Although both breeds are considered hardworking and loving with their family, Labradors and Pitbulls do have some big differences—not least in their reputations. The Labrador is considered one of the best breeds for families and individuals and is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
The Pitbull, although somewhat unfairly judged, is classified as an aggressive breed and its ownership is prohibited in some countries, and some states and cities in the US. Below, we look at the two breeds and consider their similarities and differences, to help you identify which of these two breeds is best for you and your circumstances.
At a Glance
The Labrador is one of the most popular pet dog breeds in the world and is loved by families and individuals for its loving and affectionate, but playful, nature. It will walk happily with its owners, play almost any game it can think of, and then sit and relax on the couch when everybody gets home. The Labrador’s intelligence and willingness to learn have seen it employed as a service dog, therapy dog, and in a host of other roles.
Labradors come from the island of Newfoundland off the coast of Canada. They were first bred in the early 18th Century and were primarily kept by fishermen, although at this time they were known as St. John’s dogs. They were companion dogs but they would also be used to perform various tasks and jobs for their handlers. Their utility and usefulness quickly spread and by the mid 19th Century they were introduced to England. Although the breed almost died out in Newfoundland, and they almost became extinct, breeders in England kept the breed alive. They became especially popular following World War II and since then they have been used in a variety of service roles. Labradors are one of the most common breeds of guide dogs, therapy dogs, police dogs, and armed services dogs.
Known for being one of the friendliest and most loyal dogs, the Labrador typically gets along with all people and all animals. So, while the breed does make a good service dog, it does not make a good guard dog. Its personality makes it a good choice for families and individuals, as well as owners that already have other pets.
One of the reasons for the popularity of the breed is that it is very intelligent and eager to please. This combination means that the Labrador is considered easy to train. Training is considered important because while the Labrador is widely considered a good companion, it can be very energetic and prone to bouts of extreme playfulness.
The higher energy levels of the Labrador also mean it is necessary to provide plenty of exercise. Expect to exercise a Labrador for at least 90 minutes a day. Without regular exercise, the breed can become bored and may show destructive tendencies. The Labrador is also prone to certain illnesses and hereditary conditions including hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy.
This breed is ideal for energetic owners that are looking for a loyal and affectionate dog. It is good with families of all ages, can be trained easily, and it can undertake any of a wide range of service roles. The Labrador also does well in agility and canine sports classes. It is considered a good breed for first-time and novice owners.
The Pitbull has a reputation that is marred in controversy. Its ownership is prohibited in many countries and some states and cities around the US. However, despite this reputation, the dog tends to be loving with family, loyal to its owners, and can make an excellent companion dog. However, early socialization and training are important, and it is not generally recommended that first-time owners take on a Pitbull.
Pitbull breeds were first bred in England for bull-baiting, a blood sport that saw dogs pitted against bulls with the aim of the dog wearing out or bringing down the bull over grueling and potentially fatal matches. When bull-baiting was banned, owners and handlers turned to dog fighting. This combination meant that Pitbulls were trained to be aggressive with other dogs and potentially with other animals, but they also needed to be gentle and unaggressive with their human owners. A spate of fatal dog attacks on people especially during the latter half of the 20th Century saw the breed banned in some countries and in some states and cities in the US.
When well socialized and trained from an early age, Pitbulls can make great family dogs and companions that will get along with all family members. They can make good watch dogs because they will get excited and may bark when people approach the house, although they usually want to happily greet the visitors. The dog can be fiercely loyal and may defend their family ferociously, which means that the dog needs to be well-socialized so that it does not mistake people for threats.
Pitbulls need consistent and ongoing training. They should also be socialized from a young age so that they are introduced to new people and different situations. This will help ensure that your Pitbull gets along with everybody. Pitbulls can do well in canine sports and agility, and this can be a good way to provide physical and mental stimulation.
Pitbulls also need plenty of exercise, typically around 90 minutes a day or more. Also like Labradors, they are prone to some hereditary conditions including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and heart disease. The breed is also prone to allergies.
Pitbulls are not usually considered suitable for novice owners. They are good with families and tend to be good with other humans, but they can be aggressive around other dogs. New owners need to ensure good socialization and training.
Before even considering buying or adopting a Pitbull, you need to check local laws in your area. The breed is banned in some countries and states. An increasing number of cities in the US are also introducing laws to prohibit the ownership of Pitbulls. Where they are legal, they typically must remain on a leash at all times and might need to be muzzled when out in public. Even if the breed is legal where you live, if you like to take your dog on days out, consider that where Pitbulls are prohibited, this includes visiting dogs. Labradors are legal in all states and, as far as we know, all countries around the world.
Pitbulls and Labradors are both considered good family dogs. They both get along with family members of all ages and are considered good dogs for children. The Pitbull is sometimes referred to as a “nanny dog” because it will spend hours watching over children to make sure they are safe and well. Labradors are very understanding of children, although they do prefer those that are old enough to be able to throw a ball.
First Time vs Experienced Owners
Labradors are one of the most popular breeds in the world. One of the reasons for this is that they are considered adaptable dogs that are excellent first-time pets. Other than their quite high exercise requirements, they are quite low maintenance, and they are happy to be curled up with their family. They are also easy to train because they are intelligent and eager to please their owners. Pitbulls, on the other hand, are considered good pets for experienced owners and are not usually recommended as first-time dogs.
Training and Socialization
Both dogs benefit from training and are intelligent enough to be able to be trained for most roles. The Labrador is easier to train and while it does benefit from good socialization, it is less likely to develop behavioral problems if it doesn’t get a lot of socialization. Pitbulls need socialization when young and ongoing training to ensure well-rounded pets.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
Labradors and Pitbulls are quite different in some respects. Although they are both intelligent breeds that will usually get along very well with people, Pitbulls can be aggressive with other dogs, especially other Pitbulls of the same gender. They are prohibited in some areas, too, and they are not considered good dogs for first-time owners. It is also worth considering that there is something of a stigma attached to the breed, which can make owning one a challenge. Labradors are popular around the world because they are loving and loyal family dogs.
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