Labradoodles are a relatively new breed of dogs that were first bred by Wally Cochran in 1988. Wally Cochran, of The Royal Guide Dogs in Victoria Australia, was prompted to breed the Labradoodle after receiving a request from a blind woman living in Hawaii. She needed a guide dog that wouldn’t aggravate her husband’s allergies. Hair and saliva samples from 33 different poodles in Hawaii were sent to the couple to see if the dogs would cause an allergic reaction in the husband; they all did. Wally then asked the manager of The Royal Guide Dogs about crossing one of their Labrador Retrievers with a Standard Poodle. He agreed, and so the first Labradoodles were bred.
There were only three puppies in the first litter; only one of which didn’t bother the husband’s allergies. The other two puppies also lived useful lives, one as a Remedial Dog, and the other as a Guide Dog. There was a waiting list of people wanting to puppy walk Guide Dogs, but when these new cross breeds needed homes no one wanted to take them in. Wally knew it was important that these puppies socialize with a family, so he aired a story on Channel 9 in Melbourne about “the new breed of Guide Dog. In the show he first coined the word “Labradoodle”. Soon the phone rang incessantly with people wanting to puppy walk the amazing new “breed” of Guide Dogs.
Wally bred Labradoodles to other Labradoodles, calling the new puppies “Double Doodles”. He then bred Double Doodles to Double Doodles and called the offspring “Tri Doodles”. Out of the 31 Labradoodles that were bred at Royal Guide Dogs, 29 made it as Guide Dogs. People fell in love with the new breed, and soon there was an overwhelming demand for them that was not being met.
Because of their immense rise in popularity, people began crossing any Labrador with any poodle without any regard to genetics, bloodline, or temperament and calling the puppies “Labradoodles. The result was an unpredictable variety of puppies with various physical characteristics. The evident need for breeders to develop a standard for this fascinating dog gave rise to the establishment of two Breeding and Research Centers for Labradoodles in Australia.
In 1989, Rutland Manor Labradoodle Breeding and Research Center was organized in Darnum, Victoria. They used only health tested Labradors, Poodles, and 3rd generation Labradoodles. The Tegan Park Labradoodle Breeding and Research Centre located in Seaspray, Victoria was established at the same time. It also carefully controlled its breeding program, using only the finest genetically healthy dogs.
In 1998, Tegan Park introduced the “Miniature” Labradoodle to the public. When these were crossed with the standard Labradoodle, the medium Labradoodle resulted. Thus three sizes are currently distinguished; the miniatures are 14 – 17 inches tall, the mediums are 18 – 21 inches, and the standards are 23 – 26 inches.
Labradoodles from the early generations had a large diversity in coat types. Some of the curlier coated puppies grew up to be low allergy, while others started out low allergy but by 8 months had shed their coats, which was replaced by a coat that was not low allergy. Some puppies grew up to look like Golden Retrievers with a thinner coat, and others looked similar to a Labrador.
The breeding centers selectively bred away from the shedding coat and now, shedding coats are rare. Labradoodles are now bred to have either the truly Fleece coat or the Wool Curly coat. The fleece coat has a distinctly soft fleecy feel unlike any other dog coat. It hangs in loose loopy spirals like that of the Angora goat.
The Wool Curly coat resembles that of a poodle and feels like a soft woolly sweater. Both coat types are non-shedding and allergy friendly. The coats come in a variety of colors including: Black, Silver, Cream, Apricot Cream, Chalk, Gold, Red, Apricot, Chocolate, and Café.
Labradoodles are sociable, friendly, non aggressive, and extremely intuitive. Their intelligence and high trainability make them well suited for guide dogs, therapy dogs, and other assistance dogs. Their non allergic coats make them popular among people who have not been able to enjoy pets because of their allergies. This new breed is bound to become even more popular as more people learn about the lovable Labradoodles.