In this detailed guide to the Pug Lab mix, we explore the possibilities when two very different dog breeds collide.
Pug and Labrador mix dogs are also known as Pugadors. They are part of a burgeoning trend for designer dogs, but mixed breeding has important implications for things like temperament, trainability and health.
What’s In This Guide
- Pug Lab Mix At A Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Pug Lab Mix Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting A Pug Lab Mix
Pug Lab Mix: Breed At A Glance
- Purpose:Companionship, therapy dogs
- Weight: 20 – 70 pounds
- Temperament: Extremely variable, but always people-loving
Pug Lab Mix Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Pug Lab mix
- Pug and Lab mix appearance
- Lab Pug mix temperament
- Training and exercising your Pug Lab mix
- Pug Lab mix health and care
- Do Pugadors make good family pets
- Finding and raising a Pug Lab Mix puppy
Origin of the Pug Lab Mix
Designer dogs – dogs with mixed pedigree heritage – are nothing new. Formerly known as mutts, attitudes towards them changed completely when Labradoodles burst onto the scene in the 1980s. Since then, Labs have been deliberately crossed with all kinds of different breeds, to create a plethora of first generation hybrids. It’s not clear when Pugador joined the list, but their profile has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
What to expect from a Pug Lab Mix
Mixed breed dogs don’t necessarily inherit only the best qualities of each of their parents. They inherit both their physical and behavioral traits at random, so that when their parents are very different (like a Lab and a Pug!) there is lots of potential for variation among their puppies. Prospective Pugador owners need to be prepared for the fact that they don’t really know what they’re going to get, unless they adopt an older dog who’s finished growing and developing.
Pug Lab Mix appearance
Labradors and Pugs could hardly look more different. And one Pugador dog can look very different from the next, if they inherit more physical traits from one parent than the other. This is even true of siblings in the same litter!
Pug Lab mix size
Pugs are one of the best known toy dog breeds. They stand about a foot tall at the shoulder, and weigh 14 to 18 pounds. Labradors meanwhile are twice as tall as Pugs, and weigh 55 to 80 pounds. A Pug Lab mix full grown will usually reach somewhere between 35 and 65 pounds. But there are also outliers, who end up bigger or smaller than that. The size of their Labrador parent is a contributing factor. Pugadors from shorter, slimmer, working Labrador lines are likely to weigh less fully grown than Pugadors from heavyset show Labrador parents.
Shape & structure
Pugs are famous for their squashed and wrinkly faces, prominent eyes, compact bodies and screw tails. Labs on the other hand are taller, more rectangular than square, and may have the quintessential Labrador otter tail. Pugadors can look a lot like a Pug, a lot like a Lab, or somewhere in between. Even if the same mom and dad have had a litter together before, you can’t be sure that their second litter will look like the first.
Variation in appearance is a matter of more than just aesthetics as well. As we’ll see in a moment, Pug Retriever mix dogs who inherit a very flat face are also vulnerable to significant health problems.
Labradors are best known in black, chocolate and yellow coats. Pugs can be black, or fawn with a black mask. Black Lab Pug mix puppies (that is, from a black Lab parent!) are very likely to be black too. Some individuals may carry the genes for a white locket or blaze on their chest.
Chocolate Lab and Pug mix dogs, and Pugador puppies with a fawn Pug parent and a yellow Lab parent will have a brown coat and a visible mask over their muzzle and ears. Their base color can vary from pale gold through to deeper, redder hues.
Finally, Labrador Retriever Pug coat length and texture can vary too. The Pug’s coat is short and soft, whilst a Lab’s coat is longer and ‘harder’. All in all, if you are counting on a Pug and Lab mix puppy looking the same as a full grown Pugador you’ve admired in the past, then there’s a very real possibility you’ll be disappointed.
Pug Lab Mix temperament
Looks aren’t the only unpredictable thing about a Labrador Pug mix. Their temperament can also vary a lot too. What’s more, their behavior at 8 weeks old isn’t a reliable predictor of what their grown up personality will be like. So if you choose your new pal from a litter of Lab Pug mix puppies for sale, you’ll need to be confident that you can adapt to any one of several possible outcomes.
Pugs are the consummate lapdog. They were bred over thousands of generations to provide their wealthy owners with company. As a result they are very affectionate, and will seek out the attention of their owner a lot of the time. They can also struggle with separation anxiety, if their owner has to leave the house to work for long periods every day. Since they have always achieved their raison d’etre simply by existing, Pugs have never needed to learn how to do a job. Which means they are moderately trainable, but not impressively so.
Labradors on the other hand are among the best known working dogs there are. Not only are they quick learners, they have a powerful work ethic. This makes them quicker and easier to train than Pugs, but also means they need a lot more mental stimulation before they are ready to chill out for the remainder of the day. A Pugador may be unsuitable for an owner who is unable or disinterested in spending lots of time on structured training games.
Training and exercising your Pug Lab Mix
To bring out the best in their personality, Lab Pug mix puppies should be carefully socialized to lots of different experiences from a young age. This includes lots of
People (male and female, young and old, wearing hats, and so on)
Places (parks, towns, beaches, the veterinarian’s clinic)
Things (household appliances, vehicles, etc)
Like all dogs they’ll also need to master some basic good manners, including
- Potty training
- Greeting people politely
- Walking on a loose leash
- Sitting when asked
- Coming back when called
All dogs, whatever their original purpose can learn all these things using force-free, positive reinforcement training. A Labrador Retriever Pug mix might not master them all as swiftly as a pedigree Labrador, but they will get there in the end.
Exercising a Pugador
Labradors have a strong retrieving instinct. That is, the urge to pick an object up and carry it around their mouth. Fetching games and hide and seek games are excellent outlets for this. Labradors also have lots of stamina and enthusiasm for hiking and running. But, a Pugador with a very flattened muzzle like a Pug might struggle to carry an object in their mouth and breathe through their nose without overheating, or to keep up with a running human, or even on a long hike. This conflict between what they desperately want to do and what they are physically able to do can be frustrating and distressing for dogs. It is one argument against deliberately producing Pug and Lab mix puppies at all.
Pug Lab Mix health and care
Choosing a Labrador Retriever Pug cross isn’t just a roll of the dice when it comes to looks and personality. Pugs are prone to so many health problems that many vets and animal welfare campaigners believe they ought not to be bred at all any more. The health problems of Pugs include:
- Breathing difficulties caused by their squashed muzzle, including sleep apnea.
- Heat stroke during exercise, as a result of their breathing problems.
- Dental problems.
- Damage to the surface of their eyes, due to having very shallow eye sockets.
- Allergies and eczema.
- Bacterial and fungal infections in their wrinkles and under their tail.
- High risk of problems giving birth
- Deformed vertebrae causing hind leg paralysis and incontinence.
On the one hand, breeding litters of Labrador Retriever Pug mix puppies could be seen as a way of preserving their playful, people-loving personalities without perpetuating their health problems. On the other hand, it could be seen as lumbering Labrador offspring with health concerns that would never normally have affected them. That isn’t to say that Labradors are entirely disease free though. Common health problems of Labs which could also affect Pugadors are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Heart disease
- Hereditary eye diseases
- Allergies and eczema
- Ear infections
Pug Lab Mix Life Expectancy
The average lifespan for a Labrador Retriever is 12-13 years, and the average life expectancy of a Pug is 11 years. The oldest dogs from each breed reach around 17, and research indicates that the best way of securing extra years for your Pugador is to keep them at a lean, healthy weight.
Pugador shedding and grooming
Labradors and Pugs are both shedding breeds. The Labrador in particular sheds it’s thick double coat all year round. Twice a year they blow their coat to adjust to the changing temperatures in spring and fall. This means they shed even more heavily than usual for a few weeks. A Pugador may shed moderately like a Pug, or heavily like a Lab. Things like Pug Lab mix size can affect our perception of how much they shed – larger individuals have more hair to lose!
If a Pugador has a very wrinkled face like a Pug, they will need gentle help to clean and dry their wrinkles frequently so that they don’t become a site for infection. Likewise if they inherit the Labrador’s heavy, floppy ears, they will need cleaning and drying regularly.
Does a Pug and Labrador mix make a good family pet?
Pugs and Labs are both known for being affectionate with their family and successful companions to children. So a Pugador is likely to be the same. They might also be a good fit for owners who would like these qualities in the dog which is slightly smaller than a pedigree Lab, and may not need as much exercise and mental stimulation (although these qualities aren’t guaranteed!)
Pugadors settle best in homes where someone can keep them company for most of the day. Homes with older children who can be relied on to help out are ideal, as are active retired households. Remember that younger children need to be supervised with dogs at all times, even gentle and affectionate ones.
If you’re relying on you Pugador having a very specific combination of Pug and Labrador traits to help them fit in with your household, then adopting an older dog is the best way to make sure you get what you’re hoping for.
Rescuing a Pug Lab Mix
There are several rescue shelters in the United States and other countries which specialise in rehoming pedigree Labs and Pugs, and occasionally their mixed breed offspring. Finding such a shelter near you can be a first step towards rehoming an older Pugador. Since both breeds are popular in their own right, older dogs and unplanned puppies may also appear in the general shelter population from time to time. But, finding this mix with just the right combination of traits can be something of a waiting game.
Finding a Pug Lab Mix puppy
If you’re unable or uninterested in adopting an older dog, then you’ll need to look for Lab Pug mix puppies for sale. Since Pugadors are a mix, unfortunately there are no breed clubs maintaining lists of vetted and approved Pugador breeders. So it’s likely you’ll have to rely on word of mouth or an online search to find someone with a litter.
Sadly, the popularity of designer dogs means they are often abused and exploited by puppy farmers. Puppy farmers prioritise profits over animal welfare, and as a result their puppies are more likely to have expensive long term health issues and upsetting behavioral problems.
To avoid heart ache, be prepared to spend a bit of time researching breeders, and finding one you’re completely confident in. A good breeder:
- only uses health tested parents
- has a close, affectionate relationship with the mom
- socializes their puppies
- answers all your questions candidly
- allows you to visit the litter more than once
- keeps their puppies with mom until they are 8 weeks old.
According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, breeding Labs should have clear health certificates for:
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- eye disease
- exercise induced collapse
- and heart disease.
Breeding Pugs should be certified clear of:
- hip dysplasia
- luxating patellas
- eye disease
- and Pug dog encephalitis.
This article explains the red flags to look out for, that indicate a breeder is not producing healthy, happy puppies.
Is A Pug Lab Mix Right For Me?
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, so let’s finish by summing up the Labrador Pug pros and cons
- Adult looks and temperament are highly variable and extremely difficult to predict in puppyhood.
- May inherit the health problems of the Pug.
- Vulnerable to exploitation by puppy farmers.
- Likely to combine the affectionate nature of both breeds, in a package which is smaller and more chilled out than a Lab, and healthier than a Pug.
- Good with kids.
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.
Adams et al. Evidence of longer life; a cohort of 39 Labrador Retrievers. Veterinary Record. 2018.
Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Accessed January 2022.
Marchant et al. Canine Brachycephaly Is Associated with a Retrotransposon-Mediated Missplicing of SMOC2. Current Biology. 2017.
O’Neill et al. Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal. 2013.
Robinson et al. Puppy temperament assessments predict breed and American Kennel Club group but not adult temperament. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2016.
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