History of the breed
It all started in Australia in the late 1980s.
Wally Conren was the first person to crossbreed Labrador and Poodle. At the time, he was the breeding manager for The Guide Dogs Association in Australia. This organization received an inquiry from Patricia Blum – a blind woman who needed an assistance dog for herself. There was only one condition – it had to be a dog that will not cause allergic reactions in her husband.
In the initial project for a 3-year period, Wally selected 33 standard poodles. However, none of them passed an exam for an assistant dog.
Facing demands from the board to find a solution to this situation, Wally decided to crossbreed the labrador and poodle in order to get the right characteristics of both parents. The trainability of the labrador and the desirable coat of the poodle.
For the first mating, Wally used the best labrador breeding bitch under the wings of the mentioned organization and a royal poodle.
In the first litter, 3 puppies were born. At the age of 5 months, samples of saliva and hair were sent to Hawaii where the future owner passed the allergy testing. It turned out that one of the puppies did not cause an allergic reaction in him.
The puppy’s name was Sultan. First, he was given to a foster home for proper socialization, then he went through training, and in the end, he passed an exam to be an assistant dog. Sultan ended up with Patricia Blum and served her for many years.
After his initial success, Wally decided to make another mating. The next litter had 10 puppies however only 3 of them presented desired qualities.
At this time another problem occurred. Even though there was a long waiting list for foster families, the majority of them did not want to foster crossbreed.
Wally then came up with a solution to give a name to the “new dog”. From the parent breeds, Labra-doodle was born. However, the full name of the dog he presented to the world was “Labradoodle, a new breed of an assistant dog, hypoallergenic”
It was just too far too much! In first generations, we can not speak of any constant genotypic traits. Moreover, we should take into consideration the negative effects of hybridization as well. It takes generations of selective breeding toward desired traits until we can see a stable breed. The first cross not only was not stable nor hypoallergenic. And for sure we can not call it a NEW BREED.
Wally Conren has never come beyond the first crossbreed F1 and never worked further to develop a new breed.
And then something happened that Wally began to regret. Giving an interview with one of the newspapers, he said “I opened Pandora’s box”.
Because of the popularization of Labradoodle in the media, and incorrect decisions in the field of naming and promoting Labradoodle, new kennels were popping up overnight. People started crossing poodles with labradors and other breeds (without taking care of proper appearance, characteristics, and even health issues).
At the beginning of the 90s, the development of the new breed was undertaken by two research centers – Rutland Manor Breeding and Research Center headed by Beverley Manners, and Tegan Park Breeding and Research Center led by Angela Cunningham. These institutions focused first on working on the multi-generational Australian Labradoodle, adding the following infusions to it over the course of several years:
Irish Water Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniel
Soft Coated Irish Wheaten
Therefore, there is a big difference between Labradoodle (a cross between a labrador and a poodle) and the Australian Labradoodle (that has 6 different breeds in the blood). The process of creating a new breed, the timing, and purpose of each infusion, as well as its results is pictured by Beverley Manners herself in detail.