Dog owners who enjoy the prospect of owning a hybrid or “designer dog” often find themselves looking into Doodle dogs. For those unfamiliar with the term Doodle dog, these are dogs that are a cross between one poodle and some other dog, with the most popular Doodle dogs being Labradoodles and Goldendoodles.
But what are the difference between Labradoodles and Goldendoodles? While they both have great coats, Labradoodles tend to have shorter, wavier coats, whereas Goldendoodles commonly have longer, fuller coats and tails. Labradoodles will often have a shorter, more broad snout. And while they’re both overly friendly breeds, Labradoodles can be a bit more cautious when meeting new people, whereas a Goldendoodle will likely run right up to strangers.
The First Doodles
The Labradoodle was the first Doodle dog to be created, and it was not created by accident. It was a carefully thought-out plan in an attempt to develop an allergy-free guide dog for a visually-impaired woman. The breed became so popular that it became the latest craze among dog owners and breeders. Everywhere you looked you would find someone trying to buy a Labradoodle. Shortly thereafter other Doodle dogs were created.
There was almost a competition between the Labradoodle and the Goldendoodle to see which breed was better, despite many people believing they were the same. Labradoodles are the result of breeding a Labrador Retriever with a Poodle while Goldendoodles are the result of breeding a Golden Retriever with a Poodle. Considering that these are some of the most favorite breeds in the country, it’s understandable that these Doodle dogs would be prevalent.
Combining these breeds almost always results in these positive traits:
- Easily Trained
Considering that Labradoodles come from mixing Poodles and Labrador Retrievers while Goldendoodles are the result of mixing Poodles with Golden Retrievers, one would think that the two breeds are very different. However, this is not the case as they are quite similar in many aspects. There are a few differences worth noting between the two.
Comparing the Labradoodle & Goldendoodle
|Social Traits||Extremely friendly, but more mellow/stand-offish with strangers.||Extremely friendly, more likely to approach strangers.|
|Loyalty||They have the tendency to be extremely loyal to certain family members.||Their loyalty tends to be more evenly spread across all family members.|
|Size||Size varies depending on genetics, size of both parents, birth order, gender, health and nutrition.||Size varies depending on genetics, size of both parents, birth order, gender, health and nutrition.|
|Appearance||They tend to have shorter fur and their muzzles are usually more short and stout when compared to Goldendoodles.||They generally have longer, more full fur and tail. Many have muzzles that are slightly longer and more narrow than that of the Labradoodle.|
|Colors||Wider array of colors, including chocolate, black, cream, red, white, yellow or a combination of a few.||Usually fewer colors, most commonly in areas of gold, caramel, apricot or red spectrum.|
|Service Dog Ability||Better suited as a service dog due to their work ethic, protective nature, and ability to be trained in “intelligent disobedience”.||Well suited as therapy dogs because of their approachable nature and ability to make people smile and laugh.|
|Weight Gain Tendency||Labradoodles have a tendency to enjoy food to the point of gaining weight and becoming obese.||With a healthy diet, they are less prone to uncontrolled weight-gain.|
|Health||Overall quite healthy, but common health conditions include:|
Hip and elbow dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Exercise-Induced Collapse.
|Overall quite healthy, but common health conditions include:|
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Eye Issues, Cancer, Heart Disease.
With the Labradoodle and the Goldendoodle both being part Poodle, it’s almost a given that any differences between the two breeds would stem from the differences between the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever. Here are some fundamental differences.
- Their work ethic or desire to work is slightly different. The Labrador Retriever is a sold working dog that can continue working long after the work is done. This dog works because he enjoys the work. The Golden Retriever will do the work required because he loves and wants to please his owner but is ready to quit when the owner quits.
- Their motivation to work is slightly different. Whereas the Golden Retriever works to please the owner, the Labrador Retriever is more treat-motivated. As long as he continues to get treats, he wants to continue doing the job at hand.
- A Labrador Retriever is more likely to be loyal to “his person” while the Golden Retriever will display loyalty to all family members.
- Labrador Retrievers seem to have a higher energy level and are stronger than the Golden Retrievers.
The Goldendoodle and the Labradoodle are both personable, energetic and wonderful family dogs, but the Goldendoodle’s friendliness and enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily come from praise or treats. They’re just always happy and seem never to stop wagging their tails. Both dogs are loyal to their family members, but the Labrador Retriever is slightly more reserved and mellow. If a stranger were to walk by, the Labradoodle would most likely stay near his owner, while the Goldendoodle wouldn’t hesitate to approach the stranger.
If a stranger would come into the home, the Labrador Retriever is more likely to stand back in the corner waiting for a bit while the Golden Retriever would rush up to the stranger to be pet. This is not to say the Labradoodle won’t eventually do the same but just not as quickly as the Goldendoodle. The Labradoodles take a little longer to access the situation and ensure that everything is cool before approaching a strange situation or person. Many owners say that their social skills are probably the most significant difference between the two breeds. Both dogs interact very well with children and other dogs.
Labrador Retrievers are also more forgiving than Golden Retrievers, and this trait often carries on to the Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. Some owners have said that if the owner becomes upset with the Golden Retriever, it can actually affect the dog’s desire or willingness to work. So, if you yell at your Goldendoodle, don’t expect him or her to continue working with the same enthusiasm! The Labrador Retriever, on the other hand, wants to keep on going like the Energizer Bunny. While both dogs interact well with their owners, Golden Retrievers are more sociable with strangers.
Goldendoodles interact well with all people in the home, whereas Labradoodles are more dominant with certain family members. Labradoodles s are more territorial than Goldendoodles and also enjoy spending more time outside the home. Labrador Retrievers would be perfectly content staying in the home laying by your feet. These social and temperament traits that are possessed by the Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers can often be found in the Goldendoodles and Labradoodles
The thing that mostly affects the size of these dogs is what type and size Poodle they were bred with. Other things can affect the size of the Labradoodle and the Goldendoodle include genetics, size of both parents, birth order, gender, health and nutrition. Standard Poodles can go from 40 to 80 pounds while Golden Retrievers average 55 to 75 pounds, and Labrador Retrievers go from 55 to 80 pounds.
Keeping these figures in mind, you can see that there can be a lot of variances. They both have well-defined bodies. Goldendoodles tend to have longer bodies than Labrador Retrievers, but most breeders claim that the Labs outweigh the Goldens by the time they reach adulthood. Although standard Poodles are the size most commonly used in the breeding to create Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, they also use the toy and miniature Poodles.
Both Goldendoodle and Labradoodle dogs are beautiful dogs. When people see them for the first time they often wonder about the breed. When you consider what Poodles look like or what Golden Retriever and Labrador Retrievers look like, it’s not a surprise that people question what breed they’re actually looking at.
It’s not just that the Goldendoodle’s fur is longer; the Goldendoodle also has much more fur. Although the Goldendoodle’s fur may also be wavy, it’s typically much straighter than the Labradoodle. The Goldendoodle also has a much fluffier tail. The Labradoodle’s fur tends to be much waver. When you go to buy a Goldendoodle or a Labradoodle, the breeder may ask what type of coat you prefer. The most common coat descriptions you’ll hear are:
- Hair coat– This coat has a harsh short texture typically found on a Labrador Retriever.
- Wool coat – This coat has a harsh kinky texture typically found on a Poodle.
- Fleece coat – This coat has a soft wavy texture and is most commonly found on both Labradoodles and Goldendoodles.
Hair length and consistency is not the only difference between the Labradoodle and the Goldendoodle. Their colors tend to vary quite a bit as well. Labradoodles seem to be born with more color variations than Goldendoodles. Labradoodles may come in colors like chocolate, black, cream, red, white, yellow or a combination coat. Goldendoodles are usually in the areas of gold, caramel, apricot or red spectrum.
Although many experts will say non-shedding or hypoallergenic dogs do not exist, the Goldendoodle and the Labradoodle are as close as you’re going to get to being hypoallergenic because they do shed such a small amount. The Labradoodle tends to shed a little more than the Goldendoodle but is also easier to groom than the Goldendoodle. In terms of grooming, it’s been said that Labradoodles are low maintenance, and Goldendoodles are high maintenance.
Both breeds will make excellent family dogs, but their love of people and willingness to approach strangers often take them out of the running for guarding purposes. This is especially true with Goldendoodles, who will not hesitate to walk up to a stranger and try making a new friend. Goldendoodles are just happy, happy dogs that are always smiling, which is the opposite of what you want in a guard dog.
The Labradoodle tends to be more guarded and reserved when it comes to new situations, people or space, and this could be misconstrued as aggression if the dog was not properly socialized. The Labradoodle is considered a much better watchdog because he or she will bark when strangers come to the home, whereas the Goldendoodle seldom barks.
Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers have long been known for their ability to hunt and retrieve their prey. These same qualities are passed on to the Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. They love the outdoors and enjoy being around water.
Service Dog Ability
Both the Goldendoodle and Labradoodle have excellent service dog ability due to their friendliness, intelligence, loyalty and natural temperament. Because the Goldendoodle is a little friendlier and the more approachable of the two, they’re more often chosen to work as therapy dogs. They have the ability to make people smile and laugh. Many people look at Goldendoodles as being clowns and even goofy-looking.
Qualities like this are what make them such wonderful therapy dogs. It’s not unusual to see a Goldendoodle in a hospital, nursing home, pediatric unit or any place where therapy dogs are used. Personality traits like this may be frowned upon for those looking for a guard dog but are highly valued when looking for a therapy dog.
Labradoodles generally make better service dogs because:
- They’re stronger.
- They have a natural temperament for it.
- They have higher intelligence.
- They have a better work ethic.
- They’re more compatible.
- They’re more protective towards their people.
Another reason why Labradoodles make such good service dogs is their ability to be trained in “intelligent disobedience”. Intelligent disobedience is when the dog will disobey a command if he or she believes the situation could be dangerous. This type of training is challenging, but many Labrador Retrievers seem to pick it up very quickly. This trait is also valuable when the dog is being used as a seeing-eye because they won’t take the person into a potentially dangerous situation.
This training ability has made Labradoodles the better choice for seeing-eye dogs, guide dogs and basic service dogs. Another trait that makes Labradoodles better for service dogs is their accepting and loving nature. This trait is vital when it comes time for the trainer to hand over the service animal to a new owner. Through the years, we’ve often thought of German shepherd dogs when we think of service animals or seeing-eye dogs.
As intelligent and loyal as German shepherds may be, they have the reputation of being a one-man dog. Labrador Retrievers have all the same wonderful qualities but do not have the one-man dog issue, which can make them better service animals. When their training is done, they are able to transfer their loyalty and affection to the new owner much quicker. This unique ability also helps Labradoodle make effective service animals.
Weight Gain Tendency
Of all the differences noted between the two breeds, the one that is seldom mentioned or even known by many, is the Labradoodle’s tendency to enjoy food to the point of gaining weight and becoming obese. This tendency comes from the Labrador Retriever. Approximately one in five Labrador Retrievers carries a genetic mutation that gives them a predisposition to gain weight according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
This gene, known as the pro-opiomelanocortin or POMC gene, makes them want to continue eating even if they’re full. This not only contributes to the dog being overweight but is said to improve their ability to participate in more extended training sessions, especially if the training is food or treat-based. Research has indicated that about 75% of assistance dogs have this mutation. This gene mutation helps the Lab in his training because to be good service animals, they must train often and from an early age.
Labradoodles and Goldendoodles are both relatively healthy dogs but, like most dogs, they do have certain diseases that they are prone to inheriting due to their breed. These diseases typically come from both sides.
Labrador Retrievers are prone to develop:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Exercise-Induced Collapse
Golden Retrievers are prone to developing:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Eye Issues
- Heart Disease
Poodles are prone to get these diseases:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Patellar Luxation
- Eye Issues
As we look at the list, it’s easy to see that it would not be a big surprise to see either dog develop hip dysplasia, PRA or similar eye issues. These dogs are also prone to developing, skin conditions, allergies and thyroid disorders. This is why it’s incredibly vital that buyers of these dogs ask to see the parent’s health records. Many reputable breeders put their dogs through genetic health testing programs to determine what diseases the dog has a better chance at inheriting.
With so many breeds available, why are Labradoodles and Goldendoodles considered the perfect family dogs?
When we look for a family dog, we generally want a dog that’s friendly, intelligent, easy to train and one that will protect our family if necessary. The Goldendoodle and Labrathese meet these criteria. These also often offer you a choice of size. You’re not automatically stuck with a dog that weighs 80 pounds, although, you can choose to get one that large if you so desire. The fact that they don’t shed very much is also a plus on their side.
What do breeders mean when they talk about different generational breeding?
Generational breeding is most often used to describe the dog’s coat and its non-shedding ability. For instance, a Poodle that’s bred directly with a Labrador Retriever or a Poodle bred directly with a Golden Retriever is considered a First Generation (F1) dog. You’ll generally get a dog that has mild to light shedding. An F1 Labradoodle or Goldendoodle bred to a Poodle is a Second Generation (F1B) dog. About 80% of these are considered as non-shedding. Breeding an F1B Labradoodle with another F1B will give you a Third Generation or Multi-Generation dog that is supposed to be completely non-shedding.
What should I look for when looking for a Goldendoodle or Labradoodle to buy?
One of the most important things is to avoid puppy mills. A puppy mill is a place where the breeder continues to breed their dogs nonstop and has a continuous supply of puppies for sale. They generally don’t care what sire and dam they mix. Find a reputable breeder that runs a clean establishment and can provide you health histories on all the dogs they own. This breeder should be willing to discuss health, temperament, and generations with you. They’ll usually also provide you with some type of health guarantee.
That’s A Wrap!
Choosing a dog, whether to be used as a family pet, companion or service animal, is a huge responsibility and one that requires research and time. If you’ve narrowed your selection down to Labradoodles or Goldendoodles, you’re well on your way to having a wonderful dog and really can’t go wrong with either.