There are many theories about which kind of Labrador is the best, and which kind of Labrador isn’t worth it.
Some people favor the Labradors that are from hunting lines, and others believe that the Labradors from show lines are best.
The truth is that no one kind of Labrador is best. Rather, the best Labrador is one that meets your unique needs.
Different Types Of Labrador
If you are not sure which type of Labrador would be best for your family or are just searching for some information on the different types of Labrador, this is where you’ll find what you need to know
Two distinctively different types of Labrador Retriever can be found in many parts of the world.
We’ll be helping you decide which is best as a pet. And finding out which type of Labrador is the right choice for you and your family, depending on your lifestyle and activities
Different types of Labrador – know their division
Labrador retrievers were developed as the breed we know today by a couple of English aristocrats in the 1800s who were passionate about shooting gamebirds birds.
Like all our retriever breeds, the Labrador’s original role was that of a working gun dog.
His job was to fetch dead and wounded game back to his master and deliver it to hand undamaged so that it could become a valuable and sustainable source of food.
This is still the role of many working Labradors today, but so popular have the breed become as companions, that far more of these lovely dogs now live out their lives as family pets
English and American Labradors
In the USA the two types of Labrador also acquired some new names – English (for the show type) and American (for the pet type).
These names have nothing to do with location and everything to do with the role.
We’ll stick to those terms here as most of you are reading in America, but the terms American and working or field type Lab are interchangeable and the same applies to the terms English and show or bench type Lab.
So for American – read ‘working type’ and for English read ‘show type’.
Whichever country you happen to be in.
There has always been some flexibility in the roles that these dogs play.
Many Labs of either type are incredibly versatile.
Many English Labs will do a passable job of fetching a bird for you. And many American Labs will do a good job of being the family pet.
But some differences may affect your choice and it’s a good idea to know what they are before purchasing a puppy
Types of Labrador that makes the best pet
Before making your mind up about which type of Lab to bring into your home, it’s a good idea to read about some of the different qualities of Labradors of both fields and show strains.
This article on Labrador Characteristics is a good place to start.
You’ll see that show Labs are often chunkier and have a more classic chiseled Labrador head than American Labs
Labradors bred specifically for gun dog work don’t just look different from Labradors bred for the show ring, they have different ‘natures’ too.
American type Labrador
The working strain Labrador is likely to be easier to train. It may be easier for example, for an inexperienced owner to get him walking nicely on a lead.
The American Labrador has a quick mind as well as a quick body and is often a very sensitive soul that lives to please.
Extremes of sensitivity can occasionally lead to nervousness, but on the whole, temperament is sound throughout the breed.
Outdoors in the open, American Labradors may have very strong hunting instincts and be more likely to pursue your local wildlife. This can be a problem for those living in rural areas or exercising their dogs in the countryside populated with rabbits or squirrels!
Some (not most) American Labs will have so much ‘drive’ that an inexperienced owner will struggle to gain control on their daily walks together. Especially if they don’t pay enough attention to the dog.
This is something to consider if you like to relax and chat with friends whilst out walking.
English type Labrador
English type Labs are often heavier than their field-bred cousins, and shorter in the leg. They may also be less agile.
Though this isn’t always the case, and I have known some hefty show-type Labs that are surprisingly good at jumping.
All Labradors are very lively when young, but some show-bred labs become somewhat more placid, slower, and ‘chilled out’ as they age.
While some of their field-bred cousins tend to remain ‘high energy’ dogs for much of their lives.
As juveniles, some English Labs can be extremely playful and distractible which can be a challenge, especially if you exercise your dog in busy dog parks where they are mixing with a lot of other dogs.
This playful ‘silliness’ is partly what makes some show-type Labs more difficult to train.
I have one pure working type Lab and one part work/part show type Lab. My working type Labrador Ted was quite grown up and sensible by the time her first birthday came along.
My part show dog Bryan is six and is still not quite grown up!
One final thought, in the UK, show-bred labs are perhaps more likely to be noisy or prone to whining than American Labs, simply because noise is a disqualifying fault in a UK field trial and has therefore been ‘bred out’ of working dogs to a certain extent.
Before we look at which Labrador type might be best suited to your family, let’s look at another type of Labrador that I am often asked about
I get asked this question quite a bit! There isn’t actually a special type of Labrador that is known as a Drakeshead Lab.
Drakeshead is actually just a British Labrador Kennel name.
The Drakeshead Kennel is a famous kennel in England that breeds and competes (very successfully) working type Labradors.
They also export Labradors to other countries.
If your Labrador is from the Drakeshead kennels, his pedigree will have the word Drakeshead as part of his registered pedigree Kennel Name.
There are many other successful breeders of American or field-type Labradors in the UK and many well-known breeders of field-type Labs in the USA too.
Which is type of Labrador is best for me?
The answer to ‘which type is best?’ is of course never straightforward.
And it depends a bit on what you expect from your dog, and on where you live.
If you want to get active with your dog, and maybe get involved with some Labrador activities or sports, then a Labrador from working lines might suit you best.
American type Labradors – activities and hunting
Working bred labs respond best to lots of human contacts and a more managed approach to exercise outdoors.
American Labs also tend to be more focused on their handler and may be more responsive to training.
This can be helpful if you want to get involved in a sport or activity that involves your dog.
Dog agility is a popular sport that American type Labs can excel at, while English Labs may lack the agility to compete at a high level.
If you want a pet that is also a hunting companion then an American type Lab is your best choice. If you are in the UK, then you also need to be looking at field bred or working type Labradors
If you don’t want to compete in Field Trials, then consider a Lab that has been bred with the average hunter or shooting man or woman in mind.
Dogs bred for field trials in the UK and the USA can sometimes be a little ‘hot’ for the inexperienced handler.
English Labs for classic good looks
For those who don’t want to spend much time training and want to have long family walks through the countryside where their dog runs free, an English type Lab may be ideal.
And it may be easier to manage this show-type Lab outdoors, due to his less intense hunting instincts.
But perhaps the main reason people who are not looking for a hunting companion may choose an English Lab is that they love the way that they look.
If you are hoping for a chunky dog with classic Labrador good looks and a distinctive thick otter tail, then you do stand more chance of getting the dog you want from English or show lines
Just remember English Labs tend to take longer to grow up, be more playful, and more interested in introducing themselves to every passing stranger.
Beauty if of course in the eye of the beholder, and some of those at home with the working type Lab will find the head size and shorter legs of the English Lab unattractive
Both types of Labrador can make great family dogs through the English type maybe a little less prone to be shy or anxious.
Labrador – Dual purpose
A few breeders in the UK are attempting to re-create the dual-purpose Labradors of the last century.
Good looking medium-weight dogs of substance with nice thick tails. Dogs with solid broadheads, thick coats, a well-focused attentive brain inside them, and some powerful hunting and retrieving instincts.
I think this is great news for Labradors as many working bred labs have quite a poor conformation and some show Labs are too heavily built and lack some of the focus and great retrieving instincts of their working cousins.
Mixing the two lines can, however, produce variable results and is always a bit of a gamble. You could end up with a dog with poor conformation and poor hunting and retrieving instincts.
It’s the chance you take.
Whichever type of Labrador you choose for a pet, make sure you choose your breeder wisely.
Getting a healthy puppy that has had a healthy start in life is more important than any of the above considerations and that happy, confident Labrador temperament we expect from these beautiful dogs should be your number one priority.
Some Labrador Retriever mixes you can choose
The Goldador is a cross between the Golden Retriever and the equally famous Labrador Retriever. These are large dogs, usually weighing between 55 and 80 pounds.
If you take on one of these pups, you’ll need a large house with plenty of outside space. Also, these are energetic, working dogs that need plenty of exercises every day to keep them fit and mentally happy.
The Goldador typically has the thick, double-coat of both parent dogs and is a very popular Golden mix. Goldadors shed all year round, having two heavy shedding periods during the spring and fall. Ordinarily, you’ll need to groom your Goldador every other day and daily during heavy shedding times.
Goldadors can live from ten to 12 years.
You should note here that both breeds can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, so you must ask to see clear health screening documentation for both your puppy’s parents.
The Goldador is a friendly, lively breed that gets on well with kids and other pets.
The Doberdor is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Doberman.
These are big, powerful dogs that can grow to weigh up to 100 pounds when full-grown. Doberdors are a mix that needs lots of exercise to keep them fit and healthy.
Again, you’ll need a spacious home with a large backyard or garden to comfortably accommodate one of these dogs.
Generally good with other dogs and children, the Doberdor is a friendly pup that’s easy to train. The breed is also very alert and makes a superb watchdog.
Doberdors usually have a short coat that sheds seasonally and requires brushing once or twice a week to keep it clean and tidy.
The Doberdor is a pretty healthy breed that has a lifespan of up to 12 years.
However, hip and elbow dysplasia can be seen in both parent breeds, so be sure to ask the breeder to show you proof that your puppy’s parents have been health screened for these conditions.
- German Sheprador
The German Sheprador is a mix between the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd.
This is truly a breed that’s super-impressive in the popularity stakes; the Labrador Retriever is #1 on the AKC charts, and the German Shepherd is right behind at #2!
The two-parent breeds that are bred to create the German Sheprador are somewhat different in their temperament.
The Lab is usually friendly and sociable, whereas the German Shepherd can be more aloof and suspicious of strangers.
The German Sheprador is a medium-sized dog that can weigh up to 90 pounds, standing up to 24 inches tall at the shoulder.
The German Sheprador’s coat is usually thick, short, and double-layered. So, you can expect year-round moderate shedding and two extra-heavy shedding periods in the fall and spring.
Shepradors have a life expectancy of up to 12 years. Both these pups’ parent breeds are working dogs, and their offspring need plenty of exercises.
That said, the breed is very loyal and makes a great family pet and guard dog.
The Labradoodle is designer dog royalty! These pups are one of the most popular and frequently seen poodle mixes around.
The Labradoodle is created by crossing a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. The breed is quite long-lived, having a life expectancy of up to 18 years.
Labradoodles come in three sizes, standard, medium, and miniature, depending on the type of poodle parent that’s used to create the mix.
So, your dog could stand from 14 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 25 and 95 pounds.
The Labradoodle is a friendly, easygoing sort of pup that usually fits in well in homes where the family includes small children and other pets.
That said, these dogs do require plenty of exercises every day and are not couch potatoes! One of the primary reasons that Labradoodles are so popular is their very low-shedding coat, making the breed a good choice for a family with pet allergies.
The Pitador is a cross between a Pitbull and a Labrador.
These are large, muscular pit bull mixes that can weigh between 30 and 80 pounds, having a lifespan of up to 16 years. The Pitador’s grooming requirements are modest, as the coat is short.
However, these dogs do shed moderately year-round.
Pitadors are known to be loyal, friendly, intelligent, and make good family pets, as long as they are properly trained and well-socialized as puppies.
Training a Pitador is usually pretty straightforward, as this hybrid is extremely smart and eager to please.
If you decide to take on a Pitador puppy, ask the breeder for evidence of good elbow and hip scores for both parents, as well as an eye test carried out within the last year.
A cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Rottweiler is called a Rottador.
Like most Rottweiler mixes, These are large dogs, weighing anywhere between 55 and 135 pounds and standing up to 27 inches tall at the shoulder.
So, you will need plenty of space in your home to accommodate one of these pups.
Your Rottador could live for up to 12 years. These are intelligent pups who are willing to learn and eager to please, making the Rottador a cinch to train!
That said, these are lively dogs who need plenty of exercises.
A bored Rottador can become destructive, so be sure to provide your pup with plenty of toys to keep him entertained when you’re not around.
The Rottador usually has a short coat that sheds moderately year-round and needs grooming once a week or so to keep him looking smart.
The Chabrador is an unusual mixture of a Chow Chow and a Labrador Retriever. The Chow Chow is best known for their characteristic deep facial folds and signature neck ruff that gives them a lion-like appearance.
Whereas the Labrador Retriever is a happy-go-lucky, friendly character, the Chow Chow can be more aloof and reserved, especially with strangers, and can be a one-person dog that’s best suited to a couple or singleton with no children in the family. Your Chabrador can live for up to 12 years.
Although the breed’s exercise requirements are pretty modest, you will need to have plenty of time available for grooming your dog, as the Chabrador has a thick double coat that sheds constantly.
If you’re looking for a smaller dog, you might want to consider the Corgidor. The Corgidor is a cross between the Labrador Retriever and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Corgidors weigh between 30 and 80 pounds, standing up to around 15 inches in height or taller, depending on which parent the puppy most takes after.
Like most Corgi mixes, these pups are usually very family-friendly, living for up to 13 years and suffering very few serious health issues. Bear in mind that both parent breeds are working dogs, so the Corgidor does need plenty of exercise and playtimes too.
The Huskador is a cross between a Lab and a Siberian Husky. The Huskador can grow to weigh up to 80 pounds, standing up to 23.5 inches tall at the shoulder. You can expect your pup to live for up to 14 years.
Like all Husky Mixes, these are friendly, people-loving dogs who are very smart and quick to learn. However, the Siberian Husky is a pack dog and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
The Siberian Husky is well-known for his thick, luxuriant coat and is a heavy shedder. So, you can expect your Huskador to shed year-round with two heavier shedding periods in the spring and fall.
The Springador is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and an English Springer Spaniel. These are quite large dogs, standing up to 20 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 40 and 80 pounds.
Springadors are high-energy dogs that usually have a very strong prey drive. That means that these pups don’t mix well with small furries, such as rabbits and cats, although they do get along with kids of all ages.
Although trainable and willing to please his owners, the Springador needs to be included in every aspect of family life, and he doesn’t cope well if left to his own devices for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, both parent breeds can be prone to suffering from similar health conditions, and that could present the risk that their progeny could be similarly afflicted. For that reason, you must ensure that your Springador pup’s parents have been health-screened. The Springador typically lives for between ten and 14 years.
Both parent breeds have long, double coats that shed year-round and more heavily in spring and fall, so regular grooming is required to prevent the coat from becoming tangled and matted.
If you’re looking for a dog that has a true sporting pedigree, look no further than the Pointerdor. The Pointerdor is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Pointer.
Both breeds are hunting, sporting dogs, so one of these pups would suit you perfectly if you enjoy taking part in field sports and want a canine companion to join you in your country pursuits.
These are energetic dogs that do need plenty of exercise every day. A bored Pointerdor will howl and dig to amuse himself! For that reason, you can’t leave this breed alone for long periods.
The friendly, loyal Pointerdor has a short coat that’s easy to maintain, although he does shed continually, so might not suit someone who can’t tolerate dog hair over their home and clothes. Pointerdors usually grow to stand around 20 inches high, weighing between 40 and 80 pounds. This crossbreed is usually pretty healthy and can live for between ten and 17 years.
The handsome Afador is a very unusual and seldom-seen cross between an Afghan Hound and a Labrador Retriever. These are tall, athletic pups that need lots of exercise to keep them happy. A full-grown Afador can grow to weigh up to 75 pounds.
The Afador lacks the friendly, outgoing personality of the Labrador Retriever and is usually a little aloof, taking after the Afghan parent. Although these pups make the perfect family pet for families with older kids, they are not suited to novice dog owners, as they can be willful and tricky to train.
The unique-looking Bassador is a medium-sized dog that’s a cross between a Basset Hound and a Labrador Retriever. The Bassador is very loyal, although he can be a tad stubborn and challenging to train. In general, Bassadors love to be the center of attention in their human family.
They also need to have a home with plenty of outside space where they can roam and indulge their passion for sniffing and following interesting scents. The Bassador parent breeds both have high prey drives, meaning that your furry friend may have a tendency to chase after small pets, including the family cat!
However, as long as you train and socialize your Bassador properly from puppyhood, he can quickly learn to behave appropriately around the other members of the family.
The bouncy Boxador is a mix between a Lab and a Boxer. These super-lively dogs grow to be quite large, weighing up to 80 pounds and standing up to 18 inches at the shoulder. The Boxador’s coat is usually short and sheds continually, although regular grooming can help to keep mess around your home to a minimum.
The Boxador is the life and soul of the party at the dog park! These pups are protective, kind, and loyal to their human family, behaving like overgrown puppies most of the time. Consequently, you’ll need a large home with plenty of outside space where your Boxador can burn off some of his excess energy between walks. A healthy Boxador can live to between ten and 12 years of age.
The chirpy, happy-go-lucky Cavador is a mixed breed that’s created by mating a Labrador Retriever and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavadors are medium-sized dogs that can weigh up to around 55 pounds. These are wonderful family canine companions who get on well with other pets and children.
Lively and inquisitive, the Cavador does need plenty of exercise. On the plus side, these guys don’t need a huge amount of grooming to keep their silky coats in good condition. A healthy Cavador can live to around 15 years.
The Borador is a Border Collie mixed with a Labrador. The super-energetic Borador is a medium-sized dog that can weigh between 30 and 80 pounds, depending on which parent the pup most takes after.
Boradors have thick, double coats that shed continually, especially during the spring and fall when heavy shedding takes place. For that reason, you’ll need to brush your dog at least twice each week to get rid of any loose and dead hair and keep your pet’s coat in good condition. The Borador is a generally healthy breed that can live for up to 15 years.
The Labmaraner is a cross between a Weimaraner and a Labrador Retriever. These are large, lively dogs that are powerful and athletic, needing lots of exercises to keep them fit and healthy. If you and your family enjoy spending lots of time in the Great Outdoors, a Labmaraner could be the perfect fit for you.
The Labmaraner usually weighs around 55 to 90 pounds, standing up to 20 inches at the shoulder. Their coat is short and easy to groom, shedding lightly all year round and more heavily in the spring and fall. Typically healthy, the Labmaraner can live for up to 13 years.
- Alaskan Malador
The unusual Alaskan Malador is a cross between the beautiful Alaskan Malamute and a Labrador Retriever. These pups are usually very affectionate, active family pets that get on well with pretty much everyone, including kids and other pets.
The Alaskan Malador is a working dog that needs plenty of exercise. Also, these pups typically have a double coat that takes lots of maintenance and grooming. These dogs won’t suit you if anyone in your household has a pet allergy, as they do shed continually, especially in spring and fall.
The Alaskan Malador is a smart, trainable breed that will love learning tricks and commands, making them the perfect pet for a family with older children and teens who fancy themselves as dog trainers! You can expect your puppy to grow to weigh between 65 and 85 pounds, standing up to 25 inches at the shoulder.
- American Bullador
The American Bullador is an unusual crossbreed that’s a mix between a Labrador Retriever and an American Bulldog. The size of the American Bullador varies tremendously, depending on which parent the puppies most take after.
Typically, American Bulladors stand around 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 85 pounds. The American Bullador’s coat is short and low maintenance, requiring brushing once a week or so. Coat colors and markings vary, but the most common colors tend to be brown, black, red, tan, or yellow, often combined with white.
You’ll find the American Bullador to be a loyal, brave, protective dog. Early socialization and patient, positive training from puppyhood are essential, as the American Bulldog parent can be strong-willed.
Be aware that if your puppy takes more after his Bulldog parent, his muzzle may be short and flattened. That can predispose the dog to a range of respiratory problems, including brachycephalic syndrome.