A Labradoodle is a crossbred dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard Poodle.
The impetus behind experiments with this type of cross was the desire to achieve an assistance dog that would not shed and so produce a hypoallergenic dog that is suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander. This has not yet been reliably achieved in the lower generations of crosses, as Labradoodles have varying coat lengths and textures, and one needs to breed beyond the second and third generations to begin to have reliable coat type. However, the coat usually remains freer from dog odors than that of some Labradors. Some of the lower generation dogs may be more hard-headed and difficult to train than others. It is important that the poodle parent used be calm, gentle, friendly and not dominant so as to complement the nature of the lab with these early crosses.
The man who first crossed the Labrador Retriever and Poodle for Guide Dogs Australia, Wally Conron, has expressed reservations beyond the look of the coat to confusion (or misrepresentation) about how few Labradoodles are actually hypoallergenic. There may be a general belief that all poodle-labrador crosses are safe for people with allergies, but Conron has stated that "This is not the case and their coats and saliva have to be specially tested. At the Royal Guide Dogs, for instance, we had one litter where there were ten puppies and out of those only two were non-allergenic."
The Labradoodle is still under development. Strictly speaking, the Labradoodle cannot yet be descrEMBED as a dog breed because it does not breed true. In breeders' terms, breeding true means that, when two specimens of the same breed are mated, the puppies will have consistently predictable characteristics, and will resemble their parents, rather than exhibiting random characteristics of the dog breeds in their parents' ancestries. Further, the breed standards of breeds-under-development are invariably freer, more open to interpretation, and cover more observable types than those of established or kennel club-recognized breeds. However, good progress has been made with the multigen or Australian Labradoodles regarding consistent type and coat and it is rare for the Australian lines to shed.
The Australian Labradoodle differs from the earlier crosses in that it has more than just the labrador retriever and poodle in its ancestry. The Australian Labradoodles recognise the Irish Water Spaniel, English and American Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retreiver, Poodle and Curly Coated Retreiver in its origins. There was a strong selection for temperament and easy trainability in addition to the non-shed coat and sturdy type. There are two coat types accepted in the Australian Labradoodles, a wool coat and a fleece coat. The wool coat does not shed at all, while a few of the fleece coated dogs may exhibit slight shedding. There are three sizes of Australian Labradoodles: miniatures (14" - 17" tall and weigh less than 30lbs), mediums (18" - 21" tall and generally 35 - 48lbs) and standards (over 21 inches).
The Labrador Retriever Club and the Poodle Club of America have both published statements against the Labradoodle.
Some breeders want to avoid making the Labradoodle into a recognized breed in the belief that genetic problems, such as the Labrador's weak hips, will otherwise continue. By restricting breeding to F1 dogs (bred from a Poodle and Labrador rather than from two Labradoodles), it is hoped to maintain a wide gene pool. Other breeders are working to develop the Australian Labradoodle into a recognized breed and hope that by only choosing to include health tested parents and discouraging linebreeding or inbreeding that it will maintain the genetic health of the emerging Labradoodle breed.
In appearance, earlier generation labradoodle hair is either wiry or soft, often wavy and sheds less than labradors. Some will not shed at all. The multigenerational labradoodles will have either a non-shed wool coat or a wavy fleece coat. Their color range includes white, gold, brown and black. In personality, they are generally friendly and good with families and children, they have an affinity for water and are strong swimmers. Some would make good hunting dogs.
A Labradoodle called 'Top Gear Dog' is featured on the BBC show Top Gear.
Miniatures 14 - 17 inches; Mediums 18 - 21 inches; Standards over 21 inches.
Miniatures weigh less than 30lbs; Mediums generally 35 - 48lbs; Standards 48 - 55 lbs.