Will my Labradoodle get Curly? We Reveal All

Doodles are a fascinating breed of dog. One reason being the vast variety of them. Different Doodles have lots of things in common due to the Poodle influence, but they also have lots of differences. One thing that does vary a lot between Doodles is their coat type and whether they are curly, wavy, straight, or flat coated. In this article we’re going to take a look at Labradoodles and if they are guaranteed a curly coat.

Curly coats in Labradoodles are genetic. If two affected genes are inherited the coat will be curly. One gene will leave them curly/wavy. If the affected gene is not present, then the dog will have a straight coat. A reputable breeder will be able to tell the type of coat based on the muzzle hair.

So, if you are itching to know how to determine how curly your Labradoodle’s coat will get, or indeed if it’s destined to stay straight, let’s dive right in and explore all things coat-related.

Labradoodle Coat Types

Labradoodles have a single coat that can range from straight to wavy. There are also three types of coat they can have:

  • The Hair Coat (Straight): This coat type closely resembles that of the Labrador parent and they generally lack the typical teddy bear appearance of other Labradoodles. This coat type is the one prone to shed the most so will not be suitable for families with allergies to dog hair. It can sometimes lack softness and has a coarser feel to it.
  • Fleece Coats (Shaggy): Probably the most common coat type among Labradoodles and it ranges from wavy to very wavy in appearance. It’s great for families with allergies as this coat is considered low shedding, unlike the hair coat. They will need lots of brushing to stop their fur from getting matted and it will feel soft to the touch.
  • Wool Coats (Curly): Curls on this coat type can vary from loose curls to tight curls and the Labradoodle will look more like their Poodle parent. These dogs will be higher maintenance in terms of grooming but again are low shedding which is a bonus for many. Wool coats feel soft to the touch and require daily brushing.

Hair Types and Genetics

Genetics is what impacts the hair type of your Labradoodle. Cu locus is present on the gene known as KRT71 and is responsible for the curl, wave, or lack of either in your dog’s coat. This is all down to the production of a type of keratin and whether it binds together in regular patterns on the structure of the hair. The Cuc variant stops the binding pattern, resulting in a curly coat.

Has that made your brain hurt a little bit? It’s certainly left us scratching our heads so here it is in more simple terms. Like us, dogs inherit genes in pairs. One from mom and one from dad. This is how the pairing of the Cu locus will determine the curl in your Labradoodle:

  • Cu / Cu – This Labradoodle will have a straight coat. They don’t carry the curly variant. This dog will only ever pass on Cu to any of its offspring
  • Cu / Cuc – This Labradoodle can have a wavy or a curly coat. It carries only one copy of the variant and each of its pups has a 50% chance of inheriting it
  • Cuc / Cuc – This Labradoodle carries two copies of the variant. They will have a curly coat and always pass Cuc to their puppies.

N.B. Different labs use different names so you may not always see the curly coat referred to as Cu locus

Without DNA testing to see what traits both parents carry there is no way of determining what results you will get with each litter. If you want the best chance of curly-coated Labradoodles without DNA, backcross generations such as F1b, F1bb, F2b, and F2bb are the most likely to produce them. You can learn more about how generations are classified in our sister article Cavapoo generations explained.

How Can I Tell if my Labradoodle Will Get Curly?

Once you have chosen your breeder you will know what the parents of your Labradoodle look like. This is a great first step in predicting what your puppy may look like over time. Of course, this isn’t a fool-proof way of determining the coat type because parents may both pass on the non-curl gene. It is, however, a good starting point.

The puppy coat will also change over time as it develops into its adult one. It’s exciting to keep an eye on any possible changes. Even if your puppy has a very straight coat then it can still transition into waves or curls. It may, however, develop a wave to it.

Likewise, if your Labradoodle pup has obvious waves or curls then it’s not going to straighten out to become a straight coat. At around 10 months old your puppy will begin to grow its adult coat. This can continue to change right up until they are around 2 years old.

A good indication of how curly your dog’s hair will get is to pay attention to the hair around their muzzle area. If it’s very straight, then it’s likely the rest of the hair will also come in straight. Likewise, if it’s wavy or curly then you are going to have a wavy or curly-coated dog.

Straight vs Curly – Which Is Best?

This is mainly a matter of individual preference. What appeals to you may not appeal to the next person. That said, there will be maintenance differences to take into consideration. The curlier the coat, the more looking after it will need.

Straight Coat – The Facts

  • More prone to shedding than wavy and curly coats
  • Less grooming requirements
  • Appealing to those who prefer Labrador look
  • Good for families who have no allergies due to being less hypoallergenic than curly-coated dogs
  • Grooming costs should be lower for straight coat Labradoodles

Curly Coat – The Facts

  • Less prone to shedding than straight coats
  • Higher maintenance in terms of grooming due to the curls needing a lot of attention and brushing
  • Curly coated Labradoodle’s appeal to families who prefer their dog to closely resemble the Poodle or have the classic Doodle look
  • Good for families with allergies due to their hypoallergenic qualities
  • Grooming costs will be higher for curly coats and the brushing routine needs to be more structured to prevent matting

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it depends on your own preference and circumstances. If you have no allergies and would like a lower maintenance dog, then a straight-haired Labradoodle may suit you. However, if you love the teddy bear appearance of the curly Labradoodle, then you will be better off opting for the curlier variety.

DNA Testing for Coat Types

Many breeders invest both time and money in DNA testing so they can predict, with some accuracy what their litters will look like and in order to produce the most desirable puppies. You may come across breeders that specialize in curly coats and others who specialize in straighter coats.

There are a few tests that can be carried out when looking at coat types:

  • The Cu locus test. As we have already discussed, will tell you whether they will be curly, wavy, or straight.
  • The L locus test determines if your dog will have long hair or short hair. It can also help to predict how soft the hair will be. Dogs with two copies of the Lh variant will have long hair, dogs with one or less will have shorter hair.
  • The IC Locus test can be carried out when trying to determine if a dog will have an improper coat or furnishings. This can be useful when considering allergies and therefore looking for a low shedding dog.

Many breeders have extensive knowledge of genetics and have traced back the line of their breeding dogs a long way in order to breed the best dogs they can.

You can expect to pay more by using such breeders, but this is a positive. Puppy mills don’t do any of this research or spend time learning the dog’s lineage. This is one thing to bear in mind when you are looking for a breeder.

Why Is My Labradoodle Shedding?

Chances are your puppy came from an F1, F2, F3 generation or a reverse backcross. In these generations, there is a 50% chance (greater in a reverse backcross) of your Labradoodle taking after its Golden Retriever parent.

You are likely to own a straight-haired Labradoodle in this case, or perhaps slightly wavy. They are still considered somewhat hypoallergenic but will shed more than curly-coated Labradoodles.

It’s always important to remember that there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. Some Doodle breeders may market their dogs as such, but this should be a red flag. All dogs have the potential to shed so whilst the risk can be reduced, it can’t be completely eliminated.