What Is a Labrastaff Dog?
A perfect blend of the faithful labrador retriever and the loving Staffordshire bull terrier, these dogs are also sometimes affectionately called “staffy labs” and “staffadors.”
Their alertness makes them great watchdogs while their love of their pack members makes them affectionate family dogs. Are you considering a labrastaff for your household? Read on to find out if this breed is the best choice for you.
How To Train Labrastaffs
If you’re looking for an intelligent dog that’s eager to please and easier to train, the labrastaff is a great mix to consider. According to the AKC, both the labrador and the Staffordshire terrier rank at the top of the trainability level, making this mix a perfect combination for training purposes.
Keep in mind that all dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, like praise, petting, and treats, rather than negative punishment like spankings or spraying with a water bottle. If at all possible, always use positive reinforcement methods and avoid using negative punishment.
It’s also a good idea to purchase training treats rather than using regular, full-sized treats. This is because when you’re training your labrastaff, you’ll need to reward him or her frequently. Smaller treats are best for this because they will help to reward your dog without causing it to gain unnecessary weight. Obese dogs tend to be less healthy, so take this opportunity to help your dog live longer and more comfortably by using small training treats for this process.
Labrastaffs with Kids and Other Dogs
How an individual dog responds to strangers, kids, and other dogs is much more dependent on what the dog was exposed to as it was growing up than what breed it is. Nevertheless, some breeds do tend to be more or less comfortable in certain situations.
Labs tend to feel that any living thing is a friend–strangers, crazy children, other dogs, and other animals as well. They want to play with and love on absolutely everyone. The AKC ranks the breed as a whole as 5/5 for affection to family members, getting along with children, and getting along with other dogs.
Staffordshire terriers tend to be more comfortable around new humans, even children, than around other dogs. The AKC ranks the breed as a whole as a 5/5 for getting along with children and being affectionate to family members, but a 3/5 for getting along with other dogs. Staffys also tend to be more prone to watchfulness and more likely to bark at strangers approaching your home than a lab.
Training and Socializing
Given the two breeds’ general tendency toward getting along well with humans at least, if not other dogs to the same extent, it’s still vital to remember that how a dog is brought up will have a greater effect on its social behavior than breed tendencies. So make sure to expose your labrastaff to other humans, children, and other dogs as much as possible in the puppy stage so that he or she grows up knowing that humans and dogs are usually friends associated with good experiences.
If you’ve adopted an older labrastaff from a shelter, speak with the shelter team about how your new dog interacts with humans and animals. Shelters will do various tests to find this information out before listing a dog as adoptable. If the shelter found that your new dog may not interact well with certain circumstances, work with a dog trainer to help them learn to be more trusting and to feel safe in the presence of whatever it is they may be uncomfortable with based on their experience before the shelter.
Labrastaff Exercise and Space Requirements
Both Labradors and Staffordshire terriers rank on the high end of mental stimulation and exercise needs. And they tend to be larger-sized dogs, so they’ll need some space. A fenced-in backyard would be ideal for your labrastaff so you can let him or her outside to run around and burn off energy without requiring constant supervision.
Whether you have a fenced-in yard or not, frequent walks will also help your labrastaff burn off some excess energy and keep it feeling calmer at home. Labrastaffs, especially younger ones, can get antsy and start annoying you or for attention or stirring up trouble for something to do when they’ve been too long without exercise. A daily walk is ideal, more often if you aren’t able to let yours run around in the yard.
Labrastaffs also do better in houses than apartments, as apartments tend to be on the smaller side. Make sure you are able to provide a comfortable place for your labrastaff to sleep, no matter how large or small your home is. They like to spread out and take up some space, especially if you let yours in the bed with you. Decide ahead of time whether there will be enough seating for you and your family if your labrastaff joins you on the couches and train them from the start not to jump on them if necessary. Your labrastaff will appreciate a roomy dog bed where he or she can be comfier than on the floor.
The Best Food for Labrastaffs
The Puppy Stage
Labrastaffs are a mix of two large breed dogs, which means they should be fed large breed dog food. Especially as puppies. Some of the health problems large breeds are prone to, such as hip dysplasia, can be better avoided if you feed your labrastaff large breed puppy food.
Large breed food is formulated differently than regular puppy food to help your puppy grow at the right rate and not too fast. This helps with joint formation and your labrastaff and your wallet will thank you for feeding the right food from the start to help avoid the pain and expense of hip dysplasia and similar ailments later in life.
To find out how much to feed your labrastaff, look at the back of the food bag for a weight or age chart. Puppy food usually goes by age while adult food usually goes by weight. Take note whether the amount suggested is per day or per feeding. If per day, split it in half and feed half in the morning and half in the evening. If the amount is per feeding, give that amount once in the morning and once in the evening.
The Adult Stage
Once your labrastaff is full-grown, start feeding him or her adult large breed food. Adult life stage dog food will be low in fat and high in other nutrients that will help your dog live a long, happy life. Your labrastaff will be able to live on this diet throughout most of his or her life.
The Senior Stage
When your dog reaches the senior life stage, usually around eight to ten years of age, he or she will benefit from a senior or geriatric formula. In this life stage, loss of muscle mass and arthritis may occur. Older dogs may also have a harder time staying warm.
For these reasons, senior dog formulas tend to be higher in fat and sometimes include joint health supplements and other extra nutrients that dogs in their prime don’t need, but that can really help older dogs feel more comfortable for longer.
If you breed your labrastaff, pregnant and lactating females will benefit from the additional nutrients in a senior diet if your brand of dog food doesn’t have a pregnant and lactating mother’s formula.
Labrastaff Grooming Requirements
Both labradors and Staffordshire terriers have short hair. The good news is that you won’t need to brush them to keep tangles and mats at bay because their fur doesn’t get long enough to tangle. The less good news is that they do tend to shed a bit.
To keep loose dog hair off your clothes and furniture as much as possible, brush your dog once or twice a day with a brush for short hair to remove loose fur. Vacuum the floors and furniture at least once a week to collect what fur the brush wasn’t able to get. And keep a lint roller in your closet and your car to do a final de-furring before leaving the house.
The Best Climate for Labrastaffs
Because labrastaffs have short hair, they may get cold more easily than some other dogs. If you live in a cold area or get really cold winters, consider keeping your labrastaff warm with a winter coat and booties whenever he or she goes outside.
Labrastaffs can come in a variety of colors, and dogs with darker-colored coats are more likely to overheat in the summer since dark colors absorb more heat from the sun. Whatever color your labrastaff is, make sure he or she always has access to shade and water in your yard, and bring a portable water bowl on hiking trips or car rides in case he or she gets overheated in warm weather.
Common Health Problems for Labrastaffs
Hip dysplasia literally means “wrong or painful formation of the hip.” Basically, it happens when the ball-and-socket joint of the hip don’t fit together correctly. It can sometimes be managed with joint supplements, but sometimes requires surgery.
All large breed dogs are at a higher risk of getting hip dysplasia because they have larger joints that grow from puppy-sized to adult-sized in the same amount of time that a small dog’s joints grow from puppy to adult. This is why a large breed formulation puppy food that will help your labrastaff puppy grow more slowly and steadily can help prevent this disease.
If you suspect that your dog could have hip dysplasia, take him or her to see your vet soon so that your vet can diagnose the issue and at least prescribe some pain medicine or joint health supplement to help your labrastaff feel better while you decide what treatment to pursue.
Labradors are especially prone to obesity, so labrastaffs are also at risk of gaining excess weight too easily. To prevent obesity in your labrastaff, use small training treats for training, feed your labrastaff according to the food label, and give him or her plenty of opportunities to exercise.
If your labrastaff is already obese, ask your vet what his or her ideal weight would be and feed according to the ideal weight on the food bag chart. Continuing to feed at the obese weight will prevent your dog from losing weight.
Both ancestral breeds of the labrastaff are prone to masses, especially as they get older. A mass may or may not be cancerous, and the ways of guessing based on the appearance of the mass are not accurate. So take your dog to the vet to have any masses examined and biopsied if needed.
The Drooling Tendencies of Labrastaffs
Labrastaffs are ranked in the middle for drool levels. Your labrastaff will likely be drooly in the presence of food or in stressful circumstances, but most likely won’t be a drool machine anywhere near a Saint Bernard level.
Summing Up the Labrastaff
Labrastaffs are affectionate and highly trainable family dogs who really love exercise and mental stimulation. A full-sized house will suit these guys better than an apartment. They are smart enough to get into trouble if they get bored, so keeping them well-exercised will keep them healthy and out of trouble.
The Ideal Labrastaff Owner
Labrastaffs make excellent running buddies if you like to jog around the block. They also really love being with their family and may struggle with separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. They do best with an owner who can provide them with plenty of room and exercise and lots of opportunities to get them used to other people and dogs as early in life as possible.
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