Dogs, of course, are man's best friend. And how have we repaid our good buddies? By manipulating whom they mate with so that their offspring better suit our needs. Labradors, for example, are an affable bunch. Poodles have some smarts. Put them together and you have a friendly pet with a brain. What you have, actually, is a labradoodle, an Australian import that's rising to canine stardom along with the schnoodle, a schnauzer-poodle hybrid.
What's the appeal of these mix-and-match pooches, other than their wonderfully goofy names? "Temperament," says Paul Buccilli of St. Clair Kennels in Avoca, Mich., whose very popular first-generation labradoodles sell for $850 a pup. Joanne Rush, a labradoodle owner from Bartlett, Ill., says, "My dog puts up with them very well." (Them being her kids.) If you're looking for something more pint-size, your 'doodle's the schnoodle. There's also the cockapoo--or spoodle--an older American idea, which combines the poodle with the cocker spaniel.
The most practical reason for purchase: poodles don't shed. If you're allergic to pet dander, that makes owning a dog a problem. Labradoodles may leave some hair around the house, but shouldn't send you running for the Kleenex. Alas, they're not recognized by the American Kennel Club, so you won't be traveling to many dog shows just yet. No problem--more time to think of other crossbreeds. Next up, the doberdoodle?