A fluffy Labrador might not look quite how you think! Labs have a wonderful, thick, double-layered coat. In fact, their coat is one of their most distinctive features. The standard Labrador coat is pretty fluffy in its own right – especially as puppies! But, it’s also possible to get a long-haired variant, which is even fluffier! A long haired fluffy Labrador falls outside of the breed standard, so they won’t qualify for show. But, they will have the same lovable temperament, making a great family pet nonetheless.
Do Fluffy Labradors Exist?
In the eyes of many people, a standard Labrador Retriever is pretty fluffy. Labs have a lot of fur! Especially during those shedding periods, when owners will find that fur everywhere. Labradors have a double layered, dense, water-resistant coat. This coat type was vital for keeping them at the best temperature in their original roles. Originally, Labs retrieved game for owners on hunts in all conditions, both on land and in water. Nowadays, their roles have changed to include work as police dogs, guide dogs, and companion animals! But, that coat type has stayed the same.
As puppies, Labs will have a wonderfully soft and fluffy coat. But, over their early months, this will shed to reveal their adult coat. A standard adult Labrador coat is less fluffy, more dense and practical. But, it’s also possible to get Labradors with longer, wavier fur. Let’s take a closer look at these different coat types.
About the Standard Labrador Retriever Coat
To get a better idea of the standard Labrador’s coat, you can take a look at the official breed standard. The Labrador Retriever breed standard describes a short, dense coat made up of straight fur. This fur will feel firm to the touch. But, it’s actually made up of two layers. Only the top layer is made of this harder fur.
Underneath, you’ll find a much softer, weather-resistant undercoat. This underlayer is water-resistant, but also provides some much needed insulation against the cold weather that Labradors would traditionally work in.
The breed standard allows a slight wave down your Labrador’s back. But, it disqualifies any Labs with woolly, silky, or sparse and slick coats. So, even though super fluffy Labs might look cute, they won’t always qualify as show dogs.
Long Haired Labrador Retriever
Although the breed standard states that Labs have short, straight fur, it is possible to find Labradors with a longer, wavier coat. This fur type is caused by the fibroblast growth factor 5 gene, also known as the FGF5 gene, or the L gene. In its recessive form, this gene produces long fur. But, Labradors must receive two copies of the recessive gene to have that longer fur. And, recessive genes can go unnoticed for generations. So it can be quite hard to find long-haired Labs, and is often a complete surprise when they appear in a litter, showing their longer fur at around 6 weeks.
Since a long haired Labrador has longer, wavier fur than the standard type, they may fit your vision of a fluffy Labrador. But, many breeders will test dogs for the L gene, to avoid breeding two Labs with recessive copies. So, it can be quite hard to find long haired Labrador puppies.
Fluffy Labrador Puppies
If you’ve seen a litter of Labrador puppies, you’ll know fluffy is the best adjective for them. A Labrador’s puppy coat won’t feel or look quite like their adult coat. Instead, it will be very soft to the touch, and often a single layer rather than double-layered and water resistant.
At around 6 weeks old, you’ll be able to see if you have any long haired Labrador puppies in your litter, as their coat just won’t stop growing like the other puppies! Over the next few weeks and months, fluffy Labrador puppies shed their baby coat and grow in their new adult coat! But, it’s important you aren’t distracted by the cute puppies when searching for your new dog – make sure to prioritise finding a reputable breeder and a healthy puppy.
Are Fluffy Labradors Purebred?
Labradors with fluffy long fur can look quite different to the traditional Labrador image. But, this doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily a mixed breed. The gene for long hair in Labs is recessive, so it’s a less common trait than short hair. But, it is entirely possible for purebred Labs to pass it on, even over the span of generations, before anyone notices it!
Speak to your breeder and view any paperwork they have if you’re concerned their puppies are not purebred. The most accurate way to find out your dog’s heritage is to get a DNA test. So, if you’re concerned that your fluffy Labrador is actually a Labradoodle, or has some other breed influence, you might want to invest.
Are Fluffy Labradors Good Family Pets?
Fluffy, long haired Labradors might look a little different to the standard version. But, they are still purebred Labs, and so will have the same personality as any other Lab. They’re likely to be just as friendly, affectionate, and people-loving!
The major care differences between these two types of Lab will lie in their grooming needs. Longer fur is naturally prone to tangles and knots. So, a long haired, fluffy Labrador will likely need more regular grooming than a short haired one. This can be as often as once a day if you have a particularly active Lab, or one that loves running through muddy puddles. Regular bathing and grooming will be a must.
Like all dogs, Labradors aren’t hypoallergenic. But, a fluffy Lab will shed just as much as a shorter haired version. So, be aware of this before committing to the fluffiest Labrador you can find!
Do You Have a Fluffy Labrador?
A fluffy Labrador can make a great pet, whether they have two copies of the uncommon FDF5 gene, or whether they just have particularly fluffy short fur! Do you have a fluffy Lab puppy at home? Or did you just want to find out exactly how hair Labs can be?
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References and Resources
- ‘Official Standard for the Labrador Retriever’, American Kennel Club (1994)
- Sponenberg, D. & Rothschild, M. ‘Genetics of Coat Color and Hair Texture‘, The Genetics of the Dog (2001)
- Vredegoor, D. (et al), ‘Can F 1 Levels in Hair and Homes of Different Dog Breeds: Lack of Evidence to Describe Any Dog Breed as Hypoallergenic’, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2012)
- Housley, D. & Venta, P. ‘The Long and Short of it: Evidence that FGF5 is a Major Determinant of Canine ‘Hair’-itability’, Animal Genetics (2006)
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