Kate’s Family Pets
Description of our First Cross Miniature Labradoodles
Our Miniature Labradoodles are bred from small poodles (Miniatures, Toys and their crosses) and Labradors. We chose to use the small poodles because Labradors and small poodles have very few serious genetic problems in common and because the pups from this mating are medium sized dogs.
The puppies don't look at all like either parent breed, most of them look like "shaggy dogs from central casting" (as one owner described them), and although they range in size, coat type and colour they are sufficiently similar to be instantly recognisable as Labradoodles.
Our breeding dogs are selected on their temperament and health. In addition the pups have "hybrid vigour" a well recognised phenomenon in animal breeding. I discuss the theory behind cross breeding in the essay on genetics.
In order to assess the performance of our dogs I carried out a survey in 1999 which was sent to 378 owners to with 236 responses (62%)
The following description of my dogs draws on the results of this survey. You will find that these dogs are not perfect but I suggest that you ask anyone who claims to breed perfect dogs every time to show you their figures! This survey has been used to provide information for new owners and also to identify problems in our breeding program which we could then rectify.
I haven’t done surveys of the Goldendoodles, Back Cross Labradoodles, or Golden Labradoodles because at this stage (2007) we don’t have enough dogs to make a survey worthwhile however you can see photographs and descriptions of some of these dogs we have bred on their respective pages.
Most owners say that their dogs are easy to train, that they are affectionate, full of personality and gentle with children. They are active dogs and need regular exercise.
Behavioural problems when they occur are most commonly related to excessive exuberance, or excessive attachment. In the survey 17 people reported behaviour problems (7%). 2 dogs were barking excessively, 7 were over exuberant, 4 had mild to severe separation anxiety and the other problems were “one off”.
We have come to think that they are unlikely to suit apartment living and, like any animal except perhaps a goldfish, they can't cope well in households where everyone is away from 8.30am until 6.00 pm, but otherwise they seem to fit well into any household which is willing and not to busy to include a dog as part of their family.
They are not good "outside dogs" - they like to be with you and if you actually assess how much time you spend in your back yard it isn’t enough to ensure that your dog won’t be lonely for long periods if it spends all its life out there. Lonely dogs are more likely to be destructive dogs – whatever the breed - and intelligent lonely dogs are likely to find creative ways of being destructive!
Most of my dogs are gold and range in colour from dark amber through various shades of gold to cream (usually with gold ears). The darker dogs usually fade, as they get older to a washed gold colour. Someone described them very nicely as "Autumn tonings"!
I also have black dogs with variable amounts of silver and on the 8th April 2002 we finally bred our first litter of chocolate puppies. You can see these different coloured dogs in the Photographs section.
Labradoodles are Kelpie – Cattledog sized dogs. The females average 16.7 kg and measure 44.4cm at the shoulder and males average 19.8 kg and measure 48cm at the shoulder.
You can see from the table above that there is a considerable range in size with a small number of dogs as large as Labradors and a few smaller than miniature Schnauzers. The size of the sire has an influence on this – not surprisingly the Toy males have smaller progeny – but within most litters there is a marked variation in the size of the pups.
My Labradoodles are all shaggy dogs. Their coats vary in thickness, texture, length and degree of wave or curl. They have a range of coat types ranging from short thin coarse hairy coats that are very easy care through to very thick long curly coats which are virtually identical to poodle coats and require regular clipping.
These characteristics of the coat seem to be independently segregating – i.e. the coats can be: soft short, thick and curly, very soft, long, thin and straight, soft, thick, long and wavy, coarse, ……… etc, etc. In fact the way we have described them there could be 68 different coat combinations and when you see 30 or 40 dogs at a picnic it is clear that very few dogs have exactly the same coat type.
With regard to shedding about 70% are low or moderate shedders, 10% of dogs are non-shedding and the remaining 20% shed a lot (some as much as a Labrador it seems).
The majority of dogs are described as soft textured, medium length, thick coated dogs. The majority of non-shedding dogs are described by their owners as long or very long, curly or very curly, soft or very soft coated dogs but there are many dogs of this description that also shed hair and there are a couple of short haired dogs which don’t shed hair.
I can’t predict shedding with confidence – based on the results of the survey I have found that the chance of getting a non or low shedding dog is about 50% whether or not shedding was a priority. There are however among the pups a very few that we can confidently predict will be non shedding (about 5%)
As expected the incidence of Hip Dysplasia in these dogs is very low. In the questionnaire 10 owners reported some hind limb problem but only 5 have confirmed Hip dysplasia and only one dog has bilateral or severe disease. This represents an incidence of less than 2% and compares very favourably with the incidence in Labradors of between 15% and 30%.
We had one case of inherited epilepsy in the survey and know of 2 others, all with the same parents. We have desexed and rehomed the parents of these dogs.
Skin disorders are the most common problems presented to veterinarians in dog and cat practice. The survey showed that many labradoodles had skin problems varying from trivial to serious.
Atopy (the same disease which causes Hay fever in people) is an allergy to airborne allergens and is common in both Labradors, Poodles and Labradoodles. In Labradors the commonest symptom is “hot spots” and in Poodles the symptoms are most commonly foot chewing and sore ears. I can’t find any data on the precise incidence of this problem in Labs or Poodles or even in the general dog population but allergic skin problems are a very common problem presenting to veterinary surgeries.
Of the Labradoodles with skin problems, most show only the occasional ear problem, foot chewing, hot spot or itch. About 30% had recurrent skin problems and between 5 – 10% had full blown atopy symptoms with a range of allergic reactions.
This was a disappointing finding but there is a positive side to the result – I was able to identify the dogs which bred pups with a high incidence of the disease. I no longer breed from these dogs and we now only rarely get reports of skin problems.
Allergic skin problems are manageable and I will provide help and advice to anyone whose dog develops skin problems.
Puppies are sold with a guarantee that veterinary expenses up to the purchase price of the pup will be paid if congenital or genetic health problems occur within the first 2 years. Because not all dogs suit all situations we give a 50% refund of the purchase price if the pup is returned within 6 months because he does not suit for any reason. We will rehome the dog at any time during its life if for any reason you cannot keep your dog.
We have had to refund less than 1% of our dogs for hip dysplasia. We have had to rehome less than 1.0% of the puppies we have bred for suitability. We have not had any repeated problems but most of the dogs have been rehomed for behavioural reasons. We have rehomed two dogs because they shed too much hair.
We have worked to eliminate the problem of Atopy and while we have no current figures the incidence of problem dogs appears to now be close to that expected across all dog breeds. This problem is complex, very variable and has a very strong environmental component and seems to be on the increase in pet dogs just as asthma is increasing in humans. Given appropriate management and environment an atopic dog can live quite comfortably. We do not offer a refund with dogs affected by allergic skin problems but will offer veterinary advice and management support.