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How much grooming do Labradoodles need?

Very little to a lot is the simple answer here! The hairy, wavy coat, typical of first generation Labradoodles but also found in multi-gen litters, requires very little attention – just an occasional brush.

The woolly, curly coat requires more work. Regular and thorough brushing to prevent matting is essential. Many people have these coats regularly clipped short to make grooming easier. After grooming these coats look a bit like frizzy cotton wool but spraying with a water-mister immediately after grooming restores the curls.

Some coats, like the ‘fleece’ coat, are a particular problem as the adult coat grows through the puppy coat somewhere between 8–12 months old and requires thorough grooming several times a week until the process is complete.

Labradoodles do not need bathing very often. Both Labradors and Poodles evolved coats which, in different ways, repel water. If a Labradoodle gets very muddy it is far better left to dry and then the mud will easily brush off.

Particular attention should be paid to the ears to prevent infection. Like most ‘flap’ eared dogs there is very little air circulation. Keeping the coat trimmed underneath the ear flaps, regular thorough cleaning of the ears and, if necessary, hairs plucked out of the inside of the ears will keep them infection free.

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Are they all allergy friendly?

No – neither are Poodles or any other breed.

The original motivation for breeding Labradoodles was to provide a Guide Dog for a lady whose family members were allergic to dogs. They had already tried several Poodles with no success. Indeed, only one of the puppies in the Labradoodle litter bred to solve this problem succeeded.

There are so many different causes for allergies that it would be impossible to breed a totally hypo-allergenic dog. People who are allergic to dog saliva will be allergic to all dogs. People with other types of dog allergy, however, have found a high level of tolerance with certain breeds, such as the Poodle. This has traditionally been linked with the lack of coat shedding of these breeds. Recent thinking, however, suggests that the ‘dander’ free skin of these dogs is more responsible for the high tolerance level. Dander is the term for skin flakes found in animal hair and fur coats.

In our experience this makes sense as we have successfully homed Labradoodles who are light shedders with people suffering from allergies and asthma.

The general rule seems to be that the more Poodle-like the coat the more allergy friendly it is likely to be. Our experience says that you need to come and spend some time with a puppy to be sure.

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How much exercise does a Labradoodle need?

Like most dogs, Labradoodles need regular exercise. This phrase is often confused with ‘lots of exercise’ and frequently leads to excessive exercise, particularly with young puppies.

During the first year of their lives puppies have a developing skeleton. The changes in their joints make them vulnerable to stresses and strains as the tendons, ligaments and muscles try to keep pace with the bone growth. They have a particularly vulnerable time between 14-26 weeks old when dogs have an accelerated growth spurt. Lasting damage can be done to joints during this phase.

Labradoodle puppies are the same as any other puppies in this respect and need carefully controlled exercise during this time.

It is not a good idea to take puppies out as jogging or cycling partners until they are fully grown. A steady 20-30 minutes walk on the leash is ideal as daily exercise for a puppy. They need to avoid too much climbing such as flights of steps or stairs or steep hills. Children’s play activities with a puppy need supervising to prevent endless throwing of sticks or balls.

Labradoodles are athletic, agile and energetic as adults and will enjoy accompanying their family in all their play and activities. They need moderate levels of exercise and, like us, a gradual build up to more strenuous activities. They are enthusiastic in their ‘play’, usually love water and are natural swimmers.

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How big do they grow?

All of our first-generation Labradoodles have Labrador mothers and a Standard Poodle father. The puppies will generally be a little taller than a Labrador, but of lighter build. The male puppies usually make slightly bigger adults than the females.

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What colours are they?

Labradoodles come in all the colours that you would find with either Labradors or Standard Poodles, ranging from white, through creams and golds to red, shades of brown and black. Ours are all in the range between white and a bright red-gold, with very dark eyes and black noses.

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We’re out at work all day. Would it be OK to leave a Labradoodle on its own?

All dogs dislike being left on their own for long periods and Labradoodles are no exception. Labradoodles are very intelligent dogs and need lots of social interaction and mental stimulation. Deprived of this environment, as with other breeds renowned for their intelligence, their frustration and unhappiness could lead to behaviour problems. If your lifestyle would mean frequently leaving a dog on its own for lengthy periods, it is unlikely that the Labradoodle is the dog for you.

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What kind of training do they need?

As we have just said, Labradoodles are very intelligent dogs and need lots of social interaction and mental stimulation. They can be too clever for their own good sometimes, and need clear boundaries and to know just who the boss is!

It is important that they receive consistent, structured training. We cannot stress enough how very important it is that this is done right from the start. During those first few weeks they are at their optimum learning stage, and whilst this demands commitment and a lot of time from the owner initially, this is amply repaid later on. Labradoodles are so eager to please and quick to learn, they are very rewarding to train, but without this structure will use their cleverness and playfulness in more negative activities, particularly if this is the only way they get the attention they crave.

We strongly recommend that you join local puppy socialisation and training classes. Your veterinary surgeon will have details of these – indeed they may be organised by the surgery.

Once basic training is completed it would be entirely up to you how far you go. Given their temperament, intelligence and agility, going on to more advanced Obedience and Agility training should be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and the dog. We would expect Labradoodles to excel at this kind of activity.

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Are they good with children?

Excellent – The best answer to this question is an extract from an email sent to us by one of our new owners.

“Rosie is a joy. She is loved by all the children on the school run and always has a crowd around her outside the school gates. Parents have been amazed that their children who they thought were frightened of dogs now adore Rosie.

She should be getting her bronze obedience rosette this week! She’s such a sweetie. She is so eager to please.

Hattie and Molly sometimes include Rosie in their games which can involve her being dressed up in bonnets etc – she’s really tolerant.” ~ J Bush

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Which makes the best pet – male or female?

The non-aggressive, affectionate nature generally found with Labradoodles is not gender related. Both males and females make excellent family members. We recommend that you have your puppy spayed or neutered at a time that your vet advises. Not only does this protect your pets from a variety of diseases and disorders, it also removes the hormones responsible for some of the more gender related traits such as ‘marking’ territory.

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I’ve heard of ‘indoor kennels’ or ‘crates’. Do you recommend them?

Yes we do. There are a variety of Internet sites that can give you more information. Our experience is that crates provide a ‘safe’ place for dogs that makes them feel comfortable and unstressed. For this reason they should never be used as a punishment, but always be associated with being a good dog. They relieve you of any worry when you leave your dog for a while, keep puppies safe from visiting children, make transporting dogs safer and easier, and make you and your dog welcome visitors in the homes of other people. They will aid toilet training of your puppy and make sure that you get a good night’s sleep!

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Is the Labradoodle a recognised breed now?

This is a very difficult issue to deal with. There are people who are, quite rightly, extremely proud of their beautiful Labradoodles. Understandably, they seek the status of formal recognition of the breed.

Our position is a bit different however. Formal recognition would entail the establishment of a register of dogs recognised as belonging to the breed. Once established that register would act, in effect, as a closed stud book. New entrants to the register could only be offspring of dogs already on the register. Thus the gene pool remains static and limited to the founder dogs.

This is exactly opposite to what we believe would ensure the future health and fitness of the Labradoodle.

Without a completely new, and radically different, system of registration no-one would be able to breed first-generation Labradoodles. These F1s are the foundations of the breed and this base must be continuously expanded to provide an increasing gene pool. Remove that dynamic base of ‘hybrid vigour’ and the path well-trodden by all the pure breeds of today is begun.

Registration of a breed would also involve the establishment of a narrow and rigid ‘breed standard’. Diversity (and thus hybrid vigour) is lost, and breeding schemes are aimed primarily at producing dogs that most perfectly match these arbitrary descriptions. In the past this has led to incestuous inbreeding with disastrous repercussions on the gene pool.

Dog shows are then set up to judge exactly how perfectly a dog matches the breed standard. This provides the breed with its ‘champion’ dogs. They then become the most popular preferred breeding stock, thus further diminishing an already limited and damaged gene pool.

We would prefer our Labradoodles to be judged on their health, their temperament, their agility, their intelligence and above all on their ability to fulfil the role of man’s best friend.

The Labradoodle is already a breed recognised by the general public. We would like to learn from the, often innocently, made mistakes of the past and protect the breed from closed stud books and prescriptive breed standards.

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