Maury – a fine Labradoodle!
Tags: 'over the garden fence', 1988, allergic, allergic to dog hair, apricot-coloured, Assistance Dog, Australia, Australian breeder, blind people, breed standard, Christmas, curl, Curly-coated Retriever, dog hair, ensuing litter, fleece, French, French Poodle, gentle trainability, groomer, guide dog, Guide Dogs of Victoria, hair, Hawai'i, hip dysplasia, hypo-allergenic, hypoallergenic characteristics, Labradoodle, Labrador Retriever, litter of puppies, Massachusetts, Maury, mixed breed, neckerchief, pedigree dogs, pet dander, physically handicapped, Portuguese Water Dog, seeing eye dog, Standard Poodle, Therapy Dog, USA, Victoria, visually impaired, Wally Conron, wave
There was I time when I use to look with a little disfavour at Labradoodles. The thought of deliberately crossing two very diverse pedigree dogs deliberately (as opposed to an ‘over the garden fence’ meeting) seemed rather odd. I quite understand that some people cannot tolerate – for allergy reasons – being around the average dog. I appreciated that some dogs seemed to have a fur which could be termed ‘hypoallergenic’ (the Portuguese Water Dog and the French Poodle, for example), what I had not understood was that being allergic to dog hair was more than inconvenient if you were visually impaired.
Blind people who are not otherwise physically handicapped, and can used a guide dog (UK – ‘seeing eye dog’ in the USA) but are allergic have a HUGE problem. It was because of this that an Australian breeder, Wally Conron of Guide Dogs of Victoria (Australia) in 1988, selectively bred a Labrador Retriever with a Standard Poodle, in attempt to get a dog that had the gentle trainability of the Lab with the quick intelligence of the Poodle – and the Poodle’s hypoallergenic characteristics. He had been approached by a blind lady from Hawaii whose husband was strongly allergic to pet dander. Only ONE puppy, out of the ensuing litter did not cause an allergic reaction (hair samples from all of the pups were sent to Hawaii) and this puppy was trained to become the first Labradoodle ‘seeing eye dog’. Others now fill rôles as Therapy or Assistance Dogs.
It is not true to say that all puppies in a litter have hypoallergenic characteristics, or even the same type of coat; they are, after all, mixed breeds of two radically different types of dogs. Other breeds have, from time to time, been added to the mix, such as the Portuguese Water Dog (hypoallergenic) and the Curly-coated Retriever, but the ‘standard’ seems to be Labrador Retriever x Standard Poodle. Needless to say, these dogs became fashionable amongst the general population and are now found all over the world as pets. There many different colours, depending on the colour of the Poodle parent, and three ‘standards’ of coat – ‘wool’, with tight curls like a Poodle, ‘fleece’, with looser, wavy curls, and ‘hair’, which can be straight or have a slight wave, like a Lab. There are some breeders who insist on breeding Labradoodles with Labradoodles and try to establish a new ‘breed standard’, and those that suggest that every new litter should come from a Labrador x Standard Poodle cross, thereby reducing the possible dangers of such defects as hip dysplasia.
Here we see a local Labradoodle! He is Maury, a two-year old Labradoodle with what is known as an apricot-coloured ‘fleece’ coat. Maury is carrying a short stick (he likes picking them up on his walks) and is proudly wearing his new Christmas neckerchief, which his groomer gave him as a present!
Labradoodles are performing a useful service for those who have both visual and allergy problems, and delighting their owners everywhere!