Are Labradoodles hyperactive, or are they just a lively breed that loves to play?
True canine hyperactivity, or ADHD, is rare.
But, Labradoodles are a high energy breed that need plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Labradoodles can display hyperactive behaviors if they do not get enough exercise or mental stimulation.
A lack of socialization or even experiencing early neglect can also lead to these behaviors.
If you are looking for a calm lap dog that will spend all of their time on the sofa and needs little exercise, the Labradoodle isn’t for you.
But true hyperactivity is not commonly found in this mixed breed.
Are Labradoodles Hyperactive?
This question is not as simple as it might appear.
There are several potential reasons a doodle might appear to be hyper.
They could be:
- Bred to have high energy levels
- Coping with a past trauma
- Have canine hyperactivity
- Or have hyperkinesis
A dog that is truly hyperactive is not the same as a dog that is not getting enough enrichment.
One that does get enough stimulation to keep their body and mind healthily engaged and active.
True canine hyperactivity, sometimes called ADHD or hyperkinesis, is rare.
But, legitimate cases do occur and treatment is available for these dogs.
The relative rarity of canine ADHD suggests that Labradoodles as a whole are not hyperactive.
Terms like ‘hyperactivity’ and ‘ADHD in dogs’ normally come from people seeing Labradoodle behavioral problems resulting from:
- Inadequate daily activity or socialization
- Lack of sensory enrichment
- Poor diet
- Normal growing pains
- Or another underlying health condition
These factors could cause a Labradoodle to exhibit behavior patterns that could easily be mistaken for true canine hyperactivity.
What is Canine Hyperactivity?
Hyperactivity has become something of a catch-all descriptor for both human kids and dogs.
Often, this term is used interchangeably with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In the world of veterinary medicine, canine ADHD is more accurately called hyperkinesis.
This is a diagnosable canine disorder characterized by the following symptoms:
- High energy output
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Inability to settle, even in stable surroundings
- Continual vocalization (barking, whining, howling, etc.)
- Chronic destructive behavior
- Aggression (towards strange people and dogs and/or owner)
- Socialization issues
- Dislike of being restrained or crated
- Ongoing, unexplained gastrointestinal issues
- Fidgeting and constant movement (pacing, circling)
- Poor retention of training commands and skills
These symptoms can occur along a spectrum from mild to severe.
Untreated canine hyperkinesis typically does not resolve on its own and tends to worsen over time.
Causes of Labradoodle Hyperactivity
Canine researchers have found a range of potential causes or triggers that may lead to Labradoodle hyperactivity.
Here are the most commonly cited causes:
- Dog breed
- Too early separation from mom and littermates
- Too early neutering or spaying
- Lack of socialization with other dogs early in life
- Neglect, abuse, or trauma early in life
- Inadequate daily activity, exercise, and play
- Poorly trained or untrained
- Underlying nutritional deficiency (often due to poor diet)
- Structure and consistency missing in daily life
- Another underlying health condition (such as endocrine, neurological, or metabolic)
- Exposure to environmental toxins (lead-based paint, pesticides, etc.)
Diagnosing Labradoodle Hyperactivity
The list of causes and triggers above shows you what the process is like to diagnose a Labradoodle with a suspected case of canine hyperactivity.
Because true canine ADHD is so rare, veterinarians often start the diagnostic process by ruling out other, more likely causes for the hyperactive behaviors.
If other treatments do not succeed, the next step is to evaluate the Labradoodle for canine hyperkinesis.
This is a multi-stage process, involving physical, behavioral, psychological, and medical tests.
You will need to bring your Labradoodle to a qualified canine behavioral veterinarian for evaluation and testing.
The actual testing process typically takes two to three hours.
The veterinarian will observe your Labradoodle’s behavior before and after administering a stimulant medication.
If the medication eases the hyperactivity, further testing may be warranted.
You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire during the testing period.
This questionnaire will help you identify other potential factors contributing to the hyperactive behavior.
Treating Labradoodle Hyperactivity
Many researchers believe there is a lot of similarity between human ADHD and canine ADHD.
So much so that dogs are now often used in animal model research to develop better treatments for childhood ADHD.
Another similarity is that dogs with true canine hyperkinesis respond equally well to administration of amphetamines (stimulant medication).
It may seem counterintuitive to give an overly excitable Labradoodle a stimulant medication.
This is why many people describe the treatment as “paradoxical”. Giving a truly hyperkinetic dog a stimulant medication will calm the hyperactivity and help the dog focus.
This is also why stimulant-based diagnostic testing is the gold standard for identifying dogs that are suffering from true canine hyperkinesis.
If the dog doesn’t become calmer after administration of the stimulant, the vet can rule out canine ADHD.
They will then look at other potential causes, both medically and environmentally.
Is Your Labradoodle Truly Hyperactive?
There’s still a lot of research needed to fully understand why some dogs develop true canine hyperkinesis.
But, the current research has yielded valuable information.
Researchers have identified certain mutations in the DRD4 gene that consistently appear in dogs with true canine hyperkinesis.
Researchers now believe that true canine ADHD is more likely to manifest if these two conditions are met:
- The Labradoodle has the DRD4 genetic variants
- The Labradoodle’s life to date has been lacking in certain key social, dietary, enrichment and activity needs
This is what researchers call a gene-environment interaction.
In other words, a Labradoodle that inherits the DRD4 genetic variant may or may not develop true canine hyperkinesis.
The risk increases if adverse health, psychological, or environmental conditions are also present.
Or, as some behavioral researchers like to say, “genetics loads the gun – environment pulls the trigger”.
Other Reasons for Labradoodle Hyperactive Behaviors
Is true canine hyperkinesis the only reason a Labradoodle might show hyperactive behaviors?
This is a great question.
In fact, your Labradoodle is much more likely to display hyperactive behavior for reasons that have nothing to do with canine ADHD.
Let’s take a look at these now.
Mismatch Between Owner and Labradoodle Energy Levels
Labradoodles are a hybrid or crossbred dog breed that take their genetic influence from two high-energy working dog breeds.
Both of these purebred dogs are known for being intelligent, active, tireless dogs.
When there is a mismatch with their owner’s lifestyle, the normal behavior of puppyhood and young adult Labradoodle behavior sometimes gets mislabeled as “hyperactive”.
Sometimes, all the Labradoodle really needs is more play time, socialization with other dogs and people, or training and activity that will tire them out.
Early Neglect, Trauma, Abuse, or Lack of Socialization
Just like human children, young dogs need a stable, social, and enriching daily environment.
If a puppy experiences chaos, trauma, isolation, or early separation from the mother and littermates, hyperactivity in adulthood is one possible outcome.
Here, it will take time, and often assistance from a professional K-9 trainer, to help your Labradoodle heal from old traumas and gain the life skills and confidence needed to remain calm.
Normal Labradoodle Energy Needs
Both parent breeds of the Labradoodle mix have long histories as energetic working dogs.
Even today you can find them working alongside humans in energetic roles.
A mix between them will be just as energetic.
Labradoodles grow to be large breed dogs and need active exercise and play time every single day.
They will enjoy swimming, hiking, running after a ball, and more.
This breed will not suit families that lead overly sedentary lifestyles.
And, their exercise needs won’t be met if you just shut them out in the yard to run around for a bit.
Labradoodles need time with their owners every day dedicated to physical exercise and mental stimulation.
You can combine these in some areas, with doggy sports like canine agility, obedience, rally, and more.
But, don’t bring this breed home if you aren’t prepared for an energetic dog.
Are Labradoodles Hyperactive?
Most Labradoodles are active dogs, but they are not hyperactive.
With the right amount of exercise and companionship, they can live as calm and happy pets.
Hyperactivity or AHDH in dogs is a condition that is rare.
But if you are concerned that your dog’s repetitive and unstoppable behaviors might be a medical condition, your veterinarian will be able to help you.
Are you navigating the troubled waters of Labradoodle hyperactivity? Or has the Labradoodle breed simply been more energetic than you first expected?
We would love to hear your stories in the comments!
References and Resources
- Hoppe et al, 2017. ‘Correlates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Like Behavior in Domestic Dogs: First Results from a Questionnaire-Based Study.’ Veterinary Medicine Openventio.
- Horwitz, 2010. ‘Hyperactivity in Dogs.’ Clinician’s Brief.
- Ciribassi, 2017. ‘Canine Body Language: But What Do You Really Mean?’, Fetch DVM 360.
- Coren, 2018. ‘Can Dogs Suffer From ADHD?’ Psychology Today.
- Lohi, 2016. ‘Canine Hyperactivity Reflected in the Blood Count’, Science Daily.
- O’Brien, 2007. ‘Hereditary and Acquired Movement Disorders.’ Veterinary Information Network.
- Luescher, 1993. ‘Hyperkinesis in Dogs: Six Case Reports.’ The Canadian Veterinary Journal.