This detailed guide to the Brittany Lab mix is all about what happens when two of dogdom’s most versatile sporting breeds collide. Do they produce a super worker, or a mixed up muddle?
- Brittany Lab mix at a glance
- In-depth breed review: looks, temperament and health
- Brittany Lab mix training and care
- Do Lab Brittany mix puppies make good family pets?
- Finding and raising a Lab and Brittany mix puppy
- Pros and cons of getting a Brittany Lab mix
A Brittany Labrador Retriever mix is also known as a Labany. Labanies usually weigh between 40 and 70 pounds. They are likely to be exceptionally trainable, but their mixed heritage will disqualify them from a lot of competitions. One Labany can be very different from the next in terms of size, energy, and patience with children. So before committing to one it’s important to consider whether you’re ready for any possible outcome.
Brittany Lab mix: Breed at a glance
- Popularity: Little-known
- Purpose: Hunting companion, pet
- Weight: 40 – 70lbs
- Temperament: Smart, motivated, energetic
NOTE: In Canada, and their native France, Brittanies are known as Brittany Spaniels. But America and the UK use the name Brittany, since genetically they are closer to pointers and setters than spaniels. In this article, as among the wider dog community, we’ve used both names interchangeably.
What to expect from a Brittany Lab mix
Brittany Lab mixes are part of a wider trend for dogs with known mixed ancestry. As opposed to purebred dogs, and mutts who have unknown mixed ancestry. Dogs with known mixed ancestry are also known as designer dogs. When a designer dog litter is planned, there is no guarantee that the puppies will only inherit the most desirable traits from each of their parents, or grow to a size exactly halfway between them. So it’s important to consider all the qualities of both parent breeds, and satisfy yourself that you’d be happy with any of them, in any combination!
Since Labradors and Brittanies were both originally developed as gundogs to work with duck and other wildfowl hunters, they do actually have a lot in common already. So their crossbreed puppies aren’t entirely unpredictable, and mixing them may have some health benefits which we’ll come to later. But there are some significant ways in which they differ, too. Let’s start with looks.
Brittany Lab mix appearance
Labradors are medium large dogs, weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. Brittanies significantly smaller, reaching 30 – 40 pounds. But they do have similar proportions. In both breeds, the height of their body is about equal to its length, the shape of their heads are very similar, and they both have triangular ears which hang down rather than stand up.
Brittanies come in more colors and patterns than Labradors though, and this can produce some unexpected results in mixed breed litters. In particular, Brittanies carry the genes for white spotting and roan patterning, which they may pass on to Labany puppies.
How big do Brittany Spaniel Lab mixes get?
In theory, a Labany could end anywhere between 30 and 80 pounds full grown. Most dogs will end up somewhere in the middle, with males growing slightly bigger than females on average. But there will always be some outliers who remain surprisingly small, or grow notably big.
A significant predictor of Labany size is whether their parents come from working or show lines (in the case of the Labrador) or French or American lines (in the case of the Brittany). Working Labrador lines (also known as American type) tend to be lighter and more lithe than dogs from show lines (also known as English type). In the Brittany breed, French-type lines tend to be smaller and lighter than American-type lines. Note that we’re just talking about breeding lines named after countries, not actual locations the dogs come from. There are plenty of breeders of English Labs and French Brittanies in the United States!
Brittany Lab mix temperament
Labradors and Brittanies were both originally working gundogs, bred for similar roles in different countries. Brittanies were founded in France as versatile pointing and retrieving companions for wild fowl hunters. And Labradors were founded in Britain as slightly more specialized retrieving dogs. So both dogs are intelligent, people-focussed, and easily motivated in training. They’re both athletic and energetic, with lots of stamina and a strong work ethic too. It’s safe to say that Lab Brittany mix puppies will be the same.
More recently, Labradors have also become one of the world’s most popular companion dogs too. In fact they’ve been the most frequently registered breed with the AKC for 30 years! This means that non-working lines of Labradors with excellent pet temperaments are becoming more common. These Labs are still clever and people-focussed, but not quite so continuously on-the-go as their working cousins.
Brittany dogs are still first and foremost working dogs, which means they often need more physical and mental stimulation than most people looking for a pet dog can provide. There’s no guarantee that a Brittany Spaniel mix won’t be the same, regardless of how chilled out the other parent was. So anyone taking on a Labany needs to be ready to spend several hours a day training and exercising them.
Brittany Spaniel Lab mix personality
Lots of people are drawn to Labs due to their friendliness and social confidence in new situations or around new people. Brittanies are not as highly sociable and affectionate as Labradors, and this might be reflected in their mix breed puppies. But even though they’re shy, Brittanies are usually described as being sweet and loving around people they’ve had a chance to get to know. So a Labany is likely to be devoted and loving at home, but how they respond to strangers will depend which parent they take after.
Training and exercising your Brittany Lab mix
Owing to their working ancestry, a Labany is likely to need a lot physical and mental stimulation, including training games and learning jobs to do. To get the most out of them, and overcome any shyness from their Brittany side, it’s important to start training with careful socialization as a puppy. When they get older, besides basic obedience training it’s likely you’ll benefit from trying out dog sports as an outlet for their working instincts.
Popular choices are gun dog training, agility, and scent work. You can do all of these things at an amateur level purely for recreation and fun. Unfortunately, the Labany’s mixed heritage means that they will be disqualified from most competitions. Some people also train their dogs to do jobs around the house (like loading and unloading the washing machine and dryer. Blaize, from the video at the top of this page, has been taught to find and retrieve shed antlers near hiking trails. And he clearly loves his ‘job’!
You’ll need to spend at least two hours outside exercising your Brittany Lab mix every day, plus play time and training games with them back at home. To get the most out of them, use force free, positive reinforcement training techniques.
Brittany Lab mix health and care
Like all pedigree dogs, Labradors and Brittanies have above average incidences of some genetic diseases. This happens because pedigrees are closed populations, and faulty genes ‘trapped’ within them can spread quickly. Crossing one pedigree dog with a different pedigree dog can improve their offspring’s overall fitness because their genepool has been expanded. This phenomenon is called hybrid vigor.
However, it’s still important to be aware of the health problems which affect Labradors and Brittanies. The genetic and non-genetic disease Labradors are most prone to are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Exercise-induced collapse
- Ear Infections
- Eyesight problems
The most common ailments affecting Brittanies are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Thyroid disease
- Ear Infections
- Eyesight problems
To produce healthy puppies, breeders should only mate Labs and Brittanies which have been tested for hip and elbow dysplasia, and had a recent eye exam. Both breeds are prone to ear infections because their floppy ears trap dirt and moisture in the ear canal – regular gentle cleaning, and drying after swimming can help prevent problems.
Brittany Lab mix Life Expectancy
Brittanies an Labradors both live 12-13 years on average, with a few lucky individuals reaching their late teens. So a Brittany Spaniel Lab mix will be the same. Generally, mixed breed dogs enjoy a slightly longer average lifespan than pedigree dogs, but it’s impossible to guarantee this at an individual level. Choosing a puppy from health tested parents, and keeping them at a healthy adult weight will increase their odds of exceeding 13 years old.
Do Lab Brittany mix puppies make good family pets?
The similarities between Labs and Brittanies mean we can confidently say that a Labany will be an energetic, engaged, and devoted pet. They’re best suited to households where someone is at home most of the time. Since they were originally bred to work in close partnership with a human handler on a hunt, they crave interaction and may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone too much.
They’re also best suited to families who already have a very outdoor lifestyle – for example hiking, cycling or heading to the beach several times a week. They are likely to tolerate children with patience and good grace, but like all dogs they should be supervised at all times with younger kids. Since the amount of exercise and training they need is like having another child, it’s a good idea to think carefully about whether you can manage the commitment while your own children are young. If you can’t give them the attention and stimulation they need, they are likely to resort to destructive habits to occupy themselves, such as digging, scratching, chewing and barking. So it may be better to wait until your human children are old enough to help out!
Finding and raising a Lab and Brittany mix puppy
If you decide you’re definitely ready to commit to a Labany puppy, the next step is to find one. Since these designer puppies lose their pedigree status, you won’t be able to find a breeder through a national kennel club or local area breed club. So, you’ll probably have to rely on word of mouth, or internet searching.
Designer dogs are frequently targeted for exploitation by puppy farmers. So, it’s important to vet breeders carefully to make sure they are ethical and reputable. A puppy from a puppy farmer is more likely to have chronic long term health problems which require expensive veterinary care, and more likely to have behavioral problems too. To make sure your puppy experience is a positive one, look for breeders who:
- Health test their breeding dogs
- Keep their puppies’ mom either as a beloved pet or working dog
- Are open and honest about the pros and cons of mixed breeding
- Socialize their puppies carefully before 8 weeks old
- Have lots of questions for you, and a happy to answer your questions too
Is A Brittany Lab mix Right For Me?
Labrador and Brittany Spaniel mix puppies have the potential to be great pets in the right setting. Since there’s no guarantee which traits they will inherit from each parent breed, it’s a good idea to ask yourself ‘why not a purebred Lab?’ and ‘why not a purebred Brittany?’ first. Bear in mind that if you’re hoping for specific differences in a designer mix, you may not get them!
Let’s take one last look at the pros and cons of getting a Brittany Lab mix:
- Their size and elements of their temperament are unpredictable.
- The Brittany’s recent working history might make this mix too much to handle in a non-working environment.
- Somewhat rare and hard to find.
- Likely to be a sweet-natured and affectionate pet for a suitably active family.
- May enjoy some health benefits from being a crossbreed.
A Lab Brittany cross is one of the less well known Labrador crosses. Alternative Lab mix pups to consider include:
- Cocker Spaniel Lab Mix
- Lab Setter Mix
- Labradoodle Labrador Mix
- Goldendoodle Lab Mix
- Labrador Malinois Mix
If you already have a Brittany Lab mix, we’d love to hear about them in the comments box down below. What jobs do you get them doing to keep them occupied?
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.
Nicholas et al. Hybrid vigour in dogs? The Veterinary Journal. 2016.
Wauthier et al. Using the mini C-BARQ to investigate the effects of puppy farming on dog behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2018.
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