The impetus behind the introduction of this cross was the desire to achieve a guide dog for the blind that would not shed and so produce a dog that is suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander. The original Australian creator attempted to combine the Poodle’s low-shed coat with the gentleness and trainability of one of the more common seeing-eye dog breeds, the Labrador. This has not yet been consistently achieved in the lower generations of crosses, as Labradoodles have varying coat lengths and textures. However, the coat usually sheds less and has less dog odor than the coat of a Labrador.
The man who first crossed the Labrador Retriever and Poodle in Australia for Guide Dogs was Wally Conron. The Labradoodle is still under development, and strictly speaking cannot yet be described as a dog breed because it does not breed true. In breeders’ terms, breeding true means that, when two specimens of the same breed are mated, the puppies will have consistently predictable characteristics, and will resemble their parents, rather than exhibiting random characteristics of the dog breeds in their parents’ ancestries.
As such, Labradoodles’ hair can be anywhere from wiry to soft and even straight, wavy, or curly. Their color range includes white, gold, brown and black. They are generally friendly, energetic, and good with families and children, though like any dog their temperament will vary between individuals. Labradoodles often have an affinity for water and are usually strong swimmers.
Some people want to avoid making the Labradoodle into a recognized breed, in order to maximise genetic diversity. By restricting breeding to early generation dogs (ie bred from a Poodle and Labrador rather than from two Labradoodles), they hope to maintain a wide gene pool, and avoid the inherited health problems that have plagued some dog breeds.
Other people are breeding Labradoodle to Labradoodle over successive generations, and trying to establish a new breed. These dogs are usually referred to as Multigenerational (abr. Multigen) or Australian Labradoodles. Australian Labradoodles differ from Multigenerational Labradoodles, as they may also have other breeds in their ancestry. English and American Cocker Spaniel/Poodle crosses, Two Irish Water Spaniels, Wheaton Terriers and a Curly Coated Retriever have variously been used in some Australian Labradoodle lines. Some people think this is acceptable and others believe that a true Labradoodle should only have Labrador and Poodle lines.