What do you get when you cross the most popular dog in the United States (the Labrador Retriever) with an Australian Shepherd? You get a fun-loving dog with plenty of energy who’s up for any adventure.
Since genetics are unpredictable, it’s impossible to know exactly what temperament an Australian Shepherd Lab mix might have, but by exploring both breeds individually, we can get a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Aussiedor.
Let’s learn more about the Australian Shepherd Lab mix so you can decide whether it might be the perfect addition to your family.
About the Breed
A first-generation hybrid dog is exactly half Australian Shepherd and half Labrador Retriever, right?
Well, not exactly. While the resulting puppy will technically get exactly half of its genes from each parent, you never know which genes will be more dominant. As a result, you could get an Aussiedor that more closely resembles a Labrador Retriever, one that’s more like an Australian Shepherd, or one who’s a perfect blend of each.
While we can’t know exactly how an Australian Shepherd Lab mix will turn out, we can look at the parent breeds to learn more about the traits that an Aussiedor puppy might inherit.
Since the Australian Shepherd Lab mix is a relatively new hybrid, they don’t really have any history to discuss. Instead, let’s talk about the history of each parent breed.
The Australian Shepherd isn’t actually an Australian breed. The breed started as the Pyrenean Shepherd in Europe and was perfected in the American West, with only a brief stopover in Australia and some mixing with Collies and Border Collies in between.
Australian Shepherds are still commonly found on ranches and farms across North America herding cattle and sheep. Thanks to their intelligence, they are also commonly used as rodeo or circus performers, therapy dogs, service dogs, drug detectors, and search and rescue dogs.
For owners who don’t care to work their Australian Shepherd, these fun-loving dogs thrive in dog sports like agility, obedience, and flyball.
The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog in the United States for nearly three decades. These friendly and intelligent dogs were bred in Newfoundland to help fishermen retrieve fish that fell out of nets and hunters retrieve ducks.
English nobles visiting Canada in the early 1800s fell in love with the “Labrador dogs” (despite the fact that they’re actually from Newfoundland) and brought them back to England. They further refined the dog into the lovable breed that tops popularity lists.
While Labrador Retrievers are friendly with people and animals alike and are happy to snuggle, they were bred to work and have lots of energy that must be burned off with plenty of exercise.
Health of the Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
“Hybrid vigor” may reduce the odds of an Australian Shepherd mix inheriting the genetic disorders of their parent breeds. However, they may still be prone to health problems, especially if those problems are experienced by both parent breeds.
Potential health problems your Aussiedor may experience include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Eye conditions
- Hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness)
- Heart disorders
- Exercise-induced collapse (EIC)
Responsible breeders do their best to reduce the likelihood of their puppies inheriting these disorders, which is one reason why it’s crucial to thoroughly research Aussiedor breeders before getting a puppy.
Both Labrador Retrievers and Australian Shepherds were bred to work all day and have plenty of energy. Expect to take your Australian Shepherd for at least an hour-long walk every day to keep them exercised. Depending on which parent breed they take after, your Aussiedor may enjoy hours of fetch or chasing children around a fenced yard.
Failing to give an Australian Shepherd Lab mix enough exercise can result in a dog that turns to destruction or other “bad” behaviors, especially when they’re left home alone. If your dog develops bad habits, try increasing how much exercise you give your Aussiedor to see if that helps improve their behavior.
Training an Aussiedor
Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are both intelligent and eager to please, so they are relatively easy to train. Positive reinforcement will go a long way toward teaching your Aussiedor anything from basic commands to fun tricks to running an agility course.
Size and Living Conditions
Labrador Retrievers are medium to large and Australian Shepherds are medium dogs, so an Australian Shepherd Lab mix could be anywhere from 40-80+ pounds. Females are usually smaller than males, but there’s no way to predict what size a hybrid dog will be since you can’t know which parent breed they will take after.
While an Australian Shepherd Lab mix could live in an apartment if they get enough exercise, they will do best in a home with a large fenced-in yard where they can run around to burn off some of their endless energy.
Some people leave their Australian Shepherds outside to live in a barn with other farm animals, but Labrador Retrievers are more attached to their people and prefer to live indoors. Therefore, your Aussiedor would probably be better off living inside with you than banished to the yard.
Coat Color & Type
Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers have very different coat colors and types, so it’s impossible to predict what the coat of an Aussiedor will look like.
Labrador Retrievers have short fur (which sheds more than you would expect) in yellow, chocolate, black, or the rarer colors of silver, champagne, red, or white.
Australian Shepherds have medium-length fur that sheds seasonally. Some owners opt to have their Aussie’s fur trimmed, especially the butt feathers, to keep their dog cleaner. Australian Shepherd coat colors include black, red, blue merle, red merle, and tricolor.
An Australian Shepherd Lab mix could be either coat type or something in between, and they could be just about any color.
Whichever coat type your Australian Shepherd Lab mix inherits, you can be sure that they will shed – A LOT.
Being a dog with a short coat, you might think that the Labrador Retriever wouldn’t shed very much, but you would be wrong. They shed quite a bit, all year round. Weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush and monthly brushing with a deshedding tool (like a FURminator) will help reduce your Aussiedor’s shedding if they have short fur like a Lab.
Australian Shepherds shed a little all year, but they “blow” their undercoat two to four times per year when the seasons change. When this happens, you will notice fur coming out in clumps. If it isn’t brushed out, the undercoat can get tangled with the topcoat and cause painful mats in your dog’s coat. A slicker brush and a grooming rake are perfect for removing loose hair from thick, medium-length hair like you find on an Australian Shepherd.
The way you groom your Aussiedor and the tools you need will vary depending on whether their coat is short like a Lab or long like an Aussie.
Could an Australian Shepherd Lab mix be the right dog for your family? Let’s break it down into a simple checklist.
- Are you an active family? An Aussiedor will love joining you on hikes, jogs, bike rides, or endless games of fetch. This isn’t a breed for people who prefer to relax.
- How do you feel about dog hair? An Australian Shepherd Lab mix is guaranteed to shed a lot. If you don’t want fur all over your home, look elsewhere for your family dog.
- Do you enjoy teaching your dog tricks or doing dog sports? Australian Shepherd Lab mixes are likely to be intelligent and happy to learn.
- Are your belongings and trash secure? Labradors Retrievers are known to eat anything they can fit in their mouth, and an Aussiedor is likely to do the same. If you have small kids who leave toys out, the toys may become dog food.
- Do you want a friendly dog who loves everybody? Your Australian Shepherd Lab mix is likely to get along with people and pets alike, although they may tend to nip at the heels of small children if they have an Aussie personality.
- Looking for a constant companion? While some dogs are more aloof and are happy to spend time alone, Australian Shepherd Lab mixes are likely to prefer company and may become depressed or develop separation anxiety if they’re left home alone too much.
Getting an Aussiedor Puppy
Since Australian Shepherd Lab mixes are a hybrid rather than an official dog breed, you will have to do your homework to find a reputable breeder who isn’t just haphazardly tossing dogs together to make a quick buck.
Look for a breeder who does health testing on their breeding dogs and has a history of healthy puppies. A good breeder will ask you plenty of questions to make sure you are the right home for a puppy and will allow you to visit their dogs and puppies on their property.
Be wary of any breeder who insists on shipping your puppy or meeting you somewhere apart from where they breed their dogs. This is a red flag that they probably don’t have the best breeding practices and may be a puppy mill.
If you haven’t heard about puppy mills, here’s the scoop: Puppy mills are only interested in profit and not the welfare of the animals in their care. Their breeding animals and puppies are generally kept in tiny cages with mesh bottoms. The dogs may never see or feel grass under their feet, and they are bred as frequently as possible until they can no longer reproduce, at which point they may be euthanized.
Dogs from puppy mills are often very sick. They will arrive at a pet store with a contagious disease, or they may develop an inherited genetic disorder later in life due to the puppy mill’s unscrupulous breeding practices.
While it’s easy to think that you are “rescuing” a puppy from a puppy mill, the truth is that purchasing a puppy from a mill only supports the business and encourages them to continue breeding animals in these horrific conditions. They only way puppy mills will ever stop is if all people refuse to buy pets from them.
With hybrid dogs like Australian Shepherd Lab mixes, a rescue is often the best place to find your new best friend. Hybrids like Aussiedors are often created accidentally and dropped off at shelters or rescue groups. While there isn’t a rescue dedicated specifically to Aussiedors, you may be able to find an Australian Shepherd Lab mix through a Labrador Retriever or Australian Shepherd rescue group.
Shelters can be a great place to find an Australian Shepherd Lab mix. Hybrid dogs are more likely to find themselves in shelters than purebred dogs (although there are plenty of purebred dogs in shelters, too), so you may be able to find an Aussiedor in your local shelter.
While you may worry about the personality of a rescued dog, many rescues and shelters do temperament testing, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
While they aren’t right for every family, Australian Shepherd Lab mixes can be great pets for people who are dedicated to giving them plenty of exercise and who don’t mind having dog hair all over their home and clothing.
Aussiedors are friendly, intelligent dogs who love to be around their people and have enough energy to join you on all of your adventures. With their eagerness to please, they can be trained to handle just about any situations you choose to tackle with them.
If you think an Australian Shepherd Lab mix is right for you, be sure to do your research and get them from a reputable breeder, shelter, or rescue organization rather than supporting a puppy mill. A well-bred Aussiedor puppy is more likely to be healthy, and a rescued Aussiedor will love you for saving them, while a dog from a puppy mill is likely to be sick and poorly socialized.