The Labradoodle is the beautifully sweet canine concoction of the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle. He is thought to be the original Poodle mix and possibly the most popular designer dog too. The Labrador is America’s favorite dog breed, and the Poodle adds a fluffy teddy bear look to the mix. This is why he is so popular with families across the world. But there’s more to this guy than just his gorgeous looks.
If you are thinking about welcoming a Labradoodle into your life, you need to take a few minutes out of your day to read this guide. We will walk you through everything you need to know so that you can decide whether the pup is the right dog for you and your lifestyle. He is much more energetic than people expect, and he can be a little needier than people first think.
The first step is figuring out what size pup you want. Labradoodles of all sizes are very similar, there are key differences between them that you need to know about. So, let’s take a closer look at all the doggy details in this fantastic family-friendly crossbreed.
In 1989, the Royal Guide Dog Association in Australia was asked to create a guide dog for a blind woman with allergies. Wally Conran was in charge of the breeding program at the time. And he selected the Labrador Retriever and the hypoallergenic Poodle to create an intelligent and capable guide dog but who would be gentler on allergy sufferers.
After breeding the Lab and the Poodle, the best of the litter was a dog named Sultan. And he was shipped to Hawaii, where the blind woman lived. After much success, Conran realized that they were onto something and continued in their breeding program. Although the Labradoodle is a hybrid, multigenerational breeding has allowed the breed to become relatively stable in its characteristics.
Good quality breeders will breed those dogs who inherit the best traits from both breeds. There are three different types of Labradoodle mix. As you can see from the breakdown below, F2 Labradoodles are usually better for allergy sufferers as they are more Poodle than Lab. When working with a breeder, be sure to ask what type of Labradoodle you will be buying:
- F1: 50% Lab, and 50% Poodle
- F1B: 75% Poodle and 25% Lab (one Poodle parent and one F1 Labradoodle parent)
- F2: 87% Poodle, and 13% Lab (one Poodle parent and one F1B Labradoodle parent)
Like most recently created designer dog breeds, the Labradoodle cannot be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) as its purebred parents can. He can be registered with the Australian Labradoodle Association of America (ALAA).
These guys are working hard with reputable breeders across the country to establish a stable breed. Not only to secure breed health but also in hopes that they will be finally recognized by the AKC.
The Labradoodle is full of life, and to him, everything is amazingly fun. This means that there is never a dull moment with one of these pups around. This is a huge reason why families love him. It also makes him really adaptable because he’s happy to join you in whatever you want to do. Be that walkies, games in the yard, watching Netflix, or visiting friends. As long as he’s with you, he’s a happy bunny.
He adores his human family and craves their companionship. This is something that some families find too much to handle. He hates to be left alone and as such, often suffers from separation anxiety. But for families who are there most of the day or love needy canines who are always by your side, this mix is a top choice. He is super affectionate and loves to play up to his cuddly teddy bear appearance.
The standard-sized Labradoodle is a bouncy ball of fun that can be overly boisterous in the family home. This is not an issue for those with large homes, the same energy, or children old enough not to be knocked over.
This can be a concern for younger families with toddlers. However, some pups are well-balanced and know to be calmer in the home. Every dog is different, but if you are concerned about this, the smaller Miniature Labradoodle tends to be calmer.
His love for his family does not always extend to strangers. His Poodle parent is known to be a little aloof with unfamiliar people, which can be seen in some Labradoodles. Aloof dogs will bark at incoming visitors, making them great watchdogs. However, his gorgeous, cuddly appearance means he doesn’t make the most effective guard dog.
The Labradoodle is usually well-balanced, which is another reason why he makes a suitable family dog. He adores children, and equally, children love him. When socialized well, he can live in a multi-pet home, and he enjoys the company of other dogs. His parents are duck hunting, and bird gundogs, so he is bound to have a high prey drive – especially creatures covered in feathers.
Size & Appearance
According to the ALAA breed standard, the standard-sized Labradoodle measures between 21 and 24 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. They also usually find themselves between 30 and 65 pounds in weight. Any dog weighing less than this will be considered a Miniature Labradoodle. Occasionally standard-sized Labradoodles will weigh a little bit more than this.
Thanks to his Poodle parent’s coat, the Labradoodle’s appearance is one of a large cuddly canine bear. Despite being the largest of the three types of size, he is proportionate in overall appearance. Under all that fluff of his, he has an athletic body capable of winning any agility course. Most Labradoodles enjoy the slightly stockier frame of the Lab with the elegance of the Poodle.
Coat & Colors
Many would say that the Labradoodle’s best feature is his coat. Most will have a single-layer coat which is what makes them better suited to allergy sufferers. However, this is not always guaranteed.
So, if you are counting on your next pup being easy for allergy sufferers to tolerate, you might want to stick with a purebred Poodle or another hypoallergenic breed. But you should know that no dog is completely hypoallergenic.
There are two types of Labradoodle coats, and these are ‘fleece coated’ and ‘wool-coated.’ The fleece-coated type is soft in texture, much like the Angora goat. The wool-coated type is a little denser, a lot like a sheep’s coat. They can have wavy, straight, or spirally hair textures.
It’s rare for these dogs to have no wave or curl whatsoever. The wool-coated type tends to have looser curls. Neither coat should be longer than four inches in length.
The Labradoodle enjoys a wide variety of colors too. And it all depends on what color pigment they inherit. Black-pigmented dogs are those with black-colored features, i.e., their lips, nose, and eye rims are all black. Black-pigmented dogs have the choice of the following colors:
And brown pigmented dogs are those with brown-colored features. Brown-pigmented dogs sport the following colors:
- Caramel Ice, Cream, or Red
There are also various coat patterns that he can choose from. The ‘parti’ pattern means the coat is at least 50% white with solid patches of another color. The ‘tuxedo’ coat means a solid-colored base with a light-colored tummy and legs. The ‘sable’ coat usually starts off in solid black and lightens over time.
The ‘phantom’ coat means there are specific markings on a solid-colored base. These markings include above each eye, on the sides of the muzzle, inside the legs, chest, and under the tail. The ‘tri-phantom’ is the same as the phantom but with three colors.
The standard-sized Labradoodle is an active pooch who needs around 60 minutes of exercise every day. This often surprises many new parents because they assumed they are the cuddly lap dogs they look like. But this is far from the truth. Both of the Labradoodle’s parents are traditional working dogs with lots of energy, so you can expect this guy to have lots of it too.
And because this hybrid is also really intelligent, his exercise needs to be varied. Otherwise, he’ll become bored and create his own mischievous forms of exercise. Mainly destroying things and digging up flower beds. Considering how much this guy loves the water, he’ll love you forever if you can include a local doggy beach or pool into the exercise mix. Just be mindful of nearby ducks.
His intelligence also means that he’ll need plenty of mental stimulation throughout the day. Otherwise, he’ll develop annoying or naughty habits, and you’ll only have yourself to blame. Invest in a variety of dog toys that can be used for interactive play and solo playtime. Choosing a toy that you can chuck into the water for him to fetch will be a big hit for sure.
As you already know, the Labradoodle is an easy-going pooch who is happy to live in most family environments. He could live in small apartments all the way up to large homes with sprawling land.
With that being said, apartment life is only suitable for those who are guaranteed regular exercise, stimulation, and company. Otherwise, he’ll get cabin fever. If he has access to a yard, it needs to be properly secured because he will chase everything and lose himself.
The only cautionary tale to be told with this guy is his potential to be big and bouncy, which doesn’t always end well with young children. He adores children and would never do anything to harm them intentionally, but he could accidentally hurt them if he is being too rowdy.
This is something to consider if you have young children or are thinking about starting a family. But like we said earlier, every dog is different, and many Labradoodles do well with young families.
The Labradoodle is a very intelligent dog breed, which is one of the reasons why he was created in the first place. His Poodle parent is ranked as the 2nd most intelligent dog breed, and his Lab parent is ranked as the 7th.
His biddability and eagerness to please his loved ones mean that he is relatively easy to train. Making him a top choice for first-time dog owners. But don’t take this for granted and neglect proper training because he will turn into a little devil if you allow him.
Labradoodles need to be socialized as early as possible, even long before you bring them home. This is why it is important to work with a reputable breeder because they will start this training straight away. Socializing a dog is the process of mixing them with as many other dogs and humans as possible and lots of scenarios that they will experience as an adult. It’ll build their confidence and teach them polite puppy etiquette.
Labradoodles are sensitive dogs and will respond much better to the positive reinforcement training method. Harsh dog trainers might be too much for their liking. He is likely to be motivated by everything: your praise, yummy treats, and fun toys.
Another suggested training aspect is crate training. Canine experts worldwide recommend crate training for all dogs, but especially anxious pups such as this mix. It’s important to leave your pooch alone as a pup. Otherwise, he’ll rely on your constant company. Crate training is simple and effective, and he’ll be thankful for his own safe space.
The Labradoodle is a relatively healthy dog breed. Like all mixed dog breeds, he can inherit health problems from either parent. They enjoy a typical lifespan of 12 to 14 years. There are lots of things that you can do to keep your pup with you for as long as possible. The most important is keeping up to date with vet appointments, feeding him high-quality nutrition, and ensuring regular exercise.
Working with a reputable breeder also goes a long way to ensure that you adopt a Labradoodle with the best chances of being healthy. But due to inherited disease, there are a few main health conditions that you need to be aware of. Be sure to learn about the associated symptoms, and remember that this list is not exhaustive.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Both of the Labradoodle’s parents are prone to hip dysplasia, making this one of the most common conditions to look out for. His Labrador parent is also at risk of elbow dysplasia. These both occur when the joints form incorrectly. It is usually a result of rapid growth or inheritance. The joint abnormalities cause excess wear and tear, resulting in reduced mobility and painful arthritis. Symptoms include struggling to stand or climb stairs or having a general intolerance of exercise.
The Labradoodle breed is prone to a variety of eye conditions. The most common are progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. If left untreated, all conditions can lead to permanent vision loss, which would lower life quality considerably. Symptoms include light sensitivity and bumping into objects due to gradual vision loss.
This condition is sometimes inherited from the Labrador bloodline. The affected dog will collapse during or immediately after exercise. Most dogs recover quickly from an episode, but some do not. Good quality breeders should subject their dogs to a DNA test for EIC.
This skin condition is sometimes inherited from his Poodle parent. The hair follicles do not produce enough sebum, resulting in scaling and alopecia. The most common symptoms are patches of dry, flakey skin and hair loss. It can be managed with topical treatments and good-quality nutrition.
Your standard-sized Labradoodle will eat around two cups of kibble every day. How much you feed your pooch will depend on his size, age, lifestyle, and the kibble you feed him.
Always feed your Labradoodle high-quality kibble that is full of animal proteins and healthy omega fatty acids. Always feed them an age-appropriate diet too. This is particularly important during puppyhood, where it will set the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and body.
It’s a well-known fact that Labradors are always on the hunt for food. They are one of the greediest pups around. So, you can expect your Labradoodle to inherit some of his insatiable appetites. Do not free-feed this mix. Always refer to the feeding instructions on the packaging to avoid overfeeding him. Allowing him to become overweight will lead to further health problems.
As we have already said, the Labradoodle’s coat is one of his best assets. And it needs special attention to keep him looking glorious. The Labradoodle doesn’t shed that much, but he isn’t completely shed-free either. His single coat sheds a little like human hair. But owing to the length of his coat and that it is wavy, it is prone to matting. For this reason, he needs to be brushed several times a week with a slicker brush.
They need to be bathed every six to eight weeks for him to look and smell his best. They also aren’t likely to have an underlayer of hair to protect their skin, meaning that the shampoo you use needs to be gentle and specifically designed for dogs.
Labradoodles need their teeth brushed at least twice a week to keep periodontal diseases at bay. His ears are also prone to infections, so watch out for any grime and dirt, and clean them with an ear-cleaning product.
Despite being a low shedder, looking after their coat can be time-consuming. His hair can grow much quicker than a double-coated dog, and so many owners opt to send their pups to a groomer. This can cost anywhere between $75 and $150, depending on location, dog size, coat type, and behavior at the groomers.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
As the Labradoodle is one of the most popular designer dog breeds, you shouldn’t have to travel far to find a top-quality breeder. Remember that good-quality breeders are likely to have waiting lists for pups, but this is a good sign. It’s important to work with a breeder who is responsible for ensuring the best health of their pups. A great place to start your Labradoodle breeder search is with the ALAA.
The expected starting price for a standard-sized pup is around $1,000. This can rise to several thousand if you are looking to work with a popular breeder or a pup with ‘perfect’ markings or rarer colors. If you find a Labradoodle for any less than this price, see it as a warning sign that they could be an irresponsible breeder. Or worse, part of a puppy mill that often produces sick and problematic dogs.
The top signs of a responsible breeder include being allowed to meet the pups and one of their parents (usually the mom) in their home environment. The breeders will have lots of questions for you to ensure you know what you’re letting yourselves in for. In turn, they’ll be able to answer all of your questions. They’ll have the relevant health certificates and be generally welcoming. If you get a bad feeling, walk away and trust your gut.
You also need to remember the other costs involved in being a Labradoodle mom or dad. You’ll need to buy all of the things that puppies need and ensure they are protected with all relevant vaccinations and health checks. And you also need to factor in the ongoing yearly costs and be comfortable in the fact that you can afford it for the rest of your dog’s life. We recommend pet insurance for your Labradoodle to help offset medical costs.
Rescues & Shelters
Buying a puppy isn’t the right option for everyone, be that for financial or lifestyle reasons. Thankfully, there are other options on the table, as you can consider adoption. However, please be warned that Labradoodles are rare in rescue shelters.
This is because most breeder contracts require pups to be surrendered back to the breeder rather than rescue shelters. And when they do appear in rescue shelters, you can be sure that they’ll receive lots of applications.
Head out to your local rescue shelter and speak to the staff there, who might be able to point you in the direction of a nearby Labradoodle needing rehoming. Another place to start your adoption search is with the Poo Mix Rescue, as they dedicate their time to rehoming Doodle mixes.
As Family Pets
- The Labradoodle is a favorite family pooch because he is super loving and affectionate.
- This pup has a well-balanced personality that is adaptable and easy-going.
- He is energetic and loves to play fun games with his family.
- They are known as Velcro dogs and will become your second shadow.
- This means that they shouldn’t be left home alone for too long.
- He is an intelligent dog who needs lots of mental stimulation throughout the day.
- They get along well with dogs and other animals.
- These pups love children but can sometimes be too bouncy and energetic for little kiddos.
- The Labradoodle doesn’t shed much, but he needs regular grooming to prevent matting.
- He is great for first-time dog owners and can be trained easily.
The standard-sized Labradoodle is one of the most popular designer dog breeds in the world. And after reading this guide, you can see why that is. He is fun, energetic, loving, and easygoing. Plus, he loves kids, enjoys being with other dogs, and can usually coexist peacefully with cats.
The only real asks that he has are being adopted by a family who can spend most of their time with him. And offer him at least 60 minutes of challenging exercise every day. This gorgeous pup is truly wonderful. And If you go ahead and welcome a Labradoodle into your life, you can be sure that it’ll never be the same again.