What’s wrong with the Labradoodle? The breeder created a monster
László Enikő, 2023. May 6 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary
Nowdays a designer dog is not just an ordinary mix, but a real treasure. Practical and cute, what could be the problem with it? Unfortunately, if we look at the subject in more detail, there are many drawbacks to these dogs.
Nowadays, special dogs that are a mix of popular breeds are very fashionable. They are also called designer dogs. Not just for mixtures, because they are the result of targeted crosses. Most of them are very popular because of their cute appearance, often described as hypoallergenic or a miniature version of a large dog. Yes, but there is no guarantee that the puppies of two dogs will inherit exactly the traits we want. So it can go wrong.
Today’s most popular designer dog: the Labradoodle
The Labradoodle is a mix of the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle. It is an unofficial breed that has been around since 1989. The Labradoodle is named after Wally Conron, who trained assistance dogs in Australia. Although some sources say that Donald Campbell used the term much earlier, in 1955. Wally bred the special dog because the husband of a visually impaired lady in Hawaii was allergic to dog hair. This meant that a Labrador retriever guide dog would not have been a good match for her. Although the poodle does not shed its fur, it does not have the work ethic of its four-legged companion. So Wally came up with the idea of creating a breed that worked like a Labrador but had the coat of a poodle.
The first Labradoodle:
The Labradoodle as Frankenstein’s monster
In a podcast, the 91 years old Wally said: I opened Pandora’s box and let out Frankenstein’s monster. The man took great care in choosing which two purebred, disease-free dogs to adopt. The litter consisted of three puppies, but only one of them did not cause an allergic reaction in the husband. The new dogs became extremely popular. Everyone wanted a Labradoodle. The demand suddenly became overwhelming. Wally felt he had created a monster. He thought it was his fault that (in his own words) dogs were falling into the hands of unethical and ruthless people. These people breed dogs without having a clue about genetics, breeding and the potential dangers. Hereditary diseases that may not show in the parent, but show in the puppies. Wally regretted creating the Labradoodle.
According to Wally, the popularity of the Labradoodle has made it a mentally unstable breed with hereditary diseases. Of course, not all dogs are, but a very high percentage are. Many of them suffer from skin diseases or shed their fur. Initially, they were bred to be hypoallergenic. But the labradoodle craze has also started another avalanche.
People have started to cross the Poodles with more and more breeds, as it almost doesn’t matter what you mix it with, you get a cute hypoallergenic version. Hopefully. This is how the Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever Poodle), Dalmadoodle (Dalmatian Poodle), Maltipoo or Moodle (Maltese Silky Poodle), Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel Poodle), Rottiepoo (Rottweiler Poodle) and many others were born. There is almost no breed that has not been crossed with Poodles. Wally thinks it is foolish to cross these dogs with any breed without a second thought, just because they are cute. Not every puppy will necessarily hit the genetic lottery. But they also put the dogs at enormous risk. It is a nice idea that the litter will only inherit the traits we want, but you have to be naive to be sure.
All breeds of dogs started like this
It is important to discuss the issue from the other side. If no one had ever crossed dogs, there wouldn’t be so many breeds. And how good that there are so many, because everyone can find the one that suits them best. Just because someone breeds mixtures does not mean that they have no knowledge of breeding at all, that they have not been careful. Just as breeding purebred dogs is not necessarily a guarantee that the owner knows what he is doing (see breeders). New varieties are created by creating mixtures.
The Russian Black Terrier, for example, was created in the 1940s. They were bred from Airedale Terriers, Giant Schnauzers and Rottweilers for military duties. The FCI adopted it as an official breed in 1984. However, it has not become a fashion dog, and is very rare outside Russia. This makes him very lucky as he doesn’t start breeding happy-go-lucky like a Labradoodle.
However, it is slowly losing its breed character, as the appearance of dogs intended for military duties is not important. The idea was to make them as durable and undemanding as possible. However, breeders wanted their pets to have a rich, dense coat, so they included Newfoundland in the breed to give the dogs a silky outer coat.
The Lurcher is an unofficial breed created from a mixture of greyhounds, sheepdogs and terriers. Legend has it that the medieval English and Scottish governments forbade the people to keep greyhounds, as it was the privilege of the nobility. Therefore, they created the lurcher, which was not officially a greyhound, so they could bypass the legal system. But this is just a guess, the owner of the first lurcher probably wanted a dog that was fast, trainable and could be used for poaching rabbits and game birds. (Source: Ádám Miklósi: The dog.)
How can a designer dog become an official breed?
If the breeding of the prospective variety and its apples are thoroughly documented for a sufficient period of time, over many years, it can be accepted as an official variety. However, this requires a uniform appearance and of course a good demand and a breeder willing to look after the new breed. Until associations recognise a breed, there is virtually no guarantee of its well-being. No one can oblige them to be tested by genetic testing. So they may be spared this and engage in mindless dog breeding. Which is later whined about by puppies and naive owners.
Why are some varieties dangerous to cross?
An excellent example is the Puggle, a mix of Pug and Beagle. It was bred with the aim of creating a compact lapdog that does not have breathing difficulties, as it inherits the longer nose of the Beagle. Yes, but what happens if the opposite happens? What if the puppy gets the short nose of the Pug but the strong hunting instinct and the will to go of the beagle? He’ll be driven all his life by the urge to run after scents his respiratory system is incapable of.
But the Labradoodle is also at risk. The main aim of her breeding was to have a hypoallergenic coat. The Poodle has this gene, the Labrador does not. If we are lucky, the Poodle gene will dominate in the offspring. But they will still have the Labrador in them, which, if they breed, could make its way into the second generation. Genetics is not a game. And the breeding attempts of incompetent people can, in Wally’s words, really create monsters.
- backyard breeder
- backyard breeders
- designer dog
- dog breeding
- puppy mill
- unofficial variety
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