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labradoodle

~Smart, sociable, affectionate~

Lulu the Labradoodle who lives in Wellington, New Zealand

The Labradoodle is a cross between the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Medium or Miniature Poodle.  This crossbreed originally developed as an allergy friendly guide dog but has increased in popularity since the late 1980's.  Being smart and sociable, these hybrid dogs have the perfect nature for a guide dog and service dog, and also have the hypoallergenic qualities of a low-shedding coat.

They are great with kids, have endless energy and are loving and playful.  The Labradoodle will fit into many household situations and as they vary in size, can fit into different sizes of home. If you are a first-time dog owner the friendly Labradoodle will be great for you!

The parent breeds are both included in the world's most intelligent dog breeds.  The poodle is actually believed to be among the smartest dog breeds (second to the border collie).

The Labradoodle

Most Labradoodles are intelligent, happy and eager to please. They make devoted companions and are good family dogs.

They are gentle, loving and loyal but also energetic so good training is needed to settle this down!  They are excellent with kids but as with any dog should never be left alone with a child and in the puppy stage, you should be careful to avoid a bouncy puppy knocking over or scaring a smaller child!


Because it is a hybrid dog, no two Labradoodles have the same appearance, so it is hard to achieve a coat standard. There can be a great difference in the appearance of the coat and the texture.  These can be any of the following depending on the parents:

  • curly 'wool' coat like a Poodle - these will not shed
  • straight 'hair' coat - these dogs will shed
  • curly, wavy 'fleece' coat - these do not shed and are silky to touch

So you can see that some Labradoodles shed and not all are hypoallergenic.  The puppy coat can also change as the dog grows so it is important to feel the coat of a puppy when choosing your dog if are looking for an allergy friendly pup.  An allergy-friendly coat is very soft and silky, whereas a 'hair' coat will be wiry and have a coarser feel.

There can also be size variations in the Labradoodle depending on whether they have been mated with a Standard, Medium or Miniature Poodle.

History of the Labradoodle

There is a story behind the origin of this hybrid dog.  In 1988 a blind woman in Hawaii was looking for a guide dog, however, she had a problem in that her husband suffered from allergies so they needed a dog that wouldn't trigger this.  After attempts to match her with a working Poodle failed, the idea came to cross a Standard Poodle with a Labrador Retriever.

They hoped the resulting puppies would have the Poodle's intelligence and low-shedding, together with the Labroador's intelligence and good nature.  It worked!  The first litter produced didn't trigger the husband's allergies, so further work was then done to develop this new 'hybrid' cross.

The breeding manager who worked with the couple from Hawaii was Wally Conran from the Royal Guide Dogs in Victoria, Australia.  He faced an initial problem where volunteers were reluctant to walk and socialise the crossbreed puppies.  However after Wally appeared on Channel 9 and spoke about this new breed of guide dog, they had loads of volunteers available and so the 'Labradoodle' was born.

Vital Statistics

Average Height: 21-24 in.

Average Weight: 50-65 lbs.

Size can of course vary depending on the size of the poodle.

Average Lifespan: 12-14 Years

Colors

Labradoodles may be any of the following colors:

Gold, chocolate, caramel, black, red, apricot, cream, chalk, cafe, silver, parchment and blue.

Ease of Training

The Labradoodle Puppy

As the labradoodle puppy is intelligent and eager to please, they are generally easy to train.  This breed approaches everything and everyone with enthusiasm and the puppy can be very boisterous so training is required! 

Basic obedience commands will be no problem!  Sit, down, come and stay - you need to mentally and physically challenge the Labradoodle all the time so involve games in their training such as chase, fetch, hide-and-seek - my puppy used to love the game where you hide a treat in a totally different room then make them sit and wait before they go and find it - lots of treats/awards when they do!!

Labradoodles are often known to display an affinity for water and have a strong swimming ability from their parent breeds.

Lulu the Labradoodle off for a swim in New Zealand - a bath and groom may be needed after!

Grooming

It will depend on the type of Labradoodle as to whether you groom or vacuum!

The 'hair' coated Labradoodles will not need hours of grooming but they will shed, sometimes as much as a Labrador! If you don't have allergies this won't be a problem.

The 'fleecy' and 'wool' coated Labradoodles do need regular grooming, and clipping, otherwise their coat will get matted.  We recommend buying a FURminator to keep your dog in shape!

FURminator deShedding Tool for Dogs

We have found that the absolute best way of grooming any long haired dog breed is to use the FURminator grooming tool! We highly recommend this unique brush to keep your dog in tip top shape. Click on the image below to find out more...

  • Reduces shedding by up to 90%
  • Stainless steel deShedding edge
  • Remove loose hair from tool easily
  • Ergonomic handle

It is just as important to brush a Labradoodle’s teeth as its coat. Dogs that do not have their teeth brushed regularly may feel tooth pain, and are at risk to cavities, as well as mouth infections.

By brushing a dog’s teeth, you remove plaque, prevent tartar buildup, and help freshen up their breath. It’s recommended that these dogs have their teeth brushed at least 2-3 times a week.

Clipping your dog’s nails is a necessity. If a dog’s nails become too long, they may become uncomfortable, even painful.

A good way to tell if their nails are too long is by listening to them clicking against the ground as they move. If you hear clicking, it may be time to break out the clippers.

Health Considerations

Like people, dogs can get sick, and can be affected by all sorts of health issues. It is important to know about the possible health risks a dog faces when buying one, as well as provide the proper health care.  Just because a condition is associated with a particular breed does not mean that your dog will be afflicted with the disease. 

Labradoodles are generally healthy but can have problems that are common in their parent breeds and there are a few to be aware of:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Congenital eye diseases
  • Addison's disease

Before dogs are bred they should be checked for joint dysplasia, so do check appropriate screening has been done when purchasing your labradoodle.

Labradoodles are sometimes prone to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and again it is recommended that the parents are tested for PRA before being bred.

There is some evidence of Addison's disease which is a long term endocrine disorder.  Studies are currently taking place to see how widespread this is.

It is important to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, especially when one is looking for a very popular breed such as this.

The Labradoodle is not a recognized breed, but the International Australian Labradoodle Association, together with the Australian Labradoodle Association of America, are aiming to create a breed standard and get breeders to communicate with each other.

You can find a responsible breeder, or contacts to one, at the Australian Labradoodle Association of America (ALAA) website.

In Conclusion

So having been bred to be a hypoallergenic guide dog, this crossbreed is fast becoming a favorite in homes all around the world.

If you are looking for a sociable, loving, happy-go-lucky dog that just wants to be loved and will love you in return, do consider the Labradoodle - you will not be disappointed!

Resources and Further Reading

We highly recommend researching before you choose your breed (or crossbreed!) of dog - the books below are great reading for the Labradoodle lover/owner!  Click on the images for more information.

Are you a Labradoodle Owner? Have you ever owned one in the past?

Share your expertise about living with a Labradoodle. If you've ever lived with one, you are a dog breed expert. Let would-be new Labradoodle owners know what they need to know. What advice can you give?!

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