The Labradoodle is a hybrid “designer dog” that originated in Australia from a carefully planned cross of a Standard Poodle and a Labrador Retriever. First-generation Labradoodles vary tremendously in appearance, coat and grooming needs; even within the same litter, some puppies will look more like Labs, and others will strongly resemble Poodles. Multi-generational Labradoodles, which come from breeding a Labradoodle to another Labradoodle, are much more consistent in appearance. These are attractive, fluffy dogs ranging in size from small to moderately large. They should appear graceful, square and athletic, never bulky or overly refined. A distinctive feature of the multi-generation Labradoodle is their super-soft, ringlet coat, which shed minimally and be fairly easy to manage. Labradoodles have mid-to-long muzzles and soulful, sometimes mischievous eyes covered in soft curls. They have long, furry dropped ears that are well set back on the top of their head.
Size and Weight
The Labradoodle comes in three recognized size varieties, although exact sizing is still somewhat inconsistent. According to the standard established by the Tegan Park and Rutland Manor Breeding & Research Centers of Australia and later adopted by the Australian Labradoodle Club of America, Labradoodles should fall somewhere within – or close to - the following ranges:
- STANDARD: 21 to 24 inches at the withers. The "ideal" size for a Standard female is 21 to 23 inches and for a male 22 to 24 inches. Weight range tends to be 50 to 65 pounds.
- MEDIUM: 17 to 20 inches at the withers. The "ideal" size for a Medium female is 17 to 19 inches and for a male 19 to 20 inches. Weight range tends to be 30 to 40 pounds.
- MINIATURE: 14 to 16 inches at the withers. The "ideal" size for a miniature is 14 to 16 inches, with no correlation between height and sex. Weight range tends to be 16 to 25 pounds.
Males tend to be larger and heavier in all three varieties.
Coat and Color
Three coat types are recognized by knowledgeable Labradoodle enthusiasts. The Fleece coat is long, flowing and slightly to very wavy, with a distinctively soft and silky feel unlike that of the coat of any other dog. It hangs in loose, loopy ringlets like that of the Angora goat, and it rarely sheds. The Wool coat is more tightly curled, resembling that of a sheep or a Poodle, and feels like a wool sweater. The Wool coat is virtually shed-proof and is preferred by people with severe allergies. Some Labradoodles, especially those in the first generation, have a Labrador or Hair coat, which can be straight or slightly wavy and usually sheds profusely. This third coat type normally is not allergy-friendly.
Labradoodles come in many colors, including combinations of colors which are called “parti” (patched) or “phantom” (shaded or two-toned). Some recognized colors are: Red, Black, Silver, Blue, Caramel, Chocolate, Cafe, Parchment, Lavender, Cream, Apricot/Gold, Apricot/Cream and Chalk (appears white, but when compared to a true white dog looks chalky).
Multi-generation Labradoodles have dense coats that mat easily, making regular grooming extremely important. Experts recommend having Labradoodles professionally groomed every four to six weeks, unless their owner is especially conscientious and enjoys doing lots of grooming. If the coat grows out and is not properly maintained, it can quickly become unmanageable and difficult even for a professional groomer to salvage. Labradoodles should be brushed and combed from the time they are puppies, so that they get used to and enjoy the feeling and process of being groomed. Since most Labradoodles are fairly odor-free, regular bathing is not necessary, unless of course the dog has a play-date in a mud puddle or a good roll in some fresh livestock manure. Too many baths can damage their coat and strip their skin of natural, beneficial oils.