Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Labradane
Ryan /

This hybrid dog has a striking appearance and an excellent temperament, making it a rather special crossbreed. The Labradane has been created by breeding together the placid and popular Labrador Retriever with the large and well-mannered Great Dane. This is a good choice of dog for those who live moderately active lifestyles, have a lot of space and long for an affectionate and soppy companion.

Labradanes are tall and they will be leaner than their portly Labrador parent. They have a short, glossy coat that is usually a solid dark brown or black colour. Most will closely resemble the Labrador but have a larger skull, longer muzzle, more prominent jowls and are noticeably bigger. Male Labradanes are generally taller than females and the biggest males can reach impressive heights of 76cm.

About & History

With such a wide range of designer dogs to choose from, the Labradane has not yet received the attention the author feels it is due. It remains a largely unheard of cross-breed, despite its many positive attributes. Though evidence is lacking, one can assume the first Labradane was bred during the 1990s and several sources believe that the United States is their place of origin.

The Labrador Retriever

Labradors are one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide thanks to their gentle disposition and classic ‘doggy’ appearance. They have a short coat and come in three distinct colours: yellow, chocolate and black. Anecdotally, chocolate Labs are the naughtiest, though this has not yet been proven scientifically! The Labrador was bred as a working gundog who would retrieve prey on a hunt.

While they originally come from Canada, it was within the UK that the breed was refined and began to more closely resemble the dog we know and love today. Labradors are famed nowadays for their versatility and are regularly employed as seeing eye dogs, sniffer dogs and many continue to hunt. Where they excel though, is as a family pet, with many parents of young children saying they wouldn’t even consider a different breed.

The Great Dane

The Great Dane has earned its place in the hall of fame thanks to its impressive stature and the world’s tallest dog was officially named as Zeus – a colossal 111cm beast. While the Great Dane may appear intimidating, they tend to be sweet-tempered and easy-going.

The first Great Danes were bred to hunt wild boars, and their ancestors were doing this several thousand years ago. They appear in the history of both the Greeks and the Romans and were likely brought to the UK several hundred years ago (though were only officially recognized there as a breed in the late 19th century). Despite the name Great ‘Dane’, these dogs have nothing at all to do with Denmark!


Labradane Large Photo
mnholcomb /

A real sight to see, the Labradane is both tall and well-muscled with impressively long limbs and a noble face. Their skull is large and houses expressive brown or blue eyes that are well-spaced apart. They have a broad and flat forehead, with ears that are relatively large, pendulous and forward-facing. They have a big, rectangular muzzle that is well-defined and their jowls are a lot droopier than those of the Lab. They have a wide neck and deep chest and should be lean enough to have an obviously tapered waist and abdominal tuck-up. Their tail is long and slim with slightly longer fur than is seen on their body.

While good things come in small packages, the Labradane is a good thing that comes in a very large package indeed. Humungous is no exaggeration, with breed members generally measuring from 60cm to 70cm and weighing between 45kg and 65kg. This is not a dog that you would want standing on your toes for too long!

The short coat of the Labradane has a lovely sheen when brushed regularly. Solid coat colours of brown and black are most common but white patches are sometimes seen, particularly on the chest and paws. A small number of dogs may have the merle coat colour.

Character & Temperament

Labradanes are a cross breed, so it is not always easy to predict their temperament and there is still more variation from individual to individual than you would expect to see in a pedigree. Most dogs are sentimental and affectionate, craving human companionship and bonding very closely with their loved ones. They enjoy being close and tend to dislike being left alone in the home or garden.

As a general rule, the Labradane gets on famously well with children but it is still wise to monitor interactions closely as these gentle giants can easily knock a toddler to the ground without meaning to. As with any dog, it’s vital that they are socialised with children as soon as possible to prevent any anxiety that could be associated with them. To an unfamiliar dog, little people can be quite stress-inducing due to their shrill voices and jerky, unpredictable movements.

While a well-socialized Labradane will be accommodating to guests, some may be a little wary of new arrivals and can bark and back away from them. With time, they should quickly warm to them. This trait can make them quite good watch dogs as they will bark loudly at any unexpected visitors.


Photo of Labradane puppy
Sarah Martin /

As the Labradane is both a people pleaser and a smarty pants they should take well to training. An untrained Labradane is not only a huge headache but can even be a liability, so training from day one is essential. They need to understand from an early age that it is not okay to jump up or counter surf and trying to teach this to an adult dog is no mean feat.


Giant breeds will naturally be prone to certain diseases that smaller dogs don’t have to contend with. We can help to keep the breed population as healthy as possible by monitoring for these diseases where possible and attempting to only breed from those who are not affected.

Hip Dysplasia

Dogs can start to show symptoms of hip dysplasia from a young age and will have an unusual gait and may exercise and play less than their peers. Even mild cases of hip dysplasia should be detectable on plain radiographs so it is quite an easy condition to diagnose.


Bloat occurs when the stomach fills up with both gas and liquids and the contents are unable to pass through (either out of the mouth or down the gut). The local swelling causes internal pressure which can cause shock and organ failure. Immediate veterinary attention is required to prevent fatalities.


Inflammation of the bones, this is a truly painful condition and it will cause the affected Labradane to be lame. Some owners are initially confused by this diseases as their animal may seem to have a lameness that shifts from leg to leg. Most will show signs of being affected within their first year. Thankfully, panosteitis self resolves with time, though it is advised to give dogs pain relief while going through episodes.


Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease often seen in the larger breeds (as well as Cocker Spaniels). As the chambers of the heart become too large to pump efficiently, the dog will go in to heart failure. Symptoms can include a cough that is worse when lying down and a bloated abdomen.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While younger Labradanes tend to be rather boisterous, they should mellow quickly with age. Owners need to be aware that it is ill-advised to over-exercise them when their joints are still developing as this can lead to chronic orthopaedic issues down the line.

As well as being taken on some long and loping hikes, owners should make sure that the Labradane has access to plenty of outdoor space in which to stretch their long limbs.


For such a big dog, luckily the grooming requirements of the Labradane are not excessive. They shed a moderate amount so should be brushed every couple of days to limit fur shedding within the home.

The hanging ears of the Labradane do require frequent checks, ensuring they are free from odour and waxy build-ups. They should always be well dried after baths to limit the risk of infection.

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