Choosing the Best Lab Mix for Your Family - Simply For Dogs
Lab Mix

Choosing the Best Lab Mix for Your Family

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The Labrador Retriever has consistently ranked in the top 20 most popular breeds in America for the past ten years, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Labrador mixes are also extremely popular. In this post, we’ll talk about some of the breeds that Labs are often crossed with, and what makes them a good choice for your family.

What’s in my Lab, Other Than Lab?

Perhaps you purchased what you assumed was a purebred Lab, only to suspect, as your puppy grew, that there might be something else in his background. Or maybe you rescued a dog, and you can see that there most likely is quite a bit of Lab in him, but you have no idea what else could be in the mix.

Much of the time, all you can do is make a good guess – mixed breeds frequently bear little resemblance to either parent. Additionally, it’s possible that one of the parents was also a mix.

The only way to know for sure what’s in your Lab mix is to have a DNA test done. This can give you your dog’s genetic background for as far back as four generations, so if you really want to know what’s in your Lab mix, this is what you’ll need to do.

Now, having said that, you may have made the deliberate choice to purchase a mix, and you’ve settled on the best Lab mix for you and your family. In this case, I would assume that you’ve bought your dog from a good breeder, and it was just a simple matter of asking to see the parents in order to confirm that you were, in fact, buying the offspring of two purebred dogs of different breeds.

There are, in fact, a number of breeders that are creating crossbreeds deliberately. Some refer to these crosses as “designer dogs” and attach names to them that are a blend of the two breed names. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best Lab mixes that have been bred over the past decade. Each has its own unique characteristics, and I don’t want to give the impression that any one is better than another, so I’m going to list them in alphabetical order.

Afador

This is a cross between an Afghan Hound and a Labrador Retriever. If you have your heart set on this cross, you might find it difficult to locate one. Labs are, of course, ubiquitous, but Afghan Hounds are not all that common.

If you are able to acquire an Afador puppy, you can expect to end up with a fairly large, tall dog, most likely with a long coat and a long muzzle. Some Afadors are medium-coated, but the likelihood of getting a short-coated Afador is remote, so you will need to groom your dog regularly.

Afador

As to temperament, Labs are usually extremely friendly and receptive to strangers, whereas Afghans are typically more restrained. You’ll have no way of knowing which personality type your dog has inherited, so it’s important that you socialize your Afador early. You’ll also find that your Afador very much wants to be with you, so it’s not a good idea to leave him alone for long periods.

Labs and Afghans both have a lifespan of approximately 12 years so you’ll be able to enjoy your Afador for quite some time. In fact, since mixed breeds typically live longer than purebreds, you could conceivably have your dog for several more years.

Labs and Afghans are both generally healthy breeds, but can be prone to hip problems, so make sure that your breeder can show you clearances to the effect that the parents are free from hip dysplasia.

Bassador

A Bassador is another fairly rare crossbreed, with the parents being a Lab and a Basset Hound. You’ll probably end up with a dog that looks very much like a Lab, but has larger ears and shorter legs. Bassadors are compact dogs, usually standing about 14 inches at the shoulder.

Unfortunately, with a Bassador, you have to be prepared for the possibility that your dog will inherit some of the health problems that are common to Basset Hounds. Frequently, Basset Hounds have a propensity to yeast infections, and if your dog inherits the Basset’s saggy skin, this could be a problem. Bassets also have a tendency to develop ectropicon, which is a condition in which the bottom eyelid rolls outward, leading to discomfort and sometimes also to damage to the surface of the eye.Bassador

Bassador

The disproportionate length of the body in relation to the legs can also lead to problems with mobility. Also, because the Bassador’s weight is substantial, but his height is not, there is a possibility that he could develop arthritis.

If you can, make sure to view the Basset parent. Look for tight eyelids and little loose skin. Also, the longer the legs, the better. Keep in mind, too, that Basset Hounds that get a lot of exercise are typically in better shape than those that are sedentary, and this will apply to your Bassador as well.

Borador

A Borador is a cross between a Lab and a Border Collie. This is another mix in which your dog could inherit one of two distinct personality types – either the joyful, friendly nature of the Lab, or the “one person” temperament of the Border Collie.

You’ll likely find that your Borador is highly trainable and very quick to learn new things. He will, though, require quite a bit of stimulation, and will also need early socialization. Boradors are also happiest when very active, so they’re one of the best Lab mixes for families that enjoy the outdoors and vigorous athletics. They’re not all that well suited to families with young children, though – they get this from the Border Collie, which can be intolerant of rough handling.

Borador

In terms of appearance, Boradors are very appealing. They’re a bit shorter than the typical Lab, and usually have beautiful long coats. You will need to groom regularly.

Labs and Border Collies are both typically healthy, so you can expect that your Borador will also enjoy good health.

Cavador

A Cavador is another relatively rare cross, this time between a Lab and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. One really good thing about Cavadors is that personality is hardly ever an issue – Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have very much the same sort of temperament as Labs, in that they’re very friendly and extremely loyal.

The down side to this mix is that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to a host of health issues, including mitral valve disease, which affects the heart and can cause premature death. Eye problems are also common. The real danger, though, is syringomyelia, which is a condition in which the shape and size of the dog’s skull causes pressure on the brain and brain stem. I won’t go into all the horrific details here, but if you’re considering a Cavador, I would encourage you to do some Googling and learn all you can about syringomelia before you decide that this is the best Lab mix for you.

Cavador

I would also strongly suggest that you not buy a Cavador puppy if the Cavalier King Charles parent is under 5 years. Also insist on viewing the parent’s veterinary history. This will decrease your chances of ending up with a dog that will be unhealthy.

Goldador

This cross is between a Lab and a Golden Retriever, and is one of the most popular Lab mixes. They’re attractive, confident and highly intelligent. In fact, they’re very commonly used as guide dogs.They’re also very friendly and loyal, and one of the best Lab mixes for families with young children.

Goldadors usually inherit the shorter Lab coat, although with some, it can be a bit longer. They’re easy to groom, and in fact they very much enjoy being brushed.Goldador

Goldador

Both breeds are generally healthy, although with any large breed it’s always wise to make sure that the parents are free of hip dysplasia. Goldens do have a bit of a propensity toward cancer, so you should also look into the ancestry of the Golden parent as far back as possible to see if any dogs in the line have died prematurely due to cancer.

Labernese

A Labernese is a cross between a Lab and a Bernese Mountain Dog. This is another mix in which you’ll be dealing with the possibility of two different personality types – you might end up with a friendly, happy, Lab-like dog, or you could get one that has the Bernese characteristics of being highly protective and not necessarily good with strangers.

Laberneses are very big dogs, standing up to 28 inches at the shoulder and often weighing more than 100 pounds. For this reason, they’re not always the best Lab mix for families with toddlers.

The Labernese requires a lot of grooming since it typically inherits the long coat of the Bernese.

Labernese

The sad thing about big dogs is that they don’t usually live as long as small dogs. Given that the Lab typically lives for about 12 years, and the Bernese for about 8, you can likely expect a lifespan somewhere between the two for your dog.

Bernese Mountain dogs are prone to cancer, so as is the case with the Goldador, ask about the history of cancer in the Bernese line. You’ll also want clearances for hip dysplasia, which is, as I’ve previously stated, sometimes an issue with large breeds.

Labmaraner

This is a cross between a Lab and a Weimaraner. Labmaraners are very cooperative, but perhaps a bit more aloof than the typical Lab. They’ll usually be cordial when approached by strangers, but not to the “Hi, stranger, will you be my new best friend?” extent that the Lab often displays.

Labmaraners are short-coated dogs, so you won’t have to groom a lot. A quick pass with a brush every so often is usually all you need to keep your Labmaraner’s coat in good shape.

If you are considering a Labmaraner, you should know that Weimaraners are often prone to separation anxiety. Accordingly, this might not be the best Lab mix for you if you’re away from home a lot.Labmaraner

Labmaraner

Weimaraners have a lifespan of usually 11 years, and are generally healthy. Given that mixes typically live longer than purebreds, you should probably expect to get at least the Lab’s lifespan of 12 years from your Labmaraner. Usually the only health issue you’ll need to consider would be hip problems. Keep in mind, though, that this is just a possibility, not a given.

Labradoodle

The Labradoodle – a cross between a Lab and a Standard Poodle – is, bar none, the most popular Lab mix, and in my humble opinion, one of the best Lab mixes.

Labradoodles are calm, confident, affectionate and highly intelligent. They are, however, sometimes prone to autoimmune disorders, so if you’re considering this mix, ask the breeder if there is any history of autoimmune problems on the Poodle side.Labradoodle

Labradoodle

In terms of appearance, the Labradoodle usually inherits the Poodle’s curly coat. This means that you’ll have to groom regularly in order to avoid matting. There can, though, be a lot of variation in the coats, so you there’s really no way of knowing for sure how much of an issue this could be.

Labradoodles are big and bouncy, but typically good with kids. If you’re choosing a Labradoodle, just make sure to train him early so that he’s not knocking the little ones over during play.

Labrottie

A Labrottie is a cross between a Lab and a Rottweiler. As you might expect, this is a big, powerful cross – in fact, Labrotties often take on the full size of the Rottweiler parent.

Labrotties are very active, so they do best with people who have the time and the inclination to exercise them vigorously. In terms of temperament, you’ll have no way of knowing, until your dog moves out of the puppy stage, whether you’ll end up with a big, goofy playmate or a steady, protective guardian.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with a dog being protective, but sometimes this can cause problems where children are concerned. A Labrottie will probably be just fine with your own kids, but if play turns rambunctious, there’s a possibility that he’ll think he has to protect “his” kids from “not his” kids. There could be a bad outcome here, so keep that in mind if you’re considering a Labrottie.

Labrottie

The unfortunate thing here is that Rotties have a low life expectancy, and it’s possible that your Labrottie could inherit some of the problems so common to the Rottweiler. Heart disease is one problem with the breed, but the biggie is cancer. Rottweilers usually don’t live much beyond age 9, and the risk of cancer is huge, especially in the males. If you’re considering a Labrottie, check the history of the line to determine if there have been a lot of premature deaths due to cancer.

Springador

This Labrador / Springer Spaniel cross is lively and intelligent, but has a very high prey drive and requires extensive training. Therefore, a Springador is probably not the best Lab mix for the novice owner. You need to start training practically from the minute that you bring your puppy home, and you can never stop working with your Springador. This is not a mix that tolerates boredom well.SpringadorSpringador

Springador

Generally speaking, Springer Spaniels have pleasing temperaments, but some are prone to aggression. You’ll want to meet the Springer parent – ideally, you’ll be looking at a dog that’s confident but not “pushy” or dominant.

Springadors usually look a bit like a black Lab with a slightly longer coat and some white markings.

If you enjoy training and have a lot of time to spend with your dog, the Springador could be right for you. Health issues are generally not a problem, but of course it’s always wise to make sure the parents are clear of hip dysplasia.

The Final Word

There are, of course, other Lab mixes, but I couldn’t possibly list them all here. If you’re curious about other possibilities, though, a bit of Googling will probably yield results on other mixes. In the foregoing material, I’ve tried for a combination of the common and uncommon, and introduced several sizes and personality types representing the best Lab mixes.

As to the absolute best Lab mix for you and your family, it’s really a matter of what you want in a dog. If you want a small, calm Lab mix, choose a one that’s crossed with a small, calm breed. If you want a big, protective Lab mix, choose one that’s crossed with a big, protective breed. There are no guarantees, but this does increase your odds of getting the right mix.

Finally, the most important thing is to choose a puppy from parents that are sociable, intelligent and healthy. Then socialize early. You’ll almost certainly end up with a great friend and companion that you can love for many years.

About the Author Ash