Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Labrala
Brendan Bell /

An undeniably attractive mix, the Labrala is a combination of the happy-go-lucky Labrador Retriever and the devoted Hungarian Vizsla. They have expressive eyes, long ears that droop sweetly and, lean athletic bodies. The fur of the Labrala is inevitably short and low-maintenance. While their coat is often red, it can also be cream, black or brown.

As both the Labrador Retriever and the Hungarian Vizsla are known for making effective working dogs, as well as loving family pets, it is no surprise that their progeny would be the same. This multi-purpose mix is right at home hunting in the fields, retrieving in the water or relaxing by the fire surrounded by its cherished owners.

About & History

As with many ‘designer dogs’ we can trace the Labrala back to sometime in the 1980s when the general public began to demand something other than the predictable purebreds on offer. The Labrala is also known as the Vizslador or, less commonly, the Retizsla. As with most mixed breeds, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact location or date of their inception. Descending from the popular Labrador Retriever and Hungarian Vizsla, there is, however, plenty that we know about their lineage.

The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of the best-loved family pets in existence, often featuring within the top three of the most popular dog breeds internationally. They descended from the St Johns Water Dog in Newfoundland and were traditionally used to help fishermen by reeling in their catches. After importation to England in the 19th century, they also gained a reputation for being successful hunters; particularly when it came to retrieving waterfowl that had been shot. Their love of water, ability to sit calmly on a boat and sociable nature has always ensured that they have been a successful breed.

The Vizsla

The Hungarian Vizsla is (of course!) a Hungarian breed who has also been used to retrieve. On top of this, they are useful pointing dogs and have relatively good scenting ability. These traits make them a useful hunter. Earliest references to the breed date back to the 1300s and, by the 1800s, they had built a name for themselves in their native land and were routinely entered into hunting competitions.


Labrala Large Photo
Brendan Bell /

The Labrala seems to have inherited the best traits of each parent. They are incredibly handsome and carry themselves with good aplomb. Their head is relatively large with noticeably droopy upper lips and soulful brown or amber eyes. Their ears hang to the side of their face and are quite large in some individuals. Their rectangular-shaped body is built of solid muscle and supported by straight limbs. Their tail is of a medium length and normally quite slender.

While many breed members retain the rusty red coat colour of the Vizsla, others have black, cream or dark brown fur. Their fur is short and straight; tightly-fitted to their body.

A large breed of dog, a fully mature Labrala will reach weights of 22kg to 36kg and heights of 53cm to 63.5 cm. Unlike their Labrador parent, they tend to be able to maintain a lean body condition and are less prone to obesity.

Character & Temperament

As would be expected of this mixed-breed, the Labrala is a level-headed dog with great people skills. As well as being a friend to humans of all ages, they get on well with other dogs. They love to have company and are never happier than when beside their owner. In fact, these dogs can sometimes become too devoted, with over-dependence and separation anxiety being an issue in some.

Full of energy, sometimes to the point of being hyperactive, the Labrala is not one to laze about on the sofa watching the world pass by. They love to be in the great outdoors and are in their element when running around in fields and swimming in rivers.

With a natural tendency to be protective and a loyalty to their owners that is unrivalled, most Labralas make good watchdogs. They should not be employed as guard dogs though, as they lack the necessary hostility.


Photo of Labrala puppy
Brendan Bell /

Not lacking in brains, while the Labrala has the ability to do well in their training, they are sometimes over-excitable and easily distracted. While this typically improves with age, some individuals are always a little 'scatty' and can be difficult to train to a high standard. Keeping training sessions short and varied can help to keep the Labrala on point.

Highly motivated by both food and vocal praise, the Labrala is always eager to perform well and will try their best. They respond to firm instruction and positive reinforcement. Consistency is key and, while progress may be slow, they will gradually improve under the right conditions.

The Labrala is not lacking in natural ability and when it comes to training for specific tasks, such as retrieving and scenting, they can really excel. When allowed to carry out the roles which they were bred to do, the Labrala exceeds expectations.


There are certain health conditions that plague both the Labrador Retriever and the Hungarian Vizsla breeds. While it is generally accepted that hybrid dogs enjoy better health than their parents due to 'hybrid vigour' the Labrala is still at a greater risk than the general population of developing certain conditions, purely due to its genetics.

Hip Dysplasia

Sadly, bad hips run in the families of both the Lab and the Vizsla. Affected dogs may begin to show signs of hip discomfort from a young age. Owners may notice a 'bunny hop' when running, muscle wasting of the back limbs or a reluctance to exercise for long periods. Imaging studies, such as X-rays, can make a diagnosis and there are several treatment options.

The treatment chosen will depend on the severity of the disease, the patients general health and costs. Surgeries are available, as are supportive therapies, such as hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. Most dogs are managed with a multi-modal approach, which may include long-term pain relief and joint supplements.

Gastric Torsion

Gastric Torsion may also be called 'GDV' or bloat. For reasons that are unclear, the stomach of an affected dog will fail to empty and will fill with food, liquid and gas. After a time, the stomach will twist over, trapping all of the contents inside and leading to local compression of blood vessels. Without immediate veterinary intervention, this condition is inevitably fatal.


Seizures (also called 'fits') are events that can happen for a number of reasons, such as a low blood sugar level or a toxicity. When a dog has seizures without a diagnosable cause, they are said to suffer from epilepsy. Most of those affected will be diagnosed between the ages of one and five years old. Effective medicine can keep seizures to a minimum though does need to be monitored with blood tests and administered on a daily basis.

Otitis Externa

Inflamed and infected ear canals can be the bane of some Labrala's lives. Chronic Otitis can lead to scar tissue forming within the ear canals and reduced hearing. The sooner an infection is treated the better, so owners need to be on the ball and constantly monitoring the ears for signs, which may include reddened skin, a foul smell or excess discharge.

Exercise and Activity Levels

As both parent breeds have been used to working and hunting in the past, the Labrala has a good work ethic and a relatively high exercise requirement. A minimum of 60 minutes every day should be dedicated to outdoor activities, such as fetch, scent trailing, hiking and swimming. As well as this, they enjoy access to a large fenced-in garden and are best suited to rural areas where they can spend time off lead.


The biggest focus of owners when it comes to the grooming of the Labrala should be on their ears. Their pendulous ears have wide open ear canals and, particularly in dogs that like to spend time in the water, these ears commonly become infected. A good ear cleaning using an ear cleaner to remove wax should be carried out at least twice a month.

Other than their ears, the Labrala is a low maintenance breed. They need a good brush down once a week or so. As they are dogs that love to be out in the great outdoors and running through brushes, it is always a good idea to get them used to checking their paws, belly, ears, etc. for any debris, twigs or grass awns.

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