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Labra Doodle Doo!
Is a Labradoodle right for you?

My Pet Magazine, Madison, Wisconsin 2008
By Michele Kraft

One of the new hybrid or “designer” dogs, the Labradoodle’s high possibility of inheriting the poodle parent’s non-allergenic coat has made it a popular choice in recent years. A cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle, Labradoodles often carry the best traits of both of these two mainstays of American pet dog culture, without the often-greasy, shedding coat of the waterfowl-retrieving lab, and the unfortunate cultural stigma of a standard poodle.

First bred by Wally Conron in 1989 for the Australian Guide Dog Association, Conron hoped to produce a dog suitable for guide work but without the allergens associated with traditional guide dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. These breeds have fur coats- a combination of guard hairs and an undercoat that sheds and causes allergic reactions in some people. Breeds like the Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier and the Bouvier de Flanders have hair coats- low shedding and low occurrence of allergic reactions from people with mild to medium dog allergies. Conron’s experiment was a success and the hybrid has taken off from there.

Unfortunately, because the Labradoodle is a mix between two breeds, the resulting offspring do not have the reliable characteristics expected from purebred dogs. While it is quite possible the pups will inherit their poodle parent’s non-allergenic coat, it is also possible that they will not.

In Australia, attempts are being made at standardizing these dogs into a breed, mixing first generation offspring back with Poodles and other breeds with non-shedding coats and mild temperaments, to create a reliable, predictable breed. In the U.S., however, Labradoodles are hybrid dogs. If the most important reason for getting a Labradoodle is their reputed non-allergenic coat, be aware that not all Labradoodles inherit this trait. Spend time with the puppy and gauge your own physical reaction. Remember that this dog is counting on you to make a wise decision, one that you and your nose are prepared to live with. Before you take the puppy home, ask the breeder if you can return it if you develop allergies.

On the other hand, if allergies are not the primary concern, you can be sure that a cross between a fun loving, eager to please lab and a smart, sensitive poodle is very likely to have a great personality. First generation mixed breeds are also very apt to be free of genetic disorders commonly associated with their purebred cousins, such as hip displacia, and elbow and patella disorders.

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