Life Science Labradoodles are mostly poodles, dude: Research
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Labradoodles are mostly poodles, dude: Research

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It’s the poodle parts of a labradoodle that contribute most to the designer breed’s loveable features, research has revealed.

The “Frankenstein” breed is one of the most popular pooches in Australia, particularly sought after for its hypoallergenic properties.

They were bred into existence 31 years ago, aiming to take the best of the labrador and the poodle (and occasionally some spaniel) to create a friendly, intelligent dog that didn’t irritate allergies and asthma.

Born in 1989, Sultan was the first ever labradoodle, serving as a guide dog rather than a designer pet. Photo: Guide Dogs Victoria

As we’ve seen in designer dog breeds (looking at you, pugs and dachshunds), breeding and in-breeding to preserve the traits that define them can actually lead to serious genetic flaws that damage the health of the animals.

Research by Elaine Ostrander at the US National Institutes of Health aimed to make sure that didn’t happen to the beloved labradoodle.

Wally Conron bred the labradoodle while working for Guide Dogs Victoria but has since said it’s one of his greatest regrets. Photo: Fiona Pepper

The research, published on Friday, looked into the genetic makeup of the Australian labradoodle to understand how it has developed into the dog we know and love today.

Sad news for lab lovers – the breed is predominately poodle, research found.

Breeders have probably chosen the poodle-style coat for its associated hypoallergenic properties, the research suggests.

They don’t look for any specific labrador traits – meaning, a particular individual labrador isn’t chosen to breed with a poodle for any coherent reason over another – they just complement the poodle parts.

So what’s the aim of the study?

Apart from a reason to play with pooches all day, the research hopes to inform further ‘designer dog’ creation, so that we don’t end up with cross-breeds with inherited health problems.

For example, even though they’re a relatively new breed, Australian labradoodles are starting to show predisposition to anxiety disorders.

This is thought to come from their labrador retriever ancestors, who hail from hunting dogs used to being by their owner’s side 24/7.