Knowing if you have a fat Labradoodle can be quite difficult. Mixed breed dogs like the Labradoodle can have very different weights and appearances. So, how do you know if your Labradoodle is overweight, or just built a little more like a Lab than a Poodle? Your veterinarian is always a great source of help regarding your dog’s weight. But, you can also check your Labradoodle’s weight at home using your eyes, hands, and some easy measurements.
Obesity is a big problem in the canine world. And, whilst a little extra weight might not seem like a huge problem, it can actually shorten your dog’s life, as well as worsen health problems. So, let’s find out how to tell if you have a fat Labradoodle, and how to keep your Doodle at a healthy weight.
Is My Labradoodle Fat?
Studies estimate that between 20 and 40 percent of the dog population is in the obese category. Which means, their body weight is at least 15 percent above its ideal weight. This is a pretty scary statistic knowing that obesity can drastically shorten a dog’s life! But, since Labradoodles are a new mix, and don’t have an AKC breed standard for you to refer to, how are you meant to know if your Labradoodle is above its ideal weight?
Using statistics alone, it can be quite hard to tell whether or not your Labradoodle is overweight – because two Labradoodles can have very different healthy weights. So, using sight and touch is the best way to gauge whether or not your Labradoodle is at the right weight at home.
Testing Your Labradoodle’s Weight
Take a look at your Labradoodle from the side. Underneath all that potentially quite fluffy fur, their bodyline should slope upwards from their chest to their back legs. You might need to use your hands to feel this if their fur makes it hard to visualise. From above, your Labradoodle should have a ‘waist’, they shouldn’t be one width along their entire body.
For other breeds, you might hear that you should be able to “feel but not see” your dog’s ribs. The problem with this for Labradoodles is all that fur! If your Labradoodle has a fleece or wool coat, or even a particularly shaggy hair coat, it’s going to be difficult to see their ribs. You might need an early grooming session to make this more likely! But, if you can see your dog’s ribs, this means they’re underweight, not overweight.
As long as you can just feel your dog’s ribs, your Doodle is at a healthy weight. If they feel like they are jutting out a lot, or feel very defined, your Labradoodle may be underweight. But, if you struggle to feel them at all, your Labradoodle may be overweight. In either of these instances, you can always double check with your veterinarian before taking action.
How Much Should My Labradoodle Weigh?
This is quite a difficult question to answer, because the answer is going to be different for every single Labradoodle. Labradoodles are a relatively modern mixed breed. The Australian Labradoodle Association of America (ALAA) provides a breed standard for the Australian Labradoodle variety. But, many breeders selling Labradoodles will actually be selling a first generation Labrador Poodle mix. And, these puppies can be quite unpredictable – ending up anywhere between the sizes of their two parents.
According to the ALAA, Labradoodle height can vary from 14 to 24 inches, with weight ranging from 15 – 65 lbs. This covers miniature, medium, and standard Labradoodles, but is still quite a large range. If a first generation American Labradoodle is bred from two large purebred parents, their weight can even reach as much as 80 lbs!
So, you can see that there’s no specific weight for an individual Labradoodle. Their ideal weight will depend a lot on their overall size. Just because one person’s Labradoodle is quite petite, at the lower end of the above figures, doesn’t mean that your larger Labradoodle is unhealthy. Overall, it’s better to use other methods to examine your Labradoodle’s weight, such as the sight and touch method we described in the previous section.
Why Is My Labradoodle Fat?
So, you’ve done the sight and touch method and struggled to feel your Doodle’s ribs. But why is your Labradoodle overweight? Obesity in dogs can be caused by a number of factors. So, let’s take a look at the most common reasons people believe their dog is putting on too much weight.
My Labradoodle Needs More Exercise
Many owners will believe that their dog isn’t getting enough exercise if they have put on too much weight. Labradoodles are energetic, intelligent dogs. They descend from working breeds, so will enjoy getting out and about. They will love running around, and will often also enjoy swimming, active training, active play sessions and more. But, even very active dogs can become overweight. Your dog’s weight isn’t linked to their exercise levels alone.
If you’re exercising your dog a lot, but also giving them very large meals and lots of table scraps, they might become overweight. Equally, if you’re giving them the right amount of food, but only giving them a very short walk each day, your Doodle might end up putting on weight. The less exercise they have, the less food they will need.
But, you shouldn’t use exercise alone as a way to help your dog return to a healthy weight. If you’re worried about the amount of exercise you’re giving your Labradoodle, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet about how you can change this, and whether you need to.
My Labradoodle Has Health Problems
In some cases, certain health issues can lead to weight gain and obesity. Especially if you haven’t changed your dog’s feeding habits but have noticed a sudden change in their weight. Since they are quite a new breed, Labradoodles have a less established history of breed-common health issues. But, the Poodle and Labrador parents do have some heritable issues that can be passed on to Labradoodles. And some of these might impact your dog’s weight.
Joint related problems like arthritis and hip dysplasia can make exercise painful for your dog. So, some owners may forget to adjust their dog’s food intake along with their lower exercise requirements. Other issues that might impact your Labradoodle’s weight include hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and so on. Studies have also suggested that neutered dogs are more likely to be overweight.
My Labradoodle is Always Hungry
Is your Labradoodle always trying to get more food, even after they’ve finished their meals? Some people find that their Doodle just always seem to be hungry. And, of course, if your dog is hungry, you don’t want to starve them. But, as long as your dog is getting enough calories each day, and the veterinarian has confirmed they have no health issues or parasites, there’s no need to keep feeding them beyond meals.
Both the Labrador and Poodle are quite food-motivated parent dogs. Especially the Labrador. In fact, studies suggest that a gene mutation in Labradors causes their never-ending appetite. So, it makes sense that Labradoodles would also be very food motivated. But, here, it’s up to you as your dog’s owner to keep your Doodle at a healthy weight, and avoid giving into those puppy dog eyes.
Are Fat Labradoodles Less Healthy?
Unfortunately, Labradoodles that are overweight or obese are less healthy than those at their ideal weight. Obesity can cause and worsen many health problems in dogs of all breeds, not just Doodles. And, obesity itself is considered by many veterinarians to be a disease. Some of the health issues that obesity can lead to and exacerbate include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Heart disease
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is a major part of avoiding many of these health problems, or at least preventing them from getting much worse. So, in short, a fat Labradoodle is less healthy than one at its ideal weight.
Benefits of the Correct Weight
Labradoodles that are a healthy weight are more likely to live longer than those who are overweight or obese. This is backed up with evidence from scientific studies – we’ve linked some of these at the end of this guide if you’d like to read more.
But, a lower weight can also be better for other health problems that your Doodle might have. It will put less pressure on your dog’s joints, easing their pain if they suffer from problems like arthritis or hip and elbow dysplasia. And, a lower body weight will mean that exercise is less of a struggle for your dog. Since Labradoodles are energetic, clever dogs, they’ll enjoy getting out and about. And, their mobility will be improved if they are a healthy weight rather than obese.
How to Help a Fat Labradoodle
If possible, obesity should be prevented in the first place. So, if you’ve noticed your adult Labradoodle is putting on weight, try and deal with the problem sooner rather than later. Attend regular veterinary checks if you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, so they can monitor things with you.
If your Labradoodle is already overweight or obese, cut out any snacks or treats from their diet. This means no feeding them scraps from the table, or from your own meals. They’ll need to stick to their regular food. Any rewards used in dog training must be deducted from your dog’s daily calorie allowance – for instance, measuring out their meals in the morning and taking out any kibble pieces you will use for training. Don’t be tempted to increase their meal size just because it looks small – they’re getting the right amount of food, just spread out.
You might want to change the type of exercise you’re doing with your Labradoodle. Or to increase it if your veterinarian has agreed this is safe to do. Your veterinarian may also recommend that you reduce your dog’s meal sizes. But, you should only do this with their guidance, as you don’t want to start underfeeding your dog. This can be just as dangerous for their health as overfeeding.
Keep Track of Their Weight
Throughout all of this, make sure you’re monitoring your dog’s weight. Weigh them on a pair of scales if possible. Some people find this easiest to do whilst holding their Labradoodle, then subtracting their own weight. This way, you can work with your veterinarian to make sure that your fat Labradoodle isn’t losing weight too quickly.
They might also suggest a different dog food for your Labradoodle to try. But, if they suggest this, make sure you transition to the new food slowly, to avoid upsetting your Doodle’s tummy.
As well as weighing them, keep using the sight and touch methods we spoke about at the start of this article. Take pictures of your dog from above to see if their waist is becoming more defined. And, look at them from the side to see if their chest and belly are starting to slope upwards rather than hanging down. As your dog loses weight, you will be able to feel their ribs more easily.
Are You Caring for a Fat Labradoodle?
It’s never nice admitting our Labradoodle is a little larger than they should be. But, knowing and admitting about the problem is the first step to improving things! Work with your veterinarian to make sure your Labradoodle is as healthy as possible on their weight loss journey. And remember, it’s important for increasing your dog’s health and lifespan!
Have you got an overweight Labradoodle at home? Do you have any tips for helping them get back to a healthy weight? Let us know in the comments!
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References and Resources
- Gosselin, J. (et al), ‘Canine Obesity – An Overview’, Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics (2007)
- Courcier, E. (et al), ‘An Epidemiological Study of Environmental Factors Associated with Canine Obesity’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (2010)
- White, G. (et al), ‘Canine Obesity: Is There a Difference Between Veterinarian and Owner Perception?’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (2011)
- Munoz-Prieto, A. (et al), ‘European Dog Owner Perceptions of Obesity Factors Associated with Human and Canine Obesity’, Scientific Reports (2018)
- Raffan, E. (et al), ‘A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs’, Cell Metabolism (2016)
- Yam, P. (et al), ‘Impact of Canine Overweight and Obesity on Health-Related Quality of Life’, Preventive Veterinary Medicine (2016)
- Sanderson, S. ‘The Epidemic of Canine Obesity and its Role in Osteoarthritis’, Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine (2012)
- Torda, J. (et al), ‘Factors Affecting Canine Obesity Seem to be Independent of the Economic Status of the Country – A Survey on Hungarian Companion Dogs’, Animals (2020)
- Armstrong, J. & Lusby, A. ‘Clinical Importance of Canine and Feline Obesity’, Practical Weight Management in Dogs and Cats (2011)