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Labrador or Poodle? Which Is The Best Breed For You?


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Labs and poodles are two of the most popular breeds - and it’s easy to see why. They are both loving, playful and intelligent. But which is the right choice for you? This post weighs up the characteristics of both dogs to help you decide.


Labrador retrievers and poodles both have floppy ears and square pointed snouts - but that’s about where the similarities end.

Labs always grow to a medium-to-large size. Because of their working background, they are often heavier dogs and have a bit more muscle. Their fur comes in a range of colors - the most common being black, chocolate and yellow - and it is always short and straight. Their coat does not need to be trimmed in most cases. 

Poodles can come in a greater variety of sizes with some being quite small and others being quite tall. They tend to be slimmer than labs and have longer ears. Their coat comes in an even greater array of colors, however it is thicker and curlier than a lab’s. Trimming their coat regularly is recommended to stop getting too shaggy and prevent health problems. 


Both labradors and poodles share very similar personality traits. They are both highly intelligent dog breeds that are generally easy to train and very friendly. They tend to get on very well with kids, other dogs and cats. 

Labs are known for being very affectionate dogs and may even greet strangers with a waggy tail and kisses. If you get a lab puppy, you can expect a lot of excitability - young labs want to play all the time. As labradors get older, they may become a bit more chilled out, but will still be looking for play and adventure. It’s important that labs are trained well to reduce behaviors like jumping and chewing (while labs are some of the most obedient dogs, poorly trained labs can quickly cause chaos). Labs are generally not fussy eaters and will eat anything that comes their way.

Poodles are also very affectionate dogs, but may be slightly more wary of strangers. They are generally not aggressive dogs though and have little prey instinct making them less likely to chase squirrels than labs (although that isn’t to say they won’t). Poodles are very intelligent and can sometimes be easier to train than labs. That said, some poodles can be fussy - unlike labs they may not eat everything put in front of them. It’s worth noting that temperament can vary depending on the size of the poodle. Larger standard poodles are more like labs. Miniature poodles can be more hyperactive and snappier (their temperament may be closer to a terrier). 

It is worth noting that every dog has a unique personality just like a human and that not all labs and poodles will meet the archetype. That said, unless there has been some trauma or neglectful training, neither one should be naturally aggressive or disobedient. 

Feeding needs

Labradors may require more food than poodles as they are typically bigger and stockier. A good guide to follow is 30 calories per pound of bodyweight. As the healthy weight for an adult is typically between 60 and 80 pounds, you can therefore expect to feed them 1800 to 2400 calories per day. 

The amount of calories a poodle needs depends on their size. Toy poodles may only require 200 to 300 calories per day. Standard poodles meanwhile require around 1000 to 1500 calories per day. Compared to labs, poodles can often have more sensitive stomachs, so you should be more careful about feeding them human foods. 

Exercise needs

Labradors need an hour to 2 hours of exercise per day. This is important for burning off their energy levels and keeping them stimulated - if labs don’t get enough walks, they may resort to destructive behavior like chewing and digging.A good amount of exercise will also prevent labs from gaining excess weight. Labs are big eaters, so this is very important. 

Standard poodles need about the same amount of exercise - 1 to 2 hours. Miniature poodles may be able to get away with less, but generally still need a walk every day to contain their energy levels. Poodles that don’t get enough exercise will similarly gain weight and may also be more prone cause mischief at home.

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Life expectancy

Labradors typically live 11 to 13 years. This is the average for many bigger dogs. You can improve your lab’s life expectancy by not overfeeding them and by exercising them regularly - this can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Labs are unfortunately prone to hip dysplasia. This can be reduced by keeping your dog’s weight down, as well as limiting use of stairs or slippery surfaces (put rugs down on hard floors). A good pet insurance plan is also worth looking for.

Poodles can live anywhere from 10 to 18 years. This is largely dependent on their size - smaller poodles live longer. As with labs, you can extend the life of a poodle by maintaining a healthy diet and by giving them plenty of exercise. They are prone to many of the same health problems as labs including hip dysplasia. However, poodles can also have the added risk of undetected health problems like skin infections and parasites if they are not groomed regularly (their fur can mask these problems if not kept short).


Labradors do not shed as much as some breeds (the most extreme being German shepherds), however they will still shed their coat twice per year. You will therefore need to keep on top of cleaning if you don’t want hair all over the house. This hair can also get in the air and may affect people with allergies.

Poodles shed hair too, but it stays trapped in their curly coat. This is why regular grooming is so necessary - without brushing and trimming their coat, the fur won’t go anywhere. Because their fur doesn’t fall out, you could find that you’re not sweeping and vacuuming as often as you would with a lab. These breeds are also recommended for people who have allergies.

What about a labradoodle?

Labradoodles are hybrids between labs and poodles. They are becoming an increasingly popular cross-breed - often seen as the best of both worlds by owners who can’t choose between a lab and a poodle. 

Labradoodles can display the outgoing personality traits of a lab more so than a poodle. At the same, they have some of the curly coat of a poodle which makes them shed less and more hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, labradoodles are prone to many of the same health problems as labs and poodles. They live 12 to 15 years on average.

Which breed is best for you?

Because poodles and labradors are so similar, they tend to appeal to the same type of owner. You must be willing to give both dogs daily walks and may need to be in good health to deal with their energy levels (although both breeds can make good assistance dogs for those with disabilities if well trained). Both poodles and labs are great for families. They are not suitable choices if you’re looking for a guard dog. 

A lab may be best suited if you have a lot of guests coming around, because they are naturally friendly to everyone they meet. Labs can also make better working dogs than poodles, because that is what they were bred to do originally. 

A poodle could be best suited to owners with mild allergies or owners that want to keep a cleaner home due to their low shedding. Smaller poodles may also be more suitable for owners living in apartments, whereas labs may take up too much space.


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