What do you get when you combine the fun-loving, eager-to-please Labrador Retriever with the super-smart and energetic Poodle? The Labradoodle: an intelligent and sociable dog destined to be the perfect pet for your whole family. Labradoodles, like all dog breeds, have specific health and wellness needs that must be met, and Labradoodle owners can invest in a few select services to virtually guarantee their pup’s wellness and longevity.
What, then, are the 5 most important services to help make Labradoodle ownership a breeze? Your new furry addition is going to need some important people in her life to make sure she’s covered from tip to tail. Think of these dog professionals like the crew members of a ship. It takes a captain, navigator, sailor, and galley cook to keep the boat operating smoothly.
The five folks keeping your Doodle’s boat afloat are:
- A Veterinarian: for general health and wellness
- A Groomer: to maintain a healthy coat and nails
- A Trainer: to teach crucial obedience skills
- A Dog Walker: to provide exercise and stimulation
- A Boarder: to house the pup when you must travel
Whether you are just starting the process of researching the Labradoodle breed or you’re reading this article with a squirmy, wriggly fuzzball already drooling in your lap, it’s never too early (or too late) to secure these 5 crucial services.
Secure Your Doodle’s Health With a Veterinarian
Without a doubt, the veterinarian is the most important service provider for your Labradoodle, and every dog needs a trusted vet who will monitor his health from peppy puppy to grouchy grandpa. Vets begin as puppy pediatricians, providing medical services that evaluate the starting health of your dog and protect the puppy as she grows.
These initial vet services may include:
- Vaccinations to protect from illness
- Heart and lung checks to verify overall puppy health
- Palpation of the lymph nodes and abdomen to catch potential problems early
- Spay/Neuter services to prevent unwanted pregnancies or behavioral issues
- Regular weight checks to make sure the dog is growing normally
As your dog matures, his vet turns from pediatrician to general physician, and because the veterinarian has become familiar with your dog since his infancy, it’s easier for the vet to identify potential issues before they develop into real problems. Labradoodles have a few health issues to which they are prone, including hip and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.
Joint dysplasia may be chalked up to those pesky Labrador Retriever growth genes in your Doodle. The accelerated growth rate of puppies can lead to joint problems in the future, so a vet who has known your dog since the puppy stage will be more attuned to your pup’s body and normal range of motion. If your dog is moving a little stiffly, a vet you’ve used for years may pick up on this more quickly than a new vet with no experience treating your Doodle.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy, or PRA, most likely comes from the Poodle side of your dog’s family tree. Poodles are prone to cataracts, which can lead to eventual blindness, and your vet will be aware of this potential issue and monitor your Labradoodle’s vision as she ages.
How Do I Choose the Right Vet?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were over 100,000 American vets practicing in 2018. With so many vets to choose from, how do you evaluate veterinarians in your area to guarantee that they will be ideal physicians for your Labradoodle throughout his life?
Here’s a helpful veterinarian checklist to get started:
- Current number of patients: Will your vet have time to invest in your Doodle’s health?
- Familiarization with the Labradoodle breed: Does your vet know what to look for?
- Reviews on social media: Do customers report that the vet is attentive and patient?
- Clinic accreditation: Is the animal hospital or clinic at which your vet works accredited by the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association)?
- Facilities: Is the clinic clean and uncluttered? Do animals look safe and well-treated?
Your vet is the front line of defence for your Labradoodle’s health, and he or she will act as the vanguard protecting your pup from illness, developmental issues, congenital health problems, and medical emergencies. Academy Award-winner Allison Janney once said, “If I could stomach the awful part of being a veterinarian, which involves sticking your hand up animals’ behinds, I would be a vet.” While the quote is laughable, it does offer a glimmer of truth: good vets are more than just good animal lovers. They are tireless, well-educated medical professionals who are committed to protecting the health of their four-legged patients.
Keep Your Labradoodle Looking Fly With a Groomer
Number two on the list of services that will transform Labradoodle ownership from tsunami to gentle breeze is a high quality groomer. If you’re interested in adopting a Labradoodle, the characteristic of the breed that probably first got your attention is its gorgeous, curly coat that comes in a variety of hues. Labradoodles were actually first bred in an attempt to find a hypoallergenic service dog. The patient and faithful personality of the Labrador Retriever, which lends itself so well to the service dog industry, was fused with the non-shedding, low-dander fur coat of the Poodle, and the Labradoodle was born.
Not all Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, but they all have grooming needs, and a professional, experienced groomer should offer a wide range of services.
Common grooming services include:
- Full body wash with gentle, hypoallergenic shampoos
- Ear cleaning
- Toenail clipping and filing
- Coat brushing and trimming
Washing, brushing, and trimming a Labradoodle’s coat prevents the hair from becoming unkempt and matted, which keeps the dog more comfortable (and makes her that much cuter). In the summer months, your Labradoodle’s coat should be trimmed shorter to prevent her from becoming overheated. When a Labradoodle’s coat is regularly cleaned, dirt, debris, and dander are all washed away, and these are the primary contributors to allergy issues between humans and their dog pals.
Cleaning a dog’s ears is especially important for long-haired dog breeds. Your Labradoodle’s ears are one of his most powerful tools: dogs can hear sounds at a distance up to four times that of humans! Unfortunately, those floppy ears are also a hotbed for infection. Long hair traps dirt and debris inside the ear canal, and if it isn’t removed and cleaned regularly this can lead to swelling, redness, and even the habitation of the dreaded ear mite.
Toenail service is also very important: dog nails that aren’t trimmed can become dangerously long. Long nails will scratch floor surfaces, lead to injuries to people and other dogs during playtime, and may even cause bone fractures when the nail length interferes with normal walking. If you’ve ever tried to trim a dog’s nails yourself, you probably know that the experience can be traumatic for both parties involved. Professional groomers, however, are trained to trim nails quickly and painlessly, and the earlier you start this process with your Doodle the less anxiety she’ll have.
Consider these qualities of a professional dog groomer during your search:
- Cleanliness of the facility and the grooming tools used
- Training and certification of groomers
- Quality of ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, etc.
- Reviews from other customers
- Photos of grooming results
Check out sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Google Maps to locate dog groomers near you and browse their customer feedback. If you find one you like, bring your Labradoodle for a tour of the facilities, and ask lots of questions to make sure you’ll both be satisfied with the level of service (or the quality of tasty treats).
Minding Your Labradoodle’s P’s and Q’s Through Obedience Training
Next on the list of worthwhile services for Labradoodle owners is quality obedience training. Many dog owners attempt to train their pets themselves, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. Where pet owners generally stumble, though, is with consistency. Dogs are like children in their approach to learning. They require gentle repetition in order to learn key commands without becoming discouraged.
Common training mistakes include:
- Long gaps in between training sessions
- Negative reinforcement like shouting or scolding when a dog fails to respond to a command
- Overuse of treats as a positive reinforcement method
- Confusion or inconsistencies with command words
- Attempting to teach too much too fast
The most effective obedience training involves both owner and pet. Training solidifies the bond between human and Labradoodle, and by learning commands your dog also identifies her place in your family. According to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, training is the “single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her ‘forever’ home.” Don’t be intimidated; there’s something that will make you stand a little taller at obedience school. As a Labradoodle owner, you are already ahead of the curve because you may well have the brightest student in the class. You’ll certainly have the “goodest.”
A Part-Time Companion For Your Doodle: Walkers and Sitters
People have busy lives, and it can be all too easy to neglect the needs of your dog. Because Labradoodles are such an intelligent and energetic breed, however, they require constant stimulation. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution today: dog walkers.
You can hire a dog walker for regular outings with your dog in 30-minute or 1-hour sessions, and often the best way to find a good dog walker is through word of mouth. If you have friends with dogs who have found good results with a particular walker, you might consider scheduling an interview to see if they can incorporate your pooch into their schedule. Social media apps like Facebook or review sites like Yelp are other great ways to find highly-rated dog walking pros.
If you are having trouble finding a dog walker you trust, you can use apps like Rover or Wag. These apps employ freelance dog walkers who must pass rigorous testing in order to participate in the app. You can browse available walkers in your area, read other customer reviews, and examine their profiles to find a dog walker who is a good fit for your Labradoodle. These apps often offer pet-sitting services as well, which is a great service if you are going to be coming home late from work and need someone to hang out with or feed your Doodle until you arrive.
Daycare and Boarding: When Your Labradoodle Can’t Travel With You
Even though you love your Labradoodle and can’t bear to be separated from her for an extended period of time, there are some situations where you just can’t bring your fluffy friend along. Maybe you don’t want to be stressing about your Doodle’s well-being while you are enjoying some much needed R&R during your summer vacation. Perhaps you have a series of long days coming up at work, and you can’t abide the thought of your puppy spending 10 hours alone. These situations call for a trusted, quality dog boarder or day care service.
Doggy Day Care is a newer trend in the world of pet ownership. These facilities are essentially large dog playgrounds that employ individuals whose job it is to monitor your dog throughout the day as she interacts with other doggy “campers.” You get the peace of mind that comes from knowing your Labradoodle is entertained and enjoying himself while you are otherwise occupied with humans-only tasks.
For longer trips away from your pup, you’ll need a boarding service. These establishments keep dogs for periods of one day to up to a few weeks, and they provide feeding, exercise, recreation, and even grooming services while you are away from your Labradoodle. Use websites like Yelp or Facebook to compare different establishments and see how other dog owners have reviewed their services, facilities, and staff.
A Bonus For You and Your Labradoodle: Dog Parks
Labradoodles are active dogs that require consistent training, a lot of exercise and recreation, and ample room to grow and play. As such, they may be better suited for dog owners who have active lifestyles. If you like the great outdoors and participate in activities such as walking, hiking, running, or camping, the Labradoodle breed will most likely be a great fit for you.
Labradoodles are also considered a medium to large breed, so they do require more space than smaller dogs. Your house should have room for a large crate if you plan on crate-training your Doodle, and an ideal home environment for a Labradoodle will have a large backyard where she can relax and play in her own special space.
This doesn’t mean that your apartment is off-limits to this delightful breed or that your Labradoodle won’t be happy unless you’ve completed a triathlon. You and your Labradoodle can find all of the recreation necessary for a healthy and happy life by taking advantage of dog parks in your area.
Dog parks provide a variety of benefits for dogs, including:
- Ample space to run and play
- Socialization opportunities
- Training and obedience practice opportunities
- Elimination of excess energy, which can lead to anxiety
Look for a dog park that is well-contained with a sturdy fence to prevent dogs from escaping. Often, dog parks are segregated into small breed and large breed zones to prevent large dogs from accidentally injuring smaller ones. Some dog parks may have membership fees, while others are free for public use. Beware: once your Labradoodle gets a taste for the dog park experience, any time you load your Doodle into the car he is going to hope with all his might that that’s where the two of you are headed.
Are Labradoodles good for families with kids and other pets?
Labradoodles are excellent family dogs. Their carefree, Labrador-like congeniality is coupled with the sharp intelligence of a Poodle. Labradoodles are generally very patient with children, but they should be acclimated to kids slowly and always monitored by an adult during the early stages of exposure to little ones.
Generally speaking, a Labradoodle’s temperament is very even-keeled, and they are not prone to bouts of aggression or sudden mood changes. Doodles are also good with other pets, and they can usually be introduced to more mature dogs (or even cats) with minimal issues. The key is patience and constant observation, especially in the early stages of introduction.
How long do Labradoodles live?
The average life expectancy of a Labradoodle is dependent on a couple of factors. First, small dogs generally live longer than larger dogs, and because there is so much variety in the breed, Labradoodles can range greatly in size. A smaller Labradoodle may live longer than a larger one, but this is by no means guaranteed.
Naturally, a dog that receives regular veterinary care will live longer than a dog that is neglected. Health issues like joint dysplasia, retinal problems, and canine illnesses such as parvo or heartworm may shorten a dog’s life, but these issues can be mitigated with regular checkups, proper preventative care, and vaccinations. With adequate care, you can expect your Labradoodle to have a lifespan somewhere between 12 and 15 years, which is quite long for large breed dogs.
What’s the number one tip for Labradoodle owners?
This entire article can basically be summed up with this, the number one tip for Labradoodle owners: love your Doodle as much as he or she will inevitably love you. This breed is loyal and intelligent, eager and curious, and born with the potential to be an irreplaceable companion. Yes, Labradoodles require expert care, regular grooming, lots of
That’s A Wrap!
By securing these 5 simple services for your Labradoodle, you are investing in his health for a long and happy future. When your Doodle is happy, she gives that happiness right back in warm kisses, fluffy snuggles, and an adoringly goofy canine grin.