The Labradoodle is one of the most popular Doodles around, whose friendly personality and behavior make them a wonderful family pet.
So, what is a Labradoodle? Do these dogs have any behavioral problems? Are Labradoodles a good choice for a family with allergy sufferers? And do Labradoodles come in a variety of colors and coat patterns?
Read this guide to learn more about Labradoodles’ care, their appearance and size, what diet they need, and misconceptions about the breed.
Overview of the Labradoodle
The Labradoodle is a crossbreed dog created by breeding a purebred Standard Poodle with a purebred Labrador retriever.
These pups are incredibly popular with families, being considered a good choice for those with canine dander allergies, friendly, trainable, and great with kids. Unlike Goldendoodles, who tend to love everyone, the Labradoodle can be somewhat more aloof with strangers, although they do generally have friendly temperaments and will shower their human family with affection.
Labradoodle Breed Group
Labrador retriever, Poodle crossbreed
30 to over 65 pounds
17 to 24 inches
Hair coated, fleece, or wool
Cream, apricot, caramel, gold, black, white, chocolate, blue, parchment, parti-color
10 to 15 years
Brief History of Labradoodles
The Labradoodle breed was created way back in 1989 by an Australian breeder called Wally Conron for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dogs.
Interestingly, the breed creator Conron regrets his creation, as the Doodle experiment has spawned a vast number of crossbreeds, some of which are prone to health problems. Such is the popularity of faddy, so-called designer breeds that puppy mills and unscrupulous backyard breeders have sprung up everywhere, hoping to make a quick buck from the latest trends.
Conron’s ultimate aim was to breed a service dog with a hypoallergenic coat that wouldn’t trigger allergic reactions in people with allergies. He crossed a purebred Labrador retriever with a purebred Standard Poodle, aiming to get the best characteristics of both breeds and combine them into one, virtually allergen-free animal.
The Lab is intelligent, trainable, friendly, and makes an ideal working service dog. The Poodle is also a working breed that’s super-smart and easy to train but has the advantage of a single low-shedding coat.
Today, after the Goldendoodle, the Labradoodle is just as popular as ever, especially with families.
Appearance and Size: What do Labradoodles Look Like?
Since Labradoodles are not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, there are no accepted breed standards for them. So, basically, you don’t really know exactly how your puppy will turn out as an adult dog. That’s one of the things that makes buying a Labradoodle puppy so exciting!
Labradoodles come in a range of sizes and colors. They have three primary coat types; hair-coated (straight), fleece, and wool.
Labradoodle Size Ranges: Average Weight and Height
What size your puppy turns out depends on what type of Poodle was used and what generation the dog descends from.
Here’s an overview of Labradoodle sizes to give you an idea of what to expect when your puppy reaches adulthood:
15 to 25 pounds
14 to 16 inches
30 to 45 pounds
17 to 20 inches
50 to 65 pounds
21 inches and over
Labradoodle Coat Colors And Patterns
There are 11 recognized Labradoodle coat colors and patterns:
Fur Texture and Length, Facial Hair and Shedding
Labradoodles have a range of coat types, specifically:
The fleece coat is the most popular with Labradoodle owners.
Fleece coats can be wavy or tightly curled and are soft and silky like Angora wool. The coat texture can be wavy or spiral curls. This fur texture is easy to manage with relatively minimal grooming requirements and tends to be light-shedding and allergy-friendly.
The wool coat is very much like the finely-textured Poodle coat, being soft and curly when short and wavy when allowed to grow.
This coat type doesn’t shed much, making it extremely popular with allergy sufferers. However, a very curly coat takes a lot of maintenance to prevent matting, so the grooming requirements are pretty intensive.
The hair coat type is the least popular of the Labradoodle coat types.
Hair coats are not great for people with allergy symptoms because they shed more and tend to carry that familiar doggy smell. You tend to find the hair coat on multigenerational Labradoodles and in first-generation dogs.
Labradoodles must have what’s commonly termed “furnishings.” Furnishings are the dog’s long facial hair, including a mustache, eyebrows, and beard.
Two known genes control shedding. That means that breeders can test their dogs and make a reasonably accurate prediction of the shedding properties of litters.
Generational Effects on Health and Appearance
The generation of Labradoodle you choose has a major influence on the puppy’s adult coat type, color, and even his future health, as you can see in the table below:
Labrador retriever and Poodle
Offspring 50% poodle & 50% Labrador retriever
Wide variation in appearance and temperament
Unpredictable shedding and coat texture
Generally larger than both parents and less likely to suffer from common health conditions
F1 Labradoodle and Poodle
Offspring 75% Poodle and 25% Labrador retriever
Generally uniform appearance and temperament
Typically has a low-shedding fleece or wool coat
Might be slightly larger and have fewer health issues than the parent breeds
F1B Labradoodle and either F1 or F1B Labradoodle or Poodle
Percentages of Poodle/Labrador vary depending on the specific cross but are often bred back to Poodle bloodlines to eliminate undesirable traits
Likely to have a wool low-shedding coat
Generally don’t show any improved health benefits, as they’re usually (~80%) Poodle
Labradoodle Personality and Behavior
Labradoodles generally have a combination of the personality traits of both their parents. Breeders usually strive to produce healthy, happy puppies that don’t have aloof or aggressive personalities, conformational or health problems.
The idea is to produce puppies that have the most desirable personality traits from each parent. So, a Labradoodle puppy should be intelligent and trainable like the Poodle with the loyalty and friendly nature of the Labrador.
The main drawback to the Labradoodle personality is that they can be somewhat aloof with strangers.
Living With a Labradoodle
Labradoodles make excellent versatile family pets! These pups love spending time with their human family, especially kids. They get along well with other pets, too. These dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if kept apart from their owners for too long, and they don’t do well if kept outside away from the human family.
Labradoodles thrive in an outdoorsy family where they get plenty of daily exercise. That can be in the form of walks, playtime in your backyard, or a trip to the dog park with your family. These dogs have an affinity for water, and your Doodle is almost guaranteed to make a beeline for the pond in your local park for a swim.
The Labradoodle is bred from two working breeds that were originally developed to work alongside people as hunting companions, specifically as bird dogs. For that reason, you need to keep your dog mentally busy with training sessions and food puzzle games to prevent boredom.
Although your Labradoodle will bark if a stranger comes onto your property, these are generally friendly, sociable dogs that don’t make great guard dogs.
Typical Behavioral Problems in Labradoodles
Although the Labradoodle is undoubtedly a wonderful family pet, making them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners, they can have a few behavioral issues.
- Labradoodles tend to develop separation anxiety at around six months old. That can cause problems with crate training, and your pup might act out when left home alone.
- Labrador retrievers tend to be quite destructive if they’re bored, and they are known to be walking garbage cans and eating all kinds of inappropriate items if left unsupervised. So, the more Lab genes that your Doodle inherits, the more prone to chewing behaviors he could be.
The following table outlines the key Labradoodle personality traits that you can expect from your puppy:
Labradoodle Personality Characteristics
From 1 to 5
Gets Along with Other Pets
Friendly with Strangers
Ease of Training
Labradoodles are extremely popular with first-time dog owners, especially people with allergies. Here’s what to expect if you take on one of these gorgeous pups.
Diet And Nutrition
Labradoodles can be prone to obesity if they receive too much food and don’t get enough exercise. So, you need to be careful that you feed your Doodle a correct, balanced diet.
Look for dog food that meets the minimum standards for a puppy, adult, and senior dog as determined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Measure the amount you feed your dog and follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for your pup’s age, size, activity levels, and stage of development.
Wet food is a good choice for a young puppy that’s teething or for a senior Doodle with dental problems. However, adult Labradoodles should be fed kibble, which helps clean the dog’s teeth as it eats.
Food Allergies – What to Avoid Feeding a Labradoodle
Doodles tend to have sensitive stomachs, so stick to feeding your dog healthy treats and a balanced diet. If your dog shows signs of food allergies, consult your vet or a professional nutritionist for advice.
Avoid feeding your dog foods that are harmful to dogs, including:
You should also avoid feeding your Labradoodle a grain-free diet. Grain-free diets tend to be lower in absorbable taurine, which can cause dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in some Doodles.
Crates, Kennels, and Bedding – Housing Your Labradoodle
Labradoodles are best-suited to life in a larger home rather than an apartment. Ideally, you should have a securely fenced yard where your dog can play. Keep your Labradoodle in your home among your family, as these dogs need to be at the center of the action.
To Crate or Not To Crate?
Most dog owners crate train their pets.
- A crate can be used to keep your dog safe and secure when you’re not around.
- Potty training your Labradoodle is much easier if you use a crate.
- A crate is the safest place for your dog in an emergency situation.
- Crating your dog can help prevent destructive behaviors when you’re not home to watch him.
- If you crate your puppy or dog at night, you’ll enjoy an undisturbed rest.
- The safest way to travel with your dog in a vehicle is to have him in a crate.
- Airlines only permit dogs to travel in an approved travel crate.
We recommend buying a wire mesh, collapsible crate for crate training your puppy. You might also want to provide an outdoor kennel if you plan on having your Labradoodle spending time out in your backyard so that your dog has somewhere to take shelter from rain and find shade when required.
Labradoodle Grooming Requirements
The first thing to know about your Labradoodle is that his fine, high-maintenance coat will need regular brushing and monthly grooming, regardless of which of the range of coat types he has. Ideally, no matter what kind of coat your Doodle has, he will need brushing at least every other day.
Daily brushing is essential. Even the finely-textured Poodle coat sheds to some extent. Labradoodles generally need clipping a few times every year at a professional groomer to keep the coat in good condition and at a manageable length.
Nail Trims and Monthly Grooming
If you want your Labradoodle’s fine, high-maintenance coat in tidy condition and free-from mats, you’ll need to have him clipped once a month or so, depending on what look you want for your dog.
The groomer will also bathe your dog, clean their ears, and express the anal glands if required.
Your dog’s nails grow like yours, so you’ll need to have them clipped every few weeks to keep the nails at a comfortable length for your dog.
Ear Infection Prevention Tips
Labradoodles have floppy ears, and they can be prone to infections. That’s because the ear canals are warm and moist, harboring bacteria and encouraging yeast overgrowth.
You can help prevent ear problems by regularly plucking the fur in the dog’s ear canal – your groomer will do that for you. You should also gently clean your dog’s ears every week to remove wax and debris. When the ear is clean and free from fur, air can circulate freely, preventing the area from becoming a suitable environment for infections to set in.
Take a moment each week to smell your dog’s ears. Likewise, if your Doodle is shaking his head, rubbing his face, or pawing at his ears, those are all signs of an ear infection. If there’s an unpleasant, yeasty odor emanating from the ear, infection is probably to blame, and you should seek advice from your vet.
Canine periodontal disease is a common problem in most dog breeds, including Labradoodles. Not only can doggy tooth decay result in expensive extractions, but it can also cause kidney, heart, and liver disease.
Feed your dog with kibble rather than wet food, provide dental chew treats to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and brush your dog’s teeth daily with special dog toothpaste. We don’t recommend giving your dog hard bones or antlers, as those can cause the teeth to crack.
Training And Exercise Requirements For Labradoodles
Labradoodles are high-energy dogs that need plenty of daily exercise to keep them mentally and physically happy and avoid preventable potential health conditions. Ideally, you should spend at least an hour every day with your Labradoodle, walking, playing games, or training him.
Since both parent breeds are bred to work, the Labradoodle is generally a good breed for training. It’s a good idea to take your dog to a puppy kindergarten class for training, where he will learn the social skills and basic commands he needs in his daily life. You can also spend time training your puppy at home.
As well as teaching your puppy all the basic commands, you can include a few additional commands to expand your pet’s repertoire to add interest and a challenge to your daily training sessions.
A tired dog is a happy dog, so take the time to give your Doodle plenty of daily exercise to keep him content and help prevent boredom and the destructive behaviors that often result.
Health and Veterinary Care
Regular veterinary care is essential if you are to keep your Labradoodle healthy and thriving.
When you pick up your puppy, he should have had his first vaccinations. Be wary of puppy mills that often don’t bother vaccinating their breeding dogs or puppies. These backyard breeding operations often produce sickly puppies that can sometimes even die not long after arriving in their new homes.
What Vaccines Does A Labradoodle Need?
Your vet will vaccinate your Labradoodle for several common canine diseases, including:
- Kennel cough (bordetella)
- Rabies (required by law)
- Lyme disease
Do not allow your puppy to mix with other dogs until he has received his full course of vaccinations, especially in a puppy kindergarten class. Sickly puppies that arrive in the vet clinic are usually not fully vaccinated and have picked up a disease from another dog they’ve come into contact with.
Flea allergy dermatitis is a major cause of skin problems in dogs. Flea bites are also not pleasant for your dog, other pets, or family! So, ask your vet for a year-round flea control program for your Labradoodle.
Depending on your location, you should also consider tick and heartworm preventative drugs.
Your Labradoodle should be placed on a regular de-worming program to keep him protected from common worm species that can be picked up from other animals or from eating feces.
General Health Issues
Like all crossbreeds, Labradoodles are generally pretty healthy characters. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain potential health conditions, some of which can be inherited from their parents.
When you buy your puppy, make sure that your puppy comes from breeding dogs that have been health-screened for all the most common hereditary diseases. The best way to avoid puppy mills is to look for breeder referrals to find a reliable breeder.
As previously mentioned, Labradoodles can have problems with ear infections and ear hygiene. Keep your Doodle’s ears clean, and check them regularly for foul odors that could indicate an infection.
Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition where the dog’s thighbone doesn’t fit the hip socket properly.
Dogs with hip dysplasia often display pain and lameness in one or both hind legs, whereas others show no signs of discomfort at all. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop.
Elbow dysplasia is often carried by dogs associated with hip dysplasia and is a similar problem. This condition manifests as a malformed or weakened elbow joint. Treatment involves weight management, surgery, anti-inflammatory medication, and medical management.
Epilepsy can be inherited, but not always. The condition causes seizures that vary in severity. Fortunately, epilepsy can be treated and managed very effectively with drug therapy.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is an eye disease that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. In the early stages of the disease, the dog becomes night-blind. As the disease progresses, the dog loses its sight during the day.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. This condition is thought to cause alopecia (hair loss), epilepsy, lethargy, obesity, and various skin conditions.
Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)
This serious condition is also commonly referred to as bloat and occurs when the dog’s stomach twists or inverts inside the abdominal cavity. That stops gastric gasses from escaping, causing a build-up of pressure that can cause a ruptured stomach and septic shock.
Bloat is thought to happen when a dog has eaten large amounts of food before exercising.
Dogs with bloat should be treated as an emergency, and many don’t survive without prompt treatment.
Misconceptions About Labradoodles
Labradoodles are often advertised as the ideal family pet.
While it’s undoubtedly true that these dogs usually have nice temperaments and will shower their human family with affection, there are several misconceptions and urban myths about Labradoodles that we’re going to discuss in this section of our guide.
Labradoodles Are Hypoallergenic
Labradoodles are often marketed as “hypoallergenic,” making them the ideal family pet for households with allergy sufferers.
The word “hypoallergenic” simply implies that something causes a lower than normal allergic reaction in susceptible people.
The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a dog that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction in someone with a pet allergy.
Pet allergies are caused by dander. Dander is the term used to describe a mixture of loose skin flakes and dried saliva. The allergy is caused by multiple proteins found in the dog’s saliva. The saliva is deposited on the fur and skin when the dog grooms itself.
As the dog moves around your home, the dander falls off the animal and onto your floor coverings. As people walk across the carpet, the dander flies up into the air, where the allergy sufferer inhales it, triggering an allergic reaction.
So, a coat with hair ranging from fleece to wool that doesn’t shed much tends to drop less dander than a straighter type of coat that sheds more.
Crossbreed Dogs Are Healthier
Although it’s true to say that crossbreed dogs can often live longer and suffer fewer health conditions than purebreds, that doesn’t necessarily apply to every dog.
Labradoodles can inherit problem genes, although F1 dogs bred from healthy parent dogs might have fewer problems than either purebred parent.
Finding a Good Labradoodle Breeder
A good Labradoodle breeder will:
- Have all their breeding dogs health-screened for all the common ailments that can affect both parent breeds.
- Only breed one or two breeds of dog at their kennels.
- Only produce a limited number of litters every year.
- Charge a realistic market price for their puppies.
- Have their puppies health-checked by a vet before sending them to their new homes.
- Expect you to visit their kennels to have a puppy matched with you and your family.
- Allow you to see the puppies with their mother and siblings.
- Have a landline phone number and a traceable address.
- Accept payment methods other than cash.
If you see a Labradoodle puppy advertised for sale at a very low price, be very wary that the puppy is not from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.
Ideally, you want to seek breeder referrals from your vet or other Labradoodle owners or view our recommendations. Unfortunately, in general, Doodles are not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Labradoodles. If you found the article helpful and interesting, please share it.
You’re in excellent company if you’re considering bringing a Labradoodle into your family. These dogs make versatile family pets, have nice temperaments, come in various colors, and are highly trainable. You’ll need to give your Labradoodle plenty of exercise and groom him regularly, but you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of love from your canine companion!
What coat type does your Labradoodle have? Tell us about your pet in the comments box below.