The first litter of Labradoodles was bred by Wally Conron, the puppy breeding manager at the Royal Guide Dog Association in Victoria, Australia. He had received a letter from a blind woman named Pat Blum. She needed a seeing eye dog, but her husband had a dog allergy.
Initially, Conron believed a Standard Poodle would do the trick, since they’re working dogs who don’t shed hair. Over the course of three years, Conron tried 33 dogs, but none “made the grade” as guide dogs. With permission from the Royal Guide Dog Association, Conron then crossed their best Labrador Retriever with a Standard Poodle, producing three puppies.
One of these three puppies, Sultan, did not cause an allergic reaction from Pat Blum’s husband. He was also intelligent, strong, and capable. Sultan served as a successful guide dog for Pat for the next ten years. The other two puppies went on to be a remedial dog and a guide dog for other families.
Conron continued breeding the puppies, but he had difficulty finding them homes due to negative perceptions about the dogs being a “mixed breed.” He knew that the dogs needed to be placed in homes where they could be properly socialized if the breed was to be a success.
Determined to better promote the breed, Conron made an appearance on Channel 9 TV in Melbourne, Australia. He introduced his hybrid puppies as a “new breed of guide dog,” which he referred to as the “Labradoodle.” The name stuck, and the popularity of the Labradoodles skyrocketed.
Conron later bred Labradoodles with other Labradoodles, calling them “Double Doodles.” He bred Double Doodles with other Double Doodles, producing “Tri Doodles.” 31 Tri Doodles were born at the Royal Guide Dog Association, and 29 of them became successful guide dogs.
As other breeders began breeding Labradoodle litters of their own, two breeding centers were established in Australia to develop a standard for the breed.
Here are some Quick Facts about the Labradoodle, courtesy of Labradoodle Land:
Labradoodles have become an increasingly popular hybrid breed, and there are now many Labradoodle breeders, resulting in some diversity in the breed.
Some Labradoodles may more closely resemble the Standard Poodle, while others may take after the Labrador Retriever. Some Labradoodles are first generation, meaning they are the result of a Standard Poodle breeding with a Labrador Retriever. In these puppies, physical and personality traits are less predictable. At the same time, these pups are less likely to inherit health problems common to the breed.
Other Labradoodles are multi-generational, or multigen, meaning their parents are both Labradoodles. Some breeders are producing Multigen Labradoodles in hopes that a more consistent breed standard can be developed, ideally increasing hypoallergenic traits as well. Additionally, these Multigen puppies could result in Labradoodles eventually being recognized as an official breed.
As with any hybrid dog, Labradoodle characteristics can vary to some extent. Ideally, a Labradoodle would represent the best characteristics of both parent breeds. However, when two different breeds are crossed, breeders can’t control the way genes ultimately express themselves.
Personality and Trainability
Still, most Labradoodles share some common characteristics. They are typically intelligent, affectionate, and very friendly. They are loving, sociable companion dogs who closely bond with their families.
As a result of their intellect, Labradoodles tend to be intuitive and highly trainable. They are fast learners who genuinely want to please their owners. Labradoodles are also athletic enough to participate in competitive dog sports like flyball, agility, obedience, and rally. These sports are a great way to satisfy the Labradoodle’s need for moderate activity.
Physically, Labradoodles are available in three sizes: miniature (15-30 pounds), medium (30-45 pounds), and standard (45-65 pounds, sometimes more). Because they are a hybrid breed, it’s important to keep in mind that a Labradoodle puppy may not strictly adhere to these weight ranges.
Coats can also differ: some Labradoodles have curly coats (known as “wool”), others are wavy (called “fleece”), and less frequently, some have straighter coats (known as “hair,” “flat,” or “slick”). The hair coats shed more and are less allergy friendly than the other two coats. Australian Labradoodles very rarely have hair coats because breeders have intentionally steered away from this coat type.
Although Labradoodles are sometimes promoted as hypoallergenic dogs, this is not strictly true, although many are “allergy friendly.” Most do shed less than other dog breeds, and they also produce less dander. Dander generally triggers dog allergies, so these allergies may be less aggravated by breeds like the Labradoodle. The fleece and wool coats are non-shedding and do boast high success rate with allergy sufferers.
The relatively new Labradoodle is a cross between the Labrador Retriever and the Standard Poodle. Originally, the goal was to produce a hypoallergenic guide dog.
Although there is some diversity among Labradoodles, most are intelligent, friendly, and low shedding, and they continue to be a highly popular hybrid breed.