DEAR DIDI: We were out walking the other day and ran into someone with a Labradoodle. We love the concept and are considering purchasing a puppy. Googling the breed presents tons of conflicting information. We value your no-nonsense presentation of information so what are your thoughts on the breed? -Manteca Couple
DEAR MANTECA COUPLE: Thank you very much for the compliment. I do try to be very practical about the facts while also keeping human nature in mind when talking dogs. Wally Conron bred the first Labrador-Poodle cross in 1989 leading to the name Labradoodle. He was looking for an option for a blind woman who was unable to use the standard service dog Labrador because of an extreme allergy to pet dander. He researched Standard Poodles but found they didn’t have the right temperament to be a Guide Dog. His idea was to create a dog that had the personality of the lab but no-shed like the poodle. Sounds like heaven, yes?!
Well, the world’s first Labradoodle was Sultan who did indeed work as a Guide Dog. However, the rest of the litter needed homes and no one wanted them. So Mr. Conron worked with the PR team at his guide dog association and the rest is history. Looking at this from a scientific point of view, one must realize that Doodles are mutts. They are not purebred dogs no matter how you slice it. However, due to carefully constructed PR you will likely pay two to three times the cost of a purebred Labrador or Standard Poodle for a Labradoodle, Goldendoodles, Whoodles … and so on. Breeders in Australia will try to convince you their dogs have their own documented DNA and charge you $5000 plus shipping costs. If you are willing to hand someone thousands of dollars for mixed breed dogs then people will keep creating puppies.
Mr. Conron has publicly admitted that he is horrified at what he unintentionally created and remarks that most Doodles are “crazy or have hereditary problems”. As a Canine Behaviorist, I have to agree. I have a lot of Doodles referred to me for behavioral issues ranging from neuroticism to obsessive compulsive disorders to flat out aggression. There are a few really nice Doodles out there, for sure. Sadly, those dogs are walking advertisements and cause hundreds of people to go looking for breeders with money to spend. Hundreds of thousands of puppies are brought into this world with a lack of care about genetics. It is impossible to dictate which characteristics a puppy will get from the lab side and which ones they will get from the poodle side. Therefore, Doodles can shed. If they don’t shed you better be completely aware that the trade off is going to be high costs of monthly grooming and daily brushing on your part to avoid tangles and painful matts in the dog’s fur.
So, ask yourself why you want a Doodle. Be honest, write it down. Most people say to me, “well, they don’t shed”. My response then is to get a purebred poodle. Some will say, “Because, they are so smart.” Then get a poodle because they are second most intelligent breed of dog next to a border collie. The answer that always cracks me up is, “I love the shaggy hair on the Doodle, they are so adorable!” Then get a poodle and have your groomer put that clip on them. There are probably a dozen types of haircuts you can give a poodle since they have hair and not fur. Do your research and you might find a Labrador is the perfect personality for you. A professional groomer or Canine Aesthetician can dramatically reduce allergens and shedding when visited regularly.
Dierdra McElroy is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is an Animal Behaviorist specializing in canines. Like Didi’s Facebook page: California Canine. If you have questions or concerns about the pets in your house, you can get them answered through a future column of Didi’s Dogs. E-mail your questions to Didi@californiacanine.dog.