The Labradoodle is a cross or mixed breed of a standard or miniature Poodle and a Labrador Retriever. Like its parent breeds it is intelligent, friendly and active. This affectionate dog is the most popular of all the poodle mixes and has evolved from use as a low shedding guide dog into a extremely popular pet.
Due to the relative infancy (compared to many pure breeds) and the lack of breed standards it is very important you ensure your puppies parents have been thoroughly tested and you are buying from a reputable breeder.
Increasingly cross breeding of Labradoodles are creating multi-generational Labradoodles where the offspring is more predictable from a size and coat perspective. It should be noted that the Australian Labradoodle is not a straight Poodle/Labrador mix as it also likely to include other breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel in its lineage.
Labradoodle Breed Overview
Labradoodle Key Breed Facts
Lifespan – 12 to 15 years
Weight – 22 lbs to 70 lbs (10 kg to 32 kg)
Height – 15″ to 26″ (38 cm to 66 cm) at the withers
Labradoodle Size Variations
Labradoodles can come in a variation of sizes and shapes. This depend on the size of the poodle the Labrador is breed with. Further cross breeding can result in further variances. The sizes below are indicative of the common descriptions:
- Miniature ~ 15″ (38 cm), 22 lbs (10 kg)
- Medium ~ 19″ (48 cm), 40 lbs (18 kg)
- Standard ~ 25″ (63 cm), 66 lbs (30 kg)
Labradoodle Color Variations
The Labradoodle coat can be a number of different colors influenced by their parentage. Some of the colors seen are listed below:
Labradoodle Coats – Do Labradoodles Shed?
There can be quite a variation in coat types even within a litter. The amount of shedding can therefore vary as well. Labradoodle coat types fall into the following types:
- Fleece – loose ringlets and wavy coat. Soft to touch and low shedding
- Curly – This coat is similar to a poodle’s coat with tight curls close to the body. This coat is very low shedding
- Hair – This is the least ‘poodle’ like coat and is mostly seen in first generation labradoodles. The coat can shed in a similar fashion to a Labrador pure breed
History of the Labradoodle
The Labradoodle was initially bred as an assistant dog in Australia in the late 1980’s. Wally Canron, leader of the Australian breeding program for the Australian Royal Guide Dog Association intentionally bred a Labrador with a standard poodle in an attempt to produce an intelligent, adaptable dog that could be used with owners who had allergies inflamed by usual dog shedding and dander.
He was successful and this paved the way for more Labradoodle breeding and highlighted the potential of crossing poodles with other breeds to produce these ‘potentially’ allergy friendly dogs.
The popularity of the breed has been increasing ever since and now the Labradoodle is a well loved pet across the world as well as its continued use as an assistance dog.
Overall Labradoodles have amazing, friendly and affectionate personalities. Due to the mix of Poodle and Labrador genes they are also very intelligent. So what are the other positives and potential negatives?
Great Labradoodle Traits
- The two breeds, Poodle and Labrador Retriever pass on their their fun, friendly and loving natures
- They are extremely sociable and therefore non-aggressive. This makes them poor guard dogs but very friendly and lovable for their owners and strangers alike. They love attention and will give and take affection readily
- They will make friends with all ages. Obviously care is required with very young children but your Labradoodle will be best friends with children and older people alike
- The Labradoodle is active but not ‘highly wired’ so given the right level of exercise and mental stimulation they will be content and settle when required.
- Given the right breeding they can be low shedding and are therefore suitable for households where there are allergy sufferers susceptible to non-poodle mix breeds
- They are good for first time owners due to their nature and intelligence
Look Out For
As great as the Labradoodle breed is there are areas where special care should be taken to maximize your relationship with your dog.
- Since they are smart and energetic, Labradoodles can be difficult to control when they get too excited. When uncontrolled, they can release their excitement by jumping up on people. This can cause problems, especially with larger dogs, with older people and young children.
- If you do not exercise your Labradoodle sufficiently including mental stimulation then they are likely to find other outlets for their energy. This may translate into undesirable activities such as digging, barking, chewing etc.
- A Labradoodle, especially a well bred one, can be very expensive. It should be noted though that a higher price is not a guarantee of it being well bred and healthy
As we have already discussed, understandably Labradoodles have a lot of things in common with both Labrador and Poodle. This also includes the possibility of suffering from conditions that are typical in those specific breeds.
There is conjecture as to whether mixed breeds are healthier than pure breeds but in any case, you should always check the health testing of your prospective pups’ parents and inoculations the pup has had itself. A respectable breeder will have conducted these and should be happy to share this information.
The breeding parents should have been tested for the following conditions to give you confidence that your puppy will be healthy.
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Other conditions that could derive from the Labradoodle’s parentage include:
- Sebaceous adenitis
- Addison’s Disease
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Patella Luxation
Labradoodles who have been ethically bred are at a much lower risk of developing the conditions above. Random accidents and illnesses may occur throughout a dog’s life but general everyday health will largely be a consequence of the care they receive. In the next section, we delve into how best to care for a Labradoodle.
A puppy should have been vet-checked on a few occasions and had its first vaccination before going to its forever home. Its new owner should ensure these have been conducted and ensure that they follow the vaccination schedule for their country throughout the dog’s life.
This will ensure the dog has the best chance of leading a healthy life and eliminate the chance of contracting avoidable illnesses and diseases.
Many people use professional groomers on a periodic basis to cut their dog’s coat and check its overall ‘hair health’. Generally speaking, a visit every 6-10 weeks will keep your dog looking good.
In between cuts, professional or do-it yourself, it is important that Labradoodles are groomed regularly to ensure their coat remains in good condition. The following steps are advised:
- Use a slicker and/or bristle brush every day or two to keep the coat from matting and tangling and to remove any shed hair. Care should be taken not to be too vigorous with brushing to ensure the dog’s skin is not irritated causing skin problems.
It is important that you introduce a puppy to a grooming schedule as soon as you can in their life. It is an essential part of their life and with early training, they will enjoy the experience.
- In between cuts you may need to trim the hair around the eyes, feet, and tush region. Being neatly trimmed is particularly useful in the event of snow when ice can build up around the feet and undercarriage. Care should be taken when trimming and it is advised round-nosed scissors are used especially around the eye area.
- The Labradoodle coat should be washed using dog shampoo. They may be instances where a bath and shampoo are unavoidable but the dog shouldn’t be washed too often. Once a month should be sufficient. When bathing a puppy it is suggested a milder puppy shampoo is used.
- It can take some time to dry a thick Labradoodle coat. It is best to use a towel to dry the dog’s body.
- The ears are an area where problems can occur if they are not kept clean and clear. Ears should be wiped regularly with a damp cloth to ensure they are kept clean. Hair can also build up around and inside the ear which can accumulate dirt and wax. Hairs within the ear should be removed with tweezers.
- Teeth should be cleaned using a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste.
- The final part of your dog grooming regime is to ensure its claws are not too long. It may be that a dog’s claws are kept to a manageable length through daily exercise on tarmac etc. but there may be instances where they will have to be clipped. It is worth investing in a good pair of nail clippers for the job.
Dogs, as humans, are healthier, fitter and happier when fed a quality well balanced diet.
Before you buy a product, be sure to read the label first. If buying kibble ensure it contains ‘real’ ingredients (meat and vegetables) and not by-product substitutes.
An alternative to kibble or canned dog food is a Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diet. This would typically consist of around 60% raw meat bones and the rest consisting of vegetables and grains.
Advice should be sought on the composition of the BARF diet to ensure nutrients are balanced and beneficial to the dog’s health.
There are services that deliver the raw elements of a BARF diet so that they can be fed to the dog at scheduled meal times.
Feeding of your dog should be in line with recommendations. Labradoodles will generally eat whatever is put in front of them and will gain weight easily if this goes unchecked.
Care should also be taken with treats. Treats are good for rewarding your dog for good behaviors but should not be overused. Kibble from the dog’s daily diet can always be used as a treat or a supplement to treats when training.
The Labradoodle is an energetic dog that requires daily exercise and stimulation to keep it healthy and out of trouble. If a Labradoodle does not receive enough exercise it is likely to take its excess energy out on undesirable activities.
Dogs are at their most active early in the morning and at dusk. As a minimum, they should be exercised at these times with the latter ideally a longer session with some free running if possible. A large yard will help allow the Labradoodle to let off some steam but is not a substitute for walks and play time with its owner.
The Labradoodle should be exercised for a minimum of 1 hour a day.
With puppies, exercise should not be excessive. The rule of thumb is 5 mins per month of age. This limit should be applied to walking on harder surfaces. It is likely your pup will have some supplementary exercise and mental stimulation through play.
Puppies are energetic and inquisitive. Care should be taken that they don’t jump and stretch excessively as their joints are far from developed and injuries or overuse can lead to problems as they develop.
Cost Of A Labradoodle
The price of a Labradoodle can range from USD 850 (approximately £600) up to USD 3300 + (approximately £2400) for some multi-generational Labradoodles.
It should be noted that the price does not necessarily correlate to the quality and health of a prospective puppy. It is vitally important that checks are still conducted on the breeder and inoculations as described earlier.
When purchasing a Labradoodle prospective owners should try as best as possible to put the excitement of acquiring their new puppy to one side and look objectively at the information in front of them.
Unfortunately, there are a number of unscrupulous breeders so if things do not feel right or paperwork etc. appears incorrect then it is best to respectfully walk away. There will be good opportunities just around the corner.