Although this cross-breeding has been taking place for some
Sometimes bred to try and achieve a lower shedding service dog the Labradoodle is also an increasingly popular mix for a family companion.
The goal with a Labradoodle is to achieve an intelligent, trainable dog that is steady natured while shedding less than the Labrador does. If you've ever lived with a Lab then you might understand the desire to have many of their good personality traits without the regular loss of hair in your home.
The main concern I have with the current Labradoodle mania is that the puppies are being sold for increasingly unreasonable prices ($1500 - $2500) while the incident of health concerns are also on the rise. These are cute pups but they are not necessarily being produced for good reasons by reputable people. Some are, but many are not.
The same is true for any dog that can be bred and sold for a tidy sum of cash - people will be attracted to producing the dogs for money, including those who run puppy-mills.
The other thing to remember is that dogs shed. Some are very low shedding (like the Poodle and some Labradoodles). But just as people shed varying amounts of hair - all dogs loose some hair. If low-shedding is important to you in a canine companion then make sure the person you buy a Labradoodle from can tell you if the pup you're buying has inherited the lower shedding or higher shedding coat found among Labradoodles.
The breeder should also be able to supply testimonial from a number of satisfied customers and contact information so you can talk to several buyers yourself. Do so. Find out if the breeder was accurate in telling other buyers how much their dog would shed. Ask if the buyer has encountered any health problems with their dog.
People who are allergic to dogs (which can be an allergy to dander, fur, or saliva) may still react to some or all Labradoodles. Spend time inside with the breed to see if you react to members of the breed, particularly the individual dog you intend to buy, if allergies are a concern.
Labradoodles can have a fun, playful, and trainable nature. Unfortunately, they can also inherit health concerns from both sides of their heritage. Eye problems in particular are becoming common enough that those who are trying to responsibly breed Labradoodles are starting to participate in research of their own bloodlines. There are also Labradoodles in shelters and rescue groups in increasing numbers; if you want a Labradoodle consider starting your search with your local shelters.
Ironically after I had written this post and was looking for one last Labradoodle picture, I came upon a recent interview with the man credited with starting the Labradoodle craze - Wally Conron - retired from the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia. I've read Conron interviews in the past and this is the first time I've found him sounding so unhappy with the outcome of his work:
Breeding blunder: Labradoodle creator laments designer dog craze.