They seem to be everywhere now, but what is a Labradoodle anyway?
A Labradoodle is usually a first generation cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. But it may also be a later generation cross, or even part of an effort to standardize Labradoodles as their own breed.
Labradoodles are popular pets, but the most happiest Labradoodle owners are those who fully understand and appreciate this mixes needs.
What Is A Labradoodle?
“Labradoodle” seems like a funny name for a dog, so where does it come from?
It’s often called a “designer dog”. Which means the two parent breeds were intentionally combined to create a new type of dog with characteristics of both.
Along with many other mixes (with names like Goldendoodle and Cockapoo), they are a relatively recent creation. Their history only goes back a few decades, but they have quickly gained popularity among dog owners.
You may have seen a good number of these wavy coated, good natured dogs out and about before even hearing the word Labradoodle!
So are you new to the world of Labradoodles but interested in learning more about them?
We’ll tell you all about this popular mixed breed dog, starting with how they first came to be.
Unlike dog breeds that go back hundreds or even thousands of years, the Labradoodle’s origins are well documented. Because they are recent! Let’s take a look at Labradoodle history.
The History of the Labradoodle
The story of the Labradoodle begins in Australia.
The impetus was to create a low shedding, allergy friendly service dog.
The Labrador Retriever has long been a favorite service dog breed. But it has a high shedding coat, while the Poodle is known for its low shedding coat.
In the 1980s, a blind woman from Hawaii requested an allergy friendly guide dog from the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia.
According to Wally Conron, the man credited with creating the Labradoodle, he mated a male Poodle with a female Labrador in 1989.
Hair clippings from the first litter were sent to the woman. Her husband (who was usually allergic to dogs) had no adverse reaction to hair from one of the puppies. So that puppy, named Sultan, was sent to Hawaii. And he became the first successful Doodle guide dog.
Mr. Conron has been in the news recently because he has since said he regrets creating such a popular mixed breed dog. He feels that promotion of the Labradoodle’s hypoallergenic qualities has led to a lot of unscrupulous Labradoodle puppy mills and backyard breeders.
Despite Conron’s misgivings, Labradoodle owners and admirers are glad this dog was created. Besides its desirable coat, this mix is well known for having an exceptionally warm, devoted personality, and a high level of intelligence.
The Labradoodle has become a favorite pet for families with children and remains true to its service dog roots. Many Labradoodles work as service, assistance, and therapy dogs and bring aid and comfort to people around the world.
Are Labradoodles still bred from Labrador Retrievers and Poodles? Not exactly. Here’s a quick overview of how today’s Labradoodles are bred.
Crossing a Lab with a Poodle creates a first generation (f1) litter of Labradoodle puppies. These early crosses are very variable in terms of temperament, and physical traits, like coat texture.
To achieve a more reliably soft, curly, and non-shedding coat, first generation Labradoodles are often crossed back to purebred Poodles, creating F1b Labradoodles.
A Labradoodle puppy acquired from an established breeder today is more likely than ever to be the result of a 2nd generation mating. Moreover, those Labradoodles might be genetically more Poodle than Labrador.
Labradoodles come in many different sizes and coat types. So, it’s important to ask breeders detailed questions about their puppies’ lineage, and not assume that what you think Labradoodle means, is the same as what they think Labradoodle means!
Although the first Labradoodles rose to fame in Australia, Labrador Poodle hybrids are now popular all over the world.
Many are still very closely related to their most recent Labrador and Poodle ancestors.
But in the 1990s some breeders in Australia decided to try to create Labradoodles which bred true, and could one day qualify as a pedigree in it’s own right.
Besides using Labs and Poodles to found their new breed, they also used Cocker Spaniels, Curly Coated Retrievers and Irish Water Spaniels in their breeding programme.
They called their new breed the Australian Labradoodle, and enthusiasts have been refining it ever since.
Today, Australian Labradoodle puppies for sale should have a pedigree consisting entirely of other Australian Labradoodles.
Interestingly, recent genetic analysis of the Australian Labradoodle found that they a very much more Poodle, than any of the other breeds which contributed to their development.
Labradoodles’ Poodle ancestry also plays a big part in determining their size. There are three Poodle sizes: from large to small, they are Standard, Miniature, and Toy.
Standard and Miniature Poodles are used most often for creating Labradoodles. This has led to the size differences seen in the Labradoodle.
There are three generally accepted sizes: standard, medium, and miniature. It’s common to see Labradoodles that are medium to large in size, but they can be quite small too.
Sometimes Labradoodles have other dog breeds in their ancestry. This is especially true of Australian Labradoodles.
Next, whether you’re looking at an Australian Labradoodle, or a Labradoodle created by more recent hybridization, let’s find out what you can expect.
The very first Labradoodles were bred to be good for people with pet allergies. While there’s no such thing as a 100% guaranteed hypoallergenic dog, the Labradoodle coat is generally low shedding and easy to maintain.
Early generation Labradoodles from Lab-Poodle crosses may have a long, curly, single coat like a Poodle, which sheds very little. Or they may have a short, straight, shedding double coat like a Labrador.
Poodle-type coats can grow several inches in length. So they need regular brushing, and many owners clip their dogs (or pay someone to do it for them) to maintain a cute “teddy bear” appearance.
Australian Labradoodles have two coat types, a fleece-textured coat and a wool coat. The fleece coat is described as soft, like an Angora goat. It is usually wavy or softly curled. The wool coat is closer to lamb’s wool in texture. The curls are loose but not overly tight.
Speaking of teddy bears, your Labradoodle’s personality may remind you of a cuddly teddy bear too!
The Labradoodle has a reputation for being one of the best tempered dog breeds. It is an affectionate and fun-loving playmate for families with older children.
Their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them very trainable, both as family pets and as working dogs.
True to their origins as service dogs, you will often see Labradoodles working with people who have physical and emotional challenges, such as sight, hearing, and mobility issues as well as conditions like autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Several service dog providers report that Labradoodles are particularly sensitive and adaptable to the needs of a wide range of clients. They can be exuberant but also calm and gentle, such as with elderly people.
Are you ready to investigate getting a Labradoodle of your own? Here are a few tips.
Finding the Right Dog for Your Family
Unfortunately, Labradoodles, like other popular dogs, are often bred by outfits that are more interested in profit than quality.
This rush by puppy farmers to capitalize on their popularity is one of creator Wally Conron’s greatest sources of disappointment.
Because the Labradoodle is a mixed breed dog, you won’t find breeders that work with “official” dog breed organizations like the UK or American Kennel Clubs.
So how can you find a responsible breeder?
There are several Labradoodle associations that maintain codes of ethics and lists of members in good standing. You can find a breeder near you who is affiliated with a Labradoodle association and welcomes visits by clients.
Never purchase a Labradoodle puppy from a retail pet store. You don’t want to risk getting an unhealthy dog that came from less than humane conditions.
It is well worth taking the extra time to research reputable breeders in your area in order to find the perfect Labradoodle for you!
What is a Labradoodle – Summary
A Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. A cross between a Lab and a Mini Poodle is a Miniature Labradoodle.
A Labradoodle advertised for sale might be a first generation cross, or the result of mating two Labradoodles together, or back crossing one to a Poodle. So ask the breeder for details!
An Australian Labradoodle is an attempt to standardize the Labradoodle, so that they breed true and achieve pedigree status in their own right.
All of these dogs can be a great pet in the right home – just do your research first, and find a reputable breeder!
References and Further Reading
“Australian Labradoodle History.” Worldwide Australian Labradoodle Association.
Rueb, E.S. and Chokshi, N. “Labradoodle Creator Says the Breed is His Life’s Regret.” The New York Times, 2019.
Buzhardt, L. “Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds: Is There Such a Thing?” VCA Hospitals.
“Breed Standard.” Australian Labradoodle Association of America.