Famously gentle with a tail that never stops wagging — seriously, it’s like a propeller — the Labrador retriever is a lovable four-footer who can make a wonderful family companion (and fur-ever playmate).
That said, there are plenty of other Lab-like breeds that potential owners should also consider. We’ll share some of the breeds that are most similar to Labradors and tell you everything you need to know about them below!
Before we introduce you to some seriously underrated Lab-like pups, it’s important to be fully informed about the Labrador retriever’s temperament, needs, and general characteristics. It’ll help you decide whether a Lab (or similar woofer) is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.
The Labrador retriever has a reputation for being one of the best family companions out there. And no, he didn’t hire a PR team to polish up his image to achieve this. He’s earned it because of his incredible devotion, affectionate nature, and unconditional love for his humans.
While he may act like a cuddly lap dog in the home, he’s anything but that out on the field. The Lab has endless energy to spare and loves to play, with games that tap into his retriever instincts being his favorites.
Intelligent and eager to please, the Labrador retriever also takes to training well and can pick up advanced commands effortlessly (especially with the help of some drool-worthy treats). He’s hard-working and appreciates an owner who can devote time daily to working out his brain.
Labrador retrievers originated in Newfoundland and were initially bred to help fishermen haul nets and retrieve escaping fish from rough, icy waters. They later became popular with hunters, who used them to retrieve downed birds during hunts.
Labs are still often used as hunting dogs today, but they are now widely kept as lovable family companions too. Their gentle natures and high trainability have also given them much success as assistance dogs and service animals.
The Lab was selectively bred to be comfortable in the water, so it should come as no surprise that many of his physical features are a testament to this! He has an athletic build, large webbed paws, and a thick, water-repellant double coat that keeps him protected from icy temperatures. He even has a rudder-like tail that helps him swim against tough currents (or dive after sinking water toys).
Most Labs stand up to 24.5 inches tall at the withers and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. His coat comes in three recognized colors — yellow, black, or chocolate — though some pups have white markings on their chests.
11 Breeds Similar to Labs!
While many of these breeds aren’t as widely known as the Lab, they share similar characteristics and can still transform your house into a home!
1. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers and Labradors could almost pass as identical twins… almost. They’re practically the same size, share the same sturdy, muscular builds, and even have the same happy-go-lucky expressions. The only noticeable physical difference between the two breeds is that the golden retriever has a longer coat, which also only comes in gold-yellow hues.
But they aren’t just similar in terms of physical looks. Both breeds are incredibly gentle, eager to please, and highly trainable. Golden retrievers tend to be more laid back than Labs, but they still have boundless energy to spare and will appreciate a good play sesh (especially if noms and chew toys are involved).
2. Flat-Coated Retriever
The flat-coated retriever may have a longer, leaner body and thicker coat, but he’s similar in size to a Lab. He also possesses many of the qualities that have made Labs so popular today, including a strong work drive, high energy level, and natural affinity for the water.
Just like the Lab, he also sees everyone as his best friend and has an endlessly wagging tail — put the flat-coated retriever and Lab together, and they could probably power the whole world with their tails!
Do note though that flat-coated retrievers tend to be more mischievous than typical Labs; they’ll benefit from firm, consistent training to keep them out of trouble (and your trash can).
3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The Chesapeake Bay retriever may not be on your radar, but this woofer is definitely worth considering if you’re after a Lab-like pup! Both breeds form strong bonds with their humans and are incredibly affectionate. Also like Labs, Chessies are practically fish in the water.
Chesapeake Bay retrievers have sturdy builds like Labs, though they do have deeper chests and their fur has a wavier texture. They also tend to be more alert and reserved around strangers. Chesapeake Bay retrievers are therefore better suited to pup parents after a Lab-like dog with a more protective, watchdog-like streak.
The Newfoundland is essentially a Labrador retriever with the size taken up a notch… and by notch, we mean by over 50 pounds! Both breeds are beloved for their gentle natures, playfulness, and ability to get along marvelously with anyone, whether two-footer or four-footer. Plus, they share similar roots.
The Newfoundland is, of course, a lot bigger, so he’ll need an owner who can properly manage his size. Also, his thick double coat requires more maintenance than the Lab’s short-haired coat. The Newfie is less energetic than your typical Lab, but he’ll still make a pawfect playmate or hiking companion (as long as there are a few pit stops along the way).
5. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer may not resemble the Lab as closely as other breeds featured on this list, but the same can’t be said for his energy level! He’s just as active as the Lab (if not more) and will never turn down a swim, game of fetch, or hike through the wilderness.
The German shorthaired pointer is adaptable and will feel at home in any environment, as long as his exercise needs are met. His high intelligence and people-pleasing nature also mean he responds well to training. However, like the Lab, he does tend to get bored quickly and will appreciate an owner who can give him a job to do.
6. Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever
Yep, the breed’s name is a mouthful, but don’t let that put you off this fabulous Lab-like pup! There’s a whole lot to love, from his affectionate, outgoing temperament to his endless enthusiasm and vigor. The Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever is also incredibly patient and great with kids.
While similar in temperament, Nova Scotia duck-tolling retrievers stand slightly smaller than Labrador retrievers, with most only reaching 21 inches tall and weighing around 40 pounds. This makes these energetic pups a great option for families after a more manageable, apartment-friendly-but-still-Lab-like doggo.
Powerfully built with a piercing gaze, this pup may not have the Lab’s happy-go-lucky expression or endless tail-wagging habit, but what he does have is a devoted, friendly, and can-do attitude — all qualities that make him one of the best Lab-like family companions around.
Weimaraners are more vigilant than Labs, so don’t expect them to greet strangers with kisses and cuddles. However, they’re loyal little four-footers, who form extremely close bonds with their owners and any human who takes the time to get to know them (or bribe them with treats).
Vizslas resemble Labradors with their athletic builds and short, sleek coats, but they do exude a little more “serious” energy with their stern gaze. Their personality though is almost a pawfect match! Just like Labs, vizslas are gentle, affectionate, companions who love to be attached to their owners by the hip.
Most vizslas appreciate being given a job to do and excel at dog sports like agility and field trials. These oversized Velcro dogs do tend to be more sensitive than the easygoing Lab, so they’ll also appreciate an owner who can be extra patient with them.
After a pup that has all the energy of a Lab, but won’t smother you with his fluff (and giant paws) every evening? Then you’ll definitely appreciate the Brittany. This spritely woofer can keep up with a Lab’s energy level without breaking a sweat and only grows up to 20.5 inches tall. He’s also incredibly playful and upbeat.
Now, the Brittany does resemble a spaniel more than a Labrador retriever, but hey, looks aren’t everything! He still channels that inner Lab-level energy and will enrich your day-to-day life with his sweet disposition. Despite his relatively small size, he can also handle some roughhousing, making him a great playmate for younger kids. Just remember that supervision is a must.
10. Irish Setter
The Labrador is well known for his vibrant-colored coat, and the same goes for the Irish setter! His coat comes in a gorgeous red or chestnut shade that’s sure to catch your eye (and be the envy of the dog park).
But being flashy and stylish aren’t the only similarities these two pups share: Irish setters and Labradors are both affectionate, high-spirited, and intelligent breeds who appreciate their legs and brains being worked out in equal measure.
Do note that Irish setters are typically taller than Labs, with most standing 25 to 27 inches tall. Due to this, they aren’t the best option for people after a smaller, Lab-like companion.
11. (English) Pointer
The English pointer gets his name from the iconic (and hilarious) “pointing” stance he makes when he gets a sniff of prey (the “English” modifier has been dropped from the official breed name, but you’ll still see it used).
For those not familiar, it’s basically where he raises his tail, extends his head, and points his nose in the direction of the scent — you’ve probably seen it in a cartoon show or two.
Of course, you’re not here to learn about what makes the English pointer so unique and lovable; you’re here to learn about how he’s similar to the Lab! In short, the English pointer is similar in size, energy level, work drive, and temperament. He also has a short, low-maintenance coat that doesn’t trap debris or odors easily.
While he can be more stubborn than a Lab and often gives in to the scents around him, he responds well to positive reinforcement training and can make an exceptional family companion for those willing to put in the time and effort into his care.
Lab Mixes: Dogs That Are Obviously Similar to Labs
It should go without saying that Lab mixes are often similar to purebred Labs, especially if they inherit more traits from their Labrador retriever parent breed.
Now, we can’t guarantee every Lab mix is going to have a similar personality, energy level, or appearance to a purebred Lab. It’ll usually be a mix of traits from both parent breeds. But what we can guarantee is that any Lab mix is sure to make a great companion for the right owner!
Some popular Lab mixes include:
Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever x Poodle)
The Labradoodle, a mix between the Labrador retriever and poodle, is one of the most popular mixes out there. Most Labradoodles tend to inherit the Lab’s playful, gentle temperament and the poodle’s low-shedding, “hypoallergenic” coat, making them a potentially great option for those with allergies or people who simply don’t want vacuuming to become a frequent pastime.
Read now: 11 Great Foods for Labradoodles!
Goldendoodle (Labrador Retriever x Golden Retriever)
Combine the Lab with the pup that most resembles him in both the looks and personality departments? You’re going to get a pretty close match, albeit one that may be a little fluffier around the edges and appreciate an afternoon nap a bit more than your typical Lab.
Huskador (Labrador Retriever x Siberian Husky)
The Huskador is a cross between the Labrador retriever and Siberian husky — two extremely different-looking breeds. But while there’s no guarantee of the inheriting the Lab’s famous otter-like tail or endearing expression, what’s certain is that you’re still going to have a medium-sized, playful adrenaline junkie who’s loyal through thick and thin.
Sheprador (Labrador Retriever x German Shepherd)
If you’re drawn to the Lab because of his intelligence and eagerness to please, you’ll likely appreciate this mix. After all, the Sheprador is a Lab mixed with a German shepherd,
another popular breed famous for his smart noggin’, tireless work drive, and high trainability.
Just be aware that if this mix inherits the German shepherd’s coat type, you’re going to be in for a lot of shedding and will need to master the art of the slicker brush.
Labrabull (Labrador Retriever x Pit Bull)
Just like purebred Labs, Labrabulls are generally sociable, affectionate, and love nothing more than pleasing their favorite humans (with nomming treats being a firm runner-up). Labrabulls also have a soft, nurturing side to them and can get along well with children who know how to behave properly around animals.
Labrabulls do tend to be reserved around other dogs though, so they may not be a good option if the Lab’s “friend to everyone and everything” attitude is the main trait that’s won over your heart.
Breeds Similar to Labs: FAQ
Still have a few pressing questions about Labs and the many breeds that share similar characteristics? We’ve (hopefully) got you covered with our answers to common questions pup parents have below!
What breed of dog is similar to a Labrador?
Many canine companions share similarities to the Labrador, but the “closest” breeds are medium-to-large sized retriever pups, like golden retrievers and the lesser-known Chesapeake Bay retriever, or breeds that have been bred for the water, like Newfoundlands.
When considering similar breeds, you ultimately need to decide which trait has drawn you to Labs in the first place. If it’s their high energy and athleticism? Then the German shorthaired pointer will be one of the most similar breeds. If it’s their soft, gentle temperament? Then the Brittany would be a closer match.
What dog is like a Lab but does not shed?
The dogs that are most similar to Labs tend to be moderate-to-heavy shedders, but if you’re not fussed about appearances, then the standard poodle, Spanish water dog, and Irish water spaniel fit the bill perfectly.
Sure, they may not sport “typical Lab” physical features, but these breeds are similar in temperament to Labs and their coats are considered “hypoallergenic.” Labradoodles can also be a great option if they inherit the poodle’s coat type.
Just remember that there is no such thing as an actual hypoallergenic coat— all this term means is that the coat is less likely to trigger sneezing fits than other coat types.
What dog looks like a miniature Labrador?
In our view, the Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever is the smallest Lab-like dog out there. This four-footer only grows up to 21 inches tall and shares many physical traits with the Lab, including a muscular, sturdy build, happy-go-lucky expression, and webbed paws for swimming.
The main physical difference is their coat type. The Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever has a medium-length double coat with feathering, while the Lab has a short, straight coat.
Labrador mixes crossed with small breeds may also end up looking like miniature Labradors — we’ve seen a few Labradoodles that look almost identical to Lab pups in adulthood!
What is the big dog that looks like a Lab?
The biggest dog that looks (and acts) like a Lab has got to be the Newfoundland. This gentle giant shares similar physical characteristics — if you can look past the extra fluff — and weighs a whopping 100 to 150 pounds.
Do note though that the Newfoundland isn’t a breed for first-time owners. His size, grooming needs, and strength involve a lot of work and commitment.
There’s a lot to love about Labrador retrievers, from their boundless, tail-wagging energy to their unconditional love. But as our list above has shown, there are plenty of breeds, both purebred and mixed, that are similar to Labradors and are worth your consideration too!
Are you the proud owner of one of these Lab-like puppers? Or do you know of another breed that has an inner Lab side? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!