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The Labradoodle is a unique dog, with a fascinating history. Their story begins in Australia. And it all started with an inquiry from a visually impaired woman in Hawaii, who wanted a guide dog that wouldn’t cause her husband’s allergies to flare. Now in response to the women’s request, roughly thirty hair and saliva samples were sent to Hawaii to test for allergy friendliness over a two-year period.
Unfortunately, none on those original samples proved successful. Following the failure of those samples, a man named Wally Conren suggested to the Manager of the Australian Guide Dog Association to cross a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. Approval was granted and his first litter produced three puppies. Wally gave the resulting cross the name still in use today—Labradoodle. Now from those three puppies, hair and saliva samples were sent to Hawaii for testing once again. And this time, the samples from a puppy named Sultan were successful!
As you can see, these are dogs bred with intent. They fill a vital niche in the dog world - being allergy friendly service dogs.
Their development was not some chic attempt to create a ‘designer dog.’ They were developed as a specialized service dog, because that type of dog didn’t currently exist. The development of the Labradoodle, and later the Goldendoodle (a golden retriever /poodle hybrid), allowed people needing a service dog, but who suffered from dog allergies, to finally get the help they needed to make life more manageable.
And like their cousins the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, and so many other dogs no longer performing the services for which they were bred, most Labradoodles and Goldendoodles live the life of a beloved pet while a few perform the work for which they were originally developed. However, that does not negate the importance and the life changing benefits these dogs bring to those needing their allergy friendly coat.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize how and why these dogs came to exist. ‘Designer Dogs’ actually began as dogs of good design.
However this ‘good design’ has been corrupted by people breeding hybrids purely to make money, not to create a healthy, useful dog. Their only creations are dogs with cute names, rather than dogs with a purpose. My happy accidents, Kayleigh and Sadie are/were both Golden Retriever/ lab mixes. Now known as ‘Goldadors’! The all important intent has been sacrificed at the alter of human greed.
Unfortunately, the original intent and purpose of the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle hybrid development has been lost in the media hype over designer dogs.
One reason many people look into ‘Designer Dogs’ is hybrid dogs can be healthier than purebred dogs, due to what is known as ‘Hybrid Vigor’. An unscrupulous breeder will tell you there was no need to do health testing on the parent dogs, because that hybrid vigor guarantees you a healthy dog. Not true! Beware of common genetic linkups. Here’s why, hip dysplasia is a very real problem in purebred Poodles, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. If you have a Goldendoodle whose Poodle father is genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia and whose Golden Retriever mother is similarly inclined, your Goldendoodle stands an overwhelming chance of having hip dysplasia. Like everything important in life, research is a must before you bring home any dog.
Now, there are governing bodies regulating the standards for Labradoodles, but to the best of my knowledge, no organizations are setting guidelines for the breeding of other hybrids. In this case, the buyer needs to look to the parent breeds and research the recommended testing for each of the parent breeds. You must research in depth any and all common genetic issues of the parent breeds. Because you want to understand the testing done on the parent dogs and the scores needed to predict if these genetic issues will be passed to the puppies.