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Golden Doodle, Labradoodle, Springerdoodle... It seems a poodle cross has become a popular choice. Is it a designer breed or a mutt? Well I guess it depends on your point of view. Really it does not matter as long as you are getting what you want. The American Kennel Club recognizes 161 breeds as of July 2009. A doodle is not one of them. So if you are going to use the AKC as a guide, it's a mutt. The same thing you could pick up at your local shelter. Or is it?

This brings us to why you would buy a dog from a breeder. The first reason is to get the dog that you want, I mean you did pick out a breed that is appropriate for your situation didn't you? Another would be health.

The original concept of the labradoodle was to develop a service dog that was less allergenic. Is it as easy as breeding a labrador retriever to a poodle. Well, yes and no. Technically that is a labradoodle, as in a cross of a labrador retrieve and a poodle, but does it have the qualities you are looking for? The first generation can run the gamut of being a labrador retriever body (lots of shedding) and a poodle brain (harder to train) to body of a poodle (regular grooming required) and a brain of a labrador (easier to train) and everything in between. The organization that originally started to develop the labradoodle bred 7 generations combining the best suited puppies for what they were trying to achieve. So if you are looking for a easy to train dog with less grooming and you are talking to a breeder that has first or second generation doodles for sale can they really tell you which puppy is going to have those qualities?

As far as health is concerned. The best way to get a good gauge of the health of the puppies is to look at the health of the dog and the bitch. Do they have clear eyes, good hips? What are the known genetic faults for a labradoodle? I suppose you would need to know the potential problems for both breeds and check to see that the bitch and the dog were clear of both.

Here at Orchard Kennels, the conversation we have most with labradoodle and goldendoodle owners is about grooming. It is not uncommon to have a labradoodle or goldendoodle show up at the kennel and we recommend a grooming to get rid of the mats. And we are informed that this is a labradoodle/goldendoodle and it needs no grooming. If you were lucky picking your puppy, that might be true. Often it is not.

Now is this a breed worth spending money on? Is it worth more than a AKC pure bred? Is it a rare breed? If there are 10 available and 100 people want them, that tends to make them rare, but it is not a sign of quality. If the dog comes with a health guarantee (yes, we know AKC breeders that have a health guarantee, like you can return the dog if it has a bad heart or eyes), then it might be worth paying as much as an AKC breed from a reputable breeder.

These are good dogs. We want to you get the dog you are looking for and not something you were sold. These are high energy dogs. They can be very smart and a challenge to train. They will require grooming. Almost all of the ones we see require regular (4-6 weeks) clipping.