Have you seen an English American Lab mix puppy for sale? In this article, we take a look at what you can expect them to be like as a pet, and whether mixing Labrador breeding lines is a good idea.
An English American Lab mix has one parent from English Labrador breeding lines, and one parent from American Labrador breeding lines. In this context, ‘English’ and ‘American’ refer to different types of Labrador with distinct looks and purposes. Not the place where they live! Lab puppies with ancestors from both types will still have a fabulous Labrador personality, but they could pack some surprises too…
English American Lab Mix Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the English American Lab mix
- English American Lab mix appearance
- English American Lab mix temperament
- Training and exercising your English American Lab mix
- English American Lab mix health and care
- Do English American Lab mix make good family pets?
- Rescuing a English American Lab mix
- Finding a English American Lab mix puppy
History of the English And American Lab Mix
The Labrador has been America’s favorite dog breed for nearly three decades. But not everyone realises that the breed is divided into two distinct types, known as English and American. The names aren’t about describing where a Labrador comes from though. The two types are actually distinguished by what purpose they were bred for, and how their appearance and temperament have been shaped in pursuit of that.
English type Labradors are also known as show type or bench type Labs (as in ‘show bench’). English breeding lines have been developed to meet the physical ideal described in the Labrador Retriever breed standard. They are the most likely to compete successfully in conformation trials such as the Westminster Dog Show, which judges dogs primarily on their looks.
American type Labradors are also known as working or field Labs. Breeding lines are continued from the most accomplished working gundogs. The best examples compete in field trials run by national kennel clubs, which test their working ability.
Diverging dog types
Breeders of English and American Labs have different priorities when deciding which dogs to use as sires and dams for the next generation. Looks, temperament, and most importantly health should be considerations for all breeders. But, English Lab breeders especially prioritise looks, with the result that temperament has shifted slightly from the working ideal. And American Lab breeders especially prioritise temperament, with the result that appearance has shifted from the breed standard ideal.
In fact the types have become so different that it’s exceedingly rare now for a dog to be competition standard in both the show ring and the field. But not all breeders confine themselves to breeding within one type. And it’s not unusual to see English Lab and American Lab mix puppies for sale. Let’s find out why, by taking a closer look at what they’re like.
English American Lab Mix Appearance
Let’s take a look at how selective breeding for different strengths has resulted in differences in English Lab versus American Lab looks.
|English Labradors||American Labradors|
|Height||21.5 - 22.5 inches||21.5 - 24.5 inches|
|Weight||60 - 80 pounds||55 - 80 pounds|
|Build||Heavy set, broad and imposing.||Taller, leaner, more athletic.|
|Coat||Short, dense, double layered.||Often shorter and more lightweight.|
|Head||Blocky, with a shorter, wider muzzle, a pronounced stop, and a broad neck.||Slimmer, and more streamlined, with a slender neck and muzzle.|
|Tail||Classic otter tail starting very thick at the base, and tapering to the tip.||More likely to be thin the whole way down.|
English Lab and American Lab mix puppies can look more like either parent, or somewhere in between the two. Anecdotally, some breeders think that when the two types are mixed, it usually seems to be the field-type looks that come through most strongly in their puppies. Quite a few breeders agree that Labrador mix puppies never look like an even blend of both types either – they look either one type or the other, but never in between. Genetically, there’s no evidence that we know of for this to be the case, but they’re interesting perspectives nonetheless.
English And American Lab Mix Temperament
A big difference between American vs English Lab puppies is that American Labs are bred for exceptional working ability. Their temperament is very people focussed and engaged. They are extremely intelligent, and talented problem solvers. The flip side of these traits is that they need lots of mental stimulation, or they can quickly get bored, frustrated and destructive. They are sometimes reported as being more likely to suffer from separation anxiety as well.
On the other hand, working ability isn’t such a priority for English Labs, and they are generally more laidback. Conformation shows involve a lot of waiting around for the next thing to happen, so breeders favor dogs who can tolerate that well, as well as looking like perfection.
However, both of these descriptions are generalisations – lots of English Labs are bursting with energy from dawn til dusk, and lots of American Labs are calm and dependable. Comparing English and American Labs’ personalities is hardly like comparing apples with pears either. Despite their differences, they still fall under the broader umbrella of the Labrador breed, and they are both smart, friendly, confident and trainable.
So if you choose an American English Lab mix puppy you might notice they are a bit more like one type of Lab or the other. But in general they’re just going to be very Labrador-like. If you particularly want a placid Lab to act as an emotional support dog, or a clever Lab to work as a gundog, then the best thing to do is find out as much as you can about the specific personalities of a puppies parents, and meet them if possible. This will reveal more than what type they are on paper.
Training And Exercising Your English American Lab Mix
Despite the subtle and not-so-subtle differences, English and American Labs both need plenty of training and exercise. Important basic skills to teach mix type puppies include:
- Potty training
- Crate training
- Walking on a loose leash (either type can pull like a train!)
- Greeting people without jumping up and knocking them over
English and American Labs both retain strong retrieving instincts from the earliest days of their breed, so scent work and fetching games are a great way to provide mental stimulation for all types of Labrador puppies.
On the whole, American Labs are said to need more daily exercise and lifelong training than English Labs. But with an American English Lab mix, you’ll have to wait and see what they’re needs are when they grow up. If you specifically want a Labrador as a running companion for example, then choosing a puppy from two working parents with lots of energy might be more sensible.
English American Lab Mix Health and Care
Research into Labrador Retrievers rarely distinguishes between individuals from working and show lines. So it’s impossible to say if choosing a puppy with parents from both will benefit or disadvantage their health.
The most common health problems of Labradors overall are:
- Ear infections
- Joint disorders
Labs are prone to ear infections because they love swimming, but when dirty water gets trapped under their warm floppy ears, bacteria can flourish. Checking, cleaning and drying their ears after every swim can protect them.
Obesity in Labradors is caused by lifestyle and genetic factors. As dog owners, we are increasingly guilty of overfeeding our dogs, with the result that dogs across all breeds are getting heavier. This puts strain on their heart, joints, liver and kidneys. It’s also estimated that approximately one quarter of Labradors carry a genetic mutation which affects their appetite, and causes them to over eat. Protecting these dogs from themselves is not always easy for sentimental puppy parents.
Joint disorders such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are also caused by genetic and environmental factors. Choosing a puppy from parents who have screened free from hip dysplasia prevents a lot of heartache, and also improves the health of the breed overall.
Do English American Lab Mixes Make Good Pets?
There’s a reason why Labradors have been so popular for so long. All Labradors have the potential to be great pets. They check a lot of boxes: friendly, outgoing, trainable, active, devoted, patient with kids, and so on. American Lab and English Lab mix puppies are also likely to check all of these boxes.
But if you’re depending on finding a dog with a particular balance of Labrador traits, then choosing and English and American mix puppy is not the most reliable way to achieve it. Mix type puppies don’t necessarily fall midway on a scale between the two types. It’s far wiser to find a puppy from two parents who both have the temperament or looks you want – regardless of what type they are on paper. Or alternatively, you can rescue an older dog, when their temperament is more apparent.
Rescuing a English American Lab Mix
Owing to the popularity of Labradors around the world, there are lots of breed-specific rescue organisations who can help pair you up with an older dog. Your local Labrador Retriever Club is likely to be able to provide a list of contacts. Be honest with them about exactly what Labrador qualities most appeal to you, and what kind of lifestyle you can provide. They are quite likely to have English and American Lab mix dogs they can pair you up with. But try to remain open to other options too!
Finding a English American Lab Mix Puppy
Of course, the alternative to adopting an older puppy or dog is to raise a puppy from scratch, starting at about 8 weeks old. Some Labrador breeders are purists, and only breed within the same type. But it’s not always the case.
When you see English Lab and American Lab mix puppies for sale, it’s likely that the breeder doesn’t compete in either conformation or field ability trials, and simply wants to continue two lines of well loved companion dogs. To find out whether their puppies will match your expectations, it’s a good idea to ask what it is about each parent that makes them so great.
English American Lab Mix – Summary
An English American Lab mix is still a pedigree Lab, but their parents come from different breeding lines which have historically been used for different purposes. Some mix type Lab have ‘in between’ looks and personality too, but this isn’t guaranteed. Meeting a litter’s parents is the best way to find out what kind of temperament the puppies will have. If the parents are very different, then there’s likely to be a lot of variety among the puppies. But on the whole, they’re still likely to have the same great Labrador disposition we’ve come to love.
Before You Go
For more about the differences between English and American Labs, visit us here.
For insight into why and English black Lab is so much more than just a British Lab from the other side of the Atlantic, don’t miss our detailed guide to English Labs. Or to find out if you can keep up with a field Lab’s temperament, read this guide.
To find out what happens when you cross a brown English Lab with an American black Lab, check out our complete illustrated guide to Labrador color inheritance.
References And Resources
Lofgren et al. Management and personality in Labrador Retriever dogs. Applied Animal Behavior Science. 2014.
McGreevy et al. Labrador retrievers under primary veterinary care in the UK: demography, mortality and disorders. Canine Medicine & Genetics. 2018.
Official Standard for the Labrador Retriever. American Kennel Club. 1994.
Pugh et al. Dogslife: A cohort study of Labrador Retriever Health. Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Conference. 2015.
Raffan et al. The coding sequence of POMC and obesity and appetite in Labrador Retriever dogs. The Lancet. 2014.
Venturi Rose. Can we ever have another Dual Champion Labrador? Labrador Retriever Club UK. Accessed November 2021.
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