Labs, or Labrador Retrievers, are America’s favorite dog breed.
These dogs were bred to be excellent companions and working dogs. Historically, they worked as fisherman’s helpers but now they perform various duties such as search and rescue, hunting retrievers, service dogs, and more.
In addition to being hardworking, Labs are affectionate with family as well as good with children and other dogs.
Labradors are easy to train but high energy and need a lot of stimulation.
If you like Labs but think they might not be the right breed for you, here are 12 dog breeds that look like Labs to consider instead and what you need to know about them.
What Does a Labrador Look Like?
Before we get into alternatives to the Labrador Retriever, let’s review what a standard lab looks like.
Labradors are muscular, athletic dogs with triangular, down-pointed ears, an “otter” tail, and dark, friendly eyes.
Labs have short haired double coats in one of three colors: golden, black, or chocolate brown. Some have white markings. They don’t require a whole lot of grooming, but they do shed quite a bit.
In terms of size, Labs are a medium to large breed. They range from approximately 21.5 to 24.5 cm tall at the shoulder and can weight anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds.
Top 12 Dogs Similar To Labs
The Boerboel is like the lab in several ways. Their hair is short and smooth, they have triangle-shaped ears that point downwards, and broad heads. Like the Labrador, Boerboels are good with family and children, but not other dogs.
This breed measures from 22 to 27 inches in height and is larger than the average lab, weighing 150 to 200 pounds.
Boerboels are like labs in terms of trainability and need for mental stimulation but are calmer and somewhat less high energy. If you’re an experienced owner who needs a guard dog, this working breed could be a good fit.
American Water Spaniel
If you’re searching for a smaller lab-like dog, you may like the American Water Spaniel. This breed comes in brown, chocolate, and liver, like a dark colored lab, and is another muscular, dark eyed working dog.
American Water Spaniels have a curly or wavy water-resistant double coat. They measure from 15 to 18 inches tall and weigh 25 to 45 pounds. A mid-sized gun-dog breed, they love to hunt and swim, with similar traits of both spaniels and retrievers.
These happy pups are good with family and kids but can be wary of strangers. They’re also stubborn so not recommended for new dog owners.
One dog breed that’s remarkably like a Labrador Retriever is the Golden Retriever. Another of America’s most popular breeds, Golden Retrievers perform many of the same duties as Labs serving as hunting dogs, guide, and search and rescue dogs.
Golden Retrievers reach approximately 21 to 24 inches in height and weigh 55 to 75 pounds. Their beautiful shiny coats come in shades of dark, medium, or light gold, with broad heads, and friendly, intelligent eyes.
Like labs, this breed gets along great with family, children, and other dogs. Since they’re playful, energetic, and easy to train, they make great active family pets.
Another smaller dog breed that looks somewhat like a Labrador Retriever is the beloved Beagle. Unlike labs Beagles come in many different colors and markings, but they have similar dark eyes, wide heads, and ears that point downwards.
Labs may be the most popular dog in America, but Beagles are the most popular hound dog in America. This compact but hardworking, muscular breed stands at 13 to 15 inches tall and weighs 20 to 30 pounds.
Today, Beagles are a family favorite. They’re friendly with children, strangers, and other dogs and while still active, they can adapt to apartment living.
Another breed that can be compared to labs is the Broholmer, aka Danish Mastiff. The Broholmer looks like a large lab – if you’re looking for an intimidating guard dog this gentle giant might fit.
Broholmers are 27.5 to 29.5 inches tall and weigh 90 to 150 pounds. They come in similar colors to the lab (black, red/golden, or yellow) and can have a black mask or white markings. They have a wide skull and ears like labs.
Traditionally used as protectors and cattle herders, the Broholmer makes a great family companion. They’re calm, manageable for new dog owners, and sporty but not overly energetic.
The Labradoodle is one of several hybrid dogs crossed with the Labrador Retriever. This breed consists of a lab mixed with a standard, mini, or toy poodle. Labradoodles measure from 21 to 24 inches tall and weigh about 50 to 65 pounds.
Originally developed as hypoallergenic guide dogs in Australia in the 1950s, it’s important to note that they can trigger allergies.
Despite this the Labradoodle has become a popular breed due to their all-around friendliness. Unlike many other breeds the Labradoodle tolerates being alone and can thrive in hot and cold climates. They’re playful and high energy but don’t bark much.
Flat Coated Retriever
Similar looking to the Labrador Retriever, the Flat-Coated Retriever comes in two standard colors: black and liver, but they can also be yellow. These pups measure from 22 to 24.5 inches tall and weigh 60 to 70 pounds.
Compared to the Labrador Retriever, the Flat-Coated Retriever is similar sized but leaner and with a longer head than other retrievers.
Like other retriever breeds, Flat-Coated Retrievers are known for being affectionate with family, children, and other dogs. They’re loved for their happy, puppyish demeanor. This breed makes great gundogs, sporting dogs, and they also do well as obedience and show dogs.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a smart and sociable breed that bears a few similarities to the Labrador Retriever. They’re a little smaller, ranging from 18 to 20 inches tall and weighing 35 to 50 pounds.
Standard colors for this breed are red and red gold, but they also come in a buff color that’s considered non-standard. Like the Labrador Retriever, this breed can also have white markings.
These compact retrievers enjoy a variety of sports including hiking and swimming and require an active lifestyle. Duck Tolling Retrievers can adapt to apartment living but develop undesirable behaviors if bored.
If you love Labrador Retrievers but want a breed that’s more compact, consider a Corgidor. This breed is a mix of a Corgi and a Labrador Retriever, combining some of the best features of both breeds.
With mixes comes variety, but most Corgidors look like labs with short legs. These dogs are considered medium sized, ranging from 12 to 23 inches tall and weighing 40 to 55 pounds.
The designer breed Corgidor is friendly, intelligent, and easy to train but be aware that they do shed a lot. While somewhat less energetic than a purebred lab, they are still playful and full of stamina.
Curly Coated Retriever
The Curly Coated Retriever is one of the oldest retriever breeds. They share similarities with the Labrador Retriever in terms of looks and personality, but also have unique characteristics.
This breed measures 23 to 27 inches tall and weighs 60 to 95 pounds. They make great companions for families with children but are more independent than other retrievers and less friendly with other dogs and strangers.
Their distinctive, waterproof curly coats come in black and liver colors. Curly Coated Retrievers have more of a wedge-shaped head than other retrievers and are known for their tirelessness and proud demeanor.
The Tosa is a larger purebred dog that looks somewhat like a Labrador Retriever. They’re 21.5 to 23.5 inches tall and weigh 100 to 200 pounds.
Standard colors for this breed are black, brindle, fawn, and red, with the possibility of white markings. Like labs, they have dark eyes and triangle-shaped ears that point down.
The Tosa Inu is a Japanese breed formerly intended for fighting but today they make good, calm watchdogs. These pups make good family pets but may be better suited for families with older children and don’t always get along well with other dogs.
The Weimaraner is a German gundog breed that historically hunted larger game including bears and deer. This breed ranges from 23 to 27 inches tall and weighs 55 to 90 pounds.
These pups look somewhat like labs, but are taller, leaner, and known for their blue, gray, or silver gray coats. Weimaraners are friendly with family and young children but less so with other dogs and strangers.
This breed makes great companions that love being close by your side but need consistent training, along with physical and mental stimulation. Because of their high energy and prey drive they don’t make good apartment dogs.
I am in the researching phase right now and I'm in love with the American Water Spaniels. I have had several labs in the past and they were great dogs. I am looking for a change now and am hoping that the American Water Spaniel is a good waterfowl dog.
Answer the American Water Spaniel is a great dog and fantastic to go hunting with especially waterfowl hunting if that's something you're after. Just be aware that this breed is up to 18 inches tall so not bred for big waters.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a very close cousin
Yes, you’re spot on Bill, thanks for sharing!