Caring for Your Labradoodle’s Coat
You may be wondering at this point just how important the generation of your dog really is. Knowing the generation can tell you a lot about the type of dog you’ll be welcoming into your home, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how just exactly what you are about to commit your energies to.
The F1 Labradoodle sheds more than other Doodle generations, but if you’re looking for ease of care, you want a first generation dog. This dog will have a short, shiny coat that is sometimes wavy; sometimes it looks shaggy. Although you may need to trim errant tufts with a pair of scissors, always avoid shaving the coat completely. A dog’s coat is meant to protect him from the elements, like sun and wind. Close shaves destroys the hair shafts and endanger your dog.
You can brush the hair-coated dog once a week, giving a little extra attention to the ears, eyes, muzzle and tail areas, and he’s good to go. He’s wearing the lowest-maintenance style coat an Australian Labradoodle can have, but he’ll be the dog who sheds the most, too.
Brush this type of coat with a soft bristle brush, and brush in the direction the hair points. This action will help to distribute the natural oils that protect the hair coat and keep it shiny. These oils also help to prevent leaves, twigs and bits of dirt sticking to the coat.
You may find that a dog with a hair coat needs only occasional bathing.
A dog with a wool coat will shed very little, but she’ll need more grooming and coat care than her F1 ancestor. Wool coats are also known as curly coats, and you’ll notice the difference between this coat and the hair coat right away.
The increased thickness of the coat will require a longer brushing period because you have to be sure that you do more than straighten out the top layer.
Look closely, and you’ll see an undercoat that must also be brushed and combed through. Brushing each layer of fur can be tedious work, but your efforts will pay off in the end. Your Labradoodle’s curls will look spectacular, almost like a wooly little lamb.
Be prepared to commit a couple of days each week to the task of thorough brushing. Although you’ll spend more time with this chore with the F2 and F2B Labradoodle than the F1, your wooly dog has a coat that grows slower. That means you’ll spend less time and money at the groomer’s.
No wonder Jason and the Argonauts wanted to get their hands on the Golden Fleece. Nothing else was as soft and luxurious as this fleece, and whoever owned it was respected enough to be the ruler of the kingdom.
Owning an F3 or F3B Australian Labradoodle may not improve your position as a successor to the throne, but your Doodle will have the kind of fleece Jason and company were willing to risk their lives for.
The fleece coat is non-shedding – perfect for homes where fly-away dog fur is an issue. You may occasionally find a random bit of hair on the floor, but for the most part, any small bits of fleece will end up in your matting comb. You’ll definitely need one of these combs, because they help to detangle the fleece without pulling hair follicles out of the skin. The hair you do find in the matting comb will be the undercoat that has died. You’ll see an increase in loose hair as the seasons change. By brushing and combing your dog regularly, you’re helping her to remain mat free.
Non-shedding doesn’t mean that the dog’s coat needs no care. In fact, the fleece coat on a Labradoodle may need a little more care than the other coat types. That’s because the fur, especially along the underbelly, tends to become tangled easily. Frequent brushing, five to seven times a week) will eliminate this problem, and some owners solve the problem completely by having their dog’s coats trimmed to no more and an inch in length.
An F3 or F3B generation Australian Labradoodle will visit the groomers as often as his Poodle cousin does – about once every four to six weeks – for trimming and clipping.
You are still not off the hook just because your Labradoodle is sporting a shorter clip. Plan on combing your dog regularly to minimize tangles. You’ll also need a lot of patience when combing out your dog, because you’ll want to make sure you comb out the coat from the base and outward.
When your F3/F3B Doodle is detangled, you can shampoo and condition your dog’s coat, but be sure that you rinse everything out.
I’ll be Using a Groomer
Most Labradoodle owners do use a groomer, unless they have learned how to master the art of using electronic clippers themselves.
There are plenty of reasons to visit the groomer. Not only will he or she be much more experienced with a set of clippers and a pair of scissors, but the groomer will also provide a few other services you might not want to take on, like trimming toenails (and dewclaws) and expressing your dog’s anal glands.
More importantly, though, a professional groomer will understand your dog’s coat and its particular needs. When you tell your groomer you are bringing in a Labradoodle for the works, he or she will likely want to know ahead of time which type of coat your dog has. Your answer will say a lot about how much time it will take for the session.
On average, your Doodle will visit the groomer three or four times a year, minimum, for coat care, which includes shampooing, trimming and possibly stripping, which is the removal of dead hairs. If you prefer a shorter clip for your dog or you live in a warmer climate, you may decide that more frequent visits are in order.
There are breed standard for trimming and clipping. For example, the preferred length for a Doodle coat is three inches, the ears must be trimmed just so, and the muzzle is reduced to an inch in length. The paws are often round-trimmed, creating the famous “Doodle boots” that look so adorable.
A good groomer will know the standard clip for Australian Labradoodles, but if you find a look you like, show your groomer the picture so it can be duplicated on your dog.
Of course, you won’t have to have all of your Australian Labradoodle’s coat care done by a professional groomer. You can take on some of the care yourself.
One of the first things you can do is brush and comb your dog yourself before you visit your groomer. After all, time is money, and the time you save this professional is time he or she can put into the clipping rather than the detangling.
As you can see, Australian Labradoodles need considerable care; it’s an investment of both time and money, but most owners think it well worth it in the long run.
Australian Labradoodle breeders and owners recommend these grooming tips for all Doodles, regardless of generation.
When Your Dog Is a Puppy
The cute little fluff ball cradled in your arms will quickly learn to look to you for everything. You are her pack leader, so you’ll be providing her food, grooming and affection.
Although she’ll be too young as a puppy for much brushing and grooming, you can get her started on the road to positive coat care by making brushing a pleasurable experience.
Talk to your pup while you are brushing her. The objective here is far less about the brushing and more about associating pleasant feelings when you touch her face, feet, and other sensitive areas. Labradoodles need plenty of grooming when they are adults, so it’s best to get them used to human touch early on.
Most oatmeal-based shampoos are considered non-toxic and soothing for young pups, but your puppy will not need as much bathing and coat care as older dogs.
The Tireless Teens
Dogs love to explore, and they are attracted to new experiences by scent. Your dog will want to roll around in the odors that intrigue her, wearing them like the latest fashion trend for all to notice. The smellier, the better, so you’ll have to learn how to bathe your dog if she gets stinky between grooming visits.
Debris and dirt will likely brush right out of an Australian Labradoodle’s coat, especially the hair variety, but smells and odors need suds.
The Adult Doodle
By now your Labradoodle should appreciate the routine that goes with bathing, and together you’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t work.
Here are some quick tips:
Breeders and owners love the Australian Labradoodle for its non-shedding and nearly hypoallergenic coat. They will tell you that there is no better canine companion for their home or for their kids. What most people don’t realize until their Doodle comes home, however, is that this breed of dog still requires intensive attention to grooming.
When you are looking for the right Australian Labradoodle for your family, talk to the breeder. Good breeders can tell you about the coat your puppy has and what kind of coat his parents had. Ask questions until you are satisfied that you are getting the dog you want and are ready to care for.
Caring for a wool or fleece coat can be an investment in time and money, but many owners wouldn’t have it any other way.