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The Doodle

The world has gone DOODLE CRAZY! Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Bernedoodles, Sheepadoodles, Aussiedoodles… they’re everywhere! And they are ADORABLE! Who wouldn’t like…

Doodle dog breed history

The world has gone DOODLE CRAZY! Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Bernedoodles, Sheepadoodles, Aussiedoodles… they’re everywhere! And they are ADORABLE! Who wouldn’t like these goofy little faces with all that shaggy hair? With the many wonderful characteristics of a poodle, and the variety of coats, colors, sizes and personalities of many other breeds, these pups are a designer dog dream come true. In fact, in the last 15 years, the poodle has been mixed with at least 44 other breeds (including the Australian Shepherd). And here’s a new one for you… the Double Doodle! Nope, I’m not kidding! The Double Doodle is a cross between the Labradoodle and the Goldendoodle!

The “doodle” has an interesting history. It is suggested that the Labradoodle was the first of the doodle breeds, but the “creation” of the dog and the naming of the breed do not really coincide. The name “labradoodle” was first used in 1955 when Donald Campbell, a British speed racer, jokingly referred to his dog as a Labradoodle “since he is a mixture of a Labrador and a poodle, all black with thick curly hair.” It would be interesting to know if Australian breeder Wally Conron knew Donald Campbell’s name for this “mix” when he decided to breed a Labrador retriever with a poodle.

Will the creator of the first doodle please stand up?

Wally Conron was working as a breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia, breeding only the best Labrador guide dogs. A blind woman needed a guide dog who would not shed hair because her husband was allergic. Wally thought… this is easy… we’ll just train a minimally shedding standard Poodle as a guide dog. So, for the next 3 years, he attempted to have 33 poodles trained, but they all failed. Wally finally concluded that the poodle just was not cut-out to be a guide dog.

Wally creatively thought of one more possibility… He took his best Labrador guide dog and mated it with the standard poodle. He hoped for the gentleness and trainability of the lab, and the low shedding coat of the Poodle. Three cute little crossbreed puppies were born and were ready to be trained, but no one would take them! Everyone wanted pure bred dogs! That’s when Wally came up with the name “labradoodle” and decided to generate some hoopla around it.

Wally went to the press telling them that he had invented a new dog. The Labradoodle. It was just a gimmick, but everyone went crazy. The day before the press release, no one wanted a crossbreed, but the day after, everyone wanted these dogs!

The Labradoodle or the Goldendoodle: Which came first?

Here’s a conundrum… Which came first, the Labradoodle or the Goldendoodle? Oh, that just opened a can of worms. Supposedly the Golden Retriever and the poodle were first crossed in 1969 for the same reason Wally crossed the Labrador and the Poodle – for a guide dog for people with allergies. But not a lot is published about the Golden Doodle’s “creator”, Monica Dickens (Yep, the great-grandaughter of Charles Dickens!). The Goldendoodle’s popularity didn’t really come about until the early 1990’s. So, my thought is, if there really was a goldendoodle in 1969, where did they go for the next 50 years? Wally’s Labradoodle was “born” in 1989, and he takes credit for having created the first nonallergic guide dog.

Although Wally is happy to take credit for his new “breed”, he also says that breeding a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle was a mistake, calling the dog a “Frankenstein-Monster”. In a 2019 BBC Podcast Wally expressed remorse and regret for having created this dog. He talked about the “horrors” of the Labradoodle breed. Seriously? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think Wally’s concern is that people were unscrupulously breeding the labradoodle, while he was insistent on using quality dogs for breeding purposes. Wally feels that because of this, “the biggest majority [of labradoodles] are either crazy or have a hereditary problem.” His words – not mine! I think the Labradoodle’s short history since the late ‘80’s has proven Wally wrong, however, unethical breeders will always exist. The labradoodle shouldn’t take the blame for bad breeding.

And since we’re picking on Wally Conron, why did he insist that the Poodle could not be successfully trained as a guide dog? 31 years later, many, many poodles are being used as guide dogs and they are simply amazing in their abilities. Poodles are not only extremely intelligent and easy to train, but they are loving and eager to please. Add that to their minimal shedding, and that makes them the perfect guide dog.

All kinds of doodles!

At this time, the Labradoodle, nor any of the “doodles”, are recognized as a breed by the AKC. They are considered hybrids. Some prefer to call them “designer” breeds. Despite a breed designation, the Labradoodles and the Goldendoodles usually carry a high price tag, costing anywhere from $400 – $4,000! Former purebred breeders who have opted to breed the hybrid labradoodles believe that they have inherited the very best characteristics of both breeds. They allege the pups are smart, friendly, healthier, more playful and energetic, and nearly shed-free! Goldendoodle breeders feel the same way. Goldendoodles are gentle and affectionate. And they have all the outgoing, sociable traits of the Golden retriever.

Since the doodles are a “hybrid”, the puppies do not consistently have the same appearance. Their hair may be soft or wiry, curly, slightly wavy, dense, whispy, even straight. Despite their reputation, most doodles actually do shed, but generally very little. They come in just about ANY color: black, blond, brown, cream, and even apricot, silver, and parti colors like a poodle. The labradoodles and goldendoodles are similar in size and weight, 45-80 pounds on average, but we have seen some really huge – close to 100 pound – doodles at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts! Now-days, breeders are crossing golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers with miniature poodles and they are just unbelievably adorable.

No offense to Wally Conron or Monica Dickens, but the very FIRST dog crossed with a Poodle was the American Cocker Spaniel. No, it wasn’t named Cockadoodle (darn… that would have been so funny), it was named the Cockapoo. The Cockapoo came to be in 1960 – for no apparent reason, BTW. It was an accident that resulted in some of the most adorable puppies! So much so, that they just kept on breeding them. The Cockapoo is still popular today.


Need help training your doodle?  Please contact our Professional Dog Trainers  at either of our two locations, Glen Allen or Midlothian location!

<sup>Originally published 3/10/15</sup>

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