Labrador Retrievers and Poodles have long been one of the most popular dog breeds around. The Labrador Retriever is loved for their goofy personality, friendliness, and loyalty, while the Standard Poodle is beloved for their intelligence, trainability, and hypoallergenic coat. Both breeds have incredible traits on their own, so why not combine them to get the best of both worlds?
This is exactly how Labradoodles came about. The first Labradoodle was bred in 1989 by Wally Conron, a breeding manager for Guide Dogs Victoria back in the 1980s. They came about as a solution for people with allergies who needed a guide dog.
Now, they’re one of the most popular breeds in America known for their great temperament. They are great with a child, can excel as service dogs, are amazing family pets, and their hypoallergenic nature only helps their cause.
What are Service Dogs?
The definition of a service dog according to the U.S. Department of Justice as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” This is a very broad definition, and doesn’t quite clearly differentiate service animals from regular dog ownership.
Luckily, more legislation was provided on the definition of service dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 gave a more specific definition for service dogs: “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, alerting owners to a panic attack, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.”
Types of Service Dogs
Service dog: A service dog is the most common type and is the broadest category. A service animal can help with many things, but in this category, it is most often pups offering assistance with physical disabilities or impairments.
- Guide dogs: These dogs are also known as seeing-eye-dogs and help people with vision loss or blindness navigate. A guide dog will help their handler avoid obstacles, open doors, maintain a steady pace, board public transport, etc. These are the oldest forms of service dogs, and date back to Pompeii, where illustrations show a blind man being led by a dog. This is by far the most common type of service dog.
- Hearing dogs: These intelligent dogs assist their deaf handlers with sounds they cannot hear. They are trained to help their owners receive vital cues of sounds, including smoke or fire alarms, doorbells, door knocking, phones, alarm clocks, and even the person’s name. They are not quite as common as guide dogs, but still very important.
- Medical alert dogs: These service dogs help owners suffering from seizures or epilepsy prepare for an upcoming seizure episode and keep them safe during it. These are not the only illnesses these dogs help with. Other service dogs under this category include a blood sugar alert dog and an allergy detection dog.
- Mobility assistance dogs: A mobility assistance dog is a type of service dog that helps humans with spinal injuries, paralysis, or any injury that makes walking, standing or balancing difficult. These are typically larger breed dogs since they provide balance support for their handler. They help their human stay standing, open doors, walk, retrieve items, etc. These dogs are usually of a good size to support their owner’s weight and can even help with physical therapy.
Psychiatric service dog: This special service dog assists people with mental disabilities or mood disorders. They have all the same rights as all the mentioned service dogs, but undergo specialized service dog task training to help their owners with mental or mood disorder needs. Some examples of this could be retrieving medication, providing comforting touches, finding a quiet place for their owner, making sure no one touches their owner, etc. These service dogs help with mental health issues rather than mobility issues and undergo very specialized training to work with their handler’s unique special needs.
Click the below video to learn more about psychiatric service dogs.
Therapy dog: A therapy dog is not a service dog, but instead a dog that provides emotional support and comfort to people in stressful situations. This is often a hospital or nursing home, but can also be schools, trauma centers, natural disaster sites, etc. They are not service animals as they don’t perform specific tasks for people with disabilities, but they do undergo specialized training, including passing an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test. Then, they visit anyone who could need comfort. They have a home and are a pet at the end of the day. Find out more about training your dog to become a therapy dog here.
Emotional support animal: An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides emotional support and benefits to their owner. They do not undergo any special training, and are not a service animal. Any animal can become an emotional support animal with a doctor’s note, but they do not have the same rights as service dogs or assistance dogs. Newer laws have become more strict with emotional support animal’s ability to fly with their owners due to people pretending their emotional service animal is a service animal.
Emotional Support Dog vs. Psychiatric Service Dog: What’s the Difference?
While both emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs provide support to their owner, only a psychiatric service dog is a recognized service animal. These dogs undergo specialized task training and have federally protected rights, such as the right to accompany their owner anywhere, including businesses, schools, non-pet friendly housing, on airplanes, etc. They learn specific tasks and duties to help their owner. To get a psychiatric service dog, you must be diagnosed with a disability and prescribed a service dog for that disability.
An emotional support dog only requires a letter of recommendation from a doctor. They are a pet who offers mental and emotional benefits to their owner, which can be very helpful, but they can’t accompany their owners in public places, nor do they have access on flights, in schools, etc. and have no federally protected rights. They don’t do task training, and though they offer support to their owners’ lives and have many great qualities, they don’t support a disability and aren’t service animals. Dogs and cats are the most common types of ESAs, but any animal has the chance to become an ESA with a doctor’s note.
We talked about the origin and history of the Labradoodle earlier, but let’s go back to that for a moment. Labradoodles were first bred in 1989 as a solution for handlers with allergies who needed a hypoallergenic service dog. Labrador Retrievers excelled as service dogs, but have a lot of dander, so the idea of crossbreeding with a Poodle, who have hypoallergenic coats, came to be. The offspring of Lab parents and Poodle parents created the Labradoodle, which changed many peoples’ lives.
Labradoodles take all the great qualities of both breeds, which means they have a great temperament, are loyal, friendly, hard-working, and intelligent. They stand between 21 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder, weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, and live an average of 12 years.
They have a unique personality, commonly referred to as “forever puppies”, thanks to their energetic nature. Labradoodle puppies and adult dogs love their owners and love being near them, thanks to their friendly nature. They thrive as therapy dogs for this exact reason. They are extremely affectionate, which both their parent dogs are as well. Goldendoodles are relatively common as therapy dogs and it’s easy to understand why.
The breed is a gentle giant, and is very perceptive of people’s emotions. They are eager to play, but also to cuddle up and receive some love. Poodles are a bit more reserved than the Labrador Retriever, and you may see that in some Labradoodles who pick up more of one parent breed than the other genetically.
Are Labradoodles Hypoallergenic?
One of the main reasons the Labradoodle came to be was their hypoallergenic nature. But the truth is, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. Doodle mixes are probably about as close as they come though.
What most people are allergic to is not necessarily dog fur, but dander. Dander is microscopic little flakes of skin that come off when fur sheds. So the more a dog sheds, the more dander comes off, which causes allergies to flare up. The Poodle has a very dense, tightly wound coat that doesn’t shed much.
What does that mean for Labradoodles? Basically, you’re taking one of the highest shedding dogs and breeding them with one of the lowest shedding dogs. This varies litter per litter, but most Labradoodles should have somewhat of a Poodle coat. Now that the breed has become more “designer”, many have looser waves and not as tightly wound fur, which doesn’t help with allergies as much. Each Labradoodle breeder has their own standards, as the breed is really a mix.
For rule of thumb, a more tightly wound, dense coat will be more allergy friendly, but no dog is fully hypoallergenic. As the Labradoodle expands, so do different variations. The Australian Labradoodle is a newer combination of the normal Labrador Retriever and Poodle, but also a Cocker Spaniel. The Australian Labradoodle is just one of the new variations of the Labradoodle emerging, and more are sure to come.
Labradoodles are surely more allergy friendly than other breeds. Typical Labs shed constantly, but when mixed with a Poodle, a beautiful balance of dander control is born.
Labradoodles as Service Dogs
Labradoodles are quickly becoming a staple in a service dog training program. Both Labradors and Poodles have been popular choices for many years, but now with the merging of the two, the hybrid is outshining others. The main thing with a Labradoodle is you get the best of both worlds; the quiet confidence of a Poodle and the affection and loyalty of a Lab. This makes them a great choice for service work or as therapy dogs for patients.
Labradoodles are a great size to assist with mobility and balance issues, they are tall enough and strong enough to support their handler’s weight and help balance them. Their demeanor is also spot on for service work. They are extremely friendly, loyal, intelligent, and devoted to work. For a service dog, you want to look for a dog who is friendly, loyal, intelligent, eager to work and please, calm, confident and easy-going. The Labradoodle ticks all of these boxes!
The Labradoodle makes a great companion at home and out and about. They are friendly and calm in new situations, but also focused enough to stay devoted to their job and not get distracted. They are known to retain a permanent puppy demeanor, leading to people often joking that an adult Labradoodle is just a giant Labradoodle puppy. This zest for life is what makes the Labradoodle service dog so great. It’s also why they thrive as therapy dogs.
This breed excels with all people, including children, and loves other animals. They do not have a prey drive, and do not require as much exercise as other service dog breeds. They will thrive with mental stimulation and physical activity like any dog though.
Labradoodles are wildly popular, but that also sometimes leads to irresponsible breeding, which can mean health problems for the breed. Many are prone to hip dysplasia, eye issues, and more. Do your research on a good breeder or rescue to ensure they are not prone to these issues.
How to Get a Labradoodle Service Dog
Are you interested in having a Labradoodle as a service dog? Thankfully, this breed is becoming a very common service dog for all different needs, including a blood sugar alert dog, PTSD service dog, and much more. They thrive with children or adults, and can also do very well as a therapy dog.
Before you do too much, you will want to make sure you are able to receive a service dog. Service dogs are only given to people with disabilities that hinder their quality of life. For a psychiatric service dog, you must consult with a licensed mental health professional. This is the only legitimate way to acquire a service dog. For physical disabilities, you must consult with a doctor in your area.
If they recommend a service dog, the next step is finding a service dog for you. Look at rescues in your local area to see if they have any Labradoodles or Lab or Poodle mixes. Another route to go is through a service dog organization. These are all genetically tested and trained from puppy-hood to be a service dog. If you adopt one or purchase one from a breeder, you will want to work with a service dog trainer or service dog program training to make sure your pooch becomes the best assistance dog possible.
If you go the route of a breeder, be sure to look for reputable breeders that stick to the breeds’ standards and treat their puppies and mothers ethically. This ensures you receive a healthy dog who will be the best assistant dog for you. For a mix like a Labradoodle, it’s hard to find a set breed standard, but be sure to ask many questions and make sure the pups are bred ethically and are health tested.
Labradoodles have quickly become one of the most popular dog breeds of the last few years and it’s easy to see why. The lovable giants are extremely friendly, intelligent, loyal and eager to please. They make a great addition to any home as both a pet or a service animal.
Are you looking for a psychiatric service dog?
Here at CertaPet, we can help. CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that improves access to mental health care in the U.S. with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.
We are currently coordinating with dog trainers who specialize in the service animal space and who will soon work in tandem with our network of licensed mental health professionals to make the process of getting and training a psychiatric service dog affordable, convenient, and hassle-free. We’ll have more information available soon about our Psychiatric Service Dog Training options. In the meantime, you can take our FREE pre-screening below to see if you qualify for a PSD!
Why do Labradoodles make good service dogs?
Labradoodles have the perfect temperament to be a service dog, are very intelligent, are great for allergies, and love everyone and everything they meet.
Are Labradoodles hypoallergenic?
No dog is 100% hypoallergenic, but Labradoodles with very dense, curly coats can help reduce dancer and be easier on allergies than other breeds.
What does a psychiatric service dog do?
Every psychiatric service dog is specially trained for their handler, but some tasks they can accomplish include: fetching medicine, providing calming touches, leading their owner to a safe place, helping their owner calm down during an anxiety attack or PTSD episode, and much, much more.