With the spike in doodle popularity in recent years, it’s no wonder so many are curious about where these hybrid dogs came from. Which breed of doodle was the first, and why?
A Guide Dog for People with Allergies
One of the first doodle dogs ever documented was created by Monica Dickens, who bred the first doodle variety using a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle back in 1969. The combination was intended to gain the benefits of both breeds; the Golden being more gentle and friendly, while the Poodle harbored great intelligence and athleticism. The Goldendoodle was born! Goldendoodles gained popularity in the 90s and have become one of the most well-known doodles best suited for service work.
As time progressed, new doodle varieties began to take the spotlight. In 1988, Wally Conron worked as a dog breeder for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia. When a couple reached out in need of a guide dog for the wife who was blind, one issue quickly became apparent; the husband suffered from severe dog allergies. Conron began training several Poodle candidates for the woman, but after three years of trying and 33 failed Poodle guide dog prospects, he was forced to take a different approach. In an effort to maintain the intelligence and non-shedding coat of the Poodle combined with the trainability and willingness of the Labrador, Conron made a bold decision, breeding the first-ever Labradoodle litter.
Are Doodles Really Hypoallergenic?
The answer to this can be somewhat confusing. Doodles are often advertised as “hypoallergenic,” but the truth is, a doodle’s non-shedding coat isn’t foolproof. It takes an experienced breeder utilizing the DNA technology available to make proper matches between parenting dogs. Genetic testing has allowed many litters to come out hypoallergenic or non-shedding, but the ultimate answer comes down to an individual’s allergy tolerance. Dog allergies are actually most commonly related to the proteins found in the dog’s dander, urine, or even saliva, not the actual hair itself. Individuals with mild allergies or asthma may find relief in owning a well-bred doodle due to the nature of their coat. Doodles (with proper breeding) will typically have little to no shedding, which allows the dander to be trapped or contained under the coat rather than becoming airborne or released onto furniture through the regular shedding that most other breeds face.
The intense screening of coat genetics can be negated entirely in some lesser-known doodle breeds. The Whoodle, for example, is a doodle composed of two non-shedding parenting breeds. Unlike the many doodle breeds that rely solely on the Poodle’s non-shedding coat genetics, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier also has an ever-growing coat! The combination of non-shedding coat genetics from both sides strengthens the Whoodle’s hypoallergenic nature.
Life with a Doodle Dog
In 2022 it’s no surprise that several doodle breeds have erupted into significant popularity. There’s nearly a designer doodle for every lifestyle. Take the Maltipoo, a small doodle breed that’s much more suited to a life of affection and frequent social activity. Since Maltipoos do so well with children and the elderly, they’re often chosen for apartment living or older pet owners who’ve since retired and have plenty of indoor time to spend with a small friend who won’t require extra cleaning due to the fur being shed. A doodle breed fitting that lifestyle would be vastly different from a Bernedoodle who’s much larger and has a goofy, loyal, yet clumsy personality type with higher exercise and feeding requirements.
As new doodle hybrids are making way every few months, it’s no wonder they’ve had such a popularity streak the last few years. Taking any breed and combining a potentially hypoallergenic coat seems to draw in many prospective puppy buyers. A little marketing strategy from Conron in 1988 allowed people to see the value in mixed breed dogs and has led us down a path where new pet owners are considering adding a doodle to their family every day!