How mutts went mainstream. 


In the 1980’s, Wally Conron, employed by Royal Guide Dogs Australia, tried to qualify a poodle as a service dog for a blind client whose husband had allergies (because Poodles don’t shed like Labrador Retrievers – the most popular service dog breed).  After putting 33 poodles through the program (and none passing), the organization for the first time crossed breeds – a Poodle to a Labrador Retriever.  One of the three puppies, Sultan, qualified as a service dog.  He had “the working ability of the Labrador” with the non shedding coat of a poodle.

In reality, the cross breed is actually a mutt, but when the term “labradoodle” was coined by the PR department to help the other two puppies find homes (because no one wanted a mixed breed) – it stuck. The dog was the same dog but the cute clever name changed its image.

Sultan’s story kickstarted the “oodle” trend and now almost all popular “shedding” breeds have been cross bred with a poodle.  While there are responsible and ethical breeders – there are many more who just want to make money and don’t care about healthy puppies.

Later in life, Mr. Conron was quoted as saying “I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster” as he witnessed the doodle rush – unethical breeders and puppy mills (who view dogs as livestock and agricultural products) crossing breeds solely for profit with no regard to their welfare or potential health issues.

In order to quench the public’s insatiable demand for non-shedding dogs, we now have cross bred dogs being marketed with cool names (cavapoo, jackapoo, schnoodle, golden doodles, bernadoodle…the list goes on…).


2020 Doodle Surge with simultaneous Groomer Shortage

During the Covid-19 pandemic which began in early 2020, nearly everyone wanted a pet to keep them company.  Working from home became the norm and those people who wanted a pet but couldn’t previously have one – because of the amount of time spent in an office outside the home – could finally have a furry family member.   In fact, shelters were nearly emptied because the demand for adoptable pets was even higher than their intake.

There was a massive surge in the number of doodles coming into the world as breeders could virtually charge anything they wanted for a cute fluffy mix breed (which the public would pay virtually anything for).  The unprepared pet owners were sold on the adorable doodle puppy, but not educated on the amount of work, time and money involved in grooming, training and exercising for the next 10-15 years.

Groomers were (and are) not only overwhelmed with the shear number of grooming-necessary dogs that came into the grooming world, but the lack of socialization and handling the dogs received during COVID coupled with the matted condition people bring their dogs to the groomer to fix, make some of them difficult dogs to groom.  Matts are painful to dogs and they begin to associate the groomer who is trying to remove them with the pain of removing them – making them fearful of grooming.

To deal with doodles, groomers began either skyrocketing their grooming rates; refusing to groom doodles; or leaving the business altogether.  With the proportion of qualified new groomers coming into the field remaining vastly lower than the number of doodles needing to be groomed, a problem has been created.

Increasing Number of Doodles in Shelters

When Covid restrictions were loosened, people began going back to work and travelling – realizing for the first time the difficulty and expense of finding someone to care for their pet when they were gone.  That, coupled with continually increasing grooming rates, have made many unprepared and unwilling pet owners decide to cut their losses.

We have seen an increase in the number of doodles at shelters and in nearly every case, they are horribly matted.  We have even taken in one doodle that had not only had wire embedded through her matted fur and into her leg, but her face fur had matted into her shoulder – making it painful for her to even turn her head.

Helping Doodles while Educating and Selecting the Right Family

Because we have volunteer groomers and a grooming facility at Friendsville Animal Center (where our dogs receive donated space), we are able to get these dogs out of the shelter and help them.  More importantly, we are able to make sure their next home has accurate expectations and the financial resources to provide the special lifetime care these quirky loveable dogs need.

Please consider making a donation to help maintain grooming equipment and purchase good quality shampoos and conditioners for doodle coats.