A Labradoodle is a crossbred or hybrid dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard or Miniature Poodle.
While many Labradoodles display the traits desired in creating the the cross, the nature of hybrid genetics guarantees that the appearance and behavioral characteristics of Labradoodles cannot be predicted with any certainty. The establishment of the Labradoodle as a breed is still under development and strictly speaking cannot yet be described as a dog breed because it does not breed true. But because of the established characteristics present in the two breeds that make up a Labradoodle, they are generally friendly, energetic, and good with families and children (though like any dog their temperament will vary between individuals). Labradoodles often display the affinity for water and strong swimming ability present in both Poodles and Labs. Labradoodles' coats can be anywhere from wiry to soft and even straight, wavy, or curly. Their color range includes all the varieties of Lab and Poodle.
Breeder Wally Conron first crossed the Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle in Australia for Guide Dogs Victoria. His aim was 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.
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.
Labradoodles have become increasingly well known in recent years. The Oxford English Dictionary now lists "Labradoodle" as a new word, and Monopoly board game included a Labradoodle icon in its "Here and Now" Edition.. Their popularity has been used to good effect, with New York department store Lord and Taylor raising $50,000 in 2004 and $55,000 in 2005 for Guiding Eyes for the Blind selling Labradoodle plush toys., and Macy's department store raising funds with plush Labradoodles "Grace" and "Courage" for Breast Cancer Awareness in 2006.. An animated soft toy Labradoodle, "Lucky the Incredible Wonder Pup", was also the 2006 "Toy of the Year" and an Oppenheim Platinum Toy Award winner.
Notable Labradoodle owners
- Sir Donald Campbell, who broke land speed records in the 1950s in Bluebird, was one of the first Labradoodle owners.
- Golfer Tiger Woods has an Australian Labradoodle named Yogi.
- Actresses and sisters Courtney Peldon and Ashley Peldon have two Australian Labradoodles named Odysseus and Calypso.
- Actor and TV presenter Graham Norton has a Labradoodle named Bailey.
- Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson and his wife Francie have a Labradoodle named Dodger.
- Richard Hammond (also a presenter of Top Gear) owns a Labradoodle called Top Gear Dog which has been occasionally featured on the BBC show. Its real name is 'TG' or 'TeeGee' - an abbreviation of 'Top Gear'.
- Model Christie Brinkley owns a Labradoodle named Maple Sugar.
- Actress Barbara Eden has an Australian Labradoodle named Djinn Djinn (named after her invisible dog in the TV show I Dream of Jeannie).
- Actor and Director Henry Winkler of Happy Days has a Labradoodle named Charlotte.
- Dog hybrids and crossbreeds