The Labradoodle is a mixed breed with a purebred Labrador Retriever and pedigree Standard Poodle parent. Although they are a designer hybrid dog they are actually fairly consistent in terms of appearances and personalities. They have wide noses, long muzzles, floppy ears and long wavy coats of fur. Every Labradoodle I’ve met has been high energy, clever and friendly although perhaps not to the extent of the average Labrador. They have high maintenance coats, but a regular appointment with the groomers will help you to keep on top of their cool curls.
Origin Of The Labradoodle
There are now first crosses being deliberately bred from a wide variety of pedigree dog mixes. But it was the Labradoodle that kicked off this entire trend. And the mix started in Australia in the 1980s. It began as part of an attempt to create a low shedding guide dog for those people who were both visually impaired and sensitive to the allergens in dog hair.
Wally Conron was the breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dogs Association Of Australia. And he set up a breeding program to try to create a line of hypoallergenic or low shedding guide dogs. According to Stanley Coren, who later interviewed Conron, all 33 puppies failed the guide dog training program.
Today, the Royal Guide Dogs Association no longer incorporates doodles into its breeding program, though some other Guide Dog Associations do. In the intervening years Wally Conron has made it clear that he deeply regrets being involved in the start of the Labradoodle’s rise to fame and popularity, due to the controversy behind designer dogs. This is due, not to the dogs themselves, but the fear that a sharp increase in popularity could lead to a greater number of abandoned dogs.
Due to his parent breeds’ size, the Labradoodle is bound to be a medium- to large-sized dog. Labradors vary less in height than Standard Poodles, with a recommended height of about 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder.
A standard Labradoodle full grown may reach anything from 15 to 24 inches tall, but is more likely to come in at the top end of that spectrum.
When it comes to weight, an adult male Labradoodle may reach anywhere from 60 to 80 pounds. Females tend to weigh in at around ten pounds less than males.
Standard Labradoodles are commonly solid-colored, such as a typical brown or a beautiful apricot . However, Standard Poodles are sometimes particolored (white patches on a dark background), and a Labradoodle may inherit that. A bicolored Labradoodle may be referred to as a Parti Labradoodle.
Expressed Labrador genes may result in a chocolate, black or yellow Labradoodle. Apricot, black, blue, brown, cream, red, white or even silver Labradoodle dogs are possible too.
A Labradoodle may inherit its Labrador parent’s short double-coat, its Poodle parent’s long and thick curly or wavy coat, or it may have a combined “fleecy” coat.
Labradoodles are famed for their soft, curly, low-shedding coat, also referred to as “fleece” by some breeders. However, not every Labradoodle will exhibit the fleece. In fact, whether or not a Doodle is a first generation or later cross can greatly impact its fur coat.
The first-generation cross (F1) results from the initial breeding of a Labrador Retriever to a Poodle.
According to the breeders at Deer Creek Labradoodles, the first generation is the least likely to have a fleece coat and most likely will still shed like a Lab.
According to the breeders at Apple Creek Doodles, the first generation is most likely to have a somewhat shaggy coat that requires grooming, although minimal, due to the coarseness of the fur.
The second-generation cross (F1b) results from breeding a first-generation Lab Poodle mix with a Poodle. This combination seems to consistently produce litters with the fleecy, low-shedding coat, thanks to the influx of Poodle genes.
Crossing an F1b Labradoodle with a Poodle produces the F1b.b or F2b cross (future generations might then be referred to as F3b, F4b, and so on).
This combination seems to produce pups with the most Poodle-like coats and Labrador-type personalities, making them highly sought after by the general public.
Do Labradoodles Shed?
It’s a commonly held belief that all Labradoodles are non-shedding or low-shedding, but studies have shown that no dog is truly 100% hypoallergenic.
The allergen to which some people are sensitive can be found in every home where there is a dog. This is true regardless of breed.
Every dog, regardless of how low-shedding its coat may be, still produces some dander.
Furthermore, different people are allergic to some types of dander but not others, thus making a dog “hypoallergenic” for some but allergenic to others.
If you’re looking for a dog that’s less likely to trigger allergies due to doggy dander, then you may have good luck with an F1b or later generation Labradoodle.
Labs don’t require an excessive amount of grooming. Most of the time, a good brush once or twice a week should keep their coats in great shape. But you’ll definitely need to put more effort in a Labradoodle’s coat than you would with a pure bred Lab, regardless of his generation.
We recommend taking any dog with a Poodle-type coat to the groomer once per month for a clip.
Sometimes, the Labradoodle coat can be a problem for owners that lack the time or inclination for thorough grooming.
Just as with Poodles, lack of grooming can occasionally become a health issue, with matted fur getting out of hand and covering the dogs eyes and bottom. This can escalate as the owner becomes embarrassed to seek help.
Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. If you don’t have the time or inclination for DIY grooming, plan ahead and make sure you have your Doodle attend a groomer at regular intervals.
Typical Temperament Traits
Labradoodles are known for their highly energetic but easy-going natures. However, each Labradoodle is a unique individual with his or her own quirks and mannerisms, some of which may be passed from their parents.
Therefore, knowing whether or not a Labradoodle puppy will show more of a Lab or Poodle personality is kind of a toss-up.
On the other hand, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that both parent breeds are extremely popular choices as family dogs.
First-generation Doodle temperaments are especially hard to predict, but it seems that later generations act more like Labradors.
However, breeding later Doodle generations back with Poodles to maintain the Poodle coat can result in more Poodle-like temperament.
Poodles and Labs have quite different personalities, though both have the potential to display strong, loyal attachment to their family.
Variations in Poodle Personality
Poodles aren’t quite as outgoing as Labs. Some people associate them with being snappy. However, while a well bred Poodle may not be as ‘in your face’ friendly as a Lab, he or she should never show signs of aggression or nervousness.
In addition, socializing your Doodle (or any dog, for that matter) from a young age will help to prevent fearfulness and unpleasant behavior toward people and pets later in life.
Poodles are active dogs who enjoy lots of physical and mentally stimulating activity. They like having a job and interacting with their owners, which is part of the reason why they are such contenders in the show ring!
Labrador Side of the Family
On the other side of the coin, Labrador Retriever temperament is generally happy-go-lucky. They are dogs who are content with anyone as long as they are being lathered with attention. These playful pups are also pretty tolerant of other dogs in the household.
They are also dogs that need company. Labradors don’t do well in isolation and can become very destructive if they’re left alone for extended periods of time. (Get help with chewing or destructive behavior here.)
Like Poodles, these are energetic dogs who love to go for walks, runs, bike rides, and swims. They will thrive in an active household or in a job that lets them use their energy (and their powerful nose!) to please their master.
Socialization is important for any breed, even outgoing and friendly dogs like Labradors.
Regular training and socialization is what helps a puppy to grow up to be a happy, healthy dog who is comfortable in different situations and around new people and animals.
A lack of socialization could lead to a dog who is unsure of himself in a new situation, and therefore anxious or fearful. This may lead to acting out.
Additionally, because the Poodle parent may potentially be a little more aloof, a Labradoodle will need socialization to counteract that tendency.
Puppies should begin to be socialized from the time that they are brought home. Regularly introduce them to new people and other animals, and take them out into new environments.
Training And Exercise
Plan for at least an hour of exercise each day for an adult Labradoodle, and try to add in additional playtime in an enclosed yard, and tasks such as retrieving. Because both Labs and Poodles are prone to hip dysplasia, it’s very important that you not let a Labradoodle get overweight or lazy.
Plenty of physical activity will keep their joints moving and flexible, plus the mental stimulation will keep a Doodle both physically and mentally fit.
If you’re not prepared to handle a high-energy dog, then you may want to pass on a Labradoodle, as they come from two working breeds that can go-go-go all day!
Just like ensuring that your child goes to school, training is a vital part of raising a well-adjusted dog of any breed.
The training needs of a dog vary throughout the different ages of life.
Labradoodles should also be trained to walk without straining at their leash, and to come back when given a recall signal. Check out our in-depth guide to training a Labrador or Labrador cross here.
Labradoodle Health And Care
As with other traits, it’s impossible to predict exactly what health issues your Labrador Poodle mix might encounter.
However, with mixes, dog owners need to take into account the risks for both parent breeds, as any and all could potentially be handed down to the mix puppy.
Most of our purebred dog breeds are predisposed to certain health conditions.
That’s because breeding dogs within small gene pools leads to the appearance of recessive diseases.
These are diseases that can only harm the individual dog if he or she carries inherits two faulty genes – one from each parent.
With recessive diseases, if either parent passes a healthy gene to the puppy, the faulty gene is switched off and remains harmless.
These faulty genes are more likely to remain ‘masked’ or hidden in larger and more diverse populations. Which is why mongrels are often genetically more healthy than purebred dogs.
A first cross like a Labradoodle may, genetically speaking, be an improvement on either of the parent breeds.
But it’s important to remember that if both parent breeds are susceptible to the same condition, the risk to the puppies may be just as great as the risk to a purebred puppy of either parent breed.
Labradors are generally healthy dogs. But there are some inheritable issues that they do face. These include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Although these problems are seen relatively frequently in Labs, all three of them can be health tested for. And they absolutely should be, before the Lab is allowed to breed.
Whether the Lab is the mother or father of Labradoodle puppies, they should be health tested and cleared first.
Labs also have a tendency to become overweight, especially as they get a little older.
Lab owners should always keep an eye on the amount and quality of the food they give their dogs.
Labs can also suffer from some more minor issues, such as ear problems and skin allergies.
To learn more about the diseases and health conditions that commonly affect Labrador Retrievers, refer to our health article on Labrador Retrievers.
Unfortunately, Poodles, while also being generally healthy, suffer from some of the same problems as Labradors.
When both parent breeds have diseases in common, those diseases have a greater risk of being passed down to the Labradoodle puppy.
Common major health problems include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Sebaceous adenitis
Poodles are also somewhat prone to obesity, and the same care must be taken with this breed as with Labradors.
Diet and exercise must be adequate to the challenges of an aging dog.
All available testing for common Poodle health problems should be carried out on the Poodle parent. To see what tests are suggested, visit the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Any health problems that a Labradoodle could inherit from both parents poses a greater risk to the mix puppy. Hip and elbow dysplasia and PRA are definite concerns.
A study published in 2012 showed that Labradoodles in the UK at least had a higher prevalence of Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia than Labradors.
A thorough eye exam of parents before breeding is therefore essential. And both the Labrador and the Poodle parent of your puppy should have good hip and elbow scores.
Both Labs and Poodles have a tendency to become overweight pretty easily.
Ensure that you feed a healthy diet and give your Doodle plenty of exercise in order to keep him fit.
Obesity does not lend itself to good hip and joint health!
All the guides to food and exercise on this website can be applied to a Labradoodle, and you can get help here or in our forum if your dog’s waistline starts to expand.
There are benefits to a wider gene pool, but you cannot assume your Labradoodle puppy will be healthier than a Labrador or a Poodle, just because he is a cross breed.
You still need to make sure that his parents have been tested for conditions known to afflict the parents.
In theory, you might expect a mixed breed dog to have a similar life expectancy to one or both of its parent breeds.
But several studies have shown that mixed breed dogs have a greater life expectancy than most pure breeds. So it is possible that your Doodle will live longer than either of their parents.
Labs have a life expectancy of 12 years. And Poodles have a life expectancy of 10-18 years, with smaller Poodles outliving larger ones.
So, with luck, your Labradoodle will be with you for the next 12 years or more.
Rescuing A Labradoodle
If you’d like to adopt or rescue a Labradoodle instead of purchasing one from a breeder, there are many Labradoodle rescues that offer retired show and breeding stock for adoption.
This means that while you may not get a puppy, you will get a lovely mature dog who is ready for a new life spent relaxing with you and your family!
Adult Labradoodle adoption can be a very rewarding choice for both you and the dog you bring home.
You might also be able to find a Labradoodle in your local shelters, but this is less than likely. Dogs are most often dropped off at shelters due to behavioral problems.
Due to their popularity, general good health, and pleasant, trainable temperament, Labradoodles are not often put in that position.
Finding A Labradoodle Puppy
You probably won’t have a problem finding a Labradoodle breeder, given the extreme popularity of this designer breed! To find the right breeder however, you do need to dig a little.
You can also make use of the Labradoodle Clubs and Associations that have now been formed in various parts of the world.
People that care about their dogs and want to see breeders meet good standards create these clubs.
Most of these clubs have a set of rules or breeders guidelines which include health checks.
It is vital when buying any puppy that you find a responsible breeder.
And it is true that when a new hybrid breed first becomes popular, there are often unscrupulous breeders who jump on the bandwagon.
Unscrupulous breeders are only interested in money. It’s likely that they won’t bother with health testing or proper veterinary care.
This has potentially grave consequences to dog welfare.
Fortunately, with the growing popularity of Labradoodles, and the growing public awareness of the need for health checks when buying puppies, there is now a corresponding increase in responsible Labradoodle breeders.
There are breeders with several decades of experience who are actively health testing their breeding stock and raising their puppies with care.
Make sure to get proof of health tests for the parent dogs. Ask to visit the premises where the pups are raised.
If the breeder refuses to let you visit or meet the parents, and if they can’t or won’t answer questions about the health of the dogs and pups, those are definite red flags!
How Much Does A Labradoodle Cost?
Will you purchase a Labradoodle puppy from a responsible breeder? Then you can expect to pay something along the lines of the following, give or take a few hundred dollars:
- About $1,000 for an F1 Doodle
- Possibly $1,500 for a particolored or highly sought after apricot Doodle
- About $2,500 for a low-shedding F1b.b or later Doodle
- Up to $3,000 for an Australian Doodle
The exact amount that you pay may also vary based on the parent stock, how much they are worth to the breeder, and the number of puppies available.
The price charge by breeders is often a source of contention when people debate the issue of designer dogs.
Some people feel that a hybrid should cost less than a purebred dog.
However, it’s worth remembering that it costs a lot of money to raise a healthy litter of puppies and health tests are expensive.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website
Our Labradoodle will be 10 in March. His name is Bentley. I had to buy a doodle book I did the training. He is so dang smart! Bentley is my watch dog and best friend. He goes everywhere with me! I will not get another when he passes as it would not be fair cause I would always compare him to Bentley.
I got a f1bb parti labradoodle in January, 2021. He is amazing. Very smart. Has learned many commands. Yes, he is a puppy and we have to work through those puppy things but he responds when corrected and is very friendly. I couldn’t be happier with him. Got him from a reputable breeder, which I believe makes the difference. His family worked to socialize him early on.
Unfortunately, I am having a bad experience with my labradoodle. He is a black, wavy coated. I got him at 8 weeks from a backyard seller at 8 weeks, first mistake. He came with mange and. The vet misdiagnosed him so he was on intercept for 4 weeks. Then the seller did give us “$100.00 back and said it was mange. So then he was on Resolutiom and not allowed near any dogs for 8 weeks, vet directed. He was very easy to house train! However he bites. Yesterday I took him for two injections. They love him. But he panics when I leave the ca to get him out of the car-2 bites. This morning I took him outside after injections and I have 12 wounds. My sister will no longer leave him in the house. He is being trained at Per SMART and she said he is challenging, but trainable and. Very smart. My heart is broken for my Findley. I think he had a bad stltart and bad breeding!
I have 2 yr old F1 male apricot,(does shed) he was easy to train, gentle, friendly, but also does alert if he hears anything unusual outside (i live in the country) but doesn’t bark for no reason. I cant say enough about how pleased I’ve been with him. This is a great cross breed. I actually found him on Craiglist from a family nearby who bred their female lab with friends poodle and only paid $400 he was one of last two of liter.
I purchased a Labradoodle puppy from a GREAT breeder and couldn’t be happier. She is now 4 months old and is so intelligent and easy to train. She has not had one accident in the house since I brought her home at 8 weeks! There are two times a day when we know that she needs to run and play and the rest of the time she is content to lay at my feet. She is my shadow – she follows me everywhere I go. I couldn’t be happier with her temperament and her sweet personality.
Good for you. My labradoodle is 4 months old too. My lab has had a few accidents in the house.It took us a little time to get it right. Now that we are on a regiment everything is just fine.My dog is truly a blessing in my life.
Im bringing my baby home next week, I’m so excited to be a dog owner again. Every dog I’ve had has been stolen except one and I gave that away. Because when I had my baby he tried to bit him. So that ended that. Right now Im working on names and food and a good Dr. before he gets home!!
My husband and I are thinking about getting a dog for our children as a Christmas present and one of the dogs we are considering is a Labradoodle, so I am glad that I found this article. You make a great point that Labradoodles are high energy and will need a lot of physical activity. I think that this would be a great benefit for my family because this way we will get outside more and the kids will get exercise by taking the dog on walks and playing with her in the yard.