I took the Doodles with me to the vet to get some supplies (mostly medication and special food for our geriatric cats). In the waiting room I had the following interchange. Admittedly, I was in a less-than-spectacular mood, so my patience was short. This woman really annoyed me:
Lady I don’t know: Your dog is so big! Can I pet him?
Me: Of course. He’d love that. (Sam approaches her very politely and lets her pet him)
Lady (petting Sam and running her fingers through his coat): He’s got such a beautiful coat. It’s so soft! Wow…I love his color. He’s so beautiful! What kind of dog is he?
Me: Both dogs are Australian Labradoodles.
Lady ( she puts her face right up to his and starts baby-talking to him): Oh, sweetie you are so pretty! You are really just very a pretty mutt!
(Blink. Did she really just say that?)
Me (Do I let this go or do I set her straight?): Ummmmm. Actually, they are absolutely not mutts. They are Australian Labradoodles that have been bred specifically for their temperaments and allergy friendly coats–among other things– to be service dogs. Several types of dogs were included in the development of the breed and my dogs are from multi-gen Australian Labradoodle parents. They are not a Lab/Poodle cross. They are a breed. They are anything but mutts.
Lady (oblivious): Awwww sweetie, you are a *mixed breed*.
OK, that very last comment from me wasn’t out loud.
When I told my husband about this he said, “I would have just told her: Does this look like a mutt to you??” Better response. Wish I’d have thought of it.
I don’t typically feel the need to correct people about their misconceptions regarding the origins of my dogs. Generally, people will ask me what kind of dog I have, I say “Australian Labradoodle”, they say “Oh, a Lab and Poodle mix”, I say “Well, sorta”. This is where they will launch into a story about how their friend or relative also has a Labradoodle, but it doesn’t really look like mine and/or it’s got some weird behavior issues (usually it’s wired beyond belief). And they look perplexed as to how that dog could be so different from mine. But they are not really interested, they just want to tell their tale, and they move on. That’s OK. I don’t mind hearing their stories, they can be pretty amusing. Sometimes, people will ask more questions and have a real interest, so I’ll talk about the differences between an Australian Labradoodle and the Lab/Poodle cross also called a Labradoodle. I love my dogs and I’ll talk about them at length to anyone willing to listen.
To be honest, I think the name for the Australian Labradoodle breed is not only problematic it’s also sort of misleading. These dogs are no longer simply Lab/Poodle crosses, which is confusing because the name sounds like they are a Lab/Poodle cross. Mixing the Lab and Poodle is just where the breed started. But the originator of the breed realized that he wasn’t getting the kind of consistency in health, coat, conformation, temperament, etc. from just that cross, so he started incorporating other breeds into the line for their specific attributes to improve the line.
Most, if not all, AKC recognized breeds started from selective breeding, mixing breeds, and usually both. So I reject the notion that Australian Labradoodles are “mixed breed” dogs—and that’s just code for “mutt”, anyway. All dogs are mixed breeds. Geez.
Back to the name issue. I really hope that someday soon the ALD breed is renamed. One of the big breeders in Australia (I forget which one) was advocating for a name change to something like “Australian Champion Dog”. I think that sounds pretentious, but I get where she’s going with that. These dogs are really loving and get very attached and focused on one person—they become their person’s champion—while remaining friendly to all people. Still. Champion sounds like you are asserting that your dog is better than all the other dogs. We need a renaming contest to come up with a much better, more accurate name for the breed than Australian Labradoodle.
In the meantime, I’m stuck with the Labradoodle name and stuck with these mutts.
Do these really look like mutts to you?!