Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Labmaraner
Mara / Flickr

The Labmaraner is a hybrid dog, which is a mix between a purebred Labrador Retriever and a Weimaraner. Also known as the Weimador, this is an elegant energetic dog with a fondness for people and a strong prey drive. Their exuberance and free-spirit means they do best with a more experienced owner. But in the right hands, with plenty of exercise, they make a great family dog.

A handsome fellow with a self-coloured coat, the Labmaraner is a bit like one of the 3-D optical illusion pictures. Look at them one way and you can see the Labrador, but with a change of focus, the Weimaraner pops through. They are generally a healthy breed, but the prospective owner does well to source a pup from parents screened for hip dysplasia.

About & History

The past couple of decades belong to designer dogs. This rise in popularity is relatively recent, and especially with uncommon hybrids, such as the Labmaraner, their story is really that of the parent breeds.

The Weimaraner

The Weimaraner is a German dog breed, originating from the 19th century Weimar Court. Noblemen wished to go hunting with a strong, fleet-of-foot dog capable of bringing down a deer. Given the flighty nature of deer, the ideal dog was one that stuck close to their master’s heel until given the signal to chase. This is one reason the Weimar’s name of “grey shadow” is so appropriate, as in modern times they still love to follow close to their owner.

These earliest dogs were known as Weimar Pointers and thought to be a blend of Bloodhounds, blue Great Danes, German Shorthaired Pointers, and English Pointers. As time passed, stewardship of the breed was strictly controlled and only those prepared to breed responsibly and maintain their distinctive looks were allowed to keep these dogs.

However, in the mid-20th century, a sudden rise in the breed’s popularity lead to a rash of unscrupulous breeding. This introduced some behavioural and health problems, which led to a rapid decline in popularity. Happily, a couple of decades later and breeding was once again back under responsible stewardship and they are once more became a doggy delight.

The Labrador Retriever

Much has been written about the Labrador Retriever. These people orientated dogs originate from Newfoundland, and their ancestors were originally known as St John’s Water Dogs. The original dogs were bred with Newfoundlands and other native water dogs. They were working fellows, assisting 18th century fishermen to haul in their nets and diving into the water to catch escaped fish. Many of their characteristics are due to this need to have a thick, water repellent coat and an otter like tail to steer them in the water.

In the 19th century, an English aristocrat, the Earl of Malmesbury, first put a name to the breed as ‘Labrador’ and it stuck. However, things were far from plain sailing with the breed almost becoming extinct by the 1880s. Happily, the efforts of the Malmesbury family are widely credited with reviving the breed, which now regularly tops the ‘most popular dog breed’ charts at home and abroad.


A large dog, the Labmaraner is a short coated breed that is always self-coloured. The most common coat colours are yellow, black, silver, grey, or brown, with their leathery nose being the same colour as the coat. They have a broad skull and good sized snout, with drop ears reaching down to their cheeks and eyes that may be grey, amber, or brown.

A well-proportioned breed, they have a deep ribcage, tucked up waist, and sturdy but athletic legs. Look closely at their paws and frequently the dog inherits the webbed toes of the Labrador parent. And, the last word goes to the Labmaraner’s tail. This should be straight and always happy, but can be long (taking after the Weimaraner) or broad at the base (like the Labrador.)

Character & Temperament

The Labmaraner is full of enthusiasm and energy, which makes them prone to being boisterous and unruly at times. But this is not a malicious dog; they’re just happy and like to show this by dashing around and doing their own thing. As an intelligent dog, this inappropriate behaviour can be channelled with patient training using reward-based methods.

Labradors love people and Weimaraners like to shadow their owner, which makes for a dog that is devoted to their people. A Labmaraner is eager to please and will eagerly do their owner’s bidding. However, sometimes the instinct to chase takes over with them, making life uncomfortable for cats or other small pets in the house. For this reason, supervision is required at all times around other animals.


In common with many working dog breeds, the Labmaraner is an excellent candidate for training. This should always be done using reward-based methods that encourage good behaviour, rather than dominating the dog and chastising bad behaviour.

Their agility, endurance, and athletic prowess make them great candidates for competitive obedience training or dog-centric sports, such as agility or Canicross. However, be aware that these intelligent dogs will misbehave if they become bored, and do require plenty of mental stimulation.


As a hybrid dog there are no statistics regarding the diseases to which the Labmaraner is prone. However, both parent breeds do share some conditions in common, which could also be passed onto the pups.

Gastric Dilation & Volvulus (GDV)

This life-threatening condition, also known simply as 'bloat', is strongly linked to breeds with deep chests, such as the Labmaraner. A quirk of their anatomy means a heavy stomach (such as one containing food or water) can flip over on itself as the dog exercises. This seals the stomach contents inside, meaning gas from fermentation builds up to balloon-sized proportions.

Bloat requires emergency corrective surgery and is a condition best avoided. Strategies, such as feeding a good quality food high in meat protein (rather than fermentable fillers), and waiting 90 minutes after feeding before a walk, can reduce the chances of a GDV occurring.

Allergic Skin Disease

Skin allergies are a common problem, which results in itching, scratching, and excessive licking. This is due to allergens, such as pollen or grass sap, coming into contact with the skin to trigger release of inflammatory chemicals.

Sadly, allergies cannot be ‘cured’ but only controlled. Happily, there a now many excellent medications which do just this and give the dog significant relief from the discomfort of itchy skin.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia refers to a condition where the hip joints are poorly shaped. This leads to joint inflammation that causes pain and lameness. Over time, the inflammation causes further bony remodelling of the joint, which makes the shape even worse, meaning a progressive worsening of the condition.

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia can impact the mobility of even young dogs, and so is best avoided. Most responsible breeders now screen their parent dogs and only use those with healthy hips to produce the next generation. When seeking a Labmaraner pup, always ask the breeder about the hip health of the parent and, ideally, see proof they have a good (low) hip score.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Labmaraners need plenty of space to live and play, not least because of that ever-wagging tail. This is not a breed that do well in an apartment or small home without a yard, and they ideally need a larger house with a garden.

They need regular, daily exercise and plenty of it. This involves active exercise off-lead, chasing a ball, following a scent, or playing with other dogs. Their need for activity makes them a good match for active families or those wanting a dog to take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking or going for long walks.


The Labmaraner’s coat is short and should be glossy. The Labrador part of the Labmaraner may mean they have a softer undercoat, which is prone to shedding. In terms of grooming, they are low maintenance, with the bare minimum needed being a weekly rub over with a slicker brush. However, for maximum gloss and to catch shed hair before it gets onto the furnishings, two-minutes each day with a slicker is time well spent.

Along with brushing their coat, the wise owner brushes their dog’s teeth every day. This removes plaque before it can turn to tartar and helps ensure a healthy mouth and fresh-breath licks.

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