Evolution of the Labradoodle and Their Possible Traits

Updated January 19, 2022
Young labradoodle dog playing in the sunshine

Labradoodles first came to public attention around 1988. Although numerous "doodle" mixes have popped up in recent years, the labradoodle is arguably the most well-known Poodle mixed breed and remains loved by many.

Labradoodle Origins

There is a bit of debate about who bred the first labradoodle and gave this designer mix their name. It's highly possible that the occasional Poodle could have bred with a Labrador Retriever at any point in these two breeds' histories and produced crossbred pups. In fact, there's mention of a "labradoodle" in Sir Donald Campbell's book, Into the Water Barrier, which was published in 1955, so it seems the name had been used before.

According to the Australian Labradoodle Association, however, labradoodles as we know them today trace their beginnings to Australia, where Wally Conron of Royal Guide Dogs carried out the first deliberate cross-breedings in an effort to create a hypoallergenic dog that could be used as service dogs.

History of the Mix's Hypoallergenic Nature

Conron had allergy testing performed on saliva and dander samples from all resulting offspring of these first matings and pursued his breeding program using only dogs that were proven to have less allergenic tendencies. Within a few generations, he had established a line of dogs that, although not purely hypoallergenic, still caused far fewer reactions in dog allergy sufferers.

Of course, once this breeding program became public knowledge, many individuals hoping to cash in on the hypoallergenic bandwagon began indiscriminately breeding Poodles and labs together, calling the resulting pups "labradoodles." As a result of this market flood, most labradoodles today are not likely to be truly hypoallergenic.

Characteristics of Labradoodles

Labradoodles are just one of a number of mixed-breed dog types that fall under the recently coined category of "designer dogs." These good-natured pets are the result of breedings between Labrador Retrievers and Standard Poodles. For this reason, they possess many of these breeds' traits.

Labradoodle breed characteristics

Appearance

There are some differences in the appearance of individual labradoodles. Some look quite a bit like their Poodle ancestors, while others more closely resemble shaggy labs. In general, these dogs have a medium to long muzzle, pendulous ears, and a long tail. Their body structure can range from stocky to slender. The look of the mix will become more uniform as labradoodles are bred to each other rather than simply crossed from Poodles and Labradors.

"Doodles," as they are affectionately called by their fans, are available in a range of sizes.

  • Standards can range between 50 and 75 pounds, with females at the lower end of the scale and males at the higher end.
  • Mediums fall in the 40 to 50 pound range.
  • Miniatures range from 25 to 45 pounds.

Currently, there are two main coat types for labradoodles.

  • Wool curly coats are similar to the traditional Poodle coat texture.
  • Fleece coats have a softer texture than wool coats and hang in loose curls.

Coat colors range in all the standard Poodle and lab shades and include the following.

  • Black
  • Silver
  • Brown/Chocolate
  • Red
  • Apricot
  • Gold/Yellow
  • Cream
  • White

Temperament

Although the hypoallergenic quality of these dogs remains questionable, there is no room for doubt about their wonderful personalities. The labradoodle is a highly social creature, affectionate, loyal by nature, and very tuned in to their human companions. These dogs also tend to get along well with other canine companions, being less territorial than some breeds.

Exercise Requirements

Both Labradors and Poodles are active breeds, so it's no surprise that your labradoodle will have higher exercise needs. These dogs need at least one to two hours of physical activity each day. Fulfill this need through daily walks, run, hikes, dog sports such as agility, or free play. If your labradoodle takes after their lab side, they may take to the water and enjoy swimming activities.

Woman teaching obedience training to pet at back yard

Training

Labradoodle training has also proven to be a success, given the mix's intelligence. These dogs easily learn what is required of them for daily family life. Plus, they have also made their mark in the service dog arena, becoming guide dogs for the blind and terrific therapy dogs. Early training and socializing is important to help these rambunctious dogs calmly interact with others.

Health Concerns

In general, mixed-breed dogs have fewer health problems than pure-bred dogs. However, there are a few diseases that both Poodles and Labradors are predisposed to, which means labradoodles are at risk for them, too.

  • Ear infections: Because of their tendency to have hair in the ear canal like Poodles, long ear flaps, and a love of swimming, this mix can develop ear infections.
  • Hypoadrenocorticism: Adrenal insufficiency, more commonly known as Addison's disease, is a problem that both parent breeds are poster children for.
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia: Abnormal development of the elbow and hip joints is uncomfortable and can lead to lameness.
  • Gastric Dilation-Volvulus: Known as gastric torsion or canine bloat, this condition is most commonly seen in deep-chested large breed dogs like Poodles and Labradors.
  • Allergies: These dogs can be prone to seasonal or food allergies.

Lifespan

A labradoodle can live, on average, 12 to 14 years. Many factors impact a dog's life expectancy, including a labradoodle's size, inherited health problems, and care.

Grooming

Each labradoodles' coat can differ greatly, so grooming should be based on the individual's hair texture. Wooly doodles with curly hair should be treated similar to a Poodle's coat: brushed every other day and bathed every month (or as needed). Fleece-coated labradoodles may have less involved grooming needs, but they should still be brushed at least a few times weekly to prevent mats.

These dogs are notoriously very low shedders, but mats can occur if their hair isn't properly cared for. Due to their high risk of ear infections, make ear cleanings part of your grooming routine. Some labradoodle owners have their pets professionally groomed a few times each year.

Fun Facts About the Labradoodle

  • Both Tiger Woods and Jennifer Aniston are owners of these magnetic dogs.
  • A lab can be bred with a Toy, Mini, or Standard Poodle to produce a labradoodle. This explains why they can be a wide range of sizes.
  • The labradoodle is not recognized as a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club.
  • Due to their friendly personalities, these dogs typically do great with kids.
Labradoodle Puppy at Play

Where to Find a Labradoodle Puppy

If you're considering getting a labradoodle as a pet, you are likely going to pay somewhere around $1,500 to $3,000 for a well-bred puppy. Finding an ethical breeder is essential. The Australian Labradoodle Association of America has a directory of breeders who are registered with the organization. This is a great place to start when looking for a labradoodle puppy.

Labradoodle rescues are also plentiful. Many organizations also help find homes for other dogs like their parent breeds or the goldendoodle. A few of these include the following.

How to Know if the Labradoodle is Right for You

If you're deciding between the Labrador breed and Poodle, a labradoodle can give you the best of both worlds. These dogs are friendly, adventurous, smart, and nearly hypoallergenic. Do your research to find a responsible breeder, and you can enjoy many joyful years with your doodle.

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Evolution of the Labradoodle and Their Possible Traits