The result of breeding a Labrador Retriever with a Standard or Miniature Poodle, the Labradoodle is an active, intelligent animal that needs lots of physical and mental stimulation.
The term ‘Labradoodle’ was first heard in the mid-1950s, but it wasn’t until thirty years later that the Doodle really began to see a rise in popularity when the breed started to be used as a hypoallergenic guide dog. The idea that the Labradoodle is a low-allergen dog has since been disputed by many breed clubs and associations.
This crossbred dog is certainly not a pet for the faint-hearted or inexperienced owner. He will require up to two hours of exercise a day and consistent obedience training to keep his brain occupied and make sure he remembers his manners.
The phrase ‘Labradoodle’ was first coined by British speed record breaker Sir Donald Campbell to describe his own Lab / Poodle crossbred dog in his book ‘Into the Water Barrier’. However, it wasn’t until 1988 that the Doodle became popular, when Australian guide dog expert and breeder Wally Conron began to use them as guide dogs.
His aim was to develop a low-shedding breed that would be suitable for those people who needed a guide dog, but who may have allergies. They proved to be very popular and although Guide Dogs Victoria, the organisation that first used the Doodle, no longer breed the dogs, lots of other guide dog organisations do.
As well as being incredibly popular as pets, Labradoodles are still used all over the world as guide, assistance and therapy dogs due to their naturally friendly, outgoing and trainable demeanours.
Height to withers: 23”-29” (standard Labradoodle) 14”-22” (miniature / medium Labradoodle)
Weight: 19-40kg (standard / medium Labradoodle) 12-22kg (miniature Labradoodle)
Because the Labradoodle is not a recognised breed, rather a hybrid, there are no breed standards and their appearance depends very much on the parents of the dog and its bloodline. There are no certain characteristics to speak of, and although most will display similar traits, it must always be remembered that the outcome of any crossbreed will, by its very nature, be unpredictable.
The coat of the Doodle can very from very curly and wiry, to soft and wavy and can come in a large number of colours but the most common are black, chocolate, and cream and all shades in between. It’s important to note that some Labradoodles are low shedders and may suit those who suffer with allergies, however there is no dog that is 100% allergen free and people could still be allergic to the Labradoodle’s fur.
The Doodle is an affectionate, active extrovert that makes an excellent family pet. However the decision to buy a Doodle puppy shouldn’t be taken lightly. They require lots of exercise – up to two hours of on and off-lead activity a day – and they are also partial to water and are occasionally referred to as ‘mud magnets’. A Doodle is not a pet for the houseproud!
The Labradoodle is usually a very intelligent animal and will thrive if given plenty of mental stimulation. Obedience training is an absolute must, and this should be continued throughout his life to make sure he always does as he’s told. The Labradoodle can tend to forget his manners and if he doesn’t have a good recall he could disappear at the first sign of another dog when out on a walk. Labradoodles love to play and will be happy to greet any potential playmate!
Because of his boundless energy and intelligence the Labradoodle does suit work and will excel at obedience trials, flyball and agility.
The Labradoodle can display health problems often associated with their foundation breeds but as with any crossbreed, these can be difficult to anticipate. Both Lab Retrievers and Poodles can suffer with hip dysplasia, a condition where a malformation of the hip joint leads to pain, lameness and frequent dislocations. The presence of hip dysplasia can be confirmed with an x-ray. Eye problems are also seen in the parent breeds and any breeding animals should be checked for hip dysplasia or eye conditions before they are put together.
Some Doodles can suffer with Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a genetic issue that can cause blindness. Again, breeding animals should be tested for the condition to prevent the disease entering new bloodlines. Cataracts and Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia are also seen in the breed, as is Addison’s Disease.
Addison’s Disease is caused when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough steroid hormones. Treatment is hormone replacement therapy which is likely to last the lifetime of the animal.
Perhaps the biggest requirement of your Doodle will be exercise. These dogs have seemingly limitless energy and two hour long walks a day, with time off the lead, should meet his needs. If you like your Sundays in front of the TV then the Labradoodle is not the dog for you. If the idea of tramping across fields, through woodland and along beaches fills you with dread then you need to look at another type of dog. They love water and are strong swimmers, so trips the beach will be very much appreciated. However, it’s important not to over exercise a young Doodle. Two-hours of exercise per day should be left for dogs aged over 18-months – younger dogs should not be allowed to over exert themselves and running at speed and jumping should be discouraged.
Depending on the coat type of your Labradoodle, your grooming routine should consist of daily brushing and combing sessions. It’s likely he will find the dirtiest spots available while out on his walks and will wear them proudly on his coat, so not only will brushing keep his coat healthy, it will also keep him clean.
He should be fed the best quality food you can afford – ask the breeder’s advice on what’s best for your dog. Puppies’ nutritional needs will be different to those of an adult dog so he will need a different feed as he gets older. It’s also worth adding fresh, home cooked food to his diet to add variety and ensure he gets an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals. Eggs, meat, tinned oily fish, yogurt, cottage cheese and vegetables can all bring benefits to his diet but care should be taken not to overfeed him as an obese dog can suffer from numerous health problems.