First things first, what on dog’s green earth is a labradoodle? This loveable, energetic whirl of fur and paws is cross-bred from two other very popular dog breeds, the labrador and poodle. In fact the labradoodle is the cross breed that started the whole doodle craze–originally intended as a hypoallergenic new type of guide dog, these dogs have quickly gained popularity as pets. And it’s no wonder! With their teddy bear looks, curly coats, and let’s face it, sometimes wacky antics, they’re firm favorites with families, and well, just about everyone.
Is a labradoodle the right kind of dog for you? There are a lot of things to consider when adding a dog to your life, so we’ve covered just about everything you’ll need to know in this in-depth breed profile.
- Origin: Australia
- Weight: 50–60 pounds (Standard), 30–45 pounds (Medium), 15–25 pounds (Miniature)
- Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
- Breed group: Mixed
- Activity level:
- Barking/howling level:
- Good with dogs: yes
- Good with kids: yes
- Good with cats:
- Easy to groom:
- Easy to train:
As a mixed breed labradoodles can differ from dog to dog in looks–including in size, coloring, coat style – depending on the original parents. the variations can become even greater from litter to litter when the parents are two labradoodles. This is partly why this adorable crossbreed doesn’t have an official American Kennel Club breed standard. So, there are quite a few different variations to watch out for, but there are also a few hallmarks of labradoodles that set this breed apart from its close relatives.
The size of a labradoodle depends largely upon whether the poodle side of their ancestry was a standard, miniature or toy variation. Whilst their coats can vary just as much as their parents, and you can find some labradoodles with really wacky color names–cafe, chalk, parchment, apricot anyone? But the most common colours are the classics; caramel, chocolate or cream. The texture of those different color coats also come in several varieties; the soft, wavy or tightly curled (and ever-so chic) fleece coat, the poodle-esque wool coat and the hair coat, which is straighter and more akin to their labrador parent’s coat type.
Their bodies tend to be more robust and well rounded than a poodle’s svelte frame. Their heads are adorned with classic long, droopy ears, whilst their faces tend to be more labrador-esque with a longer, rounder snout. They can also somewhat resemble teddy bears, but perhaps not to the same extent as other poodle crosses such as the cavapoo, yorkiepoo and others.
The result of an intentional cross between a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever, Labradoodles got their start (and super cute name) in the 1980s. Since they’re 80s babies, they’re a breed that’s still forming and doesn’t yet have a consistent temperament or look. Some Doodles are a lot like Poodles—they’re smart, reserved, and quiet with a fine hypoallergenic coat that can take a lot of work. Some are more like Labs—they’re rowdy kids-at-heart with coats that shed.
All Labradoodles do share a common love for their families and the great work ethic that’s second nature to both Labrador retrievers and poodles.
They do best in a house, but can adjust to city life with enough exercise and stimulation. They’re energetic dogs who need at least 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, sometimes more. You’ll quickly get a sense of how much exercise your labradoodle wants from whether they show signs of tiring after several rounds of ball in the park, or after a good stretch of the legs. They’re active enough to accompany you on long hikes or runs, but once that’s done, they’re happy to chill with the rest of the family.
And they really are wonderful family dogs, with plenty of fun, playfulness, with a gentle disposition to boot, which makes them great with kids, so it’s no surprise then that so many families across the country, and the world, have chosen to add a labradoodle to their brood.
If you’ve got a dog shaped hole in your affectionate, active, and fun loving family, then a labradoodle could be the perfect fit.
Labradoodles need to be kept physically and mentally active. If you’re prepared to give your dog plenty of attention and stimulation, you’ll be rewarded with a happy and well behaved dog. They make great companions on jogs, and are equally at home on an agility course as they are on your couch or even in your bed.
When it comes to your labradoodle and kids, be careful that your dog doesn’t get too excited, especially with younger children and a larger labradoodle, or your kids might end up getting knocked over–but with supervision and education for both your dog and kids, you’re sure to have a very happy family indeed.
Crossbred dogs like labradoodles combine the best (and sometimes the worst) aspects of each parent breed. When it comes to training, you’ll likely find your labradoodle an energetic, eager-to-please and intelligent dog, qualities they’ve inherited from poodles and labradors, who were both originally bred to work. Like all dogs it’s important to introduce your new puppy to as many new situations, people, noises and locations as you can think of in the first 12-16 weeks of their lives. This, combined with your reassuring, calming presence, will help them feel safe and grow up to be a confident and unflappable dog.
Labradoodles will benefit from the sort of obedience training you’d want any good dog to master. Simple but important commands like sit and come are good disciplines to teach – and persevere with – from an early age, but there’s no reason why you’d need to stop there! Labradoodles have shown great skill in agility and there’s also the possibility that your dog could be an assistant or therapy dog due to their natural gentle nature.
Labradoodles can inherit a flat coat from their Lab side, a curly coat from their Poodle side, or a wavy combination of the two. All doodles require regular grooming and coat maintenance for health. A professional groomer can help shape or thin a doodle’s coat to keep her spic and span.
It’s also a good idea to keep their nails nice and trim, and to check their ears from time to time as they can easily get dirty which can lead to infections. Your vet or groomer may need to give their ears a regular clean since this requires a little know-how and specialist tools. You can brush their teeth at home, and your vet may want to check their dental health from time to time, too.
Since they’ve got retrieving and swimming instincts in their make-up, you might find your labradoodle brings back some unpleasant smells with them from a walk–a bath with some smelling shampoo will be just the ticket.
Like most dog breeds, labradoodles are prone to certain health issues. Sometimes cross breeds like doodles can actually inherit the health issues of both breeds in their lineage. They can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, eye diseases, and epilepsy. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to prevent, avoid and treat any signs of these that your dog may develop, especially as they get older.
Those large floppy ears are also prone to ear infections—keep their ears dry and clean to help with this, and ask your vet or groomer to help if you’re not sure how.
An Australian man named Wally Conron bred the first Labradoodles. His goal was to breed a hypoallergenic guide dog for a blind woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to dogs. Wally first thought he might be able to train a Poodle as a guide dog, since a Poodle’s curly coat keeps hair and dander trapped so they don’t aggravate allergies. He found that his Poodles weren’t the easiest to train as guide dogs. so he intentionally crossbred his best Standard Poodle with his best Labrador Retriever.
When he couldn’t get a family to foster and train the blended litter, he did a little marketing work—he stopped calling them crossbreds and started hailing the breed as a new, allergy-free guide dog. There was instant interest in the “new breed” of dog, the Labradoodle.
It’s always a good idea to meet the parents of your puppy, and to see how the litter interacts with each other, and this is especially important when choosing a crossbred dog, since you can see just what size the parents are. A good, trustworthy breeder should have records of the parents’ lineage, too and should be able to tell you more about the specific mix of the litter.
Since labradoodles aren’t officially recognised by the AKC, you’d need to start your search for a reputable breeder elsewhere, and luckily, due to the popularity of these dogs, they shouldn’t be too tricky to track down. Make sure you wise up on puppy mills and internet scams – following some simple steps can help avoid further funding of this terrible practice, and help you end up with a pet whose breeding and early-life experience will more reliably result in a well-adjusted dog.
Adopting a Labradoodle
As with many highly popular breeds, labradoodles often find their way to rescue centres for a variety of reasons, including dogs being rescued from puppy mills, but often it’s the simple fact that their previous owners simply felt unable to care for them any longer, perhaps due to a change in lifestyle or health.
A surrendered dog will often already be well trained and simply in need of a new, loving home. You can find rescue centres local to you with a quick internet search.
A labradoodle can make for a wonderful friend and they’re sure to be a source of joy, with plenty of laughs and perhaps a little bit of mischief along the way. So whether you’re planning on adopting or finding a breeder to find a puppy, prepare yourself, your home and your heart to welcome a dog with plenty of personality and energy.
If you’re simply in love with labradoodles, then you’ll be craving what we’ve got for you next. From the most popular labradoodle names, the best harnesses and more: