You may be forgiven for thinking that an Australian Labradoodle and a Labradoodle are one and the same creature. Whilst they may start out that way, the end goal for this multigenerational breed is most certainly not. The grading system for the Australian Labradoodle can, in the first instance, appear quite complicated. Join us to discover the difference in lineage between the two different breeds and how to simplify the grading system.
The grading system is specific to the Australian Labradoodle. A cross between the Labrador, the Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel, each dog is graded based on their generation and parent breeds. The ultimate aim is for the Australian Labradoodle to be recognized as a purebred by kennel clubs globally.
Let’s begin by learning about the purebreds used to breed an Australian Labradoodle and how this differs from the Labradoodle.
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What is an Australian Labradoodle?
Most of you will already be aware that a Labradoodle is bred by crossing a purebred Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. Whilst the common name for these Doodle’s is a Labradoodle, you may hear some breeders in the United States refer to them as American Labradoodles in order to differentiate them from the Australian Labradoodle.
The Australian Labradoodle, whilst also bred in the United States, is bred in Australia with the sole purpose of eventually creating a multigenerational breed that is recognized as a purebred.
So, what is the main difference between the Labradoodle and the Australian Labradoodle? It’s usually the Cocker Spaniel – either English or American. However, there are actually six confirmed and approved parent breeds of the Australian Labradoodle laid out by The Labradoodle Association of Australia. They are as follows:
- The Poodle (Standard, Miniature and Toy are all accepted)
- The Labrador Retriever
- The Irish Water Spaniel
- The Curly Coat Retriever
- The American Cocker Spaniel
- The English Cocker Spaniel
In fact, it was the introduction of the Irish Water Spaniel that first deviated from the ‘traditional” Labrador Retriever and Poodle mix. The primary objective of this introduction was the rich chocolate color of the Irish Water Spaniel without sacrificing the low shedding and hypoallergenic qualities that had already been developed.
Next came the introduction of the Curly Coat Retriever. The principle aim with this breed was to inject some Retriever characteristics back into the breed. However, this wasn’t as successful as was originally hoped and some negative traits began to be seen. Shorter hair on both the muzzle and the face of the Australian Labradoodle began to be seen. This is referred to as an ‘Open Face” and can be examined in further detail in our article will my Goldendoodle have a beard. An ‘aloofness’ was also observed from this injection and this particular mannerism is now to be bred away from.
The Cocker Spaniel (both the American and the English) was the final introduction into the mix. Unfortunately, using the Miniature Poodle alone was not enough to create the smaller version that was being sought. Therefore, the main intention was to use them alongside the Miniature Poodle in order to promote the foundation of the Miniature Australian Labradoodle. Like the Curly Coat Retriever this introduction also brought negative attributes which are now being bred away from. These include long ears, a domed head and that all important shedding coat.
The Labradoodle generations are fairly simple to understand, especially in comparison to the Australian Labradoodle grading system. Let’s take a look at the Labradoodle generation in order to understand them a little better:
- F1 – An F1 Labradoodle is the first generation. Their parents will be a purebred Labrador Retriever and a purebred Poodle
- F2 – An F2 Labradoodle is a second generation and will have two F1 Labradoodles as their parents
- F3 – An F3 Labradoodle is third generation. This and beyond is then known as a multigenerational Labradoodle
- F1b – An F1b Labradoodle is a breed back to one of the parent breeds. This is generally the Poodle. Therefore, their parents will typically be an F1 Labradoodle and a Poodle. In some cases, the parents will be an F1 Labradoodle and a Labrador Retriever. This is sometimes known as a Reverse F1b
- F2b – An F2b Labradoodle is also a breed back but this time from a second-generation Labradoodle. To simplify, an F2b will have an F2 Labradoodle and a Poodle (or Labrador Retriever) parent
Australian Labradoodle Generations
To be considered a purebred there needs to be at least 5 consecutive breedings of multigenerational Australian Labradoodles. The later the generation, the more consistency can be expected both in temperament and look. F2 and F3 Labradoodles can actually be more of an irregularity than first generations as the potential for throw backs is quite prevalent. You really don’t know what you are going to get.
With the Australian Labradoodle there is much more breed consistency. This is because the breeding process is now around 35 years in production and therefore further down the line with the multigenerations. The further down the generations that breeding goes, the more predictability there is in terms of looks and characteristics. This is one reason it takes a lot of time and careful breeding to eventually meet the standards necessary to classify a dog as a purebred.
Whilst Labradoodles (and other Doodles) are classified as F1, F2 etc the Australian Labradoodle has a similar system but with different abbreviations. The terminology relating specifically to the Australian Labradoodle is ALF.
NB: In the tables below the parent gradings can be found in red along the top row and left-hand column. Where these two meet is the grading of the offspring that they will produce.
This stands for Australian Labradoodle Foundation and the dog must contain all three parent breeds. ALF1 is a first generation, ALF2 second generation and so on. Many Australian Labradoodles are now generically referred to as multigenerational simply due to how long the breeding process has been in existence.
The next generation can only be reached by breeding two of the same generation dogs. If two different generations are used the result will remain as though both were of the lowest generation:
Once ALF3 is bred with ALF3, the Australian Labradoodles are considered to be multigenerational and they can simply be called Australian Labradoodles. Years of careful and considered breeding is what has brought standards to this level, and the continued dedication is what will hopefully find these adorable pooches welcome on kennel club registrations across the globe.
LO stands for Labradoodle Origin. This is used when the parent breeds are Labrador Retriever and Poodle. This abbreviation can also be used to denote generations ie LO2 is the result of breeding two LO1’s. If a backbreed is introduced this is denoted with the initial of the purebred. For example, an LO2p is an LO1 (Labrador x Poodle) bred with a Poodle.
In order for an LO generation Australian Labradoodle to produce ALF offspring, their breeding partner must contain Cocker Spaniel genes. This can be achieved by breeding with a Cocker Spaniel, an ALF or an AL. These will all be ALF1 generations. Example:
The ‘c’ denotes that the Cocker Spaniel is used a parent breed. Sometimes a Spoodle (Poodle and Cocker Spaniel cross) may be used in place of the Cocker Spaniel.
If a Labrador retriever, Poodle or Cocker Spaniel is used as a backbreed then the generational count will revert back to ALF1 and the backbreed will be noted in the grading:
If any ALF dog is proven to display hair or have shedding qualities, then their grading must be reset to ALF0. Offspring of this grade will be classified as ALF1 and again their puppies with revert to ALF0 should they not have a fleece or wool coat.
Is the Australian Labradoodle Recognized?
The sole aim of the breeding standards that are in place for an Australian Labradoodle is to have them recognized as a purebred dog. This is yet to be the case with the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club or the UK Kennel Club. However, they do have some recognition.
The Dog Registry of America, the Australian Labradoodle Association of America and the Labradoodle Association of Australia all recognize the Australian Labradoodle. Let’s learn a little more about each of these bodies:
DRA – Dog Registry of America Inc
Founded in 1983, the DRA are an all-breed registry who will provide a birth certificate and pedigree papers for your pooch. Litters will also be registered in order to maintain the reliability of lineage going forward.
ALAA – Australian Labradoodle Association of America
The ALAA represents breeders of both the Labradoodle and the Australian Labradoodle. They cover breeders in Canada, Europe and of course the United States. Membership is life long and can be for breeders and owners alike. Their main aims are to protect the future of and lobby for purebred status of the Australian Labradoodle whilst developing and safeguarding breed standards.
LAA – Labradoodle Association of Australia Inc
The ALA serves to protect the integrity of this emerging breed. Its aim is to connect breeders from across the globe in order to meet the same goal and same breeding standards. The end goal is to achieve purebred status for the Australian Labradoodle. With stringent health testing policies, the LAA requires its breeding members to produce DNA documentation detailing that their dogs have been tested for 12 hereditary illnesses that are commonly found in the Labrador Retriever, the Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel.
Australian Labradoodle Size
The Australian Labradoodle takes influence from the Poodle and comes in three sizes:
Standard – Measured from paw to shoulder (withers is the correct term), the Standard Australian Labradoodle should measure between 21” and 24”. They should not measure over 25”. The ideal height for a female should be 21” to 23” and 22” to 24” for a male. Their weight should fall between 50lbs and 65lbs.
Medium – The ideal height for a female Medium Labradoodle is between 17” and 19”. A male slightly taller at 18” to 20”. They should not be taller than 21”. Their weight should fall between 30lbs and 65lbs.
Miniature – Height should be between 14” and 16” for both dog and bitch. Neither should exceed 17”. Their weight should tip the scales between 15lbs and 25lbs.
Australian Labradoodle Coat Type
Whilst the ultimate goal is for the Australian Labradoodle to only have two coats, the fleece coat and the wool coat is what the future holds for this breed. However, not only is the hair coat currently in existence but it is playing a significant role in the advance of the fleece coat.
The fleece coat has a soft texture and fleecy feel. It can be straight, wavy or curly and is considered to be hypoallergenic. Whilst it requires care and maintenance, the fleece coat is relatively easy to look after.
The wool coat is closer to the coat of the Poodle and varies from a slightly to significantly curly. It has a denser feel and the texture is more coarse. This coat will require more maintenance in the form of brushing and grooming than the fleece coat. Like the fleece coat, the wool coat is considered to be hypoallergenic which is one of the breed standards the Australian Labradoodle Association is working towards.
Finally, the hair coat is the coat which will eventually be bred out of the Australian Labradoodle. It typically has more odor, sheds (although to what degree is individual to each dog), and is more like that of the Labrador Retriever. The length is also variable and is most likely to be seen in the earlier generations of the Labradoodle.
Australian Labradoodle Colors
The Australian Labradoodle can be found in many different coat colors and patterns. Each color can vary in shade and some are only distinguishable by their nose color. For example, the caramel colored dog can be a variety of shades, but their nose color will always be liver. Cream colors also have a number of shades and can even display a tint of gold or apricot. To be classified as cream they must have a black pigmentation to their nose.
The apricot Australian Labradoodle should also have a black nose. However, their coat should be the color of the inside of a ripe apricot to be classified in this color category. Again, the red classification should have a black nose. The breed standard calls for the tips and the roots of the hair to be the same color.
There are varying shades of brown ranging from the rich chocolate, parchment which is described as a very milky coffee color and café which is almost beige. Black Australian Labradoodles should be a solid color with no markings and a black nose. The silver color will also begin black, developing to silver over time.
Other colors are chalk, blue and lavender. Patterns displayed by the Australian Labradoodle are parti. Parti colors need to be one solid color on a white background. The white must cover more than 50% and the breed standard calls for the nose pigment to match the solid color. There is also the phantom pattern. Phantom calls for one solid background color with distinct markings of a secondary color to the eyebrows, side of the muzzle and throat to name just a few points.
Australian Labradoodle Breed Standards
The first Australian breed standard was written in 1997. Some of today’s standards can be found below:
As the primary objective in most Doodle development was a hypoallergenic result, the Australian Labradoodle must have a non-shedding and easy to manage coat. A shedding coat, indications of an undercoat or harsh hair are all considered to be faults in the breed standard. Their body must be compact whilst appearing athletic and graceful.
A service dog for many the Australian Labradoodle has been a guide dog, a seizure alert dog and many in between. Their ability to read their owner is paramount and falls within breed standard guidelines. They should be clever and easy to train with a willingness to match. Whilst energetic, they should also be passive when handled. And intimations of aggression or dominance are penalized heavily. Similarly, those who appear shy or fearful are also faulted. The Australian Labradoodle should be a sociable hound who greets everyone they meet in a friendly and joyful manner.
These are just a few examples of the breed standard. The list in its entirety can be found on the Australian Labradoodle Association website.
The final goal is to produce a purebred Australian Labradoodle which is consistently non-shedding with a calm and well-balanced temperament. They will be a dog of three sizes and two coat types – fleece and wool.
NB. Some breeders may call their Labradoodles Australia Labradoodles in their marketing paraphernalia. Always ensure that you do your due diligence and research thoroughly when looking for a breeder. Ask questions about their lineage and to see their pedigree so you can be sure that you are in fact, purchasing an Australian Labradoodle.
Did You Know: Pedigree and KC registration are not the same thing. A Kennel Club registration depicts a dog who is a recognized purebred. A pedigree is simply a family tree of a particular dog. If you can trace back their lineage, which you can with the Australian Labradoodles who are registered with the bodies we have already mentioned, then you can produce pedigree papers. Whilst incorrect, the two terms are often used interchangeably.