Labradoodles and other Poodle-mix “designer dogs” are some of the newest and most popular pet dogs. The Labradoodle is a cross between a purebred Labrador Retriever and a purebred Poodle. Here at the spa, we specialize in serving Doodles: they currently make up about one-third of our clients.
There are many kinds of Doodles besides the original Labradoodle. The Australian Labradoodle has a lineage that includes Cocker Spaniels as well as Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. The Aussiedoodle is a hybrid of the Australian Shepherd and Poodle. The Goldendoodle crosses a Golden Retriever with a Poodle, and the Bernedoodle combines a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Poodle.
All Doodles are classified as F1, F2, F3, and so on, depending on how many generations down they are from the original crossed breeds. Doodles are considered crossbreeds rather than a true breed, because they are a combination of two (or more) pure breeds. Most Doodle clubs are working toward getting their type of Doodle recognized as a true breed. The American Kennel Club, which recognizes 193 dog breeds, specifies that to qualify, a type of dog must always “breed true,” with consistent and predictable traits that can be described as its “breed standard."
Most Doodles of the same type share some common traits, but their appearance and behavior can vary widely, especially if they are early-generation. Those that come from a multi-generational line of Doodles (at least four generations) have traits that are more stable and consistent. The Australian Labradoodle is currently the closest to being recognized by the AKC.
Doodles are popular because they have calm, non-aggressive personalities, are very child- and family-friendly, and are bred to be great companion dogs. Because of this, breeders often advertise the Labradoodle as an “easy-maintenance” dog. However, Doodles are NOT easy-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Some dogs (such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers) can go 2-3 months between grooming appointments. The Labradoodle is not one of those dogs!
To properly groom your Labradoodle, plan on scheduling a haircut regularly. “Regularly” includes a range of time, depending on the type of haircut you want your dog to have. A short puppy cut can last 6 to 8 weeks, whereas a fluffy, longer scissored cut should be done every 2 weeks. You can see various types of Labradoodle cuts at our Oodles of Doodles album on Facebook!
Most Doodles need to be thoroughly brushed and combed at least every other day. If you decide to bathe your dog at home in between professional grooming appointments, be sure to use premium shampoo and conditioner, and brush her out thoroughly both before and after the bath.
When tangled fur gets wet, the tangles tighten, which contributes to matting. If your Doodle is active outdoors, check him often for tangles. If he is going out in the rain or swimming, brush him thoroughly and comb through his fur immediately before and after. Doodles tend to be prone to ear infections, so if you bathe your Doodle at home, be sure to put cotton balls in his ears (don’t forget to take them out afterward!).
Most dogs who require haircuts grow dead hair inside the ear canal, which must be removed. Doodles, however, are descended from both breeds that do and breeds that don’t require haircuts. As a result, we have found that a majority of Doodles grow live, rooted hair in their ears. This hair is painful to remove, and often removing it is just as likely to cause an ear infection as not. To help mitigate this, we recommend that anytime your dog is going to get wet, you put cotton balls in her ears so water doesn’t enter the ear canal. Remember to remove the cotton balls afterward, and then wipe out the inside of the ear with a cotton ball dampened with dog-specific ear cleaner.
All types of Doodles are well-loved for being friendly, intelligent family dogs. They tend to be highly affectionate and easy to train. Some of them (especially the Australian Labradoodle) can be hypoallergenic as well. For these reasons and more, Doodles continue to capture our hearts. If you own a Doodle, we encourage you to learn about his individual grooming needs, so that he can always look and feel his best!
And if you need help with this, come and see us at Pawsitivity! We are happy to announce that we will begin offering Brushing Workshops at the spa in June 2019. Pawsitivity owner Rachel Ackerman will demonstrate proper brushing on a model dog. Bring your dog and follow along! We will provide a brush and comb which you can take home. There will be time for questions and answers about grooming topics, and Rachel will work individually with each dog owner on brushing technique. Our first workshop will be offered on Saturday, June 22nd, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm. You can sign up on the Facebook event page here. We would love to see you then!
(Title photo credit: Bruce Williamson)