The American Kennel Club ranks the Labrador retriever as the most common dog in the United States. If you adopt your dog from a shelter, you may end up with a mixed breed that is part Labrador. You can also purchase "designer" hybrid dogs that have a Labrador retriever parent. Some of these, such as the Labradoodle, the American Bullador, the Labrottie and the Labmaraner, are recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club. Whenever you bring a mixed-breed dog into your home, you should research both breeds to see what traits your pet might have. Most mixed breeds exhibit traits from all of their parent breeds. Because of this, you can expect your mix to have some traits common to the Labrador retriever.
Labrador retrievers are an extremely energetic breed, and your mixed-breed puppy might be as well. Labs require vigorous exercise every day to stay both physically and mentally healthy. A bored Lab will often try to make its own fun, which might result in behaviors that are unacceptable to you. If your mixed-breed dog has the energy of its Labrador ancestors, take it for daily walks. Two walks of 30 minutes (or longer) each is suitable for a Labrador. Schedule play time in the yard every day to satisfy your energetic dog's need to play (another Labrador quality). Fetch and tug-of-war are games can help drain your dog's extra energy. For down times, provide bones, chews and toys for your dog to entertain itself with so it doesn't get bored.
Your Lab mix is likely to be highly intelligent. Labrador retrievers are quick to learn and easy to train, if you are consistent and give them an outlet for their energy. They are obedient when their rules are enforced consistently. Be aware, however, that your dog's other breed(s) might be stubborn or more difficult to train. Be prepared to have patience during the training process. Even if your dog does take after the Labrador, plan several short training sessions a day. Curious and playful, Labradors get bored easily and will get distracted if you try to train too long. You should also use positive reinforcement methods to train your Lab mix, as the Labrador is a sensitive dog that responds best to praise and affection. Heavy hand techniques or harsh punishments can alienate your dog and make training more difficult.
If your Lab mix takes after its Labrador parent, it will be a loyal companion. Labradors are affectionate and social. They love to be around humans and are eager to be part of family activities. They are patient with children, friendly with strangers, and accepting of other dogs and pets. Despite their energy, Labradors thrive as indoor dogs and are eager to accept the rules of the house if it means they can spend more time with the family.
It can be difficult to tell what physical traits a mixed-breed dog will inherit. For example, a hybrid like a Labradoodle may have the Lab's smooth coat or the poodle's curly coat. A German Shepherd/Labrador mix might have pointed ears and black markings on a predominantly yellow coat. If your dog takes after its Labrador parent, it may have floppy ears, a short yellow, brown or black coat, and webbed paws for swimming. It might also be susceptible to health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia or cataracts.