A brown F1B Labradoodle with a fleece type coat. The appearance of Labradoodles may vary.
A Labradoodle is a crossbred 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. 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 breed of dog. Since there is no real hypoallergenic dog, the term is often used loosely.
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 other places. 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 cross breed 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."
Appearance and temperament
Because the Labradoodle is a hybrid 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 an affinity for water and strong swimming ability from their parent breeds.
Their parent breeds are both amongst the world's most intelligent dog breeds.
There is no consensus as to whether breeders should aim to have Labradoodles recognized as a breed. Some breeders prefer to restrict breeding to early generation dogs (i.e. bred from a Poodle and Labrador rather than from two Labradoodles) to maximize genetic diversity, and avoid the inherited health problems that have plagued some dog breeds.
Others are breeding Labradoodle to Labradoodle over successive generations, and trying to establish a new dog breed. These dogs are usually referred to as Multigenerational (Multigen) or Australian Labradoodles. Australian Labradoodles also differ from early generation and Multigenerational Labradoodles in that they may also have other breeds in their ancestry. English and American Cocker Spaniel/Poodle crosses (i.e. Cockapoos), Two Irish Water Spaniels and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers were used in some Australian Labradoodle lines. The Curly Coated Retriever were used too, but these lines did not work out and these breeds were no longer used.
Labradoodle coats are divided into three categories: wool (with tight curls, and similar in appearance to that of a Poodle, but with a softer texture); fleece (soft and free-flowing, with a kinked or wavy appearance); or hair (which can be curly, straight or wavy, but is more similar in texture to a Labrador's coat). Labradoodles coat colors include chocolate, cafe, parchment, cream, gold, apricot, red, black, silver, chalk, parti colours, (i.e. generally, any color a Poodle can have). They can be different sizes, depending on the size of poodle used (i.e. toy, miniature or standard).
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 before 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.
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