It was super exciting to bring home a gorgeous labradoodle puppy a few months ago. Yes, I wanted a family dog but also needed a canine companion who could be a great hunting buddy.
After growing up with labrador retrievers, it was time to try something new and I somehow ended up with a labradoodle. He’s lovely and a lot of hard work, but thankfully I did my research before so I knew what we were getting into!
So, are labradoodles good hunting dogs? Here’s what I’ve discovered about labradoodles and their hunting abilities.
Are Labradoodles Used for Hunting?
A cross between a lab and a poodle, labradoodles have become increasingly popular in recent decades, thanks to their loyal, gentle demeanor and undeniable intelligence.
Labradoodles can be excellent hunting dogs. Considering they come from two hunting breeds, it makes sense that more labradoodles are being raised to hunt birds.
They come from natural-born hunters who live and breathe retrieving and coupled with the poodle’s great swimming skills, labradoodles can surprise you out in the field.
Were Labradoodles Bred to Hunt?
When labradoodles were first introduced in the 1950s, they were bred to be guide dogs. While they continue to be used as assistance dogs, selective breeding programs are yielding top-notch hunting dogs, too.
The combination of two dog breeds with proven hunting instincts can produce strong, dedicated hunting companions.
It’s the same as with any other breed – some animals are born with it, and others need more training. The sooner you can start training a labradoodle to hunt by your side, the more they can develop their tracking and retrieving skills.
Are Labradoodles Good Bird Dogs?
Speaking of tracking, labradoodles are a great dog for it. The best ones keep their nose close to the ground and pick up on the bird scent straight away, following it religiously until they flush it out.
They need the stamina and intelligence to stay on track and know when to stop, setting you up for the shot and retrieving the birds quickly after the kill.
You can tell a lot about a labradoodle and its future as a puppy. The young pups who follow their nose all the time have strong tracking instincts and will likely be easier to train in the field.
That’s not to say you can’t unlock this ability in all labradoodle pups, but it just takes careful training, and ideally, the sooner they start, the better.
What Are The Best Qualities in Labradoodle Hunting Dogs?
To get a labradoodle, a labrador retriever can be crossed with a standard, mini, or toy poodle. The standard crosses result in the best hunting dogs thanks to their larger size and agility.
The ideal labradoodle combines these qualities from both its parents to become the best hunting dog.
- Enthusiasm for fetching
- High energy and agility
- Great cold water swimmers
- Warm coat that handles cold temps
- Muscular body
- Strong work ethic
- Easy to train with great listening skills
- Thick coat for ample protection
- Strong swimming skills, bred for the water
- Likes to please and earn praise/attention
- Innate retrieving ability
- Extreme intelligence and loyalty
Don’t forget labradoodles are hypoallergenic as they inherit the poodle’s low-shedding coat. This makes them a great alternative for families with allergies.
If you want a bird dog that’s very similar to labrador retrievers without all the shedding, then labradoodles are an excellent choice.
What Should You Look For in a Hunting Labradoodle?
There are a few key considerations when breeding and training labradoodles for hunting. To get the best results with a labradoodle bird dog, you have to build on their natural instincts with dedicated training.
We’ve been out in the field practicing for months, and are finally noticing a shift from the juvenile enthusiasm and energy to focused, fearless hunting.
Whether you have a labradoodle and are actively field training, or you’re thinking about a labradoodle for your next bird dog, here are some goals to aim for.
Labradoodles have retriever in their blood, and the best ones for hunting have the energy and endurance to go for hours if you let them.
To cover the vast distances in duck hunting, it’s important to maintain the health and development of labradoodles, from the time they are born all the way through adulthood.
That’s why litters with a prestigious lineage or at the very least, two healthy parents with the records to prove it, are your best bet for a labradoodle hunting dog.
Keep in mind that labradoodles are at risk of bad joints, especially as they get older. That’s why you should see the parental history and x-rays to confirm the dog’s health and lineage.
Nobody wants to have an injured dog on a hunt or have to retire a bird dog early because of health issues and poor breeding.
Navigating swamps and lakes in chilly temperatures during duck season means you need a hunting dog with obvious swimming skills. Bred from two water dogs, labradoodles are usually great in the water, but it’s important to get them introduced to water retrieving when they are young.
If the dog is bred from strong swimmers, they are likely to enjoy the water too, but you won’t know for sure until you head to the pond.
By testing their retrieving skills both on land and in water, you can make sure they are fit and focused for whatever happens on the bird hunt.
Courage & Stamina
The best hunting dogs aren’t afraid of anything out in the field. Labradoodles are naturally courageous and loyal, so they should follow your lead and trust you during the hunt.
Puppies that don’t shy away from sudden movement or loud sounds will be up for the challenges and excitement of hunting. Luckily, most labradoodles are brave and excited to try new things, with a lot of energy that borders on hyperactivity as a pup.
Field training involves channeling that abundant puppy energy into the concentrated tasks of tracking, flushing, and retrieving. Labradoodles are reliable hunting dogs thanks to their stamina, so they can stay focused and energized for hours.
Hunting can serve as an outlet for young labradoodles who need some way to expend energy and get exercise.
Final Thoughts on Labradoodles as Hunting Dogs
When given proper training and regular exercise, labradoodles excel as hunting dogs. With all the impressive qualities of labrador retrievers and poodles, including loyalty, intelligence, and retrieving instincts, they can be raised as hardworking hunting companions.
You can train labradoodles the same way as labs. Early exposure to the sounds of gunshots, plus hunting and obedience training, ensure they are set for the field.