The Labradoodle is a cross between the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle. As a hybrid of two energetic dogs, the Labradoodle can have similar characteristics from either of its parent breeds, but is not necessarily a 50/50 split.
Much like the Poodle, there are three main sizes for the Labradoodle: standard, medium and miniature. Due to its hybrid nature, however, the physical characteristics of a Labradoodle may vary. For instance, a Labradoodle will have different coat types, from wiry, wooly, wavy, curly, or fleece-like. The color of the coat also varies, including cream, gold, red, black, chocolate, brindle and multi-patterned. Contrary to belief, some Labradoodles do shed, though far less and with less odor than a Labrador Retriever. Though there is no completely hypoallergenic dog, Labradoodles may be a good fit for those with allergies.
The Labradoodle typically acquires the friendliness and well-tempered nature of their parent breeds. Likewise, they are considered very intelligent and highly trainable. Like Labs, they are amazing family dogs and are both good with children and loyal. Like Poodles, they are very smart and can be protective of their people. They're fun-loving, affectionate, athletic, graceful and highly active dogs. They generally make good watchdogs and therapy dogs and get along well with other animals. Unsurprisingly, considering their mix, Labradoodles love the water and can be exceptional swimmers. They can be cautious or shy with strangers and may also be prone to restlessness or loneliness if left along for too long.
A Labradoodle's coat should be shampooed and brushed regularly, and trimmed at least twice a year. Depending on the dog's coat, it may also require professional grooming. It's important that its ears and eyes be checked often, as it does tend to suffer from hereditary issues.
Labradoodles may suffer from health issues commonly seen in its parent breeds. This includes, but is not limited to, hip dysplasia, Addison's disease, and eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Genetics play a large role in the health, temperament and physical characteristics of the Labradoodle, and widespread "backyard" breeding has detoured careful selection of desirable traits that more careful breeders propagate. If possible, it's important to learn as much about the history of your Labradoodles parents as possible to determine any prevalent health concerns.
The term "Labradoodle" was first used in Sir Donald Campbell's 1955 book, Into the Water Barrier, to describe his Labrador/Poodle cross. However, the Labradoodle did not truly come into the limelight until 1988, when Australian breeder Wally Conron crossed the Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle. Conron had hoped to create a guide dog for the blind that would also be suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander.
Soon Labradoodles were being bred around the world not only for their "hypoallergenic" characteristics, but also for their intelligence, friendliness and overall appearance. Today you can find Labradoodles serving as alert dogs, assistance dogs, guide dogs and family pets.