Labradors vs. Labradoodles: Which is the Right Breed for You?

Getting a dog is one of life’s monumental milestones. These furry friends quickly become family, and their happiness, health, and well-being are paramount. Making sure your dog is happy and healthy begins with finding the right breed for your lifestyle.

No two breeds are created equal, and human beings are equally diverse. Therefore, research what breed will mesh well with your home and family before selecting a dog. For example, a Bernese mountain dog might not be the best fit if you live in a small, three-story walk-up apartment.

For many families, labradors and lab mixes, like Labradoodles, have a wonderful blend of characteristics well-suited to family life. But despite their shared lineage, labradors and Labradoodles are distinct breeds in their own right.

If you’re considering a labrador or labradoodle for your next pet, learn what distinguishes each breed to pick the right one. Here are six critical questions to ask when deciding if a labrador or a labradoodle is the right dog for you.

1.   Do you want an established breed or a hybrid?

When you see labradoodle puppies for sale, you’ll be definetly tempted to take one home immediately. But before you get a new family member, do your due diligence. Otherwise, you may get an ill-suited pet for your home and family!

Labradors are a well-established pure breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. Kennel Club acceptance is critical if you plan to show your dog. But pure breeds aren’t without their issues. Labradors are prone to several health conditions and are known for having shorter life spans—more on that later.

The labradoodle, a cross between a pure labrador and a pure poodle, is not a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. This breed is considered a hybrid and is not eligible to compete in shows. Their hybrid status, however, makes them less susceptible to significant health conditions.

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2.   Who lives in your household?

You know you want to add a dog to the family, but what about the members you already have? Children, other pets, and the frequency of guests are all crucial considerations before bringing a labrador or labradoodle home.

Generally speaking, both of these breeds are very friendly and social. There is a reason why the labrador and the poodle are two of the most popular dog breeds in America—people love them! Their easygoing, gentle nature helps them to mesh with most households, no matter who lives there easily.

There are, however, a few distinctions between labradors and Labradoodles. Labradors are well known for their love of other dogs and, with the proper training, are almost always eager to have another furry friend around. They are very social creatures!

Labradoodles are a little different. While they usually do well with other pets, their personalities are slightly milder, resulting in a more aloof attitude toward other animals. As a result, they may require more training or time before interacting with another pet regularly.

3.   Do you have an active lifestyle?

Both of these breeds enjoy rigorous, regular exercise. They are considered energetic dogs that love playing and exercising. If you have an active lifestyle, either dog will suit you well.

Both dogs need about 60 minutes of focused, active play every day. This includes taking walks, playing fetch, tug of war, or the best doggie workout—playing with another pooch. In addition, labradors and Labradoodles are well known for their love of water, which would also be an excellent way to get them active. Fail to prioritize playtime, and you’ll have a whiney, anxious dog on your hands.

It’s important to note that these dogs don’t just require physical activity; they also need mental stimulation. As two of the most intelligent dog breeds, labradors and Labradoodles need plenty of toys and entertainment to keep them from becoming unhappy and destructive.

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4.   What kind of coat are you looking for?

The coat is one of the biggest differentiators between the labrador and the labradoodle. The labrador has a thick, straight coat with a somewhat coarse texture. Their fur grows in a double coat pattern that sheds often.

Labradoodle fur, on the other hand, is thinner, fluffier, and longer. Their coat is usually very soft, curly, or wavy, similar to its poodle parent. Labradoodle fur is known for limited shedding, making it a popular choice for owners with allergies.

While no dog can be completely hypoallergenic, the labradoodle is among the most allergy-friendly breeds in the world. Their minimal shedding makes them ideal for owners who don’t want to see dog hair around the house and on the furniture.

Labradors and Labradoodles both require regular grooming to keep their coats in tip-top shape. For a lab, use a de-shedding brush several times a week to loosen the undercoat. Labradoodles do better with a slick brush to keep their fine fur tangle-free.

Don’t bathe either breed more than once a month. Excessive bathing can dry the skin and damage the fur. For labs, use a natural, concentrated doggy shampoo. Labradoodles do better with a mild-oatmeal-based formula to protect their sensitive skin.

5.   Is the dog’s size a consideration?

Although these dogs have similar parentage, their size can vary. Sizing for labradors is consistent, with most dogs weighing between 50 and 80 pounds. Labs stand anywhere from 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall when fully grown. The Labradoodle, however, is another story.

Unlike labs, there are many different sizes of poodles, and the size of a labradoodle depends on the type of poodle used to breed them. Here are the different sizes of labradoodle:

  • Mini: 15 to 25 pounds; 14 to 16 inches tall
  • Medium: 30 to 45 pounds; 17 to 20 inches tall
  • Standard: 50 to 65 pounds; 21 to 24 inches tall
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Before you decide what dog size you want, consider the size of your home and outdoor space. Bigger dogs take up and need more room to move around, so be sure you have plenty of space if you want a lab or standard-sized labradoodle.

6.   Is longevity a concern?

As difficult as it is to think about, your pet won’t live forever. And even though you wish you could have more time with your labrador or labradoodle, there will come a time when you have to say goodbye.

Labradors live from 10 to 12 years old. Labradoodles, because of their poodle parentage, fare only slightly better with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Both breeds are susceptible to certain health conditions known for shortening their lives.

Labs, for example, are predisposed to elbow and hip dysplasia, PRA blindness, and cardiac and centronuclear myopathy. Labradoodles often struggle with hip dysplasia, eye issues, and patellar luxation. Both breeds are also known to succumb to various cancers.

But no matter how you look at it, both labradors and Labradoodles are well worth the possible pain of parting! Their lives enrich their humans’ and their unconditional love touches their people long after they’re gone.

Take time to consider what you’re looking for in your next pet. This family member needs to assimilate to your home and lifestyle and will thrive in environments well-suited to their temperament.

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