Labradoodles are a hybrid between Labrador retrievers and standard poodles. They are highly intelligent and friendly, and ideal for people with pet allergies because of their low allergy coats. Though the labradoodle is not a short-hair breed, it is a non-shedding dog, which reduces the likelihood and severity of an allergic reaction. Labradoodles are bred to have either fleece or wool curly coats. Find out more about the differences between the two coat types.
Fleece coats are distinguished by their soft, fleecy feel, much like the coat of an Angora goat. Although the texture of the coat may vary by dog, labradoodles with fleece coats generally hang in loose, loopy spirals, according to the Labradoodle Dogs website. Fleece labradoodles have longer, wavier fur that waves as the dog moves. Fleece coats evolved from "borderline" coats, so called because they were a mix between the hair coats of the Labrador and the wool curly coats of the poodle. Borderline coats were long and wavy, but shed and did not have the silky texture of a true fleece coat. As breeders sought to find a hypoallergenic dog with a softer coat, the fleece coat emerged.
Fleece labradoodle puppies require weekly grooming and maintenance between 8 and 14 months of age, according to the Philip Crammond website. As their adult coat begins to grow, the puppies must be stripped and raked. Stripping a dog's coat means plucking the outer coat to remove the dead hair trapped in the fur. This should be done by hand, and is not painful for the dog. An alternative to plucking is raking the coat with an undercoat rake, a grooming tool recommended for pets with particularly dense coats.
The curly wool coat is similar to the curly coat of the poodle. Unlike the fleece coat, it consists of tighter curls that are shorter and do not wave in the wind. While it is also very soft, the curly wool coat is slightly coarser and should feel like a soft, woolly sweater or rug. Like fleece labradoodles, curly labradoodles do not shed and are hypoallergenic.
Curly wool coats must be trimmed or clipped at least two or three times a year, according to the Philip Crammond website. Properly trimming or clipping a labradoodle's beard, muzzle and forehead can be tricky because the curls may impede your view of the shape of the dog's face. The Rutland Manor website recommends laying your scissors flat against the dog's face to ensure a straight line and cutting the hair from one inside eye corner to the other inside eye corner. The website also advises using a size #15 blade if using clippers, and clipping upward from the bridge of the nose to between the eyes. Curly labradoodles also require a thorough grooming every week.
Labradoodles, whether curly or fleece, do not need to be bathed often. Like human hair, labradoodle coats need a protective coating of natural oils that is actually capable of self-cleaning, according to the Philip Crammond website. Excessive shampooing will strip away these natural oils and necessitate more frequent cleaning, creating more work for the owner. If a labradoodle gets dirty, sometimes the best solution is to put the dog in a dry, clean environment for a few hours.