Affectionate, fun loving, and adorable, the Labradoodle continues to gain popularity today. A Lab and poodle mix, these dogs offer a unique blend of the best characteristics of both breeds. However, while some dog owners may consider this breed to be the perfect addition to their home, it's important to do your research to determine if the Labradoodle is right for you. These dogs have plenty of great qualities, but there are some downsides to the breed of which you should be aware.
Variety within the breed
One of the great benefits of this breed is that it encompasses a great deal of variety. Labradoodles come in six different sizes, and their coats range in texture from fleece to wool.
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Whereas some dog breed standards only accept a few colors, Labradoodles come in nearly countless colors, including solid colors and patterns including sable, brindle, and more. New colors are continuously being identified, but currently, these dogs are found in white, cream, gold, buff, red, chocolate, lavender, black, and more. If you're looking for variety within a single breed, the Labradoodle offers countless choices.
Labradoodle coat and shedding
While many people believe that Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, this isn't necessarily true. Poodles are viewed as being hypoallergenic dogs, and because they're related to Labradoodles, people often assume that Labradoodles have the same hypoallergenic properties since the Labradoodle's coat is similar to the poodle's.
Whether or not a dog is hypoallergenic actually has nothing to do with his coat type. A dog's dander, or dead skin cells, is what aggravates allergies in humans. The less dander a dog sheds, the less it will aggravate your allergies. While some people do find that Labradoodles don't aggravate their allergies as much, this isn't a truly hypoallergenic breed.
Though Labradoodles aren't hypoallergenic, some of these dogs have a coat that almost doesn't shed at all. This means that you won't have to deal with dog hair all over your house, car, and clothes in the way that you would with another heavily shedding dog breed. However, because of coat variation among different Labradoodles, you could get a dog that still sheds significantly.
Grooming needs and requirements
Plan to invest a moderate amount of time grooming your Labradoodle to keep her coat healthy. You'll need to brush her at least a few times a week, and her coat will need to be trimmed a few times a year.
If your dog's coat is the type that closely resembles a poodle's fine coat, you will need to stay consistent in trimming and combing the coat since it can easily get matted and tangled. The exact amount of time you'll need to spend on grooming will vary according to the specific coat type.
Temperament characteristics and behavior
Generally speaking, Labradoodles have great temperaments. They are friendly and devoted to their families, highly intelligent, and trainable. Poodles are highly intelligent, and Labs love to work with people, and these traits are often passed down to the Labradoodle. This makes this breed ideal for families who are getting a dog for the first time since the dogs are eager to learn.
Labradoodles do have a temperament, which means they like to be the ones in control, so a family needs to establish and maintain a consistent training approach. These dogs were originally bred to be guide dogs, and they also make excellent rescue animals.
It's important to remember that an individual dog's temperament and personality is often reflective of the temperaments and personalities of his parents. Other factors, including the genes he inherits and the amount of socialization he receives, will also contribute to his behavior as an adult. If you want a dog with a particular temperament and personality, a reputable dog breeder can help you to find an appropriate puppy with parents who have those same qualities.
Social characteristics and behaviors
Most Labradoodles are highly social, which makes them ideal for family settings. Many of these dogs love to be around people, and they have playful, active personalities. Most Labradoodles do well around other pets as long as they're properly and gradually introduced and trained.
If you have small children in your family, a Labradoodle's playfulness could be a downside. Excited dogs can knock down small children in play, but larger children and Labradoodles can be a great match, as they can help to tire out each other.
Labradoodles are highly observant and can be great watchdogs, but because they're so social, they aren't a great fit for a guard dog. In many cases, these dogs would see a new person approaching your house as someone to be enthusiastically greeted rather than a potential threat about which they should alert you.
Common energy levels
This breed tends to be high energy, meaning you'll need to plan plenty of ways to get your dog enough exercise every day. A fenced-in backyard can help your Labradoodle to get rid of her excess energy, but regular walks and playtime are also important to keep her mentally stimulated.
Just like any dog breed, if a Labradoodle doesn't get enough attention and exercise, she can behave destructively. Bad behaviors and issues like chewing and barking are often caused by boredom and too much energy. You can train your dog to stop some of these issues, but if your dog isn't getting enough exercise, she'll probably start to develop new negative behaviors.
Overall breed health
Labradoodles are largely a healthy breed, but they can have some health issues. Labradoodles can develop many of the same health issues that Labrador retrievers, standard poodles, and miniature poodles incur. Because mixing breeds introduces genetic variety, it can be difficult to predict which diseases a particular dog can inherit.
Common issues affecting Labradoodles include eye problems, ear infections, and food allergies. Hip and elbow dysplasia are degenerative conditions in which the dog may develop arthritis, pain in his limbs, and a limp. Labradoodles can also develop diabetes, which can be controlled with diet and medication, as well as epilepsy and hypothyroidism.
Some of these health issues can affect a dog's life span, but a healthy Labradoodle who receives proper care and exercise can live for between 12 and 14 years. This longer life span can be an advantage since you'll get to enjoy more years with your dog.
Finding a healthy dog
If you decide that you'd like to add a Labradoodle to your family, purchasing the dog from a reputable breeder can help you to avoid some of those common health issues. A breeder should be able to disclose the health history of the dog's parents and should offer a health guarantee on the puppies.
Look for a breeder who has the following health clearances:
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals clearance for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease
- Auburn University clearance for thrombopathia
- Canine Eye Registry Foundation clearance that certifies that the dog's eyes are normal
Because many of these common health issues don't present until the puppy is an adult, these clearances can help to reduce the chance of your buying a dog who will develop health issues later on.
Labradoodles can make great pets, and while the breed is susceptible to some health issues, that's true of any breed of dog. Do your research and find a reputable breeder to help ensure that you bring home a healthy dog who is well suited for your family in terms of size, characteristics, and temperament.