A black Lab Chow mix dog has one black Labrador Retriever parent, and one Chow Chow parent. Because these two purebred dogs are quite different, one black Lab Chow mix can be very different to the next. Many breeders hope to get black fur, by using a black Labrador. But, this mix is also generally known to be loyal, high energy, and intelligent. Are you trying to figure out if it will suit your family? Read on for more information!
What’s In This Guide
Chow Chows and black Labs are very different dogs in a lot of ways, so there are a lot of variables to consider before committing to owning one.
To help you get to grips with them all, in this article we have:
- The black Lab Chow Chow mix at a glance
- And in-depth breed review
- Information on black Lab Chow mix training and care
- And pros and cons of getting a black Lab Chow mix
Black Lab Chow Mix: At A Glance
- Popularity: Unusual – the Labrador is the United States’ favorite dog, but the Chow Chow ranks 75th according to the AKC
- Purpose: Companionship
- Weight: 45 to 80 pounds
- Temperament: Diverse, and impossible to predict before adulthood
Black Lab Chow Mix Breed Review: Contents
You can use these links to navigate to specific information about the Lab Chow mix.
- History and original purpose of the Black Lab Chow Mix
- Black Lab Chow Mix appearance
- Black Lab Chow Mix temperament
- Training and exercising your Black Lab Chow Mix
- Black Lab Chow Mix health and care
- Do Black Lab Chow Mix make good family pets
- Rescuing a Black Lab Chow Mix
- Finding and raising a Black Lab Chow Mix puppy
Origin of the Black Lab Chow Mix
The history of Labradors and Chows could scarcely be more different.
The Labrador Retriever breed was originally developed in Britain over the course of the 19th century, using dogs imported from Canada. Their original purpose was to retrieve fallen game, including ducks shot over water, and return it to their handler.
Later on, their genial temperament combined with winning intelligence made them successful service dogs too. And as owning a pet dog became accessible to more and more people, they quickly soared in popularity as companions as well. So much so, that they have been the most popular dog breed in America for nearly three decades now.
The first Chow Chows
On the other hand, the Chow Chow is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, dating back at over 8,000 years. In fact, they are one of the 14 basal breeds from which most modern breeds today were originally refined. Over the course of their history they have served as companions to Chinese aristocracy, and also been employed as guard dogs. They were introduced to America in the late 19th century, and first recognized by the AKC in 1903.
Crossing Labs and Chows
Producing litters of black Labrador x Chow Chow puppies is part of a wider trend for breeding designer dogs – puppies with parents from two different pedigrees. Interest in mixed breed dogs moved into the mainstream in the 1980s and 90s following the enormous success of the Labradoodle. First generation hybrids of black Labs and Chows are affectionately known as Chabradors.
What to expect from a Black Lab Chow Mix
Chabradors are popular with people who like both Labs and Chows separately, and who hope that a mix of the two will capture the best qualities of each breed. However, it’s impossible to predict in advance which traits of each breed a puppy will inherit. And since Labs and Chows are so different to begin with, that means there are lots of ways a Chabrador can fail to meet expectations. Let’s work through the possibilities now.
Black Lab Chow Mix Appearance
Labradors are large dogs, weighing 55 to 80 pounds. Chow Chows are a fraction shorter and lighter, weighing in at 45 to 70 pounds. So a black Labrador Chow Chow mix can grow to anywhere between 45 and 80 pounds. But in general females will be smaller than males, and puppies from small parents will also grow up to be at the lower end of the scale.
Black Labs and black Chows both owe their coat color to a dominant gene for black pigment. Whether a black Lab mates with a black Chow, or a Chow of another color, it’s possible for them to produce black puppies. It’s also possible that their litter will contain puppies in other colors too – even if both parents are black! A breeder with very detailed knowledge of their puppies’ ancestry might be able to deduce exactly which coat color genes their parent dogs are carrying and the odds of them having an entirely black litter. But many won’t know what to expect until the litter is born.
Lots of genes also control coat length and texture. So a Labrador Chow mix dog could have a very bouffant coat like a Chow, with a distinct mane around their shoulders and chest. Or they could have a sleek coat, more resemblant of a Lab. Or, something in between. As you can see from our pictures, the black Chabrador might also inherit the Chows Chow’s famous blue tongue!
Black Lab Chow Mix Temperament
Black Lab Chow temperament is another quality with lots of possible outcomes. The classic Labrador and Chow Chow personalities are very different, and mixed breed dogs can inherit aspects from both. It’s impossible to guarantee, for example, that a litter of Chabradors will inherit a Lab’s trainability, or ease around strangers. Even their puppy personality isn’t an accurate predictor of what they will be like as an adult.
Labradors are famously, indiscriminately friendly. They tend to greet everyone as a long lost pal, and love to be approached and petted by new people. Chow Chows on the other hand are notoriously reserved. They tend to form a close emotional attachment to just one or two people, and remain aloof from everyone else. They may even attempt to guard their favorite person, by barking at other people who come close to them.
Labradors are widely regarded as being one of the easiest breeds to train. Their history as working dogs means they have a strong natural inclination to engage and cooperate with humans. They are easily motivated to take part in training games, and pick up new cues quickly. Chow Chows on the other hand are often described as being difficult to train. Traditionally they haven’t had any roles which involve taking direction from people, so learning to follow cues doesn’t come as naturally to them. They are sometimes described as being stubborn, or unwilling to follow people they ‘don’t respect’. But this completely misunderstands how and why dogs are motivated to learn.
Labradors have bags of physical energy, and lively minds to match. Young Labs can have an especially hard time ‘switching off’, and may need several hours of engagement every day to prevent them getting bored. Bored dogs frequently cope by finding their own ‘job’ to do – like chewing up your furniture.
Chow Chows on the other hand tend to be more placid, and from a younger age. Despite their size, many owners say they make good city dogs, because they are quite tranquil souls, who need relatively little stimulation before they take their next nap.
Although their breed standard specifically says that Chow Chows should not be aggressive, they have a reputation for aggression. This may be the result of individuals being inadequately socialized as puppies. Since they are substantial and powerful dogs, a dog who reacts with fearful aggression to an unwanted social interaction can do a lot of harm. 8 out of 238 fatalities caused by dog bites between 1979 and 1998 were attributed to Chow Chows (just over 3%).
Black Lab Chow Mix Socialization
Socialization is an important part of raising any dog. Even Labradors, who are very open to forming positive opinions of things, need lots of socialisation opportunities to foster that while they are under 12 weeks old. But socialization is even more important for breeds like the Chow Chow, which is more naturally inclined to be wary of unfamiliar experiences. Early exposure to other people, places and animals is vital to give them the confidence to handle the same things again in adulthood.
Training And Exercising Your Black Lab Chow Mix
Labs and Chows typically have quite different exercise requirements. So the black Lab Chow mix will usually fall somewhere in between
Labradors usually need around two hours of exercise per day, including some time off leash playing running games like fetch. In addition, they need engaging in further training and play time at home, to meet their need for mental stimulation. How much training and exercise they need depends partly upon whether they come from working or show lines. Working Labs need more activity than show Labs.
Chow Chows meanwhile can be satisfied with an hour of exercise at a walking pace, and some games at home. Before you commit to a black Lab Chow mix puppy, ask the breeder whether the Labrador parent comes from working or show lines, ask yourself if you can still meet the needs of a dog who needs several hours of exercising and engagement every single day.
Note: Chow Chows are one of the most at risk breeds for heatstroke, so if you live in a hot climate, you’ll also need a plan for how you will exercise a Chow mix dog safely in hot weather.
Training a black Chabrador puppy starts from the moment you bring them home. If you’re lucky, they will inherit the Chow Chow’s fastidious cleanliness – they are said to be one of the easiest breeds to potty train. Our complete potty training guide can help too.
Since they’re going to be big when they grow up, it’s important to teach a black Lab Chow mix puppy to greet people politely without jumping up. If they inherit the Labrador’s boisterousness, they could easily knock people over once they are full grown! This training guide can help you here.
Crate training is also useful for dogs of all types.
As they get older, teaching a Chabrador good manners such as recall, how to walk on a leash without pulling, and when to go to bed on cue will make them especially pleasant to live with. All breeds of dogs can be taught these skills using positive reinforcement training. Puppies with a very Lab-like temperament might learn them a little quicker, but the same principles will work for Chow-like dogs, with a little patience and commitment.
Black Lab Chow Mix Health And Care
One advantage of mixed breed dogs is that they may be less likely to inherit genetic diseases specific to either of their parent breeds. But, breeding from healthy parents is the most important step towards achieving healthy puppies.
Potential health problems of black Labrador Chow Chow mix dogs are:
- Problems with their hip, elbow, knee, and shoulder joints
- The neurological condition degenerative myelopathy
- Exercise induced collapse
- Tooth decay
- Thyroid disease
- Heat stroke
- And eye diseases, including early-onset blindness
To protect the health of their puppies, Labradors and Chow Chows should have their eyes and joints screened before breeding. They should also be tested for thyroid disease.
Black Lab Chow Mix Life Expectancy
Labradors have an average lifespan of 12 to 13 years. Some Labradors, through a mix of good care and good luck, even make it to their mid to late teens. Chow Chows on the other hand live 9 to 10 years on average. This is somewhat at odds with the general rule that smaller dogs live long than larger dogs. According to owner surveys, the most frequent cause of death in Chow Chows is gastric dilatation volvulus, or bloat. This is linked to their body shape – dogs with deep chests are more at risk, at any age. So, if you get a black Lab Chow mix dog, make sure you’re familiar with the signs of bloat and act quickly if they appear.
Black Lab Chow Mix Shedding
Labradors and Chows are both high shedding breeds. If you choose a hybrid puppy of both dogs, then be prepared for a lot of fur to end up shed on your floors and furniture. Regular brushing, and using a specialist de-shedding tool like a Furminator will help during high shedding periods. But daily vacuuming may still be needed. A robot vacuum can take the strain out of this.
Despite their phenomenal capacity for shedding hair, don’t be tempted to try and reduce the problem by clipping a black Labrador Chow Chow mix’s coat. Their fur provides vital protection against cold, and also against UV rays from the sun. Clipping it makes them vulnerable to extreme weather of both types. And since it doesn’t grow continuously like the fur on Poodles, Yorkies, and other breeds that are traditionally clipped, it may not grow back properly.
Regular brushing and occasional baths to loosen shed hair are all these dogs need to look after their coat. You’ll also need to check and clean their ears and teeth regularly, and clip their nails whenever they get over long.
Do Black Lab Chow Mixes Make Good Family Pets?
Labradors are popular family pets, but Chow Chows are better suited to adult only households. You might also want to consider how a dog with a Chow-type personality will fit into your lifestyle. If you enjoy visiting places and meeting people, how will you adapt if your dog is very reserved, and unable to cope?
Likewise, if you have a lot of time commitments, will you be able to provide all the exercise and stimulation a very Labrador-like dog needs? This article explores the challenges of raising a Labrador when you work full time.
Finally, if you’re a novice dog trainer, then training any dog tends to be a steep learning curve. If your Chabrador takes after the Chow in terms of trainability, then the job will feel even bigger. Can you afford to make that investment, and meet the needs of a young family?
For lots of people, the appeal of a black Labrador Chow mix is the potential for a dog with a giant teddy bear like appearance, but a more friendly, trainable temperament than a Chow Chow. But as we’ve seen, there are no guarantees that that’s what you’ll get. These alternative hybrids also cross the Labrador with a cuddly looking dog, with results that might be easier to handle:
- Labernese – A Complete Guide To The Bernese Mountain Dog Lab Mix
- Newfoundland Lab Mix
- Great Pyrenees Lab Mix – A Complete Guide To The Pyrador Dog Breed
- Husky Lab Mix – A Complete Guide To The Huskador Dog
Rescuing a Black Lab Chow Mix
Rescuing an older dog appeals to a lot of people. And it has a particular advantage when it comes to the black Chabrador. Because so many qualities of a black Lab Chow mix are impossible to predict until they are mature, adopting an older dog means you’ll get a better insight into their temperament. The rescue shelter will also be able to give you specific information about how much exercise they have needed, and how readily they have responded to training in their care.
The disadvantages of adopting an older Chow Chow are:
- That this mix is unusual, and they don’t appear in shelters very often.
- You won’t know the health of their parents, and you could be landed with expensive veterinary bills in future if they have any hereditary diseases.
- And that they ended up in shelter care because they were undersocialized as puppies, and have turned out very reactive to strangers.
Finding a Black Lab Chow Mix Puppy
The alternative to adopting an older black Lab Chow mix dog is, of course, to buy a puppy. This means you can choose a breeder with parent dogs you’re happy with, and really invest in socialisation to ensure they have the best possible temperament. Always look for a breeder who can provide evidence of health screening (and not one who keeps promising evidence, but always makes excuses for not delivering it). Ask them what qualities they think make the parent dogs good choices for breeding from. And find out what steps they take to start socialising their puppies before it’s time for them to go home.
Designer dogs with fancy blended names like Chabrador have become very fashionable and sought after in the last 20 years. So also beware of puppy farmers who raise puppies badly, to profit from that demand. This article has 41 ways to spot a bad breeder or puppy mill before you give them your cash.
Is A Black Lab Chow Mix Right For Me?
A black Labrador Chow Chow mix won’t be right for everyone. Here are the pros and cons of this unlikely mix, to help you decide if they’re right for you.
- Unpredictable. The Lab and Chow are two very different dogs, and it’s unlikely that you’d be equally happy with either one. So, what if you get a Chabrador that inherits the ‘wrong’ mix of qualities.
- May dislike strangers – awkward if you like socialising or being among people yourself!
- High shedding.
- Both parents are prone to joint diseases, which can require expensive veterinary care.
- May inherit the Chow Chow’s vulnerability to bloat.
- Extremely loyal and affectionate to their own family.
- May be fastidiously clean, low odor, and easy to toilet train.
- If you like the Chow Chow, but would like a healthier dog with a more outgoing temperament, the black Labrador Chow mix might tick all your boxes.
For more information about Chabradors generally, and not just black ones, take a look at this article.
Your Black Lab Chow Mix
Do you already have a Black Lab Chow Mix? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
References And Resources
- Adams et al. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.
- Breed Health and Conservation Plan: Chow Chow. The Kennel Club. 2020.
- Hall et al. Incidence and risk factors for heat-related illness (heatstroke) in UK dogs under primary veterinary care in 2016. Scientific Reports. 2020.
- Official Standard of the Chow Chow. American Kennel Club. 2020.
- Official Standard of the Labrador Retriever. American Kennel Club. 1994.
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
- Robinson et al. Puppy Temperament Assessments Predict Breed and American Kennel Club Group but Not Adult Temperament. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2016.
- Sacks et al. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2000.
- Yang et al. The origin of chow chows in the light of the East Asian breeds. BMC Genomics. 2017.
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