Your holistic guide to parenting Labradoodles

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Cindy Feng
Labradoodle in park

What’s not to love about a Labradoodle? With the intelligence of a Poodle and the easy-going nature of a Labrador Retriever, these curly-haired pups are a winning hybrid.

Whether you’re thinking about adding a puppy to your pack or already have a dog, this is your go-to guide to Labradoodles.

Our holistic approach covers all the ins and outs of Labradoodle health, from diet and nutrition to physical and mental wellbeing.

What does a Labradoodle look like?

Labradoodles are small to large-sized dogs depending on the type of Poodle used for breeding.

Labradoodles have thick coats that are curly, wavy, or straight. They come in a variety of colours including black, tan, gold, red, ruby, apricot, white, or a mixture. This breed is known for their round faces, brown eyes, and floppy ears.

Different types of Labradoodle

The Labradoodle was first bred as a hypoallergenic dog for the visually impaired, in 1989 by the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia.

Labradoodle breeding origin

The genetic blend of Labradoodle is directly linked to their parentage and generation.

F1 Labradoodles are first-generation dogs bred from a purebred Labrador Retriever and a Poodle and often display an even mix of both breeds.

F1B Labradoodles are dogs bred from an F1 Labradoodle and a purebred parent. If the second parent is a Poodle, the litter is likely to have more dominant Poodle characteristics including a more hypoallergenic coat that sheds less than an F1 Labradoodle. If the parent is a Labrador, the litter is likely to have straighter, more wiry coats that shed slightly more.

F2 Labradoodles are dogs bred from two F1 Labradoodle parents. The ratio of genetics is the same as the F1 Labradoodles, but they are more likely to have low-shedding fur and range in appearance.

F2B Labradoodles are bred from an F2 parent and a Poodle or Labrador parent, to increase the characteristics of the chosen second parent.

F3 Labradoodles are also known as multi-generational dogs that have been bred from any generation of Labradoodles from F2 and F2B and beyond.

How big does a Labradoodle grow?

A Labradoodle is fully grown between the ages of 12-18 months — the rate at which they grow depends on their genes.

Their mature size and weight depends on whether they were bred from a Toy, Miniature or Standard Poodle, and whether they’re male or female.

Toy Labradoodle (micro-mini Labradoodle):

Height: up to 40 cm

Weight: up to 11 kg

Miniature Labradoodle:

Height: up to 50 cm

Weight: up to 20 kg

Standard Labradoodle:

Height: up to 60 cm

Weight: up to 30 kg

Caring for a Labradoodle puppy

Labradoodle puppies are irresistibly cute, making those inevitable puppy mishaps easy to forgive!

The early years are the most important for establishing routines and behavioural expectations through consistent training. A high-quality diet that nourishes their body and mind is essential for early development and positively impacts their health when they’re older.

Labradoodle breed summary

Here’s how to give your doodle the best start in life so they grow up to be strong and healthy:

What to feed a Labradoodle puppy

One minute they can fit in your pocket and the next they’re taking up all the space on the sofa! Puppies don’t stay little for very long and they’re always learning new things about the world around them — food that nourishes their body and brain is essential.

Labradoodle puppies need a diet containing high-quality animal protein for tissue growth, vitamins and minerals for bone development and brain function, and a low glycaemic load for steady energy levels.

Did you know that your puppy’s microbiome (the millions of bacteria in your puppy’s gut) plays a vital role in digestion and the development of a strong immune system? A diet rich in fresh, real food ingredients is an effective way to support the diversity of good bacteria.

The quantity of food is also important: too much can lead to unnecessary weight gain, putting excess strain on their growth plates and newly formed bones. Too little risks malnourishment.

Some human foods are safe and beneficial to give your dog, but only as an occasional treat. Avoid sharing scraps that are high in fat, salt, and garlic, or contain onion.

Remember to keep your cupboards and bin lids closed so inquisitive noses don’t sniff out tidbits to eat.

Exercising a Labradoodle puppy

How much exercise does a Labradoodle puppy need?

Labradoodles are known for their exuberance! They need plenty of exercise and enrichment to stimulate their minds and keep them entertained.

When they’re young, opt for shorter walks and playtime every day. Too much exercise can affect their growth plates. The general rule of thumb is five minutes of exercise for each month of age until they reach adulthood.

What size harness do I need for a Labradoodle puppy?

If you’re training your puppy to walk on a loose leash, consider using a harness to give you more control. Unlike a collar and lead, a well-fitting harness distributes the pressure evenly across their body rather than just around their neck and spine.

Approximate harness sizes for Labradoodles:

  • Toy Labradoodle: XXS (puppy) - XS (adult)

  • Miniature Labradoodle: XS (puppy) - S (adult)

  • Standard Labradoodle: S (puppy) - M/L (adult)

There are lots of different types of harnesses available, so try on a few at the local pet shop to get the right fit and style.

What toys do Labradoodles like?

Appeal to your doodle’s playful instincts with interactive toys that require them to solve puzzles or sniff out treats.

A handy tip is to give them one toy at a time and have the rest on rotation. It keeps them interested and saves you money — win, win!

Training a Labradoodle puppy

Labradoodles are highly trainable dogs that love human interaction and positive reinforcement.

With any kind of force-free puppy training, it’s about consistency, repetition… and a lot of patience! Nourishing their mind is vital for learning and memory, which parents can do with a high-quality, real food diet.

How to toilet train a Labradoodle

Labradoodles learn quickly and can be toilet trained relatively easily.

Puppies can hold their bladder for approximately one hour for every month of age. Your pup will need to go to the toilet throughout the day and night, so try to use each time as an opportunity for training. As soon as your dog eliminates in the right area, reinforce their good behaviour with praise, affection, or a treat.

How to crate train a Labradoodle puppy

Crate training your Labradoodle can be a great way to support their toilet training, while giving them a designated space to relax in.

Make it a cosy and comfortable den with a cushioned pad on the base and cover three sides with a blanket or sheet.

In the first few days, encourage your doodle to interact with the crate without shutting them inside. Pop a treat inside and close the door so they want to go in and get it, or add high-value toys to their den and let your dog play with them.

Dogs don’t like to sleep in the same place they relieve themselves in, so you can use a crate to toilet-train them. Once they feel comfortable and safe in the crate, you can put your puppy inside for 20-30 minutes and then take them outside for a bathroom break. If they don’t go, repeat the exercise until they do.

Take crate training in small steps and give yourself 6 months to achieve success. Always use it positively and never for punishment.

To crate train your pup, follow these steps:

  • Introduce the crate and let them explore.

  • Close the door for a few seconds and then reopen it.

  • Increase the crated time, gradually.

  • While your puppy is crated, begin introducing short absences.

  • If your puppy whines, go back a step or two and follow the process at a slower pace.

When do Labradoodle puppies calm down?

Labradoodles puppies are full of energy, but they usually begin to calm down after they turn 1.

How to train a Labradoodle

Since the Labradoodle was originally bred as a service dog, they're often eager to learn. Here's how to get the most out of your training sessions.

How do I stop my Labradoodle from biting?

All puppies tend to explore their environment by chewing or gnawing, but biting behaviour can be discouraged when they’re young. If you have a mature Labradoodle, the same principles apply.

Dogs love interacting with their pack members, which is great motivation for training. Every time your dog tries to be mouthy, end your interaction with them so they understand that it’s unwanted behaviour. Give them a chew toy instead, to teach them what they can gnaw and what’s off limits, like your new slippers!

How do I get my Labradoodle to sleep at night?

Establish an evening routine to prepare your dog for bedtime:

  1. During the day, make sure your dog has had enough exercise or stimulation, so they’re ready for a good night’s sleep.

  2. Feed them in the early evening so their digestive system doesn’t keep them awake.

  3. Create a calm environment so they can wind down and prepare for sleep.

  4. Make sure they’ve been to the toilet before bedtime so they’re less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.

  5. Ensure their bedding is comfortable, away from cold draughts and in the same spot for consistency.

How do I train my Labradoodle to be alone?

Labradoodles love company, but they can be trained to be alone for moderate periods. Try not to leave them alone for a long time as this can trigger separation anxiety.

Introduce your dog to very short absences (a few minutes) to reassure them that you’ll return. If they respond well, gradually increase the length of your absence. If you notice any signs of anxiety or distress, go back a few steps and repeat the training.

Interactive puzzles or treat-stuffed toys are a great way to keep them entertained while you’re gone, helping them to connect being alone to something positive.

It can be tempting to give your dog lots of love and cuddles before you leave, but this makes your departure a big deal and can heighten their anxiety. Try to leave and arrive without any fuss so they respond in the same way.

How to groom a Labradoodle

A Labradoodle’s coat depends on whether it has inherited more curls from its Poodle genes or straighter hair from its Labrador genes. Overall, they tend to be low-shedding dogs that benefit from regular brushing and frequent trims to maintain their coat health and appearance.

Grooming can be challenging at the best of times. Before you reach for the clippers, take them out to run off any excess energy.

Use a slicker brush to groom your pup’s hair in the direction of growth to see what needs to be trimmed. Trim their face around their eyes and muzzle with clippers, or use thinning shears to keep the area clear and mat-free.

Taking your Labradoodle to a reputable groomer is usually the easier option, but if you’d like to groom them at home, here’s where to begin:

How to clean a Labradoodle’s ears

Check your Labradoodle’s ears regularly as part of their normal grooming routine.

Use a clean, damp cotton pad to wipe the outer area of their ear and the visible part of the ear canal. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal itself, as this can cause damage. Try not to clean their ears too often as this can disturb the natural balance of bacteria.

You can use a vet-recommended ear-cleaning solution for a more thorough clean.

If your Labradoodle scratches or rubs their ears a lot, they may have an ear infection that requires veterinary attention.

How to clean a Labradoodle’s eyes

Like humans, dogs sometimes get eye-goop. Gently wipe their closed eyes using a clean cloth and warm water to remove any discharge.

If you notice the discharge is yellow or green in colour, it could be an eye infection. Speak to your vet for further support.

How often should Labradoodles be bathed?

You should only wash your pup every 4-6 weeks, unless they’ve rolled in something particularly unpleasant.

Only use a dog-friendly shampoo that won’t irritate their skin or eyes.

How to trim a Labradoodle’s nails

Before clipping your dog’s nails, hold their paw up to the light so you can see the quick. This is the darker section inside the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels and shouldn’t be trimmed.

Use a dog nail clipper that contains a safety guard to prevent you from cutting the quick accidentally or a pet nail grinder. And remember, it’s better to trim too little, than too much.

Nail trimming should be done on a regular basis to prevent discomfort, so introduce your puppy to the process so they become used to the experience. If they find nail trimming unpleasant, distract them with a chew or a toy and remember to reward them at the end.

Why does my Labradoodle smell?

Clean and healthy Labradoodles, like all dogs, have a slight doggie aroma. But if your pup is particularly smelly it could be because of one of these issues:

  1. Irregular grooming. All Labradoodles need regular grooming to remove tangles and debris from their coat. Infrequent grooming can lead to smelly, matted hair.

  2. Ear infections. Ear mites can leave a malodorous dark brown, waxy discharge in your pup’s ear. Make an appointment with your vet if you’re concerned about an ear infection.

  3. Oral health. All dogs should have their teeth brushed regularly. If your dog has smelly breath, they may have a dental issue, like gingivitis, that requires veterinary support.

  4. Skin infections or allergies. All dogs can suffer from allergies that trigger skin issues like itchy hives. When these are scratched, they are vulnerable to developing skin infections that can smell if left untreated.

  5. Digestive issues. A diet that’s high in wheat, corn, or legumes such as beans, peas, and chickpeas can affect your pup’s digestive system, leading to unpleasant gas or anal gland issues. Feed them a fresh food diet, like Lyka, which is highly digestible.

How to brush a Labradoodle

Once a week, use a slicker brush to remove tangles, loose hair, and debris from their dry coat.

Regular brushing is also an opportunity to check your dog for parasites, grass seeds, scratches, or hot spots.

Exercise requirements for a Labradoodle

Labradoodles are clever and lively, relishing the opportunity to play and be social with other dogs or humans.

How much exercise does a Labradoodle need?

At least 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day should keep your Labradoodle fit and healthy. This could be one long walk or two shorter walks.

How far can a Labradoodle walk?

Labradoodles can easily manage distances between 5-10 kilometres a day spread across their daily walks. They’re very adaptable and can be trained to gradually build up to longer distances.

Toy and Mini Labradoodles might find longer distances harder than the Standard type.

How fast can Labradoodles run?

Long-legged Labradoodles can be surprisingly fast at speeds of up to 50kmh over short distances.

Can Labradoodles swim?

Both Labrador Retrievers and Poodles are known for their affinity for water, making Labradoodles great water dogs.

Introduce your dog to water slowly so they develop a positive association with it and become confident swimmers.

Feeding your spirited Labradoodle

The foundation of excellent health and wellbeing comes from a nutritious, complete and balanced diet — for pups and their parents alike!

Food quality and portion control are both important to prevent unnecessary weight gain.

Lyka’s vet-formulated meals are complete and balanced, and full of bioavailable real food ingredients and essential vitamins and minerals. Our meals are delivered to your door in custom-portions based on your pup’s nutritional needs — ideal for your doodle.

What to feed a fussy Labradoodle

If your dog is a fussy eater, getting them excited about mealtimes can be hard. Some Labradoodles get bored of the same food, so having a range of delicious meals, like Lyka, could be a great solution.

Establish a regular mealtime routine and boost their appetite with plenty of exercise and not too many treats.

Labradoodle nutrition FAQs

Why is my Labradoodle not eating?

If your doodle isn’t eating, isn't known for fussiness, and you haven’t made changes to their routine, there could be an underlying reason for their loss of appetite — like an oral health issue or sensitive stomach.

Most dogs get used to a routine in a familiar environment. If your routine has changed or you’ve moved house, this can trigger anxiety and affect their appetite.

Altering your dog’s diet can cause inappetence. If you’ve switched from kibble to fresh food, a transition period is highly recommended as it can take time for your pup to get used to new tastes, textures, ingredients and nutrients.

Always speak to your veterinarian for medical advice, if you are concerned about your dog’s health.

Why is my Labradoodle eating grass?

It’s common for dogs to eat grass on occasion and there are a few theories about why: adding dietary fibre to aid digestion, supplementing nutrients, or boredom.

Check that your Labradoodle’s meals meet their daily nutritional requirements — including the right amount of dietary fibre. If you think boredom might be the reason your dog is grazing, make sure they’re getting enough opportunities for enrichment.

If you’re still concerned, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian.

Common health issues for Labradoodles

Labradoodles from reputable breeders are generally known to be healthy. But just as with any breed, they can inherit health conditions.

Before planning a litter, respectable breeders will consider the health, temperament, and genetic history of their sires and dams to select good characteristics. Always check the health of the parents before selecting your new pup.

Health issue #1 — hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a developmental condition where the hip socket is abnormally shallow and flattened, causing the hip ball to slip out of place. Some dogs may develop arthritis at a later stage, because their joints have tried to compensate for the unstable movement.

Labradors and Poodles are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia, making Labradoodles prone to the condition too. Rapid growth as a puppy (caused by too much dietary calcium or protein) can also be a factor.

Keep your Labradoodle’s joints healthy with a diet containing natural anti-inflammatory ingredients and omega fatty acids at the optimal ratio.

Lyka meals have 8-15 times more healthy omega fats than the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ minimums meaning more good fats for their joints.

Lyka meals are rich in omega fatty acids from fish oil and sardines to support joint ailments, like hip dysplasia. We use fresh Aussie produce like vegetables and plant superfoods (full of phytochemicals and antioxidants) to protect your dog’s joints.

Look out for these joint-loving ingredients for our meals:

  • Coconut: full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to support supple joints (Lamb and Fish Bowl).

  • Fennel Seeds: an anti-inflammatory superfood, good for swollen joints and arthritis (Fish Bowl).

  • Turmeric: contains curcumin, an active ingredient with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to fight chronic inflammation and symptoms of arthritis (Turkey Bowl).

Lyka's customised portions reduce the additional stress on joints by helping to maintain a healthy weight. Our meals are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to reduce inflammation and support joint health.

— Dr Darcy Marshall, Lyka Veterinarian

Health issue #2 — allergies and ear infections

Labradoodles can be prone to food and environmental allergies triggering ear infections, skin conditions (like atopic dermatitis), and hives.

When your dog encounters an allergen, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines to defend the body. It’s the histamines that cause red, itchy, and inflamed skin — a common sign of an allergic reaction.

Your dog’s gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating their immune system, making digestive health vital for their defence against allergens and pathogens.

Boost their gut health and their immune system with a real food diet containing skin-enriching nutrients, including:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs): for healthy, resilient skin and coats.

  • Spirulina: containing high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, this powerful superfood has been shown to reduce allergic inflammation.

  • Shiitake mushrooms: a bioactive, antihistaminic ingredient to support your dog’s immune response.

Our meals don’t contain pro-inflammatory starches and lectins and other common allergens used in commercial pet food like wheat, corn, soy, and dairy.

Health issue #3 — eye conditions

Labradoodles can be prone to developing eye diseases, including:

  • Progressive renal atrophy: a degenerative disorder that affects the light-sensitive cells in the retina leading to eventual blindness.

  • Cataracts: a condition that causes the lens of the eye to become cloudy and affect vision.

  • Multifocal retinal dysplasia: an inherited eye abnormality of the retina.

  • Entropion: an abnormality of the eyelid that grows inwards, irritating the surface of the eye.

As many of these conditions are inherited, you may not be able to prevent them from occurring in the long run. But you can promote your pup’s eye health, decreasing the likelihood of their occurrence, with the right diet.

Choose a real food diet containing beta-carotene: a natural pigment found in green leafy vegetables and orange or yellow produce like kale, spinach, carrots and pumpkin. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, a vital nutrient for vision and eye health.

Support your dog’s eye health with these natural ingredients:

  • Eggs: contain vitamin A and antioxidants linked to eye health and vision.

  • High-quality animal protein: a rich source of zinc used to create the pigment melanin that protects the eye and maintains the health of the retina.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (a type of omega-3) from fresh fish or fish oil supports the light receptive cells in the eye.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a Labradoodle puppy to your home, speak to your breeder about how they’ve addressed the risk of hereditary eye disorders.

Labradoodle FAQs

Still have unanswered questions? Check out our FAQs below:

How long does a Labradoodle live?

Labradoodles can have a lifespan of up to 15 years, sometimes longer.

You can support their length and quality of life by taking a holistic approach to their wellbeing with a nutritious diet, healthy lifestyle choices, appropriate exercise, and enrichment activities.

Are Labradoodles hypoallergenic?

Labradoodles are usually low-shedding dogs and regarded as hypoallergenic, but this can vary depending on which genetic line is more dominant: the Poodle or the Labrador Retriever.

Do Labradoodles get along with cats and other pets?

Labradoodles are sociable dogs that can get on well with cats and other pets.

Every dog is different, so introduce pets to each other slowly and always supervise early interactions and be mindful of any signs of jealousy.

Is a Labradoodle a good family dog?

Absolutely! Labradoodles are affectionate and playful pups that make great family dogs.

When should I desex my Labradoodle?

Usually, Labradoodles are desexed once they’ve reached maturity and stopped growing. Your veterinarian can give you personalised advice about when to desex, based on your dog’s age, size, and health.

Which type of Labradoodle has the best temperament?

All types of Labradoodles are affectionate, playful, and intelligent. They’re a social breed that love interacting with people and pups, and respond well to training.

For how long is a Labradoodle pregnant?

A Labradoodle is pregnant for around 9 weeks (63 days) from conception.

Where should my Labradoodle sleep?

Labradoodles are companion pets and are best suited for living and sleeping indoors. Choose a warm spot for their bed away from cold drafts or intense heat. Be consistent in your training, so your pup knows where they’re expected to sleep.

Are Labradoodles high maintenance?

Energetic, clever dogs like Labradoodles need canine enrichment activities to keep them stimulated. Keeping their coats in good condition also requires a regular grooming routine.

This breed isn’t low maintenance, but looking after their needs can be fun and a great opportunity to deepen the bond with your pup.

What is a Labradoodle mixed with?

You’d be forgiven in thinking that a Labradoodle is part teddy bear, but they’re just a designer hybrid between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle (Toy, Miniature or Standard).

Why is my Labradoodle scared of everything?

If your pup is skittish or seems to be afraid of everything, there might be a few reasons why:

  1. They weren’t properly socialised as a puppy. When dogs are young, it’s important to introduce them gradually to other dogs, people, vehicles, sounds, and scenarios so that they develop confidence in dealing with different situations and sudden noises.

  2. They experienced trauma in their younger years or have developed a heightened awareness following a negative interaction.

  3. They’re in pain and shy away from interactions. If your pup is normally confident but is reluctant to engage with other dogs, people, or exercise, they might be in pain from an illness or disease like arthritis.

Speak to your veterinarian for a health check, or advice on how to help your pup overcome their fears.

Do Labradoodles like to cuddle?

Many Labradoodle pups love to be shown affection, but every dog responds differently to cuddles. Not all dogs like the feeling of being hugged, as a full embrace limits their movement. If you hear a warning growl, release them from the hug.

Are Labradoodles good emotional support dogs?

Labradoodles can make excellent emotional support dogs. They also have an amiable personality — a desirable attribute in support dogs.

Labradoodle vs Groodle — what’s the difference?

A Groodle is also known as a Goldendoodle — a hybrid of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. Like Labradoodles, they’re highly trainable, amiable, and loyal, making great therapy dogs. Their coat is often shaggy and slightly longer than a Labradoodle, but low-shedding thanks to their Poodle genes.

Lyka: fuelling your Labradoodle with real food

Parenting a Labradoodle comes with many decisions and responsibilities, including getting your dog’s nutrition right.

Lyka exists to make mealtimes easy, with flexible meal plans in custom-portions delivered to your door. We’re proud to be fuelling Labradoodles across Australia — from energetic puppies, all the way through to dogs in their golden years.

Join our pack of proud Labradoodle parents today.

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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