The Australian Shepherd and Lab mix is a mixed-breed dog with an Australian Shepherd parent and a Labrador Retriever parent. This mix will likely be a medium to large dog, ranging from 40 to 80 pounds. The Aussie and Lab mix will be a generally healthy dog, with a friendly temperament. But your mix may inherit some guarding and herding tendencies from the Australian Shepherd parent. And he is very likely to be high-energy!
What’s In This Guide
Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever Mix FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Australian Shepherd Lab mix.
- How big do Australian Shepherd Lab mixes get?
- Do Australian Shepherd Lab mixes shed?
- Are Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mixes good family dogs?
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix: Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: Number one for the Labrador; 17 for the Australian Shepherd
- Purpose: Companion and and working dog
- Weight: Between 40-80 pounds
- Temperament: High energy
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Australian Shepherd Lab mix
- Fun facts about the Australian Shepherd Lab mix
- Australian Shepherd Lab mix appearance
- Australian Shepherd Lab mix temperament
- Training and exercising your Australian Shepherd Lab mix
- Australian Shepherd Lab mix health and care
- Do Australian Shepherd Lab mixes make good family pets?
- Rescuing an Australian Shepherd Lab mix
- Finding an Australian Shepherd Lab mix puppy
- Raising an Australian Shepherd Lab mix puppy
- Australian Shepherd Lab mix products and accessories
History And Original Purpose Of The Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
The jury is still out on when exactly the Australian Shepherd was first crossed with the Labrador Retriever. Both are popular working and companion dogs, so it isn’t surprising that the mix should occur!
It’s entirely possible that this mix was not intentional, at first. Because of this, the original Australian Shepherd Lab mix wouldn’t have been termed a “designer dog.”
However, as the mix grows in popularity, it is more and more often bred on purpose.
This can cause some controversy, as there are different schools of thought regarding purposefully mixing breeds. Some claim it is to the detriment of the breed. Others point out that mixed breeds are frequently healthier than purebreds.
According to Carol Beuchat, both purebreds and mutts can be healthy dogs. Problems occur when dogs are inbred.
With the Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mix, it takes away that problem.
Let’s take a look at the origins of the parent breeds.
Origins Of The Australian Shepherd
There are a number of hypotheses about where the Australian Shepherd came from, as their history up until the 19th century is largely disputed.
However, we do know that they were given a misnomer, as they aren’t from Australia.
Australian Shepherds were developed in the United States beginning in the 19th century.
As their name suggests, they were used to herd sheep.
These dogs, often called Aussies, grew in popularity with the rise of western style horse riding after World War II.
They were further made famous through rodeos, horse shows and movies.
Origins Of The Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers were originally used by fishermen in Newfoundland, Canada to help retrieve fish from nets as well as those that fell into the water.
They were eventually brought to Britain, where the Earl of Mamesbury took notice of their natural talent for retrieving and their capabilities as a waterdog.
Since hunting fowl was a popular sport among the aristocracy, the Earl used Labs to retrieve downed birds. Because of their ability to track ground scents, Labs became popular hunting dogs.
Fun Facts About The Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
Mixed breeds in general are increasing in popularity. And with the rise of mixed breeds come what are known as “portmanteau” names. These are names which combine aspects of both breeds to form a new name.
Australian Shepherd dogs mixed with Labrador Retrievers are also called Aussiedors!
Though there isn’t a whole lot of information about this mix, the individual breeds are certainly well known. Labs especially are a favorite of celebrities, with owners including actors like Minnie Driver and Drew Barrymore.
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Appearance
Labrador Retrievers are medium to large dogs and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. They stand between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall.
Australian Shepherds are medium sized dogs that weigh between 40 and 65 pounds. They stand between 18 and 23 inches tall.
An Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mix will likely be a medium-sized dog, though there is potential for it to be on the larger side, depending on the size of the parents.
Labs have moderately wide chests and elbows close to their ribs. The standard eye color is brown or hazel, but you may have seen Labs with lighter eye colors.
Aussies have deep chests that, at their lowest point, reach the elbow. Their eyes are typically blue, amber, or brown. They can be born with naturally bobbed tails, but if not, their tails are usually cropped.
Both Labs and Aussies have floppy, triangle-shaped ears, so an Australian Shepherd Lab puppy certainly will, too.
Coat And Colors
Both Labs and Australian Shepherds have double coats that consist of a weather-resistant top layer and a warm undercoat. So you can expect the same of a Labrador Australian Shepherd mix.
Labs come in three shades: yellow, black, and chocolate. Other colors, like silver or white, are simply variations of these colors. Aussies are typically seen in four colors: black, red, blue merle, and red merle.
The exact coloring of the dog will depend on the genes passed down. For instance, if you have a black Lab Australian Shepherd mix, there’s no guarantee that the coat will be completely one color.
It’s important to note the potential dangers of the merle gene. Dogs that have two copies of the problematic gene often suffer from eye diseases and deafness.
Because Labrador Retrievers do not come in merle, it’s impossible for a mix to inherit two copies of the problematic gene.
But it can be valuable to have this knowledge. For example, some people choose not to get their Australian Shepherd Lab puppy from a breeder who also breeds merle Aussies and knows full well the potential consequences.
For any responsible breeder, the health of the dogs must come first.
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Temperament
Labrador Retrievers are a favorite family pet because of their friendly attitude. They are also known to be good with children. For instance, my first Lab was very patient with 5-year-old me. He let me dress him up in a hula skirt, feather boa and sunglasses.
Because Labs were bred to be hunting dogs, they definitely have that instinct and will chase animals in your yard if given the chance.
Australian Shepherds are high-energy dogs that need a lot of exercise to keep them out of trouble. These dogs are also herders and may display behaviors like nipping at the heels of their “flock.”
Sometimes their flock includes children, so you’ll want to beware of that in case your Australian Shepherd and Lab mix inherits the herding instinct.
Australian Shepherds are very loyal. They can sometimes be territorial and may display protective behaviors over their people or their home. This makes them good guard dogs, but territorial behavior is problematic when they won’t allow anyone but family to step foot on the property.
Your Australian Shepherd Labrador could take after either breed in its behavior; it’s completely up to chance.
Training And Exercising Your Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
An Australian Shepherd Lab mix will need a lot of exercise, especially if it takes after the Aussie, as these are very energetic dogs.
If your pup inherits herding instincts, you’ll need to show them what is acceptable to herd and what isn’t. If your pup inherits the Lab’s hunting instincts, you will want to train a recall to prevent them from chasing animals out of the yard.
Furthermore, you’ll need to be sure they understand the boundaries of your yard so that they don’t follow their noses out of it.
Socialization is a key aspect of training for any dog. This is especially true for this mix, as their Australian Shepherd parent can be protective of its family members and household. Though Aussies tend to have lower than average aggression when it comes to family, studies indicate that they may have slightly higher than average aggression to strangers and other dogs.
Even if you want a guard dog, you have to be certain that your dog is always under your control and is not hostile toward other people or dogs.
Socialization helps dogs learn how to get along with others and can help prevent fearfulness that could lead to aggression. Furthermore, it can help reduce the chance of potentially problematic territorial behaviors.
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Health And Care
Labs are at risk for:
- bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus)
- cruciate ligament rupture
- progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- retinal dysplasia (RD)
- hip and elbow dysplasia
- osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
Cruciate ligament ruptures affect the knees (back legs) of dogs and are a partial or complete tear of the ligament.
Labs are more likely to experience this than other breeds of dogs, so it is something potential Australian shepherd Lab owners should be aware of.
Australian shepherds are at risk for:
- hip and elbow dysplasia
- drug sensitivities
- hereditary eye defects including ocular coloboma, iris coloboma, juvenile and senior cataracts, detached retina, persistent pupillary membrane, progressive retinal atrophy, and distichiasis.
You will notice that Aussies are at risk for several eye diseases. Of these, scientists have found a gene that appears to affect hereditary cataracts.
This gene greatly increases the chance of cataracts. DNA testing can be done to verify if a dog has this gene or not.
To ensure that the Australian Shepherd Lab mix puppy you’re getting is healthy, you will want to be certain that the breeder has health tested the parent dogs.
Aussiedor Lifespan And Care
All of the above might make it seem like your Australian Shepherd Lab mix could be unhealthy. But remember that hybrid vigor in dogs means that crosses are more likely to be healthier and stronger.
And even without that, sources indicate that Labs live between ten and twelve years on average, while Aussies live between twelve and fourteen. So your mix is likely to fall somewhere in the middle of that range, around twelve or thirteen years.
You will want to brush your puppy at least weekly.
Both breeds shed a lot. And if it takes after the Aussie, it will have long hair that needs brushing to avoid matting.
Do Australian Shepherd Lab Mixes Make Good Family Pets?
If your puppy takes after the Lab, then it will likely be a good fit for a home with children.
Aussies are not bad with children, but they may sometimes try to herd them by nipping at their heels. This should be kept in mind when considering this mix in a home with kids.
Because Aussies and Labs (and puppies in general) are active, your puppy should not be left alone for long periods of time, especially during their youth.
They need plenty of activity to keep them busy as boredom can lead to destructive behaviors.
The ideal home for an Australian Shepherd Labrador mix is one that can provide a lot of exercise. A home with a yard is preferable, as these dogs will likely do best if they have room to romp and play without being confined to a leash.
Rescuing An Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
If you’re unsure about how this mix will be with your small children, you might look at adopting a full grown Aussiedor. This has a few advantages.
For one thing, it will allow you to discern the dog’s personality and whether it takes after the Aussie parent more.
Secondly, it can be better on your pocketbook! Mixes which have been deliberately bred for certain characteristics may run into the hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile, adopting from a shelter is often between 50 and 150 dollars.
And last, but not least, adopting an adult dog allows you to give that dog a second chance and a good home.
If you’re interested in checking out adoption and rescue agencies for this mix, take a look at our list of rescue organizations.
Finding An Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Puppy
Designer dogs can sometimes be hard to find, but they’re out there. The best thing to do is look around online and in newspapers.
Once you’ve found a breeder, there are a couple things you should do to ensure you are getting a healthy puppy.
- Firstly, ask the breeder about health tests. They should have health tested both parent animals and be able to discuss the results with you.
- Secondly, visit the breeder. This will help you get a good idea of where your puppies are being raised. You can also see the parent animals to get an idea of how your puppy might look, as well as to make sure they are healthy and don’t have any behavioral issues.
The Lab should be friendly, but don’t be too surprised if the Aussie seems a little indifferent. These dogs tend to be loyal to their families and are sometimes aloof toward strangers.
However, aloof doesn’t mean hostile. An Aussie may not want to be your best friend upon meeting, but they should not display any aggression.
Please be sure to avoid puppy mills and pet stores. These establishments care much less about the health of the dogs than they do about the money they could make from them. They are notorious for not using best practices for breeding healthy dogs.
Raising An Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Puppy
Raising any puppy comes with a set of challenges. But time and again, we find that the joys of seeing our pup grow happy and healthy outweigh the difficulties!
Caring for a vulnerable Aussiedor puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You’ll find them listed on our Australian Shepherd Lab mix puppy page.
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Products And Accessories
All dogs need tools and toys, just like humans. Do you need a little help deciding which beds, brushes, and foods are best for your Aussiedor?
We are here to help!
Pros And Cons of Getting An Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
- Could demonstrate herding tendencies
- May be wary of strangers and aloof
- Needs lots of exercise
- Sheds a lot
- Very intelligent
- If more like the Lab parent, will be very family friendly
- Generally healthy and long-lived for its size
- Makes a good working dog
Comparing The Australian Shepherd Lab Mix With Other Breeds
As mentioned above, designer dogs are becoming more and more popular. So it only follows that more and different breed mixes are available.
Of these, the Goldendoodle is a classic example. Prized for her intelligence, friendliness, and just the fact that she is downright adorable, the Goldendoodle is making waves among fans of mixed breed dogs.
If you’re concerned about the herding instinct and potential aggressiveness to strangers of the Aussiedor, take a look at our in-depth article on the Goldendoodle. This may be a better choice for you, depending on your circumstances.
On the other hand, if you’re pretty in love with the idea of the Australian Shepherd Lab mix and just have a few reservations, you may want to consider some other breeds which are similar.
- Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix
- Husky Australian Shepherd mix
- Border Collie Lab mix
- Boxer Lab mix
- Russian Bear Dog
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix Breed Rescues
If you’re interested in rescuing one of these mixes, you’re in luck. Because both parent breeds are so popular, there are more rescue centers focused on them than there are for many other breeds. And most of these rescues also include mixes.
Though there are no Aussiedor-specific rescues that we know of at this point, there’s a good chance that you can find what you’re looking for at one of these listed below. These rescues are based out of the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada.
- Lucky Lab Rescue
- Australian Shepherd Rescue of Ontario
- New Spirit 4 Aussie Rescue
- Aussie and Me
- Lab Rescue Australia
- American Lab Rescue
- Labrador Cross at DogsBlog
- Lab Rescue Canada
Do you know of more rescues for this mix or the parent breeds? Let us know in the comments!
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Owned Dogs In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals – Health Tests By Breed
- American Kennel Club
- Baker, Lauren A., et al., 2017, “Genome-Wide Association Analysis in Dogs Implicates 99 Loci as Risk Variants for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture,” Plos One, Vol. 12, No. 4
- Beuchat, C., 2015, “Health of Purebred Vs Mixed Breed Dogs: The Actual Data,” The Institute of Canine Biology
- Beuchat, C., 2014, “The Myth of Hybrid Vigor in Dogs…Is a Myth,” The Institute of Canine Biology
- Cargill, J. and Thorpe-Vargas, S., 1998, “Hypothyroidism: A Highly Inheritable Canine Health Hazard,” Dog World, Vol. 83, No. 1, pg. 20
- Kelawala, D.N., et al., 2017, “Clinical Studies on Progressive Retinal Atrophy in 31 Dogs,” Iranian Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol. 18, No. 2, pgs. 119-123
- Mattinson, P., 2018, “Purebred Vs Mutt – Common Objections To Mixed Breed Dogs,” The Labrador Site, Red Cat Media Ltd
- Mellersh, Cathryn S., et al., 2009, “Mutation in HSF4 Is Associated with Hereditary Cataract in the Australian Shepherd,” Veterinary Opthalmology, Vol. 12, No. 6
- Ricketts, Sally, et al., 2015, “A Novel Locus on Canine Chromosome 13 Is Associated with Cataract in the Australian Shepherd Breed of Domestic Dog,” Mammalian Genome, Vol. 26, pgs. 257-263
- United States Australian Shepherd Association
- Wargo, M., 2011, “Beware of BLOAT,” Dog World, Vol. 96, No.7, pg. 40
This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019.