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So I was told I was getting a black lab who was 4 months old at the time but as he gets bigger I'm concerned he may not be full lab. Sometimes he looks lab but other times he looks like a completely different dog. I have a 4 year old and cats ( who he may or may not be fond of. I can't tell as he is too excited for them and they hide. Sometimes he stands in a defensive position and just stares when he can't get to them. So this makes me nervous and isn't a characteristic for labs) in the house. Can anyone tell if he is or isn't full lab. And what type of dog he may be mixed with?
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Dogs don't always fit the breed's "mold" and if it will help, you can purchase a DNA test kit.

 

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I would suggest a genetic test if it really matters to you what breed he is. Even though Labs have a reputation for being sweet pets and service dogs, they did in fact start out as a hunting dog. The breed has more recently split into conformation and field types. The conformation types are what most people think of when they think of labs: solid to the point of being almost chunky, mostly pretty chill, and mostly pretty good tempered. The field type is leaner, more athletic, more energetic, and has more prey drive. Therefore, there can be quite a bit of variation in temperament even among purebred labs.

For your purposes, though, the real question is whether he can learn to live peacefully with your cats. Successful coexistence depends on three things:
  • Your skills as a trainer
  • Whether your cats can be persuaded not to run
  • The level of his prey drive
You have an adolescent dog. He wants to play. He has access to four furry squeak toys that obligingly start running when he gives them the signal. Of course he's going chase them. It's fun! Unfortunately, the more often a chase occurs, the more it becomes a habit for both the dog and the cats. Your first order of business, therefore, is to stop any chases before they start. Ideally, you should stop any chases before any critter even THINKS of running. You have a few tools to do this. You can put up barriers to separate the dog from the cats. You can keep the dog on a leash, so he can't leave your side while in the house. You can also put him to work whenever he starts staring at a cat. As the saying goes, idle hands are the devil's workshop. A dog can't chase cats if he is busy doing puppy push ups or practicing other obedience skills. Get his focus back on you when his idle brain starts focusing on cats. Eventually a good tempered and well trained dog will mature enough to realize that opportunity to chase a cat does not equal permission to chase a cat.

Cats vary in their fear of dogs. Any cat will recognize a hard stare is a sign of trouble and will take steps to protect herself. The more the dog stares and tries to chase, the quicker the cats will be to take off running. Persuading the cats not to run means ensuring they never have reason to run. Every time they enter the room with the dog they should be able to stare, prowl around, investigate, and leave the room again completely unruffled. After enough such experiences the cats will hopefully decide the dog isn't out to get them, and the dog will decide the cats are boring. Unfortunately, some cats are too timid or too fierce to ever adapt to living with a dog. If you have such a cat, then I would advise returning the dog to the shelter. It's a lot easier for a charismatic young Lab to find a new home than for a skittish adult cat.

And, finally, some dogs just have too much prey drive to ever live with a small animal. Since he is a young dog, I would not assume that his antics now are going to continue forever. He's a young dog, and any adolescent will push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. However, if you keep having incidents and near misses, you should get a properly certified animal behaviorist to evaluate the situation.
 

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He looks a bit jowly for a pure lab from some angles, so maybe some mastiff type is mixed in there. But, you will only know for sure with a DNA test. And as for individual dog, Curls has done you solid. Behavior will be more of an indicator of training needs and fit in your situation than possible breed mix.
 
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