The Labradoodle – Lab-Poodle Mix

I often get asked the question of what is a lab and poodle mix from many readers.  Here is a little bit of the history surrounding this unique cross-breed.

A Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retreiver and Standard Poodle

The Labradoodle, as it is now known, is an interesting and very popular cross breed of dog.  It was originally bred in Australia and had been a result of an inquiry about getting a dog for a blind woman in Hawaii.  Apparently, she needed a low allergy guide dog and the task was to come up with a solution.  A man named Wally Conron has been credited with the origin of this breed.

Since the standard poodle was a highly trainable working dog, he decided to cross breed a standard poodle with one of the best labrador retrievers he had.  After the litter had produced three pups, some samples of the coat and saliva of the dogs were sent to the couple from Hawaii to see if there were any allergic reactions.

These are Labradoodle Assistance Dogs. (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The difficult task that lay ahead was to be sure these dogs would prove themselves worthy of being fully trained working dogs, capable of doing their job as certified guide dogs for the visually impaired.

An additional problem for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia was that the new crossbred pups were not easily placed in homes, as most people were still looking for a purebred dog.  Eventually, instead of mentioning cross bred dogs, they came up with the term “labradoodle” to describe the new hypo-allergenic guide dog pups.

And the craze was born.  Around 1989, there was a buzz around this new breed and the publicity surrounding the labradoodle was beginning to grow.  The word first spread quickly, throughout Australia and then the entire world.  There are many breeders producing the Labradoodle throughout the world, due to the huge rise in popularity.  That can be one of the worst things that can happen to a breed, as it gives rise to many breeders with sub-standard breeding practices, that are just in it to make a fast buck on the popularity of the breed.

Almost overnight, hundreds of breeders jumped on the bandwagon to capitalize on the popularity of this new cross breed of Lab and Poodle breeds, but the problem begins when many of the pups are not tested for allergies, or can have health problems that can create dogs with an unhealthy line.  Not all labradoodles are created equal, and many do not end up being non-shedding or allergy friendly.  The coats are divided into three separate categories, those being wool, fleece and hair.  Wool coats usually have tighter curls more like poodles.  Fleece coats are softer and more free flowing and the hair coat is more like the coat of a Labrador, but can be both straight or wavy.

Many times, you have to wait and see what kind of dog you are actually going to end up with, as the temperament and size is not absolutely uniform for every dog.  There is a certain amount of unpredictability in the breed as far as the coat, size and personality is concerned.  Sometimes, in the early breeding of this type of poodle mix dog, the combination of highly-intelligent and hyperactive traits made for a difficult situation for some families to deal with.

However, when bred the right way by a reputable breeder, the Labradoodle can be the best of both worlds and is a terrific dog that can be easily trained and have the benefits of being a low allergy or non-allergy dog.  The best ones of this breed do not shed and are ideal for people with asthma or allergies.  They also need less bathing in general and are a very versatile dog in many ways.

Because of the unpredictability of the breed and due to the enormous and growing popularity of this cross breed of pooch, you have to be cautious when choosing a breeder.  Do some research and find out exactly what kind of a breeder you are dealing with before making a decision to get a dog from them.  Typically, they come in several different colors, including black, cream, apricot, gold, red, chocolate and cafe.

The labradoodle is here to stay, and many of them turn out to be wonderful dogs and I have seen many around our neighborhood dog park.