Humans and dogs have coexisted for thousands of years. Thanks to this unique relationship, man has learned to use the dog for various purposes. Specific breeds were created through: selective breeding and training dogs to perform specific tasks.
Man deliberately influenced the offspring of the dog through its selective breeding. Initially, there were many crossbreeds of different types of dogs. Sometimes the choice of an individual to continue breeding depended on its specific appearance, sometimes its specific, desirable properties were important.
Through selective breeding, many dog breeds were created in the last century. In addition to traditional tasks such as guarding the herd, guarding or using a hunting dog (etc.), in the last century dogs were also given new tasks, such as, for example, the function of a guide dog for the blind (the first "service dog" was a dog that assists a blind person), and the dog has become a very important and irreplaceable companion of man.
The Labrador Retriever is not only an excellent hunting dog, it has also proven effective as a guide dog for the blind. Very few people know that the Australian Blind Organization in Australia (Royal Victorian Guide Dogs Association) conducted cross-breeding experiments. Already in the seventies of the last century, the first experiment of combining the intelligence of the Poodle and the curiosity and "willingness to work with a person" of the Labrador Retriever took place.
The offspring from this cross were initially easy to breed and easily trainable. Some dogs did not shed and did not emit a characteristic dog odor. At that time, however, the positive properties of this cross were not used for further research. The experiment was repeated only in 1989, when the Royal Victorian Guide Dogs Association received a very serious request for a guide dog that would not cause allergic reactions in the blind woman's spouse. Wally Conron, a breeder who is a member of this organization, decided to repeat the mating of dogs of these two breeds. For breeding he chose a large white poodle and the best Labrador Retriever bitch. A litter of three puppies was born. After extensive research, it turned out that only one of them met the required conditions (the fur did not cause allergic reactions in the woman's husband), although the puppy was shedding! The dog was named Sultan and was successfully trained as an assistance dog.
This success was widely reported by the Australian press. Wally Conron named the dog Labradoodle. Thanks to this publicity Labradoodle gained wide popularity. Wally Conron repeated the association several more times. During an interview with Readers Digest, he admitted that despite intensive training, most of these dogs had a difficult ("stubborn") character, which is why he stopped continuing his breeding program.
The buzz around Labradoodles has made them very popular and one of the most desirable hybrid breeds overnight. Two Australian breeders, Beverley Manners (Rutland Manor) and her daughter Angela Cunningham (Angela Rutland Manners) (Tegan Park) have taken over to continue working on the development of the Labradoodle.
They bought their first breeding dogs from a breeder called Don Evans, who, apart from Labradoodles, also bred dogs of other breeds. For this reason, Angela Cunningam suspected that some of these Labradoodles had Afghan blood. This would explain some distinctive properties in several lines of the genuine Australian Labradoodle.
Mother and daughter wanted to create an optimal family dog with the following characteristics:
– his fur would not cause allergic reactions,
- easy to train
– would have a natural desire to work with people, which would make him an excellent assistance dog.
In short, the new race, like all existing ones, was to be created for a specific purpose. With this vision both women set about developing a new breed.
The first crosses between Labradors and Poodles gave different results as to the type and structure of the coat. Backcrossing (with poodles) did not produce the desired improvement, and the offspring of such dogs often had an unstable character. According to the co-creators, these dogs were very hyperactive - which in turn confirmed the experience with the first Wally Conron crosses.
Despite selective breeding, the Pioneers did not get rid of what they claim to be a "stubborn" nature and the issue of hyperactivity. After many years of work, they achieved positive results with an allergy-friendly and non-shedding coat, but they realized that in order to soothe and improve the temperament, it would be necessary to infuse a different breed.
Both breeders had a limited number of breeding dogs. Such breeding carries the danger of reducing genetic diversity, which would lead both breeders, and the future of the breed, into a genetic ditch. To prevent this, and to reduce the risk of potential genetic diseases, the co-creators decided to have another infusion. After much deliberation, the choice fell on the Irish Water Spaniel. This infusion brought with it new colors: black and brown, and "tempered" the difficult character. According to the claim of Beverley Manners (Rutland Manor), the first Labradoodles came in various shades of cream color and the size of a large poodle.
Because there was a need to reduce the size of the Labradoodle, the co-creators of the breed decided that for the next matings, instead of the Standard Poodle, they would use the Miniature Poodle. However, they did not achieve the desired results until the infusion of English and American Spaniel blood (which resulted in the reduction of the dog's size). These infusions also had the added benefit of expanding the genetic pool. Of course, the pioneers mated only excellent, healthy and promising individuals.
They got the medium size thanks to crossing a small Labradoodle with a medium one.
After all infusions, the pioneers used only the best representatives of the breed for breeding, while the rest were subjected to sterilization/castration. This is quite a high price, but at the same time the only (in this case) possibility to control the breeding process and the process of creating a new breed. By early neutering/spaying, however, the genetic base narrows, as the individual's particularities discovered later in its development are lost forever.
The genetic pool remained very narrow, and the problem worsened when the Rutland Manor and Tegan Park breeding lines began to enter Australia and the USA. For these reasons, in order to introduce new blood to existing breeding lines, the co-creators regularly returned to backcrossing with Poodles in breeding. Unfortunately, however, then the coat began to approach the texture of the Poodle, and this caused difficulties in care. This situation was one of the reasons why Beverley Manners decided to introduce another infusion.
After a detailed verification of all pros and cons, the choice was finally made in 2004. Beverley opted for the original lines of the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (exclusively Irish lines that very few Irish breeders had). Since Angela Cunningham (Tegan Park) did not see the need for another infusion, she chose not to participate in this project. Experience has shown that the coat of offspring containing the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier infusion in their line is much easier to care for.
At some point, the influence of the co-founders of the Australian Labradoodle began to wane. The number of new breeders has increased significantly. They also began to associate in organizations whose goal was to take over the development of the breed and create its new history.
It is therefore inevitable that new types of Australian Labradoodles will emerge in the coming decades.
The ALA (Australian Labradoodle Association), ALAA (Australian Labradoodle Association of America) including IALA, the (International Australian Labradoodle Association), have integrated breeding programs.
Currently, these organizations declare that the Australian Labradoodle is a cross between 3 breeds: Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniel.
Unfortunately, in this case, the allergy-friendly coat of all these "Australian Labradoodles" probably can't be a guarantee. In the new Labradoodle types qualification system (from 2009), these organizations allow not only first matings (labrador + poodle) or infusions with Cocker Spaniel, but also identify shedding puppies, while allowing the use of such puppies for further breeding. This new "definition" and breeding programs will have far-reaching consequences.
Due to the great popularity of the Australian Labradoodle, many pseudo breeders started to "produce" puppies on a mass scale. Unfortunately, most potential customers do not know whether these individuals have the appropriate pedigrees and characteristics typical of Australian Labradoodles. These pseudo breeders also cleverly raise the rank of their "Labradoodles" (F1 - the simplest cross between Labrador and Poodle) by mating them with individuals (Australian Labradoodles) with very good, prestigious pedigrees.
Fortunately, however, there are a handful of serious, dedicated breeders who want to preserve the roots of the authentic Australian Labradoodle. These breeders are convinced that the breed is sufficiently stabilized that there is no need for further infusions and different qualification systems of different Types of Labradoodles (F1, F1B, F2 and other generations). These breeders look very closely at the lineage of their breeding dogs, look at their offspring with an expert eye, and are very selective in their breeding practices.
Excellent breeding stock from Rutland Manor and/or Tegan Park has been spread around the world. Despite the modern computerized world, most breeders hardly know each other and they also know nothing about their livestock. It is inevitable, however, that in the near future they will have to exchange genetic material with each other so as not to be driven into a genetic corner.
This is one of the reasons why the ALFA-Europe Foundation was established in the Netherlands. By establishing an organization for the registration of breeding dogs under very restrictive regulations, ALFA-Europe has created optimal conditions for maintaining the original breeding lines of Australian Labradoodles. These regulations, among others, impose the obligation to perform DNA tests on all breeding dogs and their offspring. The need to perform DNA tests on breeding dogs and their puppies enables the transparency of the digital database.
This is the only way in which the genes of non-shedding, excellent health, allergy-friendly coat and intuitive nature of Australian Labradoodles will be preserved for the future.
The first authentic Australian Labradoodle was brought to Poland in 2008 from Australia by Mrs. Elżbieta Gajewska.
At the moment, the ALFA-Poland organization, which will operate in Poland, is registered. This organization will work closely with ALFA-Europe.
Quarterly of the Polish Club of Dog Breeds Cynology, 1/2012(31)