Once upon a time, it was new and novel to mix the much-loved Labrador Retriever with a Poodle to create one of those new-fangled Labradoodles. These days hybrids have remained massively in demand. Labradoodles have become so popular that it was only a matter of time until someone thought what other breeds could be crossed with them in subsequent generations.
Enter here, the Australian Shepherd and Labradoodle mix. Who wouldn’t be intrigued to see what a pairing of these two loyal and well-loved companion dogs could generate?
Don’t worry we have done the legwork and the research to help you understand more about this extension of the Labradoodle clan. We will set out a bit about the parent breeds before talking size, coat type, coloring, and exercise needs to let you find out if this could be the dog for you.
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The Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and one of the three sizes of Poodle (Standard, Miniature, or Toy). As the German Shepherd is a large breed itself, it is most commonly a Labradoodle with Standard Poodle parentage that is selected for a cross between the two.
While this mix was noted to have occurred as early as the 1950s it was around 1989 that the term Labradoodle became commonplace, and the popularity really increased.
The publicity surrounding the Labradoodle increased in the early 1990s where many guide, assistance, and/or therapy dogs associations realized the Labradoodle would be an option for individuals who experienced dog allergies.
Often the addition of Poodle genetics greatly reduced the amount of shedding that would be associated with Labrador Retrievers.
The Labradoodles smarts and low shedding coat attracted the attention of normal domestic pet owners and there was a meteoric rise in the number of breeders over the course of the ’90s and 2000s.
Generally, Labradoodle owners favor the breed’s natural friendliness while their energetic and affectionate nature makes them popular for active singles, couples, or families with children.
Australian Shepherd History
What may surprise you is that the Australian Shepherd (sometimes known as an Aussie Shepherd) did not actually originate in Australia. A bit on the bonkers side I know but the breed actually developed in the Western United States of America in the 19th century.
The breed is most likely a descendent of a mix of the herding breeds such as collies, sheepdogs, and shepherding breeds brought by immigrants to the New World. The Australian aspect of their name in fact came from the imported Australian sheep herds that they were charged with working alongside.
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized, athletic, working breed dog. They have a long wavy style coat with a dense undercoat. They have a plethora of mixed color combinations and often exhibit unusual, dappled markings. The individuality is such that Australian Shepherd owners note they have never seen two with the same pattern and color.
While they are rarely used as working dogs now, the herding instinct remains with many owners noting the breed’s preference to herd younger family members or other pets. In terms of temperament, an Australian Shepherd is expected to be bright, loyal, protective, and playful.
What Do We Call a Labradoodle Australian Shepherd Mix?
For the most part owners, groups use the term Aussiedoodle. It is worth remembering though that this can be used interchangeably to describe an Australian Shepherd x Poodle (with no Labrador) and an Australian Shepherd x Labradoodle. Especially in 2nd or 3rd generation, Aussie Shepherd Poodle crosses, a Labradoodle is frequently used instead of a purebred Poodle parent.
Be careful not to confuse the Aussie Doodle with the Australian Labradoodle, which is a different mix entirely, consistent of a Poodle, Labrador, and Cocker Spaniel genetics.
Why is this Cross Being Bred?
Crossing the Aussie Shepherd with the Poodle firstly was desirable to try and limit the shedding from the Australian Shepherd, who as a double-coated dog, was not a great choice for anyone with sensitivities to pet hair or dander.
As time went on breeders began to experiment with supplementing the mix with Labrador genetics via the Labradoodle. This was seen to further enhance the Aussiedoodles’s temperament and helped to decrease some of the hyperactivity associated with just an Australian Shepherd and Poodle cross.
The Benefits of the Aussiedoodle
The benefits of an Aussiedoodle include a charming, goofy personality and a loyal nature. As many purebred lines including Poodles, Australian Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers, have begun to exhibit breed-specific health issues, creating a hybrid provides the opportunity to dilute problematic genes. By utilizing 3 breed genetics rather than just 2 it makes it less likely for health issues to be expressed (unless it is a condition present in 2 or more of the breeds used).
The Cons of the Aussiedoodle
There aren’t many cons to be fair. However, in first-generation crosses between an Australian Shepherd and a Labradoodle, there can be quite a significant variation in coat types even amongst a litter.
Remember in these mixes pups would be 50% Australian Shepherds, 25% Poodle, and 25% Labrador. That is three, really quite different coat types to play with.
Consistency in the coat can be achieved in subsequent generations by increasing the Poodle genetics while retaining enough Labrador to keep the sweet nature that makes the breed so appealing.
Size and Weight
When thinking of the breeds involved in the Aussiedoodle, the Australian Shepherd only comes in one mid-size while a Labradoodle will vary dependent on whether the Poodle mix was a Standard, Miniature, or Toy.
For the most part, Aussiedoodles are bred by matching a Miniature or smaller Standard Labradoodle however some breeders have been seeking to breed smaller variations utilizing a Toy Labradoodle.
As Labrador Retrievers are generally stockier in build than Poodles or Australian Shepherds, Aussiedoodles who are Labradoodle crosses will normally be a touch heavier than those who are straight Poodle crosses only.
A rough size and weight guideline are given below, this is based on averages only and it is expected that the males may be as much as 15% bigger than the female.
- Toy Aussiedoodle: 12lbs to 15lbs and less than 10”
- Mini Aussiedoodle: 20lbs to 45lbs and between 10” and 15” tall
- Standard Aussiedoodle: 50lbs to 70lbs and between 15” and 18” tall
Color and Coat Types
As mentioned above, the first litter from a Labradoodle and Australian Shepard match can have quite a significant mixture of coat types. They only contain 25% Poodle in this generation so may not exhibit the tight curly coat seen in some other Doodle crosses.
Often first-generation puppies will have variations of wavy and fleecy coats, they can retain an element of double coat from the Labrador and Australian Shepherd though so may still cast. However, this can still be relatively low shedding.
Subsequent second or multigenerational Aussiedoodles will tend to exhibit a more consistent coat type, with most breeders tweaking pairing to achieve a single coat with somewhere between curls and waves.
One of the most desirable reasons for crossing an Australian Shepherd into a Labradoodle line is the possibility of gaining pups with the Merle (or dappled) appearance. Merle is much less common in Labradors and Poodles so you would very rarely see this color in a Labradoodle alone.
Aussiedoodles can be blue or red merle. In terms of solid colors, they can be chocolate black, or white, however, most will have some markings of another color. They can be bi or even tri-colored.
Breeders need to be both knowledgeable and careful when breeding merle as done incorrectly it can cause many problems. Is the merle gene bad, is an in-depth account of how and when it can go wrong.
The degree of brushing needed will depend on individual coat type however the consensus among Aussiedoodle owners is that their coats can be slightly more manageable than some Labradoodle coats. This is due to the Australian Shepherd introducing the genetic makeup for a fleecier coat rather than the human-like hair common in Labradoodles.
It is a good idea to brush your Aussiedoodle from tip to tail at least a few times a week, making sure to get down to the skin to remove any shed hair which may become trapped. Professional grooming is advisable as their coats tend to be in the mid-length range and benefit from regular trims to encourage coat health and keep them looking swish.
Aussiedoodles, especially those bred using Labradoodles, are considered a largely healthy breed. The benefit of having three breeds involved is that it dilutes any potential health condition that may be prevalent in a pure breed. Of course, if a condition is present in two or more of the breeds it can still be expressed in the litter, as a faulty gene may come from both parent dogs.
There are some conditions that the Aussiedoodle may have a higher incidence of. These are outlined below:
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye problems – cataracts and/or progressive retinal atrophy
- Auto-immune disorders
- Skin problems – sebaceous adenitis/ allergies
The good news is that there is genetic screening that can be undertaken by breeders to help reduce the risk of these occurring. Furthermore, many of the conditions can be effectively managed.
As a result, the Aussiedoodle has a fairly lengthy average lifespan of between 10 and 13 years.
A bit of a class clown, Aussiedoodles are known to enjoy games and are goofy in their personality. They are incredibly energetic dogs and smart to boot. This means they will need regular exercise alongside things to work their gray matter. They are loyal and bond firmly with their families however are generally confident around strangers too.
The benefit of the Labradoodle cross Aussiedoodle is that the Labrador genetics can temper some of the destructive energy that a Poodle x Australian Shepherd can display. A Labradoodle cross version will also have a reduced herding instinct which may be good if you have young children or other pets.
As mentioned above whether your Aussiedoodle is a Labradoodle or Poodle only mix, they are not couch potatoes. These dogs have significant working-dog credentials and need to be on the go to be at their best.
The Aussiedoodle is capable of explosive bursts of speed and is incredibly agile, appearing to be able to turn direction on a dime. They thrive in games and activities they can complete with their owners such as obedience training, agility, and flyball.
An Aussiedoodle is therefore a big commitment in terms of time and is not a good match for anyone who expects to be out all day or has limited access to a good outdoor space. While indoor games may suffice now and again, they should be in addition rather than as an alternative to outdoor activity.
Although largely in the small to medium dog range, the Aussiedoodle’s high activity level means they may require more calories than initially expected. This can be a bit of a balancing act though, as, like any dog, they naturally slow down a touch in later life meaning their food will need to be adjusted as to not cause weight gain.
Adult Aussiedoodles should be fed twice a day. Be mindful that the Labrador genetics in a Labradoodle cross can make your Aussiedoodle very food motivated and as they are super quick will be able to pinch food in the blink of an eye. It can be helpful to work on training from an early age to help your Aussiedoodle know that stealing from plates or counters is not on the menu.
The choice is yours when it comes to Aussiedoodles. You can go for a traditional Poodle x Australian Shepherd or investigate a breed utilizing Labradoodles in their crosses.
It is unlikely to make a massive difference to temperament however Labradoodle versions may be slightly mellower. First-generation Labradoodle Australian Shepherds may have more variability in coat color and type however this can become more predictable in subsequent generations.