The rise of the ‘oodle’: Why are poodle cross breeds so popular?

New research has revealed that cavoodles are Australia’s favorite dog breed for the fifth year in a row. But that’s not all – there are three ‘oodles’ in Australia’s top 20 dog breeds of 2021, and a whopping eight in the country’s top 100.

These cross breeds have become so popular that vets believe we are seeing a ‘rise of the oodle’. But what exactly is an oodle and why are they so popular?

The word oodle refers to a plethora of poodle-cross designer breeds – the products of poodles mating with other purebred dogs.

Cavoodles are the most popular dog breed in Australia for the fifth year in a row. (Supplied)

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In the most recent Pet Pulse research conducted by Petbarn and Greencross Vets, it was revealed that oodles make up one in five new puppies in Australia and the crossbreed’s popularity has only continued to skyrocket through the pandemic.

Researchers believe their popularity comes down to three main factors: the humanisation of oodles, their size, and their perceived ‘hypoallergenic’ fur.

The humanisation of dogs

In recent years, pets have become more humanized than ever due to Western culture’s increased focus on better quality of life for our animals, pet wellness and sustainability.

The survey found 71 per cent of pet owners agree with the idea of ​​treating their animals like another child.

According to the research, oodles are especially humanised.

Cavoodle
Oodles are amongst the most spoilt dogs in Australia. (Supplied)

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Veterinary doctor, Dr. Michael Yazbeck claims oodles are “cute and affable dogs [which] are the perfect illustration of our evolving relationships with pets, whereby they are companions, friends and true members of the family.”

This is shown in sales figures which reveal oodle owners, specifically those who have labradoodles, spend 153 per cent more at pet stores than average dog owners.’

Dr. Yazbeck says that, as a result of the perceived humanisation and the bigger role pets play in our families, owners are “more likely to buy premium foods, grooming products, clothing and accessories.”

Size and city-friendly dog ​​ownership

The Pet Pulse report has also found a strong correlation between dense urban living and designer dog ownership.

The proportion of designer breeds increased by 63 per cent between 2013 and 2018, and according to the Census, apartments now account for over 30 per cent of private dwellings in Australia.

Cavoodle
Oodles have been popular due to their smaller size. (Supplied)

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Smaller purebred crossbreeds have become popular as a result.

“Small to medium sized dogs like the cavoodle are well-suited to apartment or townhouse living and their intelligence makes them highly trainable – a big plus for those living in close proximity to both humans and other dogs,” said Dr. Yazbeck.

The legend of the ‘hypoallergenic’ odle

One of the most popular reasons families default to poodle-crosses is their alleged ‘hypoallergenic’ fur.

Indeed, this characteristic was the catalyst for Wally Conron to breed the first ever odle (a labradoodle named Sultan) over thirty years ago. At the time, he was tasked with breeding a guide dog for a vision-impaired woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair.

The Pet Pulse report found there is a strong statistical correlation between the rise in respiratory conditions like asthma and hayfever, and the popularity of the oodle.

Cavoodle
The hypoallergenic-ness of an oodle’s fur depends on the dog. (Supplied)

Dr Yazbeck emphasizes this, “The legend of the hypoallergenic dog has had a huge impact on the rise in the Oodle’s popularity.”

However, this hypoallergenic draw card is often a misconception.

According to Dr. Yazbeck, “Whilst yes, some oodles are less likely to shed hair and dander, no dog is completely hypoallergenic. It all depends on the breed the poodle has been crossed with.”

Rather than default to any odle in an attempt to reduce allergy symptoms, Dr. Yazbeck recommends prospective pet owners consult with breeders to understand how hypoallergenic a given crossbreed is.

He also suggests taking certain steps to reduce shedding such as regular baths and brushing sessions for your dog, and purchasing high quality food rich in omega-3s to promote healthy fur.

The dark side of oodle ownership

The creator of the first labradoodle, which in turn inspired the rest of the oodle breeds, often says he regrets ever creating the breed.

Wally Conron bred the first labradoodle three decades ago for the Victorian Guide Dog program. After he gave one away to the intended vision-impaired client, he had trouble offloading the remaining puppies. So, he marketed them as hypoallergenic and the breed skyrocketed in popularity.

According to the New York TimesConron is credited with the designer crossbreeding frenzy that has prompted the creation of puggles, shih poos, cavoodles and more.

In an interview with the ABCConron said in creating a labradoodle he inadvertently, “opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster.”

Cavoodle
The inventor of the Oodle regrets ever breeding them. (Supplied)

He dislikes the breed and has said, “The biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem.”

Though people may believe oodles are less prone to such issues because they think their dogs are mixes, they’d be incorrect. A significant number of oodles are not created by directly breeding a poodle with a King Charles cavalier (an F1 Oodle). Rather, they are the product of two cavoodles mating, which leads to significant breed issues such as hip dysplasia and cataracts.

This is true of many other designer crossbreed dogs as well. Puggles often suffer from cherry eye or progressive retinal atrophy; labradoodles are prone to Willebrand’s disease, Addison’s disease, or hip dysplasia; and pomchis are often diagnosed with Cushing’s disease or tracheal collapse.

In an interview with Psychology TodayConron said he was not proud of his legacy: “I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding and made many charlatans quite rich.”

“I wonder in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog – or a disaster.”

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