Labradors are relatively gentle dogs, but they are still large and powerful. How strong is a Labrador Retriever’s bite force? You can measure a dog’s bite force in pounds per square inch. Some dogs can bite quite a lot harder than others. Researchers have studied the bite force of different dogs.
How Strong Is a Labrador Retrievers Bite Force?
A Labrador Retriever has a bite force of about 230 pounds per square inch, which is somewhere in the middle of all dog breeds. It is about the same as a pitbull (235 PSI), but it is not nearly as strong as some breeds of Mastiffs (up to more than 700 PSI).
Dogs have a weaker bite force than wolves because they no longer have to attack animals or chew through bones. However, some dogs can still bite harder than some wolves.
Published scientific research on bite strength is probably accurate. You could get more accurate averages if you studied larger groups of dogs, but the current research is probably pretty close to the truth.
Labrador Retrievers Have a Powerful Bite Even for Large Dogs
A Labrador Retriever’s bite force is 230 pounds per square inch. 230 PSI is a lot – more than a pitbull terrier.
Labrador Retrievers can bite harder than many more aggressive breeds of dogs can. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are a couple of the most gentle and friendly breeds of dogs, but they also have fairly strong bites.
Retrievers are not “ideal” dogs that you can count on to attack a genuinely dangerous person without ever biting an innocent one. A Retriever might make a poor guard dog because it is too gentle. A guard dog needs to be of a more aggressive and, unfortunately, less safe breed.
Do Lab Retrievers Have Soft Mouths?
You may have heard that a Labrador Retriever has a soft mouth for retrieving birds. Is that true, and does it mean that a Retriever has a weak bite force?
A Labrador Retriever does, in fact, have a “soft mouth.” This means that the dog will not damage birds when it retrieves them by biting them too hard. Some breeds of dogs were bred not to damage things they retrieve.
However, a soft mouth does not mean a low bite force. A Labrador Retriever knows better than to bite a retrieved bird its hardest. A Labrador Retriever has a strong bite force if it bites its hardest.
What Studies Have Measured Dog Bite Force?
Not very many researchers have studied the subject, but there is enough research to get a reasonably accurate idea. One of the best studies was done by Jennifer Ellis in 2008.
This Canadian study from Guelph University directly measured the dog’s bite force. The dogs were put unconscious, and then electrical stimulation was used to close the jaw muscles. This way, researchers could tell how strong the dog’s bite was at maximum effort.
The same study estimated as well as measured dogs’ bite forces. The study (Journal of Anatomy, 2008) also used measurements of the dog’s jaws and skulls to estimate bite force. There is also another study from 1995 that measured the bite force of different dogs.
Larger Dogs Have Stronger Bites
One thing that a later Journal of Anatomy study from 2009 made clear is that larger dogs have stronger bite forces. For medium-sized and large dogs, a bigger skull means a stronger bite. Oddly, this is not also true for small breeds of dogs.
One of the strongest bite forces belongs to the Mastiff, which is also one of the largest dogs. Retrievers do not have nearly the strongest bite force, but they can bite harder than some more aggressive breeds.
Lab Retrievers Compared to Other Dogs
Some animals such as crocodiles have a vastly stronger biting power than any dog. A Labrador Retriever’s 230-pound bite force is relatively puny compared to a Nile crocodile, which has a 5000-pound bite. However, their bite is more powerful if you compare them to other dogs.
Mastiffs have the strongest bites. Different Mastiff breeds have stronger bites than others:
- The Kangal has the strongest bite force, at 743 PSI. It has a stronger bite than most wolves.
- Cane Corsico (700 PSI)
- Dogue de Bordeaux (556 PSI)
- English Mastiff (552 PSI)
- Dogo Argentino (500 PSI)
Bully dogs also have strong bites:
- American Bulldog (305 PSI)
- Pitbull (235 PSI)
- English Bulldog (210 PSI)
And herding dogs:
- German Shepherd (238 PSI)
- Dutch Shepherd (224 PSI)
Another well-known dog with a powerful bite is the Rottweiler, which has a 328 PSI bite.
Lab Retrievers Compared to Wolves
Wolves have stronger bite force than dogs, who have stronger bite force than humans. A Labrador Retriever’s bite power is clearly lower than a wolf’s bite power. A wolf has at least a 400 PSI bite, with some research showing higher figures.
Since wolves can hunt large animals, they need powerful jaws. Their strong jaws help them kill animals and chew tough meat. National Geographic measurements of wolves’ bite strength are around 400, 500, or 600 PSI.
Why Do Wolves Have Such a Powerful Bite?
A wolf’s bite has to be strong because it has to break bones with its mouth. Wolves are carnivores and have to catch and kill other animals to survive. A wolf has 42 teeth, many of which are quite sharp, making a wolf’s bite deadly enough for a large animal.
What Makes a Wolf’s Bite So Strong?
A wolf’s biting force comes partly from its specialized jaw muscles. The lower jaw is also attached to the wolf’s skull and is not as rigid. This also helps a wolf bite harder.
Why Do Dogs Have Relatively Weak Bite Strength?
Dogs are no longer predators, or at least not primarily predators. There are wild dogs here and there, but most have human owners. Most are pets, some have another role.
Dogs have lost their bite strength over the centuries because humans do not breed them for bite strength. Humans always selected dogs for other traits. Dogs are also smaller than wolves, and size affects bite strength.
Other Reasons Why Wolves Have a Stronger Bite
Dogs have been eating softer food than wolves for thousands of years. Since they no longer need strong jaws and powerful teeth, their bite power is lower. Wolves also have bigger skulls compared to the rest of their bodies than dogs.
The strongest dogs might have a biting power comparable to a wolf. Some dogs have a 600 PSI bite, which might equal or exceed an average wolf’s biting power.
How Strong is a Human’s Bite Force?
A human’s bite force is not weak or is not nearly as weak as you might think. A human has a bite force of about 174 pounds for men and 101 pounds for women. This is not really that low compared to dogs.
The bite force is not the same everywhere in a human’s mouth. A human can bite harder with the teeth at the back of their mouth than the front or side teeth. This is because the bite farthest from the “hinge” of the jaw is the least strong.
If a person has both a short jaw and strong jaw muscles, they will be able to bite harder than average. Humans have dull teeth because they stopped using their teeth as weapons long ago.