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Have you always wanted a Labrador retriever, but are you worried about the common health problems of the breed? Someone might have recommended that you go for a Pit Bull-Lab mix.
Labrador retrievers and American pit bull terriers began to be deliberately interbred in the 1990s as a way of minimizing the health problems that are common to both pure breeds.
The result is usually a gorgeous, medium-sized pup with the strength and loyalty of a pit bull and the intelligence and affection of a Labrador.
But wait, you might be wondering if these dogs are highly aggressive, since pit bulls do have a reputation for being a pretty aggressive dog. Don’t worry. While exactly what you get with a mix-breed pup is always unpredictable, the aggressive reputation of the pit bull is undeserved. They are, in fact, intelligent and affectionate canines.
But let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from most pit bull-Lab mix dogs in terms of appearance and temperament.
If you do decide to adopt one, we’ll also cover essential things to know about caring for these gorgeous dogs.
A word of warning, while pit bull-Lab mixes are highly affectionate and highly trainable, they are not generally recommended for first-time dog owners since there is quite a bit of work involved in looking after these special dogs.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Origin Of The Species
- Pit Bull-Labrador Mix Characteristics
- Labrador-Pit Bull Mix Appearance
- Lab-Pit Bull Mix Temperament
- Lab-Pit Bull Mix Health
- Caring For You Pit Bull-Labrador Retriever Mix Dog
- Where To Adopt
- The Verdict
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
Origin Of The Species
Pit bull-Lab mix dogs are known by a huge variety of names. We’ve come across pitador, Labrabull, pitador retriever, and bullador. But whatever you call them, they are a mix between a Labrador retriever and an American pit bull terrier.
Labrador retrievers are medium-large gun dogs that were initially bred to retrieve game. But over the years, they have also become incredibly popular family dogs. They are also highly intelligent, trainable, and friendly, so they are also often used as disability assistance dogs, for example working as guide dogs for the blind.
American pit bull terriers are solidly built medium-sized dogs. In the early 19th century, they were often used in blood sports such as bull and bear-baiting, and after these sports were outlawed in 1835, they were also often used in dogfighting.
This is why the breed has a reputation for being aggressive, but they are not naturally aggressive when properly cared for.
They are, in fact, strong, confident, and lively, and make excellent family pets as they love children and are protective of them.
Pit Bull-Labrador Mix Characteristics
Unlike with pure-bred dogs, which tend to have a fairly predictable appearance and temperament, you can never be sure exactly how the characteristics of parents will combine in a mix-breed dog.
But it is possible to generalize about the most likely characteristics of a pit bull-Lab mix based on the characteristics that appear most often, and characteristics that breeders will often try and control to produce the best possible pups.
Labrador-Pit Bull Mix Appearance
Most pups that are a mix between a Labrador retriever and a pit bull can be characterized as medium in size. They usually range from between 17 to 25 inches tall and can weigh anywhere from 45 to 90 pounds. Male Lab-pit bull mixes tend to be significantly larger than their female counterparts.
They will almost certainly have a strong and muscular physique. Labradors are fairly strong to start with, and this is only enhanced by the extreme muscular nature of the American pit bull terrier.
Their facial features generally fall between those of a Lab and a pit bull, and they will have a broader forehead than a Labrador retriever, but it will be narrower than that of a pit bull.
They usually have a relatively long muzzle and long pointed ears.
Most pit bull-Labrador retriever mixes have a short coat like a pit bull that doesn’t tend to shed too much. But you can’t count on this. Your pitador might also come out with the classic Labrador retriever double coat that sheds a lot.
Breeders will often try and control for this characteristic, but there are no guarantees. The high-shedding doesn’t usually become apparent until a pup is already 10-12 months old. There is no way of knowing what kind of coat they will have when you adopt a puppy.
Coat colors vary from classic Labrador colors including black, chocolate, and golden yellow, but you can also expect to see white, spotted, brindle, and cream.
Lab-Pit Bull Mix Temperament
When you adopt a Labrabull, you can expect a dog that is affectionate, intelligent, and energetic, as these are characteristics of both Labrador retrievers and American pit bull terriers.
Lab-pit bull mixes are very affectionate and bond quickly with new families. They are incredibly friendly with children and will be both careful and protective of them. While you can trust a pit bull-Lab mix with children, small children should never be left alone with any dog unsupervised.
While they do get on with other animals, this breed does have a need to be dominant. They may engage in behaviors you consider aggressive or undesirable to assert their dominance over other dogs or household animals.
They crave to be included in everything the family does and to be the center of attention. For this reason, you can’t really leave them alone for long periods of time as this can cause them to become frustrated or depressed, which can manifest in destructive behavior, among other things.
These dogs are very intelligent and also eager to please, which makes them highly trainable. They are just as capable of being trained as working dogs as their Labrador retriever parent. They are motivated by praise and reward, and training should always utilize positive reinforcement.
Like most dogs, Lab-pit bull mixes don’t respond well to punishment. They generally don’t understand the message of punishment, which leads to frustration rather than learning. When your dog is frustrated and confused by what you want from them, that is when they can become aggressive.
But pit bull-Lab dogs are not naturally aggressive; they actually have a calm and fun-loving temperament. But they are also high energy and need a lot of exercise. If they aren’t getting the daily activity they need, again, they can become frustrated or depressed, which can lead to undesirable behavior.
While these dogs aren’t the type to bark needlessly, they do make excellent guard dogs. They are highly alert and will bark a little to let you know if guests arrive at the door or strangers are lurking near the house.
Lab-Pit Bull Mix Health
These crossbreed dogs generally live for 10-14 years and within that time are likely to have fewer health problems than either purebred Labrador retrievers or American pit bull terriers.
Nevertheless, they can be inclined to develop some of the joint conditions that are common in Labrador retrievers, such as hip dysplasia. They can benefit from glucosamine supplements to help keep their joints supple and healthy. You can find our recommendations for the best glucosamine supplements here.
These dogs are also more inclined to developing epilepsy and hyperthyroidism than some other dog breeds. You should monitor your dog for seizures to identify the onset of epilepsy. You can read more about seizures in dogs here.
Finally, dogs that are a mix of Labrador retrievers and pit bulls can be inclined to develop skin conditions and allergies. For this reason, it is important to choose a good pH-balanced shampoo for your dog, and try to keep their food and environment free of toxins that can trigger or exacerbate allergies.
Caring For You Pit Bull-Labrador Retriever Mix Dog
There are many things to consider when it comes to looking after any dog, but let’s take a look at some of the special things to consider for a pit bull-Lab mix. These might help you to decide whether they are the right breed of dog for you.
Lab-pit bull retrievers are energetic dogs that need lots of space to play. For this reason, they don’t generally adapt well to living in an apartment. They need a yard to give them space to run and play throughout the day.
They need a lot of exercise each day. They need at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running or playing catch, each day. On top of this, they will need 1-2 hours of moderate exercise such as walking and playing.
This exercise is best when split into at least two exercise sessions each day.
It is advisable to keep your pit bull-Lab mix on the leash when in public parks as they have a high prey drive. They won’t be able to resist chasing any small animals that catch their attention.
These dogs thrive on love and attention, and since they are so intelligent, they also need a lot of mental stimulation. This means that it is not appropriate to leave them alone for long periods of time.
If you leave one of these dogs alone for ten hours a day while everyone is at work, you will come home to a lot of destruction and a frustrated dog that may become aggressive in their need for your affection.
Most Lab-pit bull mixes have the short-haired, low-shedding coat of a pit bull, which only needs brushing once a week.
But if they turn out to have the high-shedding coat of a retriever, you may find that you need to brush them every day to keep on top of their shedding. You will also want a powerful vacuum cleaner that is designed to pick up dog hair.
You also need to pay a lot of attention to dental care, as Lab-pit bull mixes are prone to tartar build-up and gum disease. For this reason, it is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth daily.
If you can’t face brushing them yourself, then consider investing in dental treats, like these options avaiLable on Chewy.
Since these dogs are highly muscular and full of energy, they thrive on a diet that is high in animal-based proteins and high in healthy fats.
You do need to be careful how much food you give them, as they will usually eat even when they feel full, and they are prone to put on weight when they overeat.
So, feed them a diet that is low in carbohydrates and put food out at regular times rather than leaving food in their bowl for them to graze throughout the day.
Since these dogs are prone to allergies, it is important to invest in high-quality food that does not contain any artificial additives that can be toxic for dogs.
It is also a good idea to vary their diet, and ensure they are not eating the same type of meat every day. Dogs are most likely to develop allergies to the foods they eat the most.
So, if you feed your dog the same chicken-based dog food every day, it is likely that over time they might develop an allergy to chicken. Varying the protein that makes up their diet can help prevent this.
Where To Adopt
There are many reputable breeders out there breeding top-quality pit bull-Labrador retriever mixes. Generally speaking, you will find that the Labrador is the mother, as they are a slightly larger breed, and it is safer for the dog when the mother is a bit larger than the father.
You can expect to pay anywhere between $500-$1,500 for a pup from a reputable breeder.
But, while these are a popular “designer breed,” you will still find pups available for adoption and in shelters that desperately need good homes. So, if possible, look to adopt rather than buy.
A great place to start looking for adoptable dogs is at Petfinder.com. We found our Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mix through petfinder.
Is a pit bull-Lab mix an aggressive dog?
No, pit bull-Lab mix dogs are not aggressive. They can have a reputation for aggression because pit bulls have traditionally been used in blood sports, but the breed is not naturally aggressive. They can be dominant among other animals and may engage in classic alphamale behavior to assert their position in the animal hierarchy.
When do Lab-pit bull mixes stop growing?
Lab-pit bull mix dogs will usually keep growing until they are about three years old, which is around the same time as they start to lose their puppy energy. You can expect them to grow between 17 and 25 inches tall and to weigh between 45 and 90 pounds.
Are pit bull-Lab mixes a good dog breed for families with kids?
Yes, Lab-pit bull mixes are excellent kids. They are gentle and playful and will also be highly protective of their young charges. While they will give you a bark to let you know that strangers are around, they are actually very good with strangers as well.
Can you have a pit bull-Lab mix with another dog?
Pit bull-Lab mixes are highly dominant animals, so they will try and assert their dominance over any other animals you have in the house. For this reason, they need to be well-socialized from a young age to ensure they learn appropriate behavior.
So, while you can introduce a Lab-pit bull mix puppy into a home that already has a dog, you might want to be wary about introducing an adult dog into a household that already has another dog.
Do pit bull-Lab mix dogs bark a lot?
No, these highly intelligent dogs are not the type to bark continuously or for no reason. They might give you a bark to let you know when something has happened or if someone is approaching.
When do Labrador-pit bull mix dogs calm down?
From about the age of one year, these dogs begin to calm down and have less energy. But their puppy phase doesn’t end until they are about three years old, so you can expect them to still have a lot of energy until at least that age.
Labrador retriever-American pit bull terrier mixes make excellent pets for anyone with an active lifestyle and lots of space for these dogs to stretch their legs.
They combine the intelligent and friendly temperament of both breeds in an adorable dog that is less likely to suffer from some of the serious medical conditions that are common in both pure breeds.
These dogs aren’t aggressive at all and make excellent family pets because they are great with kids. They are also highly trainable and have a calm and friendly temperament as long as they are getting the physical stimulation and the attention that they need.
But if you are thinking of adopting, be warned that these pooches need lots of exercise each day and don’t cope well when left alone for long periods of time.
You will need to be prepared to make the time commitment to keep these dogs healthy and happy.
Do you have any experience raising a Lab-pit bull mix pup?
Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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I have a female labrapitt she is an absolute joy. Im with her nearly 24/7. Love her to death such an amazing dog.
I have a black lab/pit dog but definitely has something else that has thick silky wavy hair. She doesn’t shed heavily so I was wondering what this third dog is… We got Bonnie as a rehome from a neighbor at 7 years. She is a great companion and your article described her to a tee.
Did you ever find out what other breed she’s mixed with? I have a girl that’s tan and just has a stripe of wavy hair along her back. It’s almost in the shape of diamonds
We’re constantly amazed (although probably shouldn’t be) by the number of crosses. Not especially by the fact that they exist, but the dialogues on behaviour, health and appearance that go along with each. Always fascinating to read and learn more about the ‘outcomes’ of mixing one breed with another. Great article.
Does anyone know of a good trainer or training resource for a lab-pit mix older puppy? Mine was adopted at 4 months old during the height of covid lockdown and is very stranger reactive. However, he loves all other dogs and will happily let other dogs dominate. He follows the 4 year-old dog’s rules better than my rules. A lot of the stuff in the article describes him but some doesn’t and I think that’s because of his lack of socialization with humans early on. He did obedience class and knows basic commands, but cannot focus when he’s decided to bother a stranger. TIA!
Our Little Buddy pit chocolate lab mix is the most affectionate dog I have ever had. He has issues with tearing things up every where if you aren’t paying attention to him. He is 6 months old and weighs 54 muscle pounds. Very playful. Good with kids and other dogs. He will not leave our yard. He stays with us any time he can. He loves to hug and cuddle. He doesn’t understand he is not a lap dog. Love him to death. He would definitely be a good service dog. Very smart.
Our chocolate lab mix is exactly the same. The absolute most affectionate dog I have ever had. She does however have issues with chewing on things as well so we are constantly buying chew toys and keeping her stimulated. She is a handful but a bundle of joy!
We recently got a Labrador Pittriever puppy and she is hands down awesome. Energetic, playful, intelligent, definitely the best of both breeds. She’s sitting and lying down on command plus playing fetch and retrieve with her duck toy I got her that has a bungee cord in the body so you can actually send it “flying” (Cabelas/ Bass Pro and Academy Sports have them; it’s fetch and retrieve only, not a chew toy, because of the bungee cord.) She even gives it that classic terrier head shake to make sure it’s “dead”. When you get her fired up she loves to jump and bite down on her training bumper, my old cloth hat, her mamas purse, even the odd finger or two. Lol. I call her Puppy Shark. I wish I could describe her to you! Lots of love and positive reinforcement make our Cocoa a love sponge.
Great article, thanks!
“I never trust a person who doesn’t like a dog, but I always trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”
My son in law had a pit lab mix he couldn’t take with him so I inherited her. I have fallen in love with her and she is so precious. She is on the larger side weighing at 75lbs. The problem I have with her is that while she loves all the kids that come into my home (I run a foster home for troubled teens) she is highly aggressive against other adults. I hired a trainer and he said it’s because she thinks she is head of security and takes her job of protection serious but she has bitten 3 people this year trying to introduce her to people like the trainer told Me to do. She has never so much as growled at me or any of the kids. She cuddles with us and is so affectionate but will bite others so fast. She won’t let anyone near us. She even jumped through a window when a stranger stepped on my grass. I keep reading that this isn’t supposed to be an aggressive breed and I love her so very much but don’t know what else to do other then keep hiring trainers at $60+ an hour to keep working with us
We just adopted 2 female pitadors and they are 8 weeks old. One is a tri-color and the other a gray brindle (sisters). It has only been a week today and they have been a challenge because there are 2 to train (and the potty part is the hardest), but they are very smart. Wishing the first 2 days they were sitting on command to get there potty treats. One is a little more stubborn then the other but I can see awesome results already after one week of diligence on our part. We have been sleep deprived but the end result is so worth it! My only concern is they play fight a lot which I read is normal and needed but sometimes they get carried away and we have to break them apart and distract them with toys. Does anyone know if this will settle down after a while?
Id agree with everything in this post except the barking. My pit lab mix loves to bark for no reason and when she is told to stop she whines. cutest thing ever. shes a great dog, about 8 months old now and still full of energy. Her previous owners when she was younger than a month old fed her meth and isolated her. She was real skinny when we got her and she was showing signs of Parvo. Got her tested and sure enough she had it. But she was treated, recovered and has been healthy for 2 1/2 months now. Shes very affectionate and loves to be the center of attention. Shes very smart and sweet. She must think she is a lot bigger than she is because she always feels like she can take on dogs twice her size. Once she gets comfortable with someone though she does playfully bite at the wrong times and it does hurt. But shes learning to stop when told so. Wish I could upload a picture. She is so cute.
I got my 1st Pit Lab almost 3 years ago. He was at our local humane society. He was 7 months old when we got him, he is my buddy ESA, best friend. He is a pistol, even now he can out play some breeds of younger dogs. We take him to doggy daycare twice a week, he is one of the popular pups there.
We lost our 18.++ year old hound 5 weeks ago. We just adopted a 2 year old Pit Lab. She is a handful at times. Reminds me of my 1st one at the same age. Gemma definitely tries to be dominant she mounts Cole, until Cole gets ticked and then the wrestling match begins. I think she does it just to Cole to play…and the whole dominance thing.
Both are extremely affectionate Cole being bonded to me, he picked me. Is very attuned to my situation. I am disabled and when my pain levels go through the roof he’s right there. Gemma is supposed to be our son’s dog. Our son has Down Syndrome Cole and now Gemma are the first he has really shown a lot of attention to. Our son is 35, been very few dogs that he has really given a lot of attention to. Gemma and Cole like to sleep with dad, I sleep in an oversized recliner. Cole between my legs like usual Gemma on my left side. Gemma is 38 lbs Cole around 43 lbs not bad size really. Goofy, both are goofballs to the nth° Cole likes to ooze out a chair, Gemma typically hops down. Polite as all get out, will sit, Cole shakes Gemma is still learning. She just started going to doggy daycare, she is doing well after her first 5 hour day. So next week she will go with Cole for their 5 hour play time.
Don’t know if it’s the breed, neither one of my dogs can sit on their butt! On the side of their butt, not on their butt. Also it’s funny to see Cole try to walk and scratch his ear or shoulder, both are humorous to watch. Same breed one looks more like the Pit, while Gemma has the Lab ears, Cole’s are smaller more pointed.
I have a six month old pitador. Her name is duchess and we have had her since she was old enough for us to get her. Potty training was a bit hard but she is crate trained and will only potty in her crate unless her puppy pads are full (by her definition). She didn’t start pottying outside until she saw the other dogs at daycare do it. We had to board her for a trip we went on and she did great (minus the little pink she got). She does stay in her crate while we are at work because she gets into everything but when we get home she is very high in energy so she goes outside for a walk or to play catch. She runs in circles around our apartment (we have a jack and Jill type apartment so she will run through all the rooms on top of the beds and couches) she loves her toys and is very protective. Since she is getting bigger we only let her on the couch a few times a day and only when we are chilling watching tv. She knows when bed time is and if we get excited (yelling at the TV) she instantly goes into her cage thinking she is in trouble (even though she isn’t… she is goofy that way). She loves to sleep on top of me or next to me and barks if someone is coming close or knocking on the door. I love her so much. Definitely more energetic than the poodle I had growing up. She is a bundle of joy and is slowly getting trained.
If they don’t respond well to punishment, how can you discipline a pitbull lab mix then? Is there a specific trick that works?
We have 3 dogs. The older 2 are the labra bull who’s a male and a cane corso boxer mix who’s female. We also have a puppy cane corso who’s female.
The male labra-bull is an amazing dog!! He’s my right hand man, he’s great in cars or out in the yard off leash. He wants to play fetch at all times or wrestling with me. He knows how to play rougher with me and then tone it down with anyone else from the day our puppy came home He was a caring and playful big brother.
Everyone who visits adores him and he LOVES the attention from guests who want to play. If you’re willing to play with him he’ll be your friend.
The only time he can be a bit snippy is with non-fixed males. He’s fixed and does not like when a non fixed male tries to jump on him. Other then that I can’t recommend this mix enough!
I found this article very informative. I adopted a 7month old pit/lab in Nov. I’ve owned lots of different dogs, but this is the first pit/lab I’ve ever had. I got him at the local animal shelter. His name is Phoenix, named by the owner that gave him up. He’s white with goofy ears with dalmatian spots on them. Just about everything in this article is what he’s like. I’m going to start taking him to obedience classes, because I can’t get him to drop things or when he gets things in his mouth, like small rocks, sticks and paper. I have to constantly open his mouth and get them out. He will eat anything including the rocks and sticks. He’s very smart it only took me a couple of weeks to get him house broken and the only thing that he tears up inside is his bed in is cage when I have to go somewhere. I’m afraid to leave him loose in the house while I’m gone because just because he doesn’t tear up anything while I here doesn’t mean he won’t when I’m gone. Does anyone have any suggestions of how I can get him to quit eating wood,rocks and plastic like my shutters on my house. He also thinks he’s a lap dog, gets in my recliner and lays on my lap,which I don’t mind He’s a snuggle buddy, and will watch some programs on TV. when he isn’t looking for something to get into. Thanks for this very informative artical.