‘Line’ breeding, which inevitably led to in-breeding in the past, has resulted in pure breed dogs inheriting a huge range of diseases and disorders. Many good breeders are attempting to combat this today with more responsible breeding strategies and pre-breeding health tests. However, they are still working with a limited gene pool, so can only really achieve damage limitation. Indeed, part of their strategy involves limiting their breeding dogs to those that pass various health tests (eg hip/elbow scores) thus effectively reducing the gene pool even further. Long term this will inevitably be counter productive.
A more effective method is by actively widening the gene pool, which is exactly what cross-breeding achieves.
This was, for some breeders, like us, the most important reason for starting to breed Labradoodles. Cross-breeding should be a deliberate and carefully considered mating of two first class representatives of their respective breeds to ensure the best possible combination. Crossing any old Labrador with any old Poodle would not produce the quality of first generation puppies we strive for.
This is the point at which breeders diverge in their breeding programmes:
- Some only breed first generation puppies (Labrador X Poodle) saying that these have the best ‘hybrid vigour’ and temperaments. These are referred to as F1 Labradoodles.
- Some back-cross their first generation Labradoodles to a pure-bred – usually a Poodle to strengthen the Poodle coat influence – saying that these have the best ‘hybrid vigour’ and allergy friendly coat. These are referred to as F1B Labradoodles.
- Others will only breed their Labradoodles to another Labradoodle producing multi-generational Labradoodles, saying that these have the best ‘hybrid vigour’, temperaments and allergy friendly coats. These are referred to as Multi-gen Labradoodles.
We have seen no scientific evidence for, or against, any of these claims, although each breeder will have a wealth of anecdotal evidence. Experienced breeders like ourselves will usually decide on what they consider to be the best breeding programme for individual dogs, and not become locked into one set breeding scheme – remember, this is what we are trying to escape from!
The important thing is that you should feel confident that you know exactly how your Labradoodle has been bred. Although not recognised as pure breeds they should still come with a full pedigree certificate detailing their breeding history.