Lab mix dogs are often found in shelters or Lab rescue centers. Many will make wonderful family pets, and we’ll be looking at some of the more popular Labrador cross breeds. Whether you rescue an older dog or bring home a Lab mix puppy, we’ll help you decide whether a mix is right for you, and if so, which one!
You’ll find information on the most popular Labrador mix breeds below, with tips and advice for those looking to buy one. If you have a Lab mix already, we’ll help you to work out which breed they were mixed with and what that might mean for their health and temperament.
Lab mix life expectancy
One of the reasons that some people give for opting for a mix rather than a purebred dog, is that they are hoping for better health. And especially for a dog that has a longer life. There are no guarantees of course, but some studies have shown that mix breeds tend to outlive many of our pure bred dogs. And mix breed dogs do benefit from better genetic diversity, which may be a factor in longevity.
It is likely that many Lab mixes will have a life expectancy of between 12 to 14 years. Just a little better than a purebred Labrador. But we don’t have much data to draw on and so we can’t compare one type of Lab mix with another.
What we do know, is that the best way to make sure your Lab mix dog stays healthy, is to keep them slim and well exercised, and to make sure your dog has access to good quality medical care. Purchasing annual pet health insurance is a good place to start.
Poplar Lab Mixes
Many mixed breeds are great family dogs and mix breeds can sometimes be healthier than their parent breeds. If you are looking for a specific lab mix puppy it can be difficult to find a mixed breed ‘breeder’ that has the dogs’ interests at heart. Difficult but not impossible, and we’ll share our tips for finding a great breeder, below.
What is My Lab Mixed With?
Labrador mix bred dogs can often look very different to either of their parents. And in some cases, if the parentage is unknown it is entirely possible that they have more than one breed in their genetic makeup. If you are rescuing an older dog, the only way to know with reasonable certainty where your mixed breed dog came from, is to order a DNA test. This will give you as many as three or four generations back, and give you a great idea what breeds went into your wonderful dog.
Afador – Labrador Afghan Hound mix
An Afador is the name given to a Labrador Retriever / Afghan Hound cross. They are fairly rare, as Afghan hounds are not terribly numerous. Your Afador puppy is likely to grow to be fairly large, as both Afghan Hounds and Labradors are reasonably tall. Afghan’s are more leggy than their Lab friends, and have longer muzzles and very long straight coats.
You could therefore end up with a dog with medium to long fur, which will require regularly grooming.
Afghan temperaments tend to be more aloof than that of Labs, with less boisterous enthusiasm for everyone they meet. You can’t predict whether this trait would be transferred to your Afador puppy however.
Socialisation is an important factor as Afghan’s don’t tend to have the natural confidence of most Labs, and they are similarly likely to develop behavioral problems if left alone for long periods regularly. Just like Labs, Afghan’s need plenty of exercise and a constructive programme of positive training to become well behaved members of the family.
Afghan Hounds live on average a similar time to Labradors, at around 12 years of age. However mix bred dogs tend to live longer than purebred dogs, which gives your Afador a good shot a lengthier lifespan than this. If you are buying a puppy make sure that your Afador puppy’s parents have been fully health tested for the inherited diseases common in their respective breeds.
The Afghan Hound parent should have as a minimum a clear eye test of less than a year old, hip score of less than 8 and thyroid testing.
Basset Hound Lab mix
Another rare cross but one which has great appeal to some people, is the Bassador. This Labrador / Basset Hound cross can result in a dog which look in general like a short-legged, large eared Lab. They are on average around 14 inches tall as adults, with body proportions suiting a larger breed of dog and shortened legs.
Basset Hound lifespan is around 11 years, so slightly shorter than the Labrador Retriever. They also have some worrying health problems and structural issues which you will need to take into account. This breed often suffer from Ectropion, where the bottom eyelid rolls exposing the lower part of the eye and potentially causing discomfort and damage to the surface. They have excessive loose skin, especially over their head and underneath. This leaves them at high risk for uncomfortable yeast and bacterial skin infections
They also have disproportion leg to body length, which can result in mobility issues and arthritis especially due to the Basset’s fairly large weight to height ratio. The real risk here is that you could end up with a Labrador’s boisterousness and enthusiasm in a body that is ill-equipped to carry it around.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Basset Hound parent should have tight eyelids, clear gonioscopy test and elbow scores of 0. They should have the least possible loose skin and longer than average legs.
Working line Basset Hounds tend to be in far better shape than their show bred cousins, and this is where you should start your search if you have your heart set on a Bassador. You can find out more about the problems Basset Hounds face here and the differences between show and working lines here.
Border Collie Lab Mix
Border Collies are incredibly intelligent dogs, who work very well with their owner if properly trained. They are very much a ‘one person’ dog. Loyal to their families, and fairly indifferent to everyone else. They are quick to learn and can be taught a mind boggling range of activities through positive reinforcement training.
There are also a few different strains of Border Collie now, with the personalities of those from Show, Agility/Flyball and Working lines all differing quite a lot. The show dogs tend to be the least driven, although still high energy dogs that require a lot of stimulation.
Their general demeanour is quite different to a Lab, so it will be complete luck of the draw what you end up with! Like Labs as puppies they can be very nippy, and in the case of Collies this can express quite strongly around children as they attempt to herd them around. They are not generally therefore recommended to families with very young kids. They do however often make excellent pets when older for active, busy families who enjoy training and working together.
These are beautiful dogs, who tend to have long coats that require a lot of grooming, so you will need to be prepared that your Lab mix may be the same. They grow up to around 21 inches, so are a little shorter than your average Labrador.
Border Collies are known for having long lives, however according to studies their median age is actually similar to the Labrador Retriever at 12 years of age. However, given that mutts on average life longer then your dog would have a good chance at a longer healthy life, provided that they avoid diseases inherent to the breed.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Border Collie parent should have clear tests for Choroidal Hypoplasia, CL, IGS, MDR1 and TNS. You can find to more about these on the Kennel Club website here. A healthy Borador could make amazing pet for an active home, who are around much of the day and able to give them the focussed attention their brains and bodies require.
Chihuahua Labrador Mix
The Labrahuahua is probably the most extreme Labrador Retriever mix that you are likely to come across. And the chances are you won’t come across this mix very often.
From a purely practical point of view, the obstacles in the way of an accidental mating are pretty big! You can find out more about this curious mix breed in the link below.
Labrador x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
A Cavador is the name given to a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are without a doubt some of the friendliest little dogs in the world. They are charismatic, fun and loyal. They also have a fairly good average lifespan of 11 years.
However, there are a couple of big, scary health problems associated with large numbers of this breed, so be very careful and do a lot of research if you are thinking of bringing one into your home.
Health problems impacting a vast quantity of these little dogs include mitral valve disease, a heart problem which causes early death, and syringomyelia. This is a neurological problem caused by the size and shape of their skulls, not allowing their brain and brain stem to be properly accommodated. Syringomyelia is a horrendous condition. I won’t go into details here, but if you want to buy a Cavador please read this article to find out more before you make your decision.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent should be over 5 years old, having had no signs of mitral valve disease and having a clear MRI scan at that age. Do not buy a puppy with a Cavalier parent who is untested or younger than 5 years old at the minimum. This will vastly reduce your chances of having an unhealthy puppy.
Golden Retriever Lab Mix
Often referred to as the Goldador is the incredibly successful cross between a Lab and a Golden Retriever. Two very popular breeds of gundog with a lot of similarities, this is one of the cross breeds where can be fairly confident of the type of Lab mix you will be getting when you bring home your puppy.
Goldadors are very popular with Guide Dogs. In fact, Golden Retriever crosses, including those with GSDs, make up 59% of UK Guide Dogs. They are well known for being intelligent, fast learners and very co-operative with their handlers. Like their Golden Retriever and Labrador parents, they tend to have very friendly temperaments and love spending time with their human family.
Golden Retrievers are similarly sized dogs to Labradors, but with a far longer and wavier coat. Most Goldadors seem to have shorter fur more like the Lab parent, but this is not guaranteed. Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs, although there are like Labs some areas for concern that you must be aware of before you commit to bringing your puppy home.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. Goldies have some similar health issues to Labradors. Make sure that the Golden Retriever parent has a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 12, and elbow scores of 0.
Lab Pei – The Labrador Shar Pei Mix
The Lab Pei is one of the larger Lab mixes and like the Chow Chow Lab mix this cross involves one parent with a much more reserved nature than the pure bred Lab and some guarding tendencies. So you’ll need to take care to socialize these puppies carefully and make sure get a full history and behavior report on any adult you adopt from a rescue center. Check out the link below for more information:
Labernese – Labrador x Bernese Mountain Dog
Labernese is the name given to a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Bernese Mountain Dog. Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to be fairly calm and aloof as adults, and require a lot of dedication to socialisation when they are young due to potential nervousness around strangers and guarding tendencies. Due to their size, they are not really recommended for homes with young children or frail adults.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are very large, growing up to 28 inches tall and weigh up to 110 pounds. They also have a long coat, which requires a lot of grooming to keep in a good condition. Unfortunately like many extra large breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs do not have very long life expectancies, averaging around 8 years long. When looking at longevity size is a big factor, and giant breed dogs regardless of whether they are mix bred or not will have shorter lifespans. You could therefore expect to see your puppy potential live fewer years than the average purebred Lab.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Bernese Mountain Dog parent should have hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 and be DNA clear for Degenerative Myelopathy. Cancer is a big problem for Bernese Mountain Dogs. You should therefore also ask the breeder about the history of cancer in their lines, and the ages of death of the previous generations.
They are utterly beautiful dogs, and if well managed can make wonderful companions. But you should be aware that your Lab mix could grow to be just as large as a purebred Mountain Dog and his temperament could match either breed, so thorough socialisation is very important regardless of how your puppy looks when he is born.
Labmaraner – Labrador x Weimaraner
The Weimaraner is a beautiful dog, and an intelligent one too. Like all members of the gun dog group he has been bred with co-operative working in mind, although he tends to be slightly less people focussed in general than your average Lab.
This means that they are not as obsessed with greeting everyone when you take them for a walk. However, they can also be a little harder to engage in the training process and in some cases be even more driven than a Labrador.
Like Labs, Weimaraners can also be prone to separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. It’s therefore very important that you take this into account when you are deciding whether now is the right time to get a puppy. There is some conjecture that silver Labs occur due to Weimaraner blood being added in generations previously, and you can find out more about the truth behind this in this article.
Weimaraners live on average 11 years, so slightly shorter than a Lab’s lifespan. They are however pretty healthy dogs in general. Again you would expect a Lab mix to live longer than a pedigree Labrador, and therefore you could hope for at least an average Lab length lifespan of 12 years or more.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, good hip and elbow scores. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Weimaraner parent should have a hip score of less than 9, be PRA clear, and have elbow scores of 0. Thyroid and cardiac tests are also highly recommended. If you are looking for an active, intelligent dog then a Labmaraner will provide you with a beautiful devoted companion.
Labradoodle – Labrador x Standard Poodle
Labradoodles are the most popular Labrador Retriever designer dog breed at the moment. We are currently putting together a full article just on them, but in the meantime here’s a brief rundown! A Labradoodle will not necessarily be a non-shedding dog, and may require some extreme grooming or very regular visits to the poodle parlour in order to not become matted.
It can be difficult to see at first glance how matted Poodle mix coats are underneath the tight curls, so regular checks from a professional and proper attention to grooming is essential. Their coats can vary hugely from dog to dog, and there is no way to predict what your young Labradoodle puppy’s coat will be like when he is grown.
The Standard Poodle has the same life expectancy as a Labrador, at around 12 years. However they do have some different health issues which you will need to be aware of. They can be prone do autoimmune disease. The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, good hip and elbow scores. For full health testing for Labs check out this article.
The Standard Poodle parent should have good hip scores, clear eye test, and have had evaluations for Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Sebaceous Adenitis and an OFA cardiac evaluation. Labradoodles from second or third generations should have parents with good hip scores, be PRA clear, have an up to date eye test, and have had Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Sebaceous Adenitis and OFA cardiac evaluations. Labradoodles can make wonderful family pets if you are happy to commit to extra grooming, good socialisation and have the space for a big, bouncy but very loving dog.
Pitbull Lab Mix
The cute puppy at the top of this page will probably grow up to look something like the beautiful dog below. If this is properly taken care of , the Pitbull Lab mix should be a great family dog, full of energy, with a short, easy care coat.
He’ll likely have a heavier head than a purebred Lab and may have partially upright ears. He’ll be strong too, and bouncy when young. Like Labs, your pitbull mix will probably be better suited to homes where there are no family members unsteady on their feet.
Mastiff Lab Mix – The Mastador
The Mastiff is a large and ancient breed of dog, with a sturdy powerful body and heaps of energy. It you bring a Mastiff Lab puppy into your home you can expect it to grow larger than the average Labrador.
Mastiffs have guarding tendencies, so your Mastador may not be as friendly towards strangers as a Lab and will likely need more intensive socialization to ensure that your puppy grows up safe and confident. Use the link below to find out more
Rottador or Labrottie – Labrador x Rottweiler
Rottweilers crossed with Labradors are known as Labrotties. Or Rottadors. And they can be incredibly beautiful and dedicated companions to their families. Rottweilers can be up to around 27 inches tall, with big heads, deep chests and well muscled bodies. They are powerful dogs and need commitment to positive training from day one from their families in order to understand how to behave in their homes. Your Labrottie could potentially grow to be just as big and powerful as his single Rottie parent, so make sure you are happy that you have the space and resources for a large dog.
Rottweiler temperament is also quite different to that of your average Labrador Retriever. There is no way of knowing which of his parents your Labrottie will take after. Rottweilers are a guarding breed. Extremely loyal to their family, but known to be wary of strangers and unpredictable around children if improperly socialised and managed.
Your Labrottie puppy must be very well socialised, just as you would with a pure guarding breed dog. Make sure he has regular positive contact with people of every age, and is familiar with things like beards, hats and unusual items of clothing. Ensure a lot of socialisation is done at home when the puppy is growing up, with frequent visitors arriving and bearing treats and rewarding experiences. So that your puppy is less likely to be protective of your home to people that you want to welcome in.
Rottweilers have a sadly short average life expectancy, of just under 9 years. They are large dogs. As such you can expect a reduced lifespan compared to the average Lab too. They are prone to cancer as well as some serious cardiac problems. The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear and good hip and elbow scores. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The Rottweiler parent should have a hip score of less than 8, elbow scores of 0, be PRA clear, have an up to date eye test and have been heart tested too.
Make sure you meet both parents and are happy that they are calm, friendly and open in terms of temperament. That the Rottie has tight eyes, has never needed surgery for entropion, ectropion or cruciate ligament disease. Also find out about the occurrences of cancer in the Rottweiler line, and walk away from any breeder who is evasive on this point or has had relatives die early from the disease.
Springador – Labrador x English Springer Spaniel
Springer Spaniels crossed with Labs are often referred to as Springadors. They can make fabulous pets or working dogs, but can have the extremes of both breeds so are not for the inexperienced or inactive owner. Springers are very lively dogs with an incredibly high prey and hunting drive. They benefit from positive reinforcement training from an early age.
In general Springers have great temperaments, however there are some working lines which have nervous aggression problems and fixations on light chasing. Make sure that you meet the Springer parent when buying a Springador to ensure that they are confident and not agitated. English Springer Spaniels tend to be smaller and lighter than Labs, with a longer coat. Springadors often have shorter coats, though not always, and can look a lot like a slightly shaggy black Lab with a few white markings, like the dog below:
The English Springer Spaniel has a life expectancy of 12 years, just like the Labrador. On average cross bred dogs tend to live longer, which means that you could hope to have a your Lab Springer Mix live even longer than this. The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article.
The English Springer Spaniel should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, be PRA clear, have hip scores of less than 10 and if possible have a clear Fucosidosis DNA test too. If you are keen to try your hand at dog training, are around most of the day and love spending time doing activities outdoors then a Springador can make a really wonderful pet or working dog.
Lab Terrier Mix
Labradors can be crossed with a variety of breeds, who have been given some fun names as shown in the menu. But one of the most common Lab mix combinations is the Lab Terrier Mix. In the USA the Labrador is frequently crossed with the Pitbull Terrier.
In the UK where keeping Pitbulls is illegal, a common Lab mix often has Staffordshire Bull Terrier in his ancestry. Or sometimes one of the working/sporting terriers popular in British rural communities. The most important difference between the Lab and the Bull Terrier breeds lies in their jaws.
The Bull Terrier has a powerful gripping bite, rather than the ‘snap and let go’ bite of most sporting gun dogs such as Labs. And while we all think our dogs will never bite, all dogs will bite if sufficiently frightened.
For this reason, socialization is critical for these puppies, so make sure you have the time and commitment to take your puppy everywhere with you. You’ll need introduce him to dozens if not hundreds, of different people of all ages before he is much over three months old.
Lab Hound Mix
Another frequently found Lab mix breed type is the Lab Hound mix. These include popular scent hounds such as Bassett Hounds and Beagles. But also some of the sighthound breed mixes too. Mixed breeds can often be controversial. And while many people adopting mix breed dogs find their new friends in dog rescues or animal shelter, there are some people who are deliberately breeding these crosses.
When this happens, they are often referred to as ‘designer dogs’. One of the benefits of buying a purebred puppy or older dog is that the outcome – size, shape and even temperament – of your dog will be predictable.
With mixed breed dogs it can be harder to predict the outcome, but there are some assumptions we can make. We have put together some information on what you could expect when bringing these different Labrador mix bred pups home.
Lab Mix Temperament
When you buy a purebred dog you can have a pretty good idea of what their temperament is going to be. You know what is usual for the breed, and that most healthy well reared members of it will grow up to be like. Meet the mother, and maybe even the grandmother, aunts and sisters from previous litters when you go to pick your puppy up.
When you buy a mixed breed dog, there temperament will be a product not only of their upbringing, but of their varying lineage. If your dog is bred from two purebred lines like the designer dogs above, then they could end up with any mixture of the two lines temperaments or something completely different.
Make sure to meet both parents to ensure that they are confident, friendly characters as this is the most important aspect of a family dog. If both lines are happy, loving dogs then the chances are good that your puppy will be the same. With a rescue dog they will normally be older than 6 months and you will be able to see to an extent their temperament when you visit them at their kennels or foster home.
Lab Mix Size
If your Labrador is a known cross, then you can make an educated guess that he could be anywhere between the average sizes for those breeds. However, it not always the case.
And with a Labrador mixed with unknown other dogs, then they really could be any size at all. The Labrador element to their genetics does not limit their growth or mean that they will definitely have any specific height to them.
There will potentially be huge variation even within the litter. I grew up next door to a family who had two Labrador x Terriers from the same litter. One looked exactly like a Labrador in every way, except she had very short legs. The other was Labrador height but with a totally different shape. If size matters to you, then a purebred puppy or dog over 18 months old might be a better choice.
Lab Mix Health
Many mix breed dogs are rehomed from shelters, but it is also possible to find puppies that have been deliberately cross bred from two pure bred parents. This practice is controversial but it is becoming more common.
In fact, there is a huge and still growing interest in mixed breed or hybrid dogs right now. Did you know for example that each month over half a million people look for a cross between a Husky and a Pomeranian? A similar number search for information about the Labradoodle.
While mix breed dogs may be in better shape from a genetic point of view, they can still be susceptible to the diseases carried by their parents, especially if those diseases are common in both breeds. So it’s important to find a good breeder that has health tested the parents of your puppy before mating took place.
The Labrador parent should have a clear eye test of less than a year old, PRA clear, cumulative hip score of less than 9, elbow scores of 0 at the minimum. For full health testing for Labs check out this article. The other parent may also need a clear eye test, and a good hip score, you should do your research on the necessary health tests for the breed, but a good breeder will explain this to you when you visit. Make sure that you see the mother and puppies together in the home, and don’t be tempted to purchase from a puppy mill (a breeder that has many different breeds or multiple litters of puppies on their premises).
More Labrador Mix Breed Information
Some Labrador mixes are so popular that they have an entire section of their own. You can find these in the links below
Best Lab Mix Breeds
The best Lab mix breeds are of course a matter of opinion. As with any purebred dog, it depends entirely upon why you want a canine companion. If you want a small Lab mix as a family companion then getting one who is crossed with a smaller, calmer breed is a good choice.
But if you want a dog for sports or hunting then going with a Labrador crossed with another gundog breed is a sensible move. If you want a dog to have a go at agility, then a Collie cross is a great place to start.
The most important thing is to pick a puppy whose parents have both had all of the health tests relevant to their own breed. And whose personalities you would be happy to see replicated in your pup. Alternatively, look for a rescue dog that you have met and fallen in love with yourself. Because Labs are known to love chewing, you might also want to take a look at our guide to the best indestructible dog beds!
*Mortality figures taken from article “Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice, Vol 51.
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