If someone in your life is gushing over a new puppy, odds are it might be one of the popular doodle breeds like a labradoodle or Goldendoodle. How did these muppet-like dogs become so popular? Their origin story takes us from Hawaii to Australia and starts with a husband’s allergy to fur.
In the 1980s, Wally Conron, a breeder at the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia, received a letter from a woman in Hawaii who needed a hypoallergenic guide dog because her husband was allergic to fur. Conron knew the Standard Poodle, a non-shedding breed, would have to be part of the mix. He bred a Poodle with a solid working dog, a Labrador retriever from Sweden, and the labradoodle was born.
Initially, the breed didn’t take off because people preferred purebred dogs. But the name helped. With a branding push, ‘labradoodle’ took off as an idea—and as owners fell for its winning temperament, the breed eventually made its way to popularity.
Once the Labradoodle became a favoured breed for families, other poodle crossbreeds started popping up: Schnoodles (schnauzer and poodle), Goldendoodles (golden retriever and poodle), cockapoos (cocker spaniel and poodle), and even bernedoodles (Bernese mountain dog and poodle).
According to the American Kennel Club, the ideal labradoodle will likely be fun-loving and affectionate, living happily with other pets and kids. Similarly, the AKC says the Schnoodle is also a cheerful companion dog that needs an outlet for its energy.
There is mixed evidence about how hypoallergenic these breeds are. Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and get the full facts if you’re concerned about allergies.
Dog lovers who are also allergic can take steps to reduce allergies by bathing their dog regularly, vacuuming often, washing dog bedding, and creating dog-free zones to reduce pet dander.
A doodle breed’s behavioural characteristics and size are not foolproof, and it takes an experienced breeder to get those right.
“It is the experienced breeders utilizing the latest DNA technology that are making great progress in this area,” said Amy Lane, an experienced mini-Goldendoodle breeder and a board member of the Goldendoodle Association of North America.
She adds that if a family is hoping to get a dreamy doodle dog with a good temperament and a non-shedding or low-shedding coat, they need to work with a breeder who’s in tune with how to manage these traits across generations. Simply crossing a poodle with another breed like a Labrador retriever or golden retriever is no guarantee that a person will get a non-shedding dog with a sweet temperament.
Make sure to do your homework! Remember, these dogs can be quite large and very active. They’re wonderful family dogs, but they do need quite a bit of exercise.
As mentioned, working with a responsible breeder is important, so get recommendations and check credentials and reputation.
Sadly, some doodles have been given up after they’ve proven to be more than a family bargained for.
See rescue groups like the Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc. for more info and how to help.
Khrystyn Buelva of Orange County, California, knows the joys of having a doodle dog. Her 1-year-old labradoodle, Moca, is a loving and energetic dog that stays by her side.
“He is so loving that wherever you go, he goes,” she said.
She and her husband went with a labradoodle because he has allergies, and in her words, because “they’re the cutest dogs.”
He’s a smart dog who knows how to sit, lay down, roll over, stand, and wait for his treat until you give him the OK to eat it. They’re still working on training and channelling some of his energy.
“Right now I am training him not to jump,” she said.
Lane emphasizes that training is an important part of a dog’s development and will shape its personality.
“As with all breeds of dogs, the more time and effort you put into the training in the first 6-12 months will dramatically determine how well-behaved your dog will be as an adult,” she said. “Early socialization with other dogs and exposure to the outside world are also critical in assuring your dog is a good ambassador for the breed.”