Behind the Breed: Labradoodle
By Michele Forto
Behind the breed is an ongoing series to assist in you choosing the right breed for yourself and family.
The Labradoodle – was first bred deliberately in 1988, when Australian breeder Wally Conron crossed the Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle at Guide Dogs Victoria.
Conron’s aim was to combine the low-shedding coat of the Poodle with the gentleness and trainability of the Labrador, and to provide a guide dog suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander. He’d received a request from a vision impaired woman in Hawaii for a guide dog that did not aggravate her husband’s allergy to dog hair. Originally he planned to train a Standard Poodle, but hair and saliva samples of thirty-three different poodles sent to the woman’s husband all caused an allergic reaction. A Labradoodle litter was bred, and the husband did not have an allergic reaction to one of the puppies from the litter. This puppy, Sultan, was successfully trained by Guide Dogs Victoria, and became the first Labradoodle Guide dog.
In an interview given in April 2010, Conron said he now regrets creating the labradoodle because the popularity has negatively affected the demand for pedigree dog breeds, and led the way for many types of “designer” dog breeds. Although Guide Dogs Victoria no longer breed Labradoodles, they are bred by other guide and assistance dog organizations in Australia and elsewhere. Labradoodles are now widely used around the world as guide, assistance, and therapy dogs as well as being popular family dogs.
Appearance and temperament
The Labradoodle is not a recognized dog breed. As with any other random cross-breeding, puppies do not “breed true”: that is puppies do not have consistently predictable characteristics. While some Labradoodles display desired traits, their appearance and behavioral characteristics remain, from an overall breed standpoint, unpredictable.
As such, Labradoodles’ hair can be anywhere from wiry to soft, and may be straight, wavy, or curly. Many Labradoodles do shed, although for those dogs that have inherited poodle coat characteristics, the coat usually sheds less and has less dog odor than that of a Labrador Retriever.
Like most Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, Labradoodles are generally friendly, energetic and good with families and children (although as with any dog type the temperament will vary between individuals). Labradoodles often display an affinity for water and strong swimming ability – a characteristic of both their parent breeds.
Like their parent breeds, both of which are amongst the world’s most intelligent dog breeds, Labradoodles are very intelligent and quite trainable, often seeking commands and finding pleasure in learning. Labradoodles can be taught to obey verbal or sign language commands, or both. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle )
The Labradoodle is not yet a recognized breed through The American Kennel Club; this does not mean they are not a dog worthy of your interest. I have trained close to a dozen Labradoodles and Goldendoodles over the past three years. I have one in training for mobility service k9 work. I have found these dogs to be friendly, resilient, trainable, excitable, distractible and overall very good for families with young children. Some downsides; they require professional grooming and regular upkeep of their coats and I recommend getting them into a training class from day one and continuing their training for at least the first year, training should be for life, but we all know that humans are lazy! Labradoodles like labs can be very fun-loving, jumping, mouthing puppies and regular training gives them and you the opportunity to get a good obedience foundation and ability to curb these unwanted behaviors.
A Labradoodle can compete in many different canine sport activities; agility, rally, flyball, bikejoring, bladejoring, skijoring just to name a few. They make great hiking buddies and can carry a backpack. If you just want a dog to have around the backyard with the kids, they make great soccer partners and love playing in the baby pools. They naturally guard by giving out a bark or light growl to people/animals who shouldn’t be around.
This breed is growing in popularity so it is very important that you research your breeder, get referrals, and do your homework. Because this breed isn’t regulated or certified by the AKC there are many opportunities out there for you to come across a bad litter.
I am a Breed Referral Specialist, if you’re interested in getting a Labradoodle or a Goldendoodle please feel free to contact me at anytime through my website.
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Michele Forto the Denver Dog Training Examiner and is a certified canine trainer and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at http://www.denverdogworks.com