Labrador Retrievers almost always make for great crossbreeds with shepherd breeds. But what about the black lab Australian cattle dog mix – is this a good companion pet breed? Also called a Labraheeler, this curious mixed breed isn’t all that common but has a lot of great family pet characteristics. Still, this doesn’t make this cross suitable for every household. So, let’s see if this is the right dog for you below.
What Does A Black Lab Australian Cattle Dog Mix Look Like?
Labrador Retrievers and Australian cattle dogs – or heelers – have quite a few physical differences but they broadly fall in the same category in terms of size and physicality. Cattle dogs are generally a bit shorter and lighter than labs but are still considered a medium-to-large breed.
So, the standard lab cattle dog mix full-grown size usually falls between 17 and 24 inches of height at the shoulders (43 to 61 cm) and 33 to 75 lbs total weight (15 to 34 kg).
As for the rest of their physical qualities – cattle dogs’ muzzles are typically narrower than those of labs and their ears are straight and triangular instead of the lab’s pendant ears. So, a Labraheeler can naturally have either of these qualities, pretty much at random.
The coats of the two parent breeds are also similar in some aspects and different in others. For example, both dogs have relatively short and dense double coats. However, while the lab is always single-colored (either black, brown, or yellow), the heeler cattle dog is mostly a blueish black/brown color with a few white and tan markings, typically around the head, chest, and front legs.
This is the very reason why we’re leaning toward a black lab Australian cattle dog mix over the other lab color variations – the color of a black lab goes very well with the standard colors of the heeler.
There is another difference in the coats of the two parent breeds, however. It’s that purebred labs tend to shed a lot while heelers are very light shedder. We wish we could say that this makes the Labraheeler a “moderate shedder” but the truth is that this mixed breed will either shed a lot like a lab or very little, like a heeler – it’s a lottery.
What’s Labraheeler’s Character and Temperament?
This section is very much why labs are such a good cross with shepherd breeds – the result is almost always good. The playful, inquisitive, and outgoing personality of the retriever just matches very well with the social and family-friendly character of a shepherd. And the Australian heeler cattle dog is no exception.
The crossbreed between these two dogs is very well-mannered, smart, and easy to train, especially when you know what you’re doing when it comes to obedience training. These dogs are also incredibly social, both with their families and with friends, guests, and strangers.
Of course, adequate socialization is still required, but that’s always the case – it’s just very easy and effective with this crossbreed. In fact, these dogs should also get along very well with kids, other dogs, and even cats as long as the Labraheeler has been raised, trained, and socialized properly.
All this cleverness and sociability have one crucial drawback too, however – the dreaded separation anxiety every dog owner should be prepared for. With dogs that are especially social and smart, this form of anxiety triggers very easily when you leave the dog home alone for even just a few hours. So, you should be ready for that if you want such a dog.
How Much Exercise Does A Lab Australian Cattle Dog Mix Need?
As much as you can give it. Both parent breeds of the Labraheeler are very physically active and so are their offspring. These dogs need about two hours of intensive outdoor exercise every day and that’s without counting the few hours of yard time you should also provide.
The outdoor exercise can be jogging but will ideally include about an hour of playtime in the dog park too. Keep in mind that these dogs are incredibly smart and need mental stimulation with their physical exercise too.
Apartment living is possible but is really ill-advised with these dogs. For one, the lack of a yard will require even more time in the dog park. However, these large and playful dogs will also just be incredibly noisy for your neighbors if you live in an apartment.
Lab Cattle Dog Mix Lifespan and Health
The standard lifespan of a Labraheeler will be somewhere between 11 and 14 years. This is the average of the two parent breeds. This is an average too, which means that a healthy dog can easily exceed it with the right care. To make sure that you get a healthy pup, however, you should always shop from reputable breeders only. This means that you should always ask for a health certificate.
Alternatively, if you’re adopting from a shelter or a rescue, you should ask for extensive medical information and a vet check-up. But, whatever you do, don’t shop from pet stores or puppy mills. The dogs there are very likely to have some of the following conditions:
Lab Cattle Dog Mix Pros and Cons
- A relatively easy to train a dog
- Social, smart, and playful character
- Great with kids
- Separation anxiety is an issue
- Shedding can either be minimal or very heavy
- Very high exercise needs
Should You Get A Black Lab Australian Cattle Dog Mix?
If you want a gorgeous, smart, playful, and social dog, the black Labraheeler is an excellent choice. The only thing to note before you get such a pup is whether you’d be ready for 2+ hours of outdoor time a day every day. If you like jogging and exercising (or if you’re planning on giving it a go), the Labraheeler can be an excellent jogging companion. But this really isn’t a dog for the more indoorsy type of people.
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