Labradoodles are well known as family pets and support dogs, but they can also make amazing hunting companions. The Labradoodle has a rich history as a hunting dog, both in their Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle lines.
Growing up around hunting dogs, I know all too well how easy it is to fall into wanting to stick to what you know when it comes to breeds. Labradors and Spaniels have been hovering around my feet since age 0, and they are really reliable helpers. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to look elsewhere sometimes. And a Labradoodle is a good field dog to consider.
Do Labradoodles Hunt?
Labradoodles combine two incredible retrieving breeds, which bring quite different skills to the table. The Standard Poodle is more known for their work in the wildfowl world, with endless patience and a coat that keeps them protected from the weather.
Labrador Retrievers have boundless energy and an enthusiasm for fetching game that keeps going even longer than you can. Combine these dogs together, and even if you get the worst hunting qualities of each you’ve still got a pretty great hunting dog.
There are also downsides to the Lab like being overly friendly and pushy
Labradoodle Hunting Traits
There are some personality and physical traits that make the Labradoodle a good potential hunting companion. Especially for people that enjoy hunting waterfowl!
- Warm waterproof coat
- Webbed paws
- Strong retrieving instinct
- Keen to please
Labradoodle Duck Hunting
Labradoodles are great duck hunting dogs. Depending on their coat type they might be a little more or less resilient to the cold water, but they are all natural swimmers and strong retrievers from water. They will sit by the river or in your boat patiently, and jump straight in when you are ready. Whether that’s on land or in the water!
Labradoodles make strong retrievers, and really excel when you work closely with them. They are good peg dogs, staying by your side and working with you over long distances.
Labs aren’t known for their work in the undergrowth in the same way that Spaniels are, and neither are Poodles. Your Labradoodle might be happy to stick her head in a bush for you, but she isn’t going to be the strongest hunter in thick undergrowth.
A heavy coat will protect her from scrapes and scratches, but her large body size and long tail are not ideally suited to the job. Labradoodles are also more naturally inclined to stay close to their handler than carry out tracking or scenting work.
They can be used to flush game, but this isn’t the best way to work with them as a hunting dog.
Do Labradoodles Like Hunting?
Dogs were bred for generations by humans to carry out certain jobs. The jobs that different breeds did were ones that worked well with their natural instincts. And that they enjoyed.
The huge surge in positive training methods meets this beautifully, meaning that any dog you decide to train to hunt that has an inclination to do so will have the most amazing time working with you.
Labradoodles love being together, fetching and carrying, swimming and running.
Training Labradoodles to Hunt
Training a Labradoodle to hunt works best when you use positive reinforcement methods. This means working with your dog to help motivate them through the use of rewards. You wouldn’t go out to work all day for no pay, so why should your dog!
Start with basic obedience training around the house. Focus a lot on rewarding them for making eye contact with you, coming to be near you and on recall training. The most important thing any hunting dog needs is a really great recall, because they are going to be up against a lot of temptation when training progresses.
You want your Labradoodle to hunt on your terms, not on theirs. That means you need to be more rewarding than the exciting rabbits, squirrels, deer and birds they are going to encounter on your trips.
Rock solid recall comes with proofing, where you gradually introduce distractions to your training only once they are really familiar with following your commands in an easy environment.
American vs English Hunting Labradoodles
If you are looking for a Labradoodle to train up as a hunting companion, you will need to make sure that their Labrador Retriever parent is from working lines. This means that they and their parents are an American Lab, not an English Lab.
Although all types of Labs have a working history, the American line is much more recently bred for field work. These Labs will be slimmer in build, with more narrow heads and generally a lower body weight.
I’ve worked with a gorgeous chocolate Lab from a mixture of English and American lines. She was a great, keen retriever but definitely did not have the hard working attitude of our American Labs. She was more playful, over friendly and easy to distract. A great dog and lovely pet but she wasn’t the best hunting dog due to her distractibility.
When you look for a hunting Labradoodle puppy, check out the Lab parent’s pedigree and go for a dog with a working past. Even better, find a puppy from a breeder that works the Labradoodle parents!
Are Labradoodles Good Hunting Dogs?
Most dogs are only ready to go out into the field once they are at least eighteen months old. Don’t be tempted to hunt with your Labradoodle too soon,m or you’ll be setting them up to fail. You want to introduce distractions slowly, and get them really bonded to you and motivated to respond to your commands.
If you carefully train and raise your Labradoodle puppy, then you will end up with a great hunting dog. And one that will also be a lovely, friendly family pet too!