains way more energy than many significantly larger and bulkier breeds do, and they’re almost ridiculously affable and friendly. Does that make them a great match for labrador companionship? We believe so.
Naturally, since the pug is really small compared to an average labrador, you’re going to need to train your bigger pet not to trample the little guy in excitement.
Do Labradors Need Another Dog?
In general terms, any dog will need some amount of socialization with other dogs. It’s necessary for their health and development, and the sooner they get exposed to other people’s pets, the easier will they be to work with in the future. This holds true with labradors, too.
Most labrador retrievers will be happy to have company to run around with, provided that they find them agreeable.
As we mentioned above, having a doggy friend could also help them with separation anxiety, which labradors are famously prone to suffer from. Not to mention the upside of getting more exercise in, thanks to having someone to play with basically all day long.
Do Labradors Get Jealous Of Other Dogs?
Now that you know which breeds are a good match as companions for your labrador, and now that you know if your labrador needs a doggy pal in the first place, it’s time to consider a potential issue: jealousy. And yes – labradors do get jealous easily.
Worse still, they can get jealous of other animals, humans, and even objects! But is there a way for you to recognize this behavior early on?
How to Tell if My Labrador is Jealous?
- Whining: your labrador might begin to whine while you’re interacting with other people or animals
- Soft growling: distinct from outright aggressive growling in that it’s softer, almost imperceptible
- Forceful inclusion: if your labrador is trying to get between you and someone else, this is it
- Randomly performing tricks: though it’s funny in a way, do take note if your dog suddenly starts performing random tricks for no reason – they’re trying to get your attention
If you notice that your labrador is showing signs of jealousy, try to not let this behavior escalate further. Train the dog to accept your interaction with other animals, humans, and – yes – objects as normal through positive affirmation. Make sure not to give them attention when they’re acting poorly, too: this might give your labrador the go-ahead to become even more jealous.
Now that you’ve read this article, you’re better equipped to tackle the issue of labrador companionship! You know which breeds might be a good fit for your lovable goof, what to look out for in socializing them, and how to tackle potential issues with jealousy. Keep this information in mind moving forward, and don’t hesitate to contact a behavioral expert if need be. Good luck!
- Mattinson, Pippa. The Labrador Handbook, 2016.
- Harris, Christine R. Jealousy in Dogs (academic study), 2014. (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0094597)