Top dog

America’s favorite dog, for the 18th year in a row, is the Labrador Retriever. I can see that. My nephew’s lab, Willie, is full of likable personality, though with perhaps too much irrational exuberance. Do you agree that labs are the best family dogs, or do you have another nomination?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com tickletext

    Surely the clear choice for top Cranach dog would be not the labrador but the noble, multi-vocational, and exuberant (but not "irrationally" so) German Shepherd.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com tickletext

    Surely the clear choice for top Cranach dog would be not the labrador but the noble, multi-vocational, and exuberant (but not "irrationally" so) German Shepherd.

  • Elaine

    Our first Lab, Ernie (short for Ernestine), allowed my then one-year-old niece to demonstrate that she knew what an eye is. Niece poked her finger in Ernie's eye, declaring, "Eye"! Ernie didn't budge. Our current Lab, Lucy, is the sweetest. dog. EVER.

  • Elaine

    Our first Lab, Ernie (short for Ernestine), allowed my then one-year-old niece to demonstrate that she knew what an eye is. Niece poked her finger in Ernie's eye, declaring, "Eye"! Ernie didn't budge. Our current Lab, Lucy, is the sweetest. dog. EVER.

  • Booklover

    Golden Retriever–calmer and more gentlemanly than the Lab. :-)

  • Booklover

    Golden Retriever–calmer and more gentlemanly than the Lab. :-)

  • Deb C

    The American Pit Bull best dog we ever had. If you want to be a couch potato right there, if you want to run a marathon right there and endlessly eager to please.

  • Deb C

    The American Pit Bull best dog we ever had. If you want to be a couch potato right there, if you want to run a marathon right there and endlessly eager to please.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Always had some sort of combo mut for our family dog growing up. They were great dogs, each with their own unique personality – and very beloved, each. Especially during these times of economic woe, if you are looking for canine companionship, don't overlook a good mut destined for the pound.

    One of our muts was mostly lab though – we ended up giving him to a family with older kids with a bigger back-yard. Great dog, though.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Always had some sort of combo mut for our family dog growing up. They were great dogs, each with their own unique personality – and very beloved, each. Especially during these times of economic woe, if you are looking for canine companionship, don't overlook a good mut destined for the pound.

    One of our muts was mostly lab though – we ended up giving him to a family with older kids with a bigger back-yard. Great dog, though.

  • Dan Kempin

    Excuse me–did you use the term "irrational exuberance" with reference to a dog? I didn't know you could do that.

  • Dan Kempin

    Excuse me–did you use the term "irrational exuberance" with reference to a dog? I didn't know you could do that.

  • Katy

    We have a Norwegian Elkhound and he's great. He's pretty dumb, but he'll put up with anything my 3-year-old sister will throw at him.

  • Katy

    We have a Norwegian Elkhound and he's great. He's pretty dumb, but he'll put up with anything my 3-year-old sister will throw at him.

  • Josie

    Miniature Dachshund…best dog we've ever owned!

  • Josie

    Miniature Dachshund…best dog we've ever owned!

  • Pingback: We already knew that! « Katiie’s Beer

  • Pingback: We already knew that! « Katiie’s Beer

  • http://chesapeakecove.blogspot.com/ Peter Pillman

    I would rate the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as the best family dog. It is superb with kids, and very loyal. (this is speaking of a large dog, not of miniature breeds. I don't have much experience with miniatures)

    I have seen some Labs that are ok, but generally they are far to hyper, and tend to be unaware of their size, knocking over children with their exuberance.

    I have a full explanation on my blog, but commenting didn't allow space for a full evaluation of breeds. http://preview.tinyurl.com/adcxrk

  • http://chesapeakecove.blogspot.com/ Peter Pillman

    I would rate the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as the best family dog. It is superb with kids, and very loyal. (this is speaking of a large dog, not of miniature breeds. I don't have much experience with miniatures)

    I have seen some Labs that are ok, but generally they are far to hyper, and tend to be unaware of their size, knocking over children with their exuberance.

    I have a full explanation on my blog, but commenting didn't allow space for a full evaluation of breeds. http://preview.tinyurl.com/adcxrk

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TKls2myhrt Theresa K.

    You inspired a blog post!

    See: http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TKls2myhrt Theresa K.

    You inspired a blog post!

    See: http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TKls2myhrt Theresa K.

    Peter, I should have mentioned that Kirby is mostly Black Lab, but his mother was half Chesapeake. I blame his stubborn streak on the Chesapeake in him! :) I do have to agree that Labs do not seem to realize what size they are. My 115 pound Black lab bows down to smaller dogs who bark at him and he tries to make buddies with cats. He loves all dogs and cats.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TKls2myhrt Theresa K.

    Peter, I should have mentioned that Kirby is mostly Black Lab, but his mother was half Chesapeake. I blame his stubborn streak on the Chesapeake in him! :) I do have to agree that Labs do not seem to realize what size they are. My 115 pound Black lab bows down to smaller dogs who bark at him and he tries to make buddies with cats. He loves all dogs and cats.

  • Ipod

    I agree with you Booklover, our second one ( hank) is an English Golden. He is calm and only 5 months old.

  • Ipod

    I agree with you Booklover, our second one ( hank) is an English Golden. He is calm and only 5 months old.

  • http://chesapeakecove.blogspot.com/ Peter Pillman

    There is nothing wrong with Labs. They generally are a great dog! You have two things going for you on that mix. 1. Its a mutt. That deals with a lot of the hyperness commonly seen in over-bred pure-breeds. 2. he is 1/4 Chessie! :-)

    As far as the stubbornness that you mention, that is the most misunderstood aspect of a Chessie's temperament. They take a very different training technique to other dogs, but are still very smart, quick learners, and eager to please, but that require a whole blog post to expound any further. Since their training disposition is so misunderstood, it is their greatest fault, and probably the reason they are not a more/the most popular breed.

  • http://chesapeakecove.blogspot.com/ Peter Pillman

    There is nothing wrong with Labs. They generally are a great dog! You have two things going for you on that mix. 1. Its a mutt. That deals with a lot of the hyperness commonly seen in over-bred pure-breeds. 2. he is 1/4 Chessie! :-)

    As far as the stubbornness that you mention, that is the most misunderstood aspect of a Chessie's temperament. They take a very different training technique to other dogs, but are still very smart, quick learners, and eager to please, but that require a whole blog post to expound any further. Since their training disposition is so misunderstood, it is their greatest fault, and probably the reason they are not a more/the most popular breed.

  • OregonMouse

    My dog is 3/4 Lab, 1/4 Golden Retriever. He was bred as a wheelchair assistance dog but rejected due to an overbite (undershot lower jaw). Labs are a slow-maturing dog; this has to be taken into account–they don't really settle down (or achieve physical maturity) until about 2 years old. He was very easy to train until it came time for being off-leash, when he decided that removing the leash meant it was time go play with the other dogs in the obedience class. It took until he was almost 15 months before I could work with him off-leash. Since then, he has been wonderful. However, I really feel that extensive training and socialization are far more important than the breed.

  • OregonMouse

    My dog is 3/4 Lab, 1/4 Golden Retriever. He was bred as a wheelchair assistance dog but rejected due to an overbite (undershot lower jaw). Labs are a slow-maturing dog; this has to be taken into account–they don't really settle down (or achieve physical maturity) until about 2 years old. He was very easy to train until it came time for being off-leash, when he decided that removing the leash meant it was time go play with the other dogs in the obedience class. It took until he was almost 15 months before I could work with him off-leash. Since then, he has been wonderful. However, I really feel that extensive training and socialization are far more important than the breed.

  • Mary Ann

    We have a red heeler (Australian cattle dog) we rescued from the pound (!), he's loyal, smart and hilarious. Our female is 1/2 blue heeler and 1/2 border collie. She's smarter than many people I know. We enjoy these two entertaining pooches enormously. I think labs are more hyper than they used to be, probably due to over breeding. Whenever a particular breed becomes really popular that seems to follow.

  • Mary Ann

    We have a red heeler (Australian cattle dog) we rescued from the pound (!), he's loyal, smart and hilarious. Our female is 1/2 blue heeler and 1/2 border collie. She's smarter than many people I know. We enjoy these two entertaining pooches enormously. I think labs are more hyper than they used to be, probably due to over breeding. Whenever a particular breed becomes really popular that seems to follow.

  • http://www.shempel.blogspot.com Sarah Irani

    I think that most families do not have the time and attention to care for a dog of that size. Most labradors that I've met are spazzing and out of control. They are nice and non-agressive, but have a lot of energy and are very large. Dogs need DAILY exercise to maintain a calm and disciplined manner. My mother was an obedience trainer and we had a chessie growing up. She was an excellent dog, and I would second those who have recommended them. But the first two years ,while she was still in training, were terrible. Puppies have a lot of energy and chew up all your shoes.

    We have a Siberian Husky. She is the greatest dog ever, but I would not recommend huskies to anyone who doesn't exercise DAILY. Our dog goes for a walk 3-4 times per DAY, every day no matter the weather. In fact, she wants to go further when it is below freezing. A worn-out dog is a good dog, in our book. People are SHOCKED at how well behaved our pooch is. That's only because she is well-disciplined and exercises all the time.

    My point is, dogs require more care than the average busy American family is willing or able to give.

  • http://www.shempel.blogspot.com Sarah Irani

    I think that most families do not have the time and attention to care for a dog of that size. Most labradors that I've met are spazzing and out of control. They are nice and non-agressive, but have a lot of energy and are very large. Dogs need DAILY exercise to maintain a calm and disciplined manner. My mother was an obedience trainer and we had a chessie growing up. She was an excellent dog, and I would second those who have recommended them. But the first two years ,while she was still in training, were terrible. Puppies have a lot of energy and chew up all your shoes.

    We have a Siberian Husky. She is the greatest dog ever, but I would not recommend huskies to anyone who doesn't exercise DAILY. Our dog goes for a walk 3-4 times per DAY, every day no matter the weather. In fact, she wants to go further when it is below freezing. A worn-out dog is a good dog, in our book. People are SHOCKED at how well behaved our pooch is. That's only because she is well-disciplined and exercises all the time.

    My point is, dogs require more care than the average busy American family is willing or able to give.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X