Feeding a Labradoodle puppy means making choices about:
- the right diet
- an appropriate feeding schedule
- and proper portion size.
Getting it right sets a puppy up for healthy growth and a happy tummy!
Are you looking for tips on how to feed your Labradoodle puppy?
You’ve come to the right place!
The Labradoodle is a rather new so-called “designer breed” that is becoming increasingly popular.
They have all the lovable qualities of both the Poodle and the Labrador.
Since this designer dog hasn’t been around that long, there’s limited information out there about how to feed them.
But we’ve done the research for you – let’s have a look at the best foods for your Labradoodle puppy, when to feed, how much to feed, and more.
Together, we can create the best possible feeding plan for your new Labradoodle pup.
Healthy food means healthy growth means a happy and long life for your Labradoodle!
Swapping Puppy Food Brands
Before you bring your new pooch home, it’s crucial to ask the breeder (or the shelter, if you’ve got yourself a rescue Doodle) what food your puppy is accustomed to.
Maybe your puppy’s food is already the same you would have chosen—in that case, wonderful! No changes are necessary!
However, if you would like to switch your puppy’s food, it’s important not to do it right away.
Moving into his or her new home is a challenging and exciting time for your Labradoodle puppy.
That alone can be enough for a slightly upset stomach, so it’s best to not add a food change to the mix right away.
Keep feeding what your pup is used to for at least two weeks. Then, slowly start mixing in the new food you have chosen for your pup.
Increase the amount of new food slowly over the course of one week, then remove the “old” food altogether.
You can add canine probiotics to your puppy’s food to help with this transition. We love Purina Pro Plan FortiFlora Dog Probiotic Supplement.
Labradoodle Puppy Diets
Puppies have lots of growing to do. This means that they need more of certain minerals and nutrients (for example calcium and phosphorus for bone growth).
Your labradoodle pup will also need a higher amount of good quality protein – at least 22.5% of dry matter, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
So does this mean that more is better?
It’s natural to think that fast growth is good. This is definitely not the case, though.
When your puppy’s bones grow very quickly, the cartilage in the joints does not have time to catch up.
This—among other things—can cause joint problems, such as hip dysplasia.
Labradoodles are a cross between two breeds that are both already at high risk of developing hip dysplasia.
Therefore, it’s even more crucial to ensure that your Labradoodle grows slowly and sustainably. The most important thing of all is to avoid overfeeding a Labradoodle puppy, as we will see later in this article.
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy as They Get Older
The younger and smaller your puppy is, the more often it needs to be fed.
A puppy’s blood sugar can drop dangerously if he or she does not eat for longer periods. This is called hypoglycemia.
Generally, a feeding schedule for your Labradoodle pup can look like this:
- 2 – 4 months: 4 meals daily
- 4 – 6 months: 3 meals daily
- 6 – 8 months: 2 – 3 meals daily
- Older than 8 months: 2 meals daily.
The number of calories your pup needs will also change as he or she gets older and heavier.
The daily required calorie amount is calculated according to your puppy’s current bodyweight.
Commercial dog foods also base their feeding recommendations on your Labradoodle pup’s weight.
This is why it’s important to weigh your pup regularly and adjust the feeding portions accordingly.
What to Feed a Labradoodle Puppy
So let’s get down to the details: What should you feed your Labradoodle puppy?
There are a couple of different options out there.
Your first decision to make is whether to buy commercial dog food (kibble and/or wet food) or prepare the meals yourself (raw feeding or home-cooked meals).
If you don’t have a lot of experience with puppy nutrition, we suggest sticking with commercial food for a start.
Commercial dog foods offer complete and balanced nutrition for your growing pup – this means that they have all the right nutrients in all the right amounts and ratios.
If a puppy is fed an inappropriate diet, this could lead to long-lasting growth defects or other malnutrition diseases.
Is your heart set on feeding a Labradoodle pup a raw or homemade diet?
If so, we recommend you work with a veterinarian or a canine nutrition specialist to put together a balanced meal plan.
Before you make your decision, let’s have a look at all the options in detail.
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy Kibble
Kibble is the most popular type of dog food out there.
It’s convenient, cheap, and it comes with recommendations on how much to feed at any life stage.
There are only two things you need to pay attention to when choosing kibble: It should be designed specifically for puppies, and it should be high-quality.
Research shows that higher-priced dog foods tend to have higher nutrient digestibility than lower-priced kibble – so it might be worth spending a bit more.
Choose a kibble that contains a meat protein source as the first ingredient, and steer clear of ingredients like corn, soy, and cereals.
If you’re looking for more information on how to feed your puppy on kibble, check out this article.
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy Wet Food
Wet food can really make puppy hearts beat faster.
Due to its high water content, the aromas and taste of the meat unfold better, making wet food the most palatable food there is.
This comes at a bit of a cost, though: Wet food tends to be more expensive than kibble, and of course it spoils more easily.
Contrary to kibble, it’s not that easy to use as a treat when training your puppy, and it can’t be filled into food balls and other fun games that make your dog work for his food.
Wet food also can’t help clean your puppy’s teeth, whereas kibble can.
This—and the fact that a lot of dogs get loose stools when fed on wet food—is why we wouldn’t recommend feeding your Labradoodle pup exclusively on wet food.
To get the best of both worlds of commercial dog foods, you can combine or alternate between kibble and wet food.
If you do opt to feed only wet food, make sure it says “complete food” on the label (not “complementary”).
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy Raw Food (the BARF diet)
If you want to feed your puppy a raw diet, you’ll have to do some planning.
BARF stands for “biologically appropriate raw food”, and the idea behind it is that you only feed your dog natural and fresh ingredients.
The BARF diet consists of lots of raw meat and bones, as well as some veg and fruit.
Supporters of raw feeding think that it will make your dog healthier, although there is no solid evidence for this yet.
What are the dangers of a raw diet for your Labradoodle puppy?
Raw meats are often contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.
These bacteria could potentially cause diseases in your pup. However, this is extremely rare, as the digestive tract most dogs can handle these bugs just fine.
Nonetheless, Salmonella and other bacteria could be harmful to you and your family.
So, it’s important to handle raw meats carefully, including proper storage, safe handling, and meticulous cleaning.
Talk to your doctor before opting for a BARF diet for your pup, especially if there are babies, elderly people, or people with a compromised immune system also living in your household,.
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy a Homemade Diet
Homemade diets follow similar principles as BARF, but generally, the meals are cooked.
This means that there is a lot less danger of bacterial infections from raw meats.
There is, however, another drawback that raw feeding and homemade diets have in common: It’s necessary to have a solid meal plan so that your pup gets all the nutrients it needs.
If you’re not quite sure about this, we would suggest talking to an experienced veterinarian or a dog nutrition specialist.
Keep in mind that cooking for a dog is not the same as cooking for yourself. Avoid spices, onions, garlic, cooking oils, and too much salt.
How Much Should I Feed My Labradoodle Puppy?
If you want to know exactly how many calories your Labradoodle pup needs each day, there’s a formula for this: 2 x RER (Resting Energy Requirement).
The RER depends on your puppy’s current body weight.
However, most commercial foods come with detailed recommendations on how much to feed every day.
Just make sure to divide the total daily amount onto multiple feedings.
If you’re feeding a Labradoodle puppy both kibble and wet food, and you’re not sure how much to feed of which, your vet can help you with the calculations.
Is My Puppy the Right Weight?
For most breeds, it’s easy to predict a puppy’s growth scale. The Labradoodle, which is a mix between two breeds, is a bit of an exception.
It’s hard to say what adult size and growth rate your puppy should have.
While most Labradoodles are crossed with Standard Poodles, some have smaller Poodle varieties in their lineage, so they might turn out smaller than expected.
A good indicator of adult size is the size of your puppy’s parents.
Keeping this in mind, you can look up growth charts for breeds with similar adult sizes and weights.
However, the best indicator to judge your puppy’s weight is still the body condition score, along with regular weighing (at least once a week).
Weight control is very important, even at this early age.
When you take your Labradoodle pup to the vet for vaccinations, ask your vet to double-check if your pooch is over- or underweight.
If your puppy is underweight, this could be a sign of other underlying diseases, such as worms or viral infections.
My Puppy Is Still Hungry
The Labradoodle definitely has the Labrador’s mighty appetite.
These are dogs that will always want more food and are prone to obesity. Obesity is one of the biggest threats to your dog’s long-term health, so it’s vital that you don’t give in to those begging eyes.
It can help to space out meals or add one or two feedings a day if your dog is constantly hungry.
Another option is to make your dog work for small amounts of food throughout the day – be it with puppy training, food balls, or puzzles. The possibilities are endless.
Just make sure not to feed any additional food, but to calculate all of this towards your dog’s daily calorie requirement.
My Puppy Won’t Eat
Puppies need to eat every couple of hours to maintain their blood sugar.
If your Labradoodle pup misses a meal or two, don’t worry too much about it. The excitement of moving into a new home can curb your puppy’s appetite for a while.
However, if your pooch goes more than 12 hours without eating, take him or her to the vet.
It goes without saying that you should call your vet right away if you notice any other symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy.
How Long Is a Labradoodle Considered a Puppy?
Your Labradoodle pup will stop growing sometime between 10 and 16 months of age, depending on his or her adult size.
At 16 months, you should switch to an adult food for your Labradoodle — if you’ve chosen a commercial dog food, sticking with the same brand is ideal.
Feeding a Labradoodle Puppy
Now that we’ve had a look at all the options, you’ll be able to choose the puppy food that works best for you and your Labradoodle.
Good nutrition makes for a happy and healthy puppy. And lays a great foundation for a longer life.
We hope that you and your Labradoodle pup have tons of fun together!
What have you decided to feed your puppy? We’d love to hear in the comments below.
Make sure you also take a look at our guide to puppy bath time!
References and Further Reading
American Kennel Club (AKC)
Biourge V et. al. 1998. The Use of Probiotics in the Diet of Dogs. The Journal of Nutrition. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/128.12.2730S
Riches-Tomei JL. 2011. Update on hip and elbow dysplasia schemes. Veterinary Nursing Journal. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2045-0648.2010.00012.x
Kealy RD et. al. 1992. Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Daumas C et al. 2014. Evaluation of eight commercial dog diets. Journal of Nutritional Science. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2014.65
Tal M et. al. 2018. Dietary imbalances in a large breed puppy, leading to compression fractures, vitamin D deficiency, and suspected nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
Schlesinger DP and Joffe DJ. 2011. Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.