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The Labradoodle

Despite being a breed that has only recently come into existence, the Labradoodle has already made a name for itself and become a popular family companion all around the world. These dogs are an example of a “designer breed”, specifically developed to feature a wide array of characteristics that are desirable to humans.

Labradoodle’s are therefore very friendly and affectionate, generally well-behaved, smart, and they don’t shed much fur. All of these aspects have helped to endear the Labradoodle to many families across the globe. The Labrador and the Poodle are two of the most popular dog breeds in many countries. It’s therefore no surprise that the Labradoodle is also gaining ground and becoming quite a common sight, particularly in countries like the USA and Australia.

Like many crossbreeds, the personality of an individual Labradoodle usually resembles a good mixture between a Labrador and a Poodle. These dogs therefore tend to be quite playful and friendly, having a real lust for life, just like a Labrador. It’s not uncommon to see a Labradoodle bounce around the home enthusiastically, eager to give and receive affection or play games for hours on end. Meanwhile, these dogs can also demonstrate the more docile and serene attitude of a Poodle, spending lots of time curled up by a fire or at an owner’s feet. The personality of a Labradoodle can vary in small ways, but these dogs are always intelligent and friendly, making them ideal partners for almost any owner.

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Labradoodle History

As this is a relatively new dog breed, it doesn’t have a particularly long or rich history. The term ‘Labradoodle’ was first created in the year 1988. Crosses between Labradors and Poodles had previously taken place, but the breed didn’t truly breakthrough until ’88, when an Australian man named Wally Conron decided to attempt to make a guide dog that would be suitable for people who suffered from allergies. He therefore chose the Labrador and Poodle as his subjects. The former is one of the most commonly-used breeds by blind people around the world, renowned for its intelligence, friendliness and commitment to hard work. The latter is also known for being very smart and also has the favorable characteristic of shedding very little fur.

The resulting dog, the Labradoodle, was a success. These dogs usually possess a great combination of characteristics from their parents and can be used as allergen-free dogs for blind or visually-impaired people. In the very first litter of pups that Conron bred was a dog named Sultan. Sultan went on to accompany a blind woman for a decade, proving that this breed could fulfil a vital role in society. The case of Sultan helped to raise the profile of the Labradoodle, and other breeders began crossing Poodles and Labradors. Some breeders and groups even started movements towards helping the Labradoodle gain official registered status through multi-generational breeding techniques.

Today’s Labradoodle

The Labradoodle is a breed which is still in its infancy. These dogs have only been around for a couple of decades and have unfortunately encountered a variety of teething problems in these early stages. Unfortunately, while the intentions of Conron and other breeders are noble, not all pups from Poodle and Labrador crosses possess the ideal characteristics. Their personalities can vary to quite a large extent in some cases and not all of them have coats which don’t shed. Still, the breed has managed to overcome these issues to become immensely popular.

Initially developed to help with the blind, these dogs have also found countless homes as family companions. Breeders and enthusiasts soon discovered that the average Labradoodle had a huge array of desirable attributes. The friendliness and easy-going nature of these dogs makes them perfect pets, while their intelligence also makes them suitable to many types of owner. They can be trained with ease and are also often chosen by people who suffer from allergies.

Nowadays, the rising popularity of Labradoodles shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Labradoodle hasn’t quite succeeded at becoming one of the top breeds for guide dogs, but various associations and people still rely on them. They have also found a home as therapy dogs and are great at making people smile. Breeders and enthusiasts are also working towards new techniques that should increase the reliability of litters and help the Labradoodle achieve official status in the near future.

Grooming Labradoodles

The way in which the Labradoodle is bred means that individual coats can vary quite greatly. Some of them will consist of short, straight hairs while others will be wirier and thicker. Owners need to adjust their grooming methods to suit the coat type. Naturally, wirier coats have a higher tendency to develop knots and tangles, so will need more frequent brushing. The shedding capacity of a Labradoodle’s coat can also vary. Some will shed barely any hairs at all, while others shed average amounts. Owners are generally encouraged to brush the Labradoodle each week and visit a professional groomer several times a year. Bathing isn’t recommended as the Labradoodle will stay clean and odorless most of the time.

Labradoodle Personality

As mentioned throughout this article, the personality of a Labradoodle can vary quite greatly. Most individuals are very well-rounded and it’s extremely rare to find a Labradoodle with undesirable characteristics, but prospective owners should still be aware of the risks. In general, a Labradoodle is a bundle of fun and friendliness. Many of these dogs retain the good-natured and fun-loving personalities of their Labrador parents. This makes them hard-workers and enthusiastic dogs, always eager to follow their owner around and look for interesting things to do.

These dogs are also usually very warm and friendly to almost everyone they meet. They can be reserved with strangers in some cases, but usually embrace people with plenty of affection. They get on very well with children and can equally form strong bonds with elderly people. Essentially, the Labradoodle is a great family dog. They treat each member of the household with love and friendship, never showing aggression or misery, as long as they are treated well. They do need plenty of affection though and may grow miserable or develop separation anxiety if left alone too long.

The Labradoodle also tends to be very intelligent, as both of the parent breeds are renowned for their intellectual prowess. These dogs are therefore very quick learners. They can understand many commands and be taught a myriad of tricks with ease. Owners will need to be consistent and calm during training, but should be very impressed at the speed with which a Labradoodle can learn new things. Early socialization is recommended with Labradoodles to help them become well-rounded individuals, and it’s also worth talking to a breeder and meeting the parents before you adopt a new dog.

Living With A Labradoodle

The Labradoodle isn’t the smallest dog around but can still enjoy life in a small home or apartment. That said, they will benefit from having a yard or outdoor space to explore and run around in. Some Labradoodles are very calm around the home, while others prefer to bounce around. If you live in a small space, it’s important to try and find a more docile and serene individual. Labradoodles get on well with other animals in general and can be introduced to homes that already contain other pets. It’s still always important for owners to supervise any interactions between different animals.

Exercising Labradoodles

Like any dog, the Labrador needs a brisk walk each day to maintain its form and health. It’s important to remember that every Labradoodle has a Labrador for a parent and therefore needs a good amount of activity on a daily basis. These dogs love getting outdoors and investigating new places. They are also quite playful and will like to catch Frisbee’s or play different games.

Labradoodle Health Concerns

The Labradoodle is quite a long-lived breed, with many individuals surviving for up to 14 years or even more in some cases. However, these dogs are still susceptible to some common canine health conditions. Here are a couple of examples:

Hip Dysplasia

This condition is quite prevalent in Labradors, so can be passed down to Labradoodles too. Hip dysplasia occurs when the joints connecting the thighs and hips are too loose. This means that, as the animal moves its legs, the thigh bone rolls around in the hip socket in an irregular way. This causes a lot of pain and discomfort for the dog and is usually identifiable by limping. You may also notice the dog crying out as it walks or simply being unable to move at speed. In the worst cases, hip dysplasia can even make it almost impossible for the dog to walk around. Fortunately, this condition is treatable. Vets usually have to perform surgery and will often look to replace the hip bone to fix the affected joints. If your Labradoodle seems to be struggling as it works, it’s important to visit a clinic as soon as possible.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

PRA is a condition which causes the retina to degrade over time. In the beginning, this will cause only minor visual impairment for the animal. However, over time the condition will worsen and the dog will usually become totally blind. The process is painless, but dogs can suffer a lot of stress and fear as they lose their eyesight. They can also injure themselves by bumping into furniture or objects around the home, so owners need to do all they can to provide a safe environment for the animal. Fortunately, dogs can live quite happily without their sight and will rely on their other, more powerful senses to get by.