Labradoodle Breeder Round-up

Labradoodle Breeder Round-up

In creating the book “The Complete Guide to Labradoodles” (written by veterinarian Dr. Joanna de Klerk and available on Amazon) we interviewed 16 of the top Labradoodle breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Labradoodle owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Labradoodle, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Labradoodle from either a breeder or rescue?

Choosing a LabradoodleConsensus:
 The majority of Labradoodles are friendly canines that are clever and clownish, but there is a lot of variation within those parameters. While some dogs in this breed are active go-getters right from the start, others prefer to spend their days cuddling on the couch, and you will often find both varieties in the same litter. Pet parents who choose their Labradoodle based on temperament rather than on appearance will be much happier with the results. A good breeder is your best asset for guiding you to the right temperament puppy, so do your research before selecting your breeder.

Best Quotes:

Always do your research before choosing a breeder. Visit the facility, meet the sire and dam, and interview previous buyers. Is the puppy outgoing, friendly, and happy? Those are usually good indicators of early socialization. If choosing a Labradoodle from a rescue, try to obtain as much history as possible to ensure a good fit.”
Jenny Williams-  Happy Go Lucky Labradoodles

Look for a breeder who is temperament testing at seven weeks or later. If you choose a puppy based on its looks at three days or even three weeks, you will know nothing about that puppy. You may want a hunting dog and you’ll end up with a couch potato. You may be looking for a couch potato and end up with an extremely high energy puppy. Not having a puppy with the correct temperament is one of the leading reasons dogs are turned into shelters. Your breeder should have an application for you to fill out and a contract with a health guarantee to sign.”
Carolyn DeBar-  Doodle Around

Personality: if the dog has a high drive and wants to run and play all the time, it wouldn’t enjoy life sitting in front of the fires and having grandma hold it. The person choosing a Labradoodle needs to know what they want from the Labradoodle and what they expect of their new dog.”
JoAn Ellsworth-  EllsWORTH Labradoodles LLC

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Labradoodle CharacteristicsConsensus:
 While the Labradoodle breed is often best known for its wavy, low or no-shed coats that tend to be easy on allergy sufferers, it is their unique nature that is most apparent. They tend to be exceptionally friendly and social canines with both high intelligence as well as a strong intuition about the people around them. This breed tends to be extremely adaptable, moving from service dog type work to active play and back again with ease.

Best Quotes:

Their friendliness and social nature. How intuitive they are with people and emotions, a trait that makes them wonderful for families that have a special needs or autistic family member or for those wanting to participate in a pet therapy or visitation program.”
Chad and Kristi Coopsha-  Riverbend Labradoodles

Labradoodles are intelligent dogs that are typically easy to train and possess good temperaments. They are social, sensitive, and loyal. Their most unique physical characteristic is a wavy, growing coat that is typically allergy friendly and non-shedding.”
Rochelle Woods-  Spring Creek Labradoodles

I always tell potential puppy families, if you like a Lab, you’ll love a Labradoodle. The friendliness and outgoing personality of a Lab and the smarts of a Poodle. Most ‘doodles think they are people and act accordingly. They love being in close contact with their family, often placing a paw on their person.”
Jenny Williams-  Happy Go Lucky Labradoodles

Their personalities are what sets them apart. They are fun and playful, yet light and easy-going.”
Jenny Walters-  Blessings Labradoodles

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Labradoodles that would surprise them?

Labradoodle Jumping through hoopConsensus:
Labradoodles have a few surprising physical and behavioral traits as well as a surprising skill or two. Their supposed non-shedding coats may actually shed and even dogs that have low or non-shedding coats require intense grooming to avoid mats in their fur. While low or non-shedding Labradoodles are often a better choice for allergy sufferers, there is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic dog. Although developed as companion animals, they are amazing trackers and can be used as hunting dogs. This breed is also remarkably intelligent and intuitive as well as being extremely loyal to their family.

Best Quotes:

Many people believe that a Labradoodle will have an easy-care coat, but the opposite is true. It requires a great deal of upkeep to keep it free of mats. Brushing several times a week is usually necessary, and it is important to check problem areas frequently for mats. Problem areas for Labradoodles are behind the ears, under the tail, under the legs where they attach to the body, and under the collar.”
Rochelle Woods-  Spring Creek Labradoodles

No Labradoodle is 100% hypoallergenic, no matter what some breeders try to sell you on. Allergies can be triggered by dander and saliva even if the dog does not shed. Shedding is typical of F1s and some F2s. Multi-Gens or F1Bs are your best bet for a low or non-shedding dog.”
Jenny Williams-  Happy Go Lucky Labradoodles

They are fantastic trackers. They can be trained and used for hunting if desired. Their tracking ability is fantastic.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Labradoodles are extremely family loyal. They will fake a person out and take any affection they can get while their owner is in the room. When the owner leaves the room, the Labradoodle will ditch the person who is giving them attention.”
Carol Finch-  Acme Creek Kennels

Question #4:  How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Preparing for a Labradoodle at homeConsensus:
 As a new pet parent, your primary concern will be the health and safety of your new puppy. Look for hazards in the environment that might lead to the puppy getting injured and limit their exposure to that area. When you aren’t able to actively watch your puppy, most experts recommend employing crates, gates, and late-life to keep your pup under control, especially when they are young. Labradoodle puppies are especially prone to chewing, so you will want to make sure you keep anything you don’t want to be chewed out of your furry family member’s reach.

Best Quotes:

Watch steps, stairs, and drop off decks, especially those with spindles that they can squeeze through. Gate off carpeted areas and close doors to make their area smaller. Pick up all toys and check for cords or other things that shouldn’t be chewed. Place the kennel in a quiet space close to the door they use to go outside  to the bathroom, and leave the door open during playtimes. Always watch the puppy when they are awake.”
Chad and Kristi Coopshaw-  Riverbend Labradoodles

Put your shoes up! Seriously, don’t leave things out that the puppy should not get into. Invest in an ExPen. If you are not watching your puppy they should be in a crate or pen.”
Dixie Moore-  Dixie’s Doodles

They love to chew. Keep socks, underwear, and shoes out of reach of the puppy. Make sure that you buy them things to chew on, especially when they are bringing in new teeth.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Labradoodle owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Surprising facts about LabradoodlesConsensus:
 There are many different things that a new pet-parent to a Labradoodle may experience that they weren’t expecting. The transition from your dog’s original family to their new home can be emotionally difficult, especially for a young pup. They often cry in their crate or kennel for a few nights until they make the adjustment and some pups even refuse to eat for a day or two. Lots of attention, as well as short, positive training sessions, can help mitigate difficulties with transitions by distracting your pup and strengthening your bond, just don’t overdo the tasty treats.

Best Quotes:

A lot of new puppy owners don’t realize that during the first 48-hour adjustment phase the puppy will often refuse to eat because of the transition. It is important not to offer super enticing treats too early or often as they may come to expect them and refuse to eat their normal diet.”
Jeana Bigelow-  Blue Ridge Labradoodles

They should prepare themselves to spend time with the puppy, clean up after the puppy, and to do without sleep.”
John-  Trinity Oaks Labradoodles

A week or two of disrupted sleep is very common when you bring a new puppy home. Many families are not prepared for the initial crate training adjustment for puppy, or for having to take puppy out in the middle of the night for a potty break. This usually only lasts a week or two, but it is very common for us to receive emails from tired families who need a little encouragement to continue working through the adjustment process.”
Rochelle Woods-  Spring Creek Labradoodles

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

 Labradoodle Training AdviceConsensus:
 Labradoodles aren’t typically any more difficult to house-train than other breeds. There are many different tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your potty training regimen including crate training, giving the pup limited space, or hanging a bell on the doorknob of the door that you use to take them outside. Experts also stressed that it was important to be both observant of your pup’s behavior and consistent in your methods when house-training your new canine companion.

Best Quotes:

Puppies need to eliminate about every two hours during the day. Hang a little bell by the door and ring it when you take them out to potty, give them a cheerio for good behavior. They will soon be ringing the bell themselves to tell you they need to go outside.”
Dixie Springer-  Springville Labradoodles

Boundaries are important so we always say having a set up where the owner has a small portion of the home for the puppy that is easy to clean. As training and obedience are taught then they are given more and more space in the house, but when mistakes happen they lose some space. Run of the house or access to certain areas is a privilege and has to be earned.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Crate training is the best method. Otherwise, use pee-pads or newspaper and place near doors so they get the idea that this is the area they need to go. When you notice them near the door, let them out. If they do potty outside- praise, praise, praise! They also usually need to go moments after waking and within five minutes of eating. When they drop to their nose to the floor, that’s a sign.”
Chad and Kristi Coopshaw-  Riverbend Labradoodles

Keep a very consistent potty schedule and always use the same door to go out.”
Tina Rineer-  Snowy River Labradoodles

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Labradoodle with other pets?

Socializing your LabradoodleConsensus:
 Labradoodles are generally social animals that get along well with other canines. Ensuring that they are safely introduced to as many situations as possible will help to ensure that they retain that social behavior and don’t develop any anxiety. Be especially cautious about the spread of germs when your pup is young as their immune system hasn’t fully developed and they may not yet have gotten all of their vaccinations. Check online to find meetup groups made up of liked-minded pet parents.

Best Quotes:

This isn’t much of an issue on the labradoodle’s side of things because they are very social, but standing close by with each pet on a leash is a good precaution. Allow them to meet with the owners in control of the situation.”
Jeana Bigelow-  Blue Ridge Labradoodles

After the puppy has had all of its puppy shots, you can take him places for socialization. Join Facebook groups to meet other people that have Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. Most of them organize doodle romps. It’s fun to go and meet other doodles, possibly including some from your breeder.”
Dixie Moore-  Dixie’s Doodles

Start early and often but be cautious until they have had all their puppy shots. Expose them to new sounds, people, and other animals.”
Dixie Springer-  Springville Labradoodles

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Labradoodle need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Labradoodle running in the snowConsensus:
 Labradoodles are a cross between two dogs that can be very active, the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle, but some of these dogs can be pretty laid back. Getting an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day is usually sufficient for these hybrids, but they are certainly capable of keeping up with you for considerably longer than that. It is important that pet parents ensure that their Labradoodles are getting not only physical but also mental exercise on a daily basis.

Best Quotes:

In a perfect scenario, a Labradoodle needs about 60 minutes of exercise a day. This could be made up of walks, games of fetch, walking on a treadmill, or playing in the backyard. The key to exercise is to stimulate their mind while working out their body. If you always walk on a treadmill or go the same way the dog will eventually become bored and you won’t receive the full benefit of the exercise. Make things interesting. Take different paths and explore new areas. In the end, the dog wants to explore… be adventurous with them.”
Robby Gilliam- Mountain View Labradoodles

Walk them on a leash ideally two times per day. Throw balls. They are agile canines and enjoy agility type training.”
Jenny Walters-  Blessings Labradoodles

Leash walking provides both training and exercise. Playing fetch, swimming, and training, which exercises both the mind and the body are good activities for Labradoodles. This breed is not excessively energetic but they enjoy games with human participation; games like hide and seek, puppy push-ups, and go find it.”
Joyce Tabor-  Annabelle Doodles of New England

Lots!! Multiple walks are recommended daily. However, until your pup is two years old or older, their bones and tendons are not fully mature and it is not wise to take them on a five-mile run with you.”
Patrice Higgins-  UpNorth Labradoodles

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Training a LabradoodleConsensus:
 This designer hybrid is exceptionally easy to train, and experts will tell you that the best time to start training your Labradoodle is right away. Although this hybrid is exceptionally easy to train, they respond better to praise, attention, and playtime than they do to treats. While puppy classes and other group training situations may have to be put off until after your puppy has their vaccinations, individual training can start as soon as you bring your pup home using information from training books and YouTube videos.

Best Quotes:

They are very easy to train, but prefer positive reinforcement and clicker training. They like to think that the training was their idea and not be forced. They are motivated by fun, attention, and the occasional yummy treat.”
Chad and Kristi Coopshaw-  Riverbend Labradoodles

Pretty easy to train. It’s important to take your puppy to a trainer at an early age. You can find many training videos on YouTube during the weeks before the puppy has gotten all of their shots. I like Zac George.”
Dixie Moore-  Dixie’s Doodles

It’s really easy if you are consistent and start right away. Don’t wait until your puppy is older or has had all of their shots. Start training the second you get your dog. JoAn Ellsworth- EllsWORTH Labradoodles LLC

They are not highly food motivated and actually train better with positive oral or physical praise.”
Carol Finch-  Acme Creek Kennels

They are very easy to train. It’s usually the owners who need training so a puppy class helps the new owner to learn how to communicate with their new pup. The time you put in up front really pays off.”
Sheila Flores-  Oregon Labradoodles

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behavior that a Labradoodle might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Shy Labradoodle SadConsensus:
 Labradoodles are both intelligent and friendly, and while these traits are typically positive traits to have, they can lead to some unwanted behaviors. They have a tendency to be rather enthusiastic in their attempts to get attention, which can lead to a dog that jumps up on people or barks when left alone too long. Labradoodles also have a very good sense of smell, which may lead them to counter surf. Consistent basic training techniques are usually sufficient to mitigate these types of behaviors.

Best Quotes:

Some behaviors that are harder to deal with are play biting and excessive barking. Not all puppies will display these traits, but if they do, the earlier you correct the behavior the better. Biting should be replaced with chew toys as a first step. A gentle squeeze on the muzzle is a good way to communicate the way a mother dog does.”
Jeana Bigelow-  Blue Ridge Labradoodles

Counter surfing is one I hear a lot of. This is due in part, I believe, to feeding them people food. They think that it’s their food up there and they just need to get on the counter to get it. Avoid giving them people food and use a strip of duct tape, sticky side up, along the edge of the counter to discourage this bad habit.”
Jenny Williams-  Happy Go Lucky Labradoodles

Digging! Many like to dig so teach them where they can dig by providing a spot where you can hide some treats for them to find. Don’t forget to replenish the treats often. Barking if left alone too often. Provide your fur companion with enrichment programs that encourage good manners and safety.”
Joyce Tabor-  Annabelle Doodles of New England

Jumping up on your leg. Shake them off gently and turn your face and body away from them to discourage unwanted attention.”
Jenny Walters-  Blessings Labradoodles

 

Question #11:  Do Labradoodles make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Labradoodle with little girlConsensus:
 When it comes to travel, these dogs are typically well-suited to accompanying you on your adventures. They tend to enjoy meeting new people and pets, especially if they can do it with you by their side. If you want a stellar traveling companion, start exposing your Labradoodle to new sights and sounds as early as possible and teach them how to have good manners both on a leash or in a car, as well as any other type of transportation.

Best Quotes:

They make fantastic travel companions. They are easy-going and can go anywhere as they are not innately territorial. In the end, they just want to be with you, so if you’re going they want to go too.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Labradoodles are extremely social and want to be with their family. They love to be on the go with you and doing whatever you are doing. They make excellent traveling companions as long as you train them to travel well in a car and to be calm on a leash.”
Rochelle Woods-  Spring Creek Labradoodles

Yes. We take our dogs in our car and our RV. Many of our puppies go on their family boats and love it.”
Sheila Flores-  Oregon Labradoodles

Mine sure do! They love the car and settle right down. Super fun to go places with them.”
JoAn Ellsworth-  EllsWORTH Labradoodles LLC

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other breeds?

Consensus:
 For the most part, Labradoodles don’t require a diet any different than the average canine. They will generally thrive on any high-quality, non-grain food, although some may inherit the Poodle’s tendency for a sensitive stomach or food allergies. Dogs that start itching more frequently than usual or rubbing their faces on the ground on a regular basis may be experiencing an allergic reaction to something that they are eating.

Best Quotes:

They can favor sensitive stomachs or allergies very similar to Poodles. Research any and all diets yourself; the claims on tv are often very different from reality. Learn what to look for, how to understand an ingredient list, and what to avoid.”
Joyce Tabor-  Annabelle Doodles of New England

A diet heavy with grains can affect their systems and can cause late-life pancreatitis. A diet rich in protein is essential for their optimal function.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Since they have Labrador and Poodle in their lineage, they may have allergies to food. Some dogs have unique allergies. If they rub their faces after eating it may be a sign of food allergies. Once they are 12 months or older, they may benefit from a non-grain food with salmon in it. You can try safe vegetables like cabbage to aid in digestion.”
Jenny Walters-  Blessings Labradoodles

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Labradoodle GroomingConsensus:
 Labradoodles can end up with several different coat types. The curlier coats are a bit more grooming intensive than the coats that are simply wavy, but all of the coats require a fair amount of grooming. Brushing should occur daily or every other day to keep any tangles from turning into mats, and they should either go to the groomer or get a more thorough grooming once every six to nine weeks. The hair on the ear should be trimmed short enough to encourage airflow, but not shaven.

Best Quotes:

Labradoodles can be kept long, medium, or short in fur length. They need to be bathed more often if kept with a longer coat. Labradoodles can come in a variety of types of fur with a fleece coat being the easiest to maintain. Curly coats can be extremely cute but are harder to maintain. Brushing often and getting your Labradoodle used to the brush is essential for grooming in the long term. We advise never shaving the head ears or tail but always scissoring them to achieve the desired Labradoodle look.”
Robby Gilliam-  Mountain View Labradoodles

Brush regularly. Don’t wait until they get matted to go to the groomer. Make sure they are not matted when they go to the groomer. Trim their ears so they do not look like a poodle. It will make the ear lighter and allow air to flow through more easily. Chad and Kristi Coopshaw

Get a compassionate groomer and stick with them or do it yourself.”
John-  Trinity Oaks Labradoodles

Start early! I take clippers and turn them on, then just hold them against the pup’s body so they become accustomed to the vibration. Teach them to stand while being groomed. Clip nails every seven to ten days. It is not recommended to bathe a pup until they are three months of age.”
Patrice Higgins-  UpNorth Labradoodles

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

Do labradoodles shedConsensus:
 Labradoodles are often touted as non-shedding and hypoallergenic. No dog is truly hypoallergenic, however, and while many of these dogs have non-shedding coats, others may shed as much as a Labrador Retriever. First-generation dogs are more likely to shed than multigenerational dogs, but there are some genes that can cause shedding even in multigenerational dogs. Pet parents may not have a clear picture of how much their dog sheds until the Labradoodle loses its puppy coat and its adult coat grows in.

Best Quotes:

The amount of shedding will depend greatly on the generation of the Labradoodle, as well as the genetic makeup of the dog. There are always genes such as the Improper Coat gene and other genes that affect shedding. If you want a Labradoodle that is as non-shedding as possible, be careful to purchase from a breeder that knows their lines well and has a history of producing little-to-no shed Labradoodles.”
Rochelle Woods-  Spring Creek Labradoodles

All dogs shed their puppy coats, usually beginning around six to nine months of age. Once the adult coat is in, a multi-gen Labradoodle should shed very little or not at all. An early generation Labradoodle can sometimes shed as much as a Lab.”
Carolyn Debar-  Doodle Around

All doodles are different. The “scrappy” ones tend to shed more, while the ones with curlier hair shed less.”
Patrice Higgins-  UpNorth Labradoodles

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Labradoodles?

Two labradoodles playingConsensus:
While the Labradoodle is generally a healthy canine, they can inherit a few difficulties. They tend to have smaller ear canals than most breeds, which can lead to ear infections. This can be mitigated by ensuring that the ears remain dry and trimming the hair on the ear to facilitate the movement of air. Breeders typically test for other genetic disorders, such as hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and should provide you with a certificate of health from the parents.

Best Quotes:

It is important that a breeder does base health clearances on the parents to help provide you with the healthiest possible puppy. It is not a guarantee of health, but it is the best you can do as a responsible breeder. The Labradoodle is a breed in the building process, so you can find early generation Labradoodles and fresh genetics still being brought in. This helps to increase the genetic variation of the Labradoodle and offer a wider base of health compared to purebreds with closed studbooks.

Hip and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). As a mixed breed, it is somewhat less likely to suffer health problems than purebreds due to hybrid vigor. Reputable breeders screen their breeding dogs by doing genetic testing in order to breed out these health problems.”
Tina Rineer-  Snowy River Labradoodles

Labradoodles with small ear canals can be prone to ear infections. Have the patellas and the teeth checked at the puppy exam.”
Jenny Walters-  Blessings Labradoodles