Labradoodle Dog Origins, Variations and Characteristics

Since the development of the Labradoodle dog in the 1980s by Wally Conron as a non-allergenic guide dog for visually impaired people who suffered from allergies, this “dog breed has branched off in a multitude of directions. Today there are in fact at least two distinct different types of Labradoodles and some people are in fact of the opinion there is even another derivative of the Labradoodle.

The two distinct types of Labradoodle include primarily the following:

Australian Labradoodle:

As its name suggests this Labradoodle type hails from Australia and since 2004 was declared to be no longer just a hybrid mix between the Labrador and Poodle but rather is now considered to be a purebred dog breed in its own right. Such recognition followed on the heels of the breed standard mapping out developmental goals aimed by the association which was written in 1987.

The Australian Labradoodle is officially recognized as having been developed from the following 6 different dog breeds:

•    Poodle (Standard & Miniature)
•    Labrador Retriever
•    Irish Water Spaniel
•    Curly Coat Retriever
•    English Cocker Spaniel
•    American Cocker Spaniel;

According to the Labradoodle Association of Australia, certain characteristics of the Labradoodle dog breed are of paramount importance notably that the dog should have a balanced and even temperament. Typically this dog should be an alert, friendly and intelligent animal that trains and learns easily and is not prone carefree boisterousness unless so allowed. The Labradoodle should be able to approach people whilst maintaining eye contact and not exhibit any signs of anxiety or discomfort.

Labradoodle Features

Size: There are currently three different recognized sizes Labradoodle by the Australian Association and they are as follows:

Standard Sized Labradoodle:

Height:  22 – 26 inches

Weight:  25 – 40 Kg

Medium Sized Labradoodle:

Height:  18 – 21 inches

Weight:  15 – 25 kg

Miniature Sized Labradoodle:

Height:  13 -17 inches

Weight:  10 – 20 kg

Coat: The coat of the Australian Labradoodle as dictated by the breed standard should be 4 to 6 inches in length. The coat should be a single coat and any indication of a double coat is noted as a fault. The dog’s coat should not be overly thick and neither should it be fluffy, though straight, wavy or loose spiraling is acceptable. The coat of the Labradoodle typically occurs in one of three types:

•    Hair Coat: This type of coat is undesirable because it is a shedding coat and the Labradoodle Association of Australia is attempting to outbreed this trait.

•    Fleece Coat: This is a non-shedding extremely soft coat close in texture to that of an angora coat. This coat is easy to manage and is highly desirable.

•    Wool Coat: Another non-shedding coat which may occurs as the highly desirable loose spiraling pattern, or the not so desirable dense curling or dense straight coat variation. Thick and dense wool coats are not recommended because they require a lot of effort to maintain and the Association is trying to wean out this trait via selective breeding.

Body: The body of the Labradoodle is slightly longer than it is tall. The dog should move with a strong purposeful stride when trotting and during galloping (Yes! Labradoodles do have a gallop-like gait) the flanks should rise up from a deep brisket.

Tail: The tail ideally should be low set although a high tail is accepted. If the tail is heavy, padded or course in appearance then it will be denoted as a fault.

Head: The ideal stop of the dog should be medium with the eyes set well apart beneath broad well-defined eyebrows. The head should have a clean polished appearance and the existence of a long narrow head or blockhead will warrant a fault.

Ears & Eyes: The ears of the Labradoodle should be at the same level as its eyes and they should be set flat against the head of the dog. The ear canal should not be overflowing with excess hair. With respect to the eyes of this dog breed, they are typically slightly rounded and are somewhat large and expressive. Watery, tearful, sunken or protruding eyes will definitely notch up a fault.

Teeth & Nose: Ideally the breed standard Labradoodle should have a scissor bite, and any dogs characterized with an under bite or over bite will be faulted. Any incidences of teeth crowding in miniature Labradoodles will also classify as a fault. Dogs with black pigmented noses should have dark brown eyes with no presence of pink spots. Any evidence of pink spots on the nose, pads, eye rims or lips of a black-nosed dog will register as a fault.

Color: The Labradoodle dog breed is permitted to display quite an extensive range of coat colors including any of the following: gold; cream; white; apricot; black; blue; red; silver; chalk; brown as well as pretty much any other color typically seen in Poodles. The coat color should be solid with no white markings although extremely small white areas no larger than 2.5 cm squared are allowed on the chest, tail or feet.

Other Types of Labradoodle Dogs

Although only the Australian Labradoodle has been discussed in detail here, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are at least two distinct variations of this dog:

American Labradoodle:
This variant is what is referred to as a multi-generational Labradoodle and the lack of introduction of other dog breeds (as is the case with Australian Labradoodles) appears to be a point of pride. Though not recognized by the AKC as a distinct purebred dog breed the American Labradoodle is officially recognized by the much newer and smaller dog association club known as the NAKC (North American Kennel Club).

What is certainly a little confusing is the exact translation of a multi-generational Labradoodle. There are some who contend that the Australian Labradoodle is a multi-generational dog which tends to beg the question…what is the difference between the two? That said the following describes the method in which several breeders are pursuing their American Labradoodle breeding program:

F1 Generation: this is a 50% Labrador to 50% Poodle mix. The offspring of this cross tend to be healthier than other crosses, but the downside is that the hair type tends to run the whole gamut of coat variation and one is just as likely to get a shedding coat as a non-shedding coat!

F1-B Generation:
25% Labrador Retriever to 75% Poodle; in other words this is a cross between an F1 Labradoodle crossed with a Poodle. Increased incidence of genetic disease is more likely in this dog hybrid, but on the positive side, they have the highest occurrence of a non-shedding coat.

F2 Generation:
This is a cross between an F1 Labradoodle back to another F1 Labradoodle. With this kind of combination you obtain a similar percentage mix as that of the F1 Labradoodle (Poodle/Labrador mix) so you would also get the same incidence of shedding and non-shedding coats.

F3 Generation:
An F3 Labradoodle is a cross between an F2 Labradoodle with another F2 Labradoodle and this cross falls under the purview off multi-generational.

Any cross of an F3 generation or beyond constitutes a multi-generational dog and it is along these breeding lines that both the Australian and American Labradoodle breeders are aiming for the purebred dog. The notable difference being that the Australian Labradoodle Association has introduced other dog breeds in the mix to increase genetic diversity and thereby decrease the incidence of inherited disease.

Disease: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) a disease that causes blindness has been observed with increasing occurrence in a number of multi-generational Labradoodles lending weight to the pursuit of increased genetic diversity. Like the dog breeds from which they were developed, the Labradoodle is prone to hip dysplasia and elbow and patella disorders; some incidence of Addison’s Disease has also been observed. In general it is good practice for all Multigenerational Labradoodles to be DNA tested for PRA.

Labradoodle Temperament

Like its famous progenitors, this dog makes an excellent family companion that gets along well with children and is easy to train. Like many intelligent dogs the Labradoodle requires daily mental and physical challenges to avoid adopting nuisance behavior. This dog can adapt well to apartment living but just so long as it gets plenty of daily exercise.

Labradoodle Dog Origins

In 1989, Wally Conron, the breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia embarked on a quest to develop a non-allergenic guide dog for a visually impaired client whose husband happened to be allergic to common dog fur. Conron settled on the standard Poodle as the ideal cross with the already established Labradors in use at their center, for the simple fact that the Poodle,s as a highly trainable working dog with tightly curled coat, constituted a the best-fit match.

After two years of trials including 33 successive disappointment runs, Wally Conron hit pay dirt! A cross mating between one of their most prized Labradors and a Poodle specimen resulted in a litter of 3 non-allergenic puppies. Sultan the 1st ever Labradoodle destined for guide-dog greatness was introduced to his new owner amidst great fanfare. The bonding was a great success and Conron was confident that the remaining two puppies would quickly be snapped up; after all, the center at which he worked had a 6-month backlog of requests from people hoping to foster a dog. But he miscalculated; nobody it seemed wanted a dog that was associated with the dirty word crossbreed.

As eight weeks rolled by, the remaining two pups still hadn’t found homes and the critical-period window in which they needed to bond with a new owner and thus become successful guide dogs was closing fast. Out of sheer frustration Wally Conron decided to call his new dog breed the Labradoodle and thenceforth stopped referring to them as crossbreeds. That was the eureka moment he had been waiting for (evidence of the sniff factor in play again)!

Within weeks, requests for this new “miracle dog” inundated the center…the rest as the saying goes, was history! Other than the Labradoodle, few designer dogs have been developed for utilitarian purposes and in fact for the most part new breeds are introduced for purely cosmetic purposes.

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