A black Lab Australian Shepherd mix puppy may have a fully black coat, a black and white coat, or a tri colored coat! In fact, this mixed dog could take after either parent. So, many Aussie Shepherd black Lab puppy owners won’t know what to expect until their puppy arrives. And puppies from the same litter can look quite different!
But, both parent breeds share some similar traits. So, puppies will always be intelligent, energetic, and loyal to their close family. Are you thinking about getting a black Lab Australian Shepherd mix?
What is a Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix?
A black Lab Australian Shepherd mix will have one purebred Australian Shepherd parent and one purebred black Labrador Retriever parent. The Aussie can be any shade or pattern, but the Labrador parent will be entirely black (rather than yellow or chocolate).
Many breeders pair these two dogs in the hopes of getting a black (or mostly black) puppy. But, there’s no guarantee that the genetics will play out that way. So, let’s take a closer look at the possibilities for this mix.
Will an Australian Shepherd Black Lab Mix Have a Black Coat?
Some black Lab Aussie Shepherd mix dogs will have black coats. But, many will have a mix of colors, such as a white patch on their chest. Their coloring is decided by the genes that they inherit from their parents.
Labs come in three colors – black, yellow, and chocolate. Black Labs may carry the genes for yellow or chocolate coloring alongside the genes for their black coat. Australian Shepherds have a much wider color spectrum. They can be any of the following:
- Blue Merle
- Red Merle
And, over any of those base colors, they could have white markings and tan points. A black Lab Australian Shepherd mix could inherit any of these colors too. So, they might not look much like their black Lab parent at all!
Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix Temperament
Just like appearance, this mix can have quite a varied temperament. But, luckily, the Labrador and Australian Shepherd breeds do share some wonderful traits. In general, this mix will be very energetic and very intelligent, taking to new skills well.
They will love spending lots of time outside exercising with you, and will love to spend plenty of time around their families, forming a strong bond. However, they must be socialized well to ensure the friendliest and most confident personality. This will help to minimise any potential for aggression towards humans and other animals.
Bear in mind that puppies may also inherit the Australian Shepherd’s natural herding instinct. This can involve chasing and nipping at the heels of kids and small animals. So, this mix’s temperament is sometimes better suited to a family with older children.
Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix Training and Exercise
As we now know, this is a clever and very energetic mixed breed. So, they need a family that can dedicate plenty of time to both training and exercise. As a minimum, an Aussie Lab mix will need at least an hour of outdoor exercise time, whether this is a hike, a swim, or some fast-paced retrieving games.
Generally, these dogs are happiest in a home that has a yard for them to explore and play in outside of their formal exercise hours. If their exercise needs aren’t met, they may become destructive, bored, stressed, and more. These dogs won’t suit sedentary apartment life. And, their minds need just as much stimulation as the rest of their bodies. Positive training is a great way to keep your mix occupied and to build on the strong bond between you.
Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix Health
The black Lab Australian Shepherd mix has a healthy conformation. But, this mix has the potential to inherit some hereditary problems from their two parent breeds. Here are some of the most common issues to watch out for:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Canine bloat/gastric dilatation-volvulus
- Exercise Induced Collapse
- Centronuclear Myopathy
- Heart problems
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Collie Eye Anomaly
- Multiple drug sensitivity
Many of these problems can be detected through health testing. So, it’s important to choose a reputable breeder that screens their dogs before breeding. A black Lab Australian Shepherd mix can live into their teens with proper care. But, their chances of living this long increase massively if they are bred from dogs with no hereditary health issues.
Are Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mixes Good Family Dogs?
In the right home, this mix can be a great family dog. However, it needs plenty of mental and physical stimulation every single day. So, if you are an active family that has a lot of time to dedicate to training, and want a dog to take out on your regular hikes, this could be an ideal breed for you. Without enough exercise or mental stimulation, this mix can easily become bored, stressed, and depressed. Which can lead to destructive behaviors.
On top of this, both parent breeds are prone to a number of hereditary health problems. So, it’s vital that you choose a puppy from a reputable breeder to minimise this risk. And, some Aussie Lab mixes may try to herd small children and other animals in the home. So, you may do best with this breed if you have older children and somewhere for other animals to get a break.
Where to Find a Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix Puppy
The Australian Shepherd Labrador mix is growing in popularity. But, if you’re hoping to get one with a black Lab parent, you’ll need to check the specific Lab being used. However, as we said earlier, the most important part of choosing a reputable breeder is finding one that health tests their parent dogs.
The price of these puppies will vary depending on where you live, the quality of parents, puppy coat color, and popularity of the mix.
It’s also important to avoid puppy mills and pet stores, especially as a particular mixed breed becomes more popular. Puppies from these places often don’t come from parents that have been health tested, and are often taken from their moms too early, resulting in physical and behavioral problems.
Black Lab Australian Shepherd Rescue
Another option, if you’re struggling to find healthy puppies, is to look for a rescue dog. Often, they are slightly older, and may be a little harder to find! But, if you have a specific appearance in mind, you’ll get a better idea of this than you would from a puppy.
Some rescue dogs will also have basic obedience training. Just remember that some may also not suit certain homes, like those with other pets. So, speak to rescue center staff to ensure the dog you’ve chosen will suit your home.
And, bear in mind that some dogs in rescue centers will have an unknown ancestry. Staff may be able to predict that you’re getting a black Lab Australian Shepherd mix, but it isn’t always guaranteed unless your pup comes with paperwork!
Black Lab Australian Shepherd Mix
A black Lab Australian Shepherd mix could end up being like either parent, or a true mix of both. This mix will be intelligent and energetic. But, there’s no guarantee that they’ll inherit the black Lab’s single-tone coat! Do you have this mix at home? Or are you planning on bringing one home soon?
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References and Resources
- The Canine Health Information Center
- Clements, D. (et al), ‘Dogslife: A Web-Based Longitudinal Study of Labrador Retriever Health in the UK’, BMC Veterinary Research (2013)
- Adams, V. J. (et al), ‘Methods and Mortality Results of a Health Survey of Purebred Dogs in the UK’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (2010)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2015)
- Sponenberg, D. P. & Rothschild, M. ‘Genetics of Coat Color and Hair Texture’, The Genetics of the Dog (2001)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website