The LabraDoodle is a crossbreed dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Miniature or Toy Poodle. The term first appeared in 1955, but was not popularized until 1988, when the mix began to be used as an allergen-free guide dog.
The Labradoodle became known in 1988, when Australian breeder Wally Conron crossed the Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle at the Royal Guide Dogs Associations of Australia in 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.
Sultan, a dog from this litter, displayed all the qualities Conron was seeking and worked as a guide dog for a woman in Hawaii for ten years.
Although Guide Dogs Victoria no longer breed Labradoodles, they are bred by other guide and assistance dog organizations in Australia and around the world now, especially in North America.
The Association for the Blind of Western Australia has introduced Labradoodles into their training program, and their first, Jonnie, graduated in November 2010.
Labradoodles are now widely used around the world as guide, assistance, and therapy dogs as well as being popular family dogs.
Conron has since repeatedly stated he regrets initiating the fashion for this type of crossbreed and maintains it caused "a lot of damage" together with "a lot of problems".
He also felt he was to blame for "creating a Frankenstein", adding that problems were being bred into the dogs rather than breeding away from problems.
He is further quoted as claiming: "For every perfect one, you're going to find a lot of crazy ones."
Currently, they are not considered a breed by any major fancier and breeder organization.
Not all LabraDoodles are hypoallergenic, but it is a quality that many look for and appreciate in this type of crossbreed. Since there is no real hypoallergenic dog, they all shed a bit, the term is often used loosely.
Labradoodles coat colors include chocolate, cafe, parchment, cream, gold, apricot, red, black, silver, chalk, parti colours generally, any color Poodles come in. They also can develop into different sizes, depending on the size of poodle used (i.e. toy, miniature, or standard).
DID YOU KNOW?
The Norwegian Royal Crown Prince and Princess own a Labradoodle.
Because the LabraDoodle is a crossbreed and not a breed, puppies do not have consistently predictable characteristics.
While most LabraDoodles have some common traits, their appearance and behavioral characteristics remain, to some extent, unpredictable.
As such, LabraDoodles' hair can be anywhere from wiry to soft, and may be straight, wavy, or curly.
Straight-coated LabraDoodles are said to have "hair" coats, wavy-coated dogs have "fleece" coats, and curly-coated dogs have "wool" coats.
Many LabraDoodles do shed, although 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.
LabraDoodles often display a natural love for the water and strong swimming abilities.
The parent breeds are both amongst the world's most intelligent dog breeds.
Labradoodles can suffer from problems common to their parent breeds.
Poodles and Labrador Retrievers can suffer from hip dysplasia, and should have specialist radiography to check for this problem if you plan on 'breeding'.
The parent breeds can also suffer from a number of eye disorders, and an examination by a qualified veterinary eye specialist should be performed on breeding dogs.
Labradoodles have been known to suffer from progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), an inherited disease causing blindness, which occurs in both Miniature Poodles and Cocker Spaniels. It is recommended that Australian Labradoodles be DNA tested for PRA before being bred.
One study has found that UK Labradoodles have a higher incidence (4.6%) of multifocal retinal dysplasia (MRA) compared to Labrador Retrievers. Cataract is common as well (3.7%) but prevalence is comparable to that of Labradors.
There is evidence of some occurrence of Addison's disease in the Australian Labradoodle.
The Australian Labradoodle Association of America is currently conducting a study to try to determine how widespread the problem has become.