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Navigating the World of Doodles — A Breeder’s Insights on Ethical Practices

A Doodle here, a Doodle there, Doodles Doodles everywhere….but which is which, and why are there so many out there?

The Labradoodle, first introduced in 1989 by Wally Conron, was aimed at creating a non-shedding service dog. Despite Conron’s later regrets about unleashing a “Frankenstein’s Monster” due to unethical breeding practices that followed, the demand for Labradoodles skyrocketed. This demand led to a surge in “pop-up” breeders, driven by profit rather than the welfare and quality of the dogs.

Table of Contents

The Doodle Craze and Ethical Concerns

Why so many Doodle types? I scratch my own head over this on a regular basis.  The answer, I’m afraid, is not a good one…greed.  As I said, the Labradoodle was first on the scene and later became the Australian Labradoodle. This is a long standing breed that is bred as allergy-friendly, non-shedding therapy and service dogs. They also happen to make the most excellent family dogs. But what we have going on now is just a ridiculous gong show of everything Doodles, and it’s heartbreaking to us long-time breeders who are passionate about our Australian Labradoodles.

I’ve seen Goldendoodles, Doubledoodles, Irishdoodles, Englishdoodles, Bernedoodles, Sheepadoodles, Bordoodles, Aussiedoodles, Pyredoodles….it goes on and on. I’ve even seen a Rottiedoodle, not to mention all the ‘Poos’.  Let me tell you, all of these DOODLES are not created equal and should never have been created at all!  I can admit about the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen is a Bernedoodle, but WHY are these dogs being bred?  

Bernese Mountain Dogs are plagued by health issues and early death.  They are not even fully grown until they are 5, and they are dying at 6. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large dog breed, one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. These dogs have roots in the Roman mastiffs. The name Sennenhund is derived from the German Senne and Hund, as they accompanied the alpine herders and dairymen called Senn. Berners are meant to work, and they are meant to live in the mountains.  These are not dogs that are meant to live in people’s homes and lay around on the couch all day.  Just because you added a Poodle to it, that doesn’t really change things.  

All of these DOODLES are being bred because DOODLES are so popular, and people are jumping on the bandwagon…let’s make everything into a DOODLE and cash in on the ‘Doodlemania’.  It doesn’t matter what your breed of choice is, German Shepherd Dog, Irish Setter, Standard Poodle, English Mastiff, Pit Bull, or Shih-Tzu, you have got to consider why that breed was created in the first place.

A Border Collie is a beautiful dog, but can you offer it the kind of exercise it requires so that it won’t be bored and under-stimulated and end up eating your furniture? Do you have young children who can tolerate being herded all day and night? Because that is the realism of having a herding dog as a pet.  Every dog breed has an original purpose, and it’s really important to understand that — and what traits that dog will have and how it will behave in your home.

Identifying a Good Breeder

Good breeders have invested a great deal of time and money in researching canine breeding, canine health, best breeding practices, best puppy rearing strategies, and so much more.  They have taken courses, gone to conferences, read everything they can get their hands on…and all of this before ever even purchasing their first potential breeding dog.

A good breeder is breeding a breed that they are passionate about.  You cannot be a good breeder without passion for your breed, because while breeding can be very rewarding, in so many ways, breeding can also be absolutely soul crushing!

A good breeding dog comes from other ethical breeders. A good breeding dog is expensive. A good breeding dog comes from proven lines. Extensively health tested lines, and I can tell you, health testing is very expensive, and good breeders are performing that health testing on every dog in their program, not just their original breeding dogs. 

Not only is health testing very expensive, but not all dogs that are future breeding prospects are even going to test out — so all that health testing might have been done, and the dog is pet-homed.  


That is why good breeders place serious restrictions on the breeding of their pet-homed dogs, or perform early spay/neuter before their puppies even leave their programs. If it was a dog that was meant to be bred, it wouldn’t have been pet-homed.  

Good breeders vet their clients.  They want to make sure that the placement of the puppy in a family is a good fit for both the puppy and the people. Good breeders are there for their clients for the life of the dog and offer education and support to ensure the family’s success with their new addition.

The Issue with Backyard Breeders

A backyard breeder is an unethical, irresponsible, untrained person who saw an opportunity to make some cash and jumped on it.  

A backyard breeder has somehow acquired an intact dog or dogs and/or found someone else with an intact dog, and they’ve worked together to create litters of puppies. 

There is no health testing being done. The dogs may not even be particularly healthy, but hey…this is a popular breed, let’s get in on this trend. This is why these people can sell their dogs so cheaply. They have no real skin in the game.  

They are not spending all kinds of money for health testing before they even get started.  

They are not spending all kinds of money to purchase a legitimate breeding dog.  

They are not spending all kinds of time and energy on research and education and the money for proper equipment and facilities to raise puppies in and to properly care for them.  

They are doing it on the fly.  They are not raising these puppies with only the very best in well-proven puppy rearing and socialization strategies. There’s a good chance they’re not even home all day!  

These puppies are being raised in dirty environments, without enough space, on surfaces that cause hip dysplasia, which of course, won’t show up for a few years. Backyard breeders do not stand behind the dogs they breed. They are not there to take the dog back if the person who bought the dog can no longer care for them. They are not there when the dog develops a serious heritable illness.  THEY ARE NOT THERE!

The Importance of Making Informed Choices

You get what you pay for. You have a choice when you decide to purchase a puppy.  You can rescue, you can get a cheap puppy from a backyard breeder, or you can work with a good breeder. 

For those who have a lifestyle that permits them to rescue, that’s wonderful. Those who have the heart for rescue, who can take on a dog with an unknown background, unknown health status, heck, even unknown breed, that have the time, patience, and experience to work with and train a rescue dog, those people are such a blessing to those poor dogs that are in that situation.  

For those that want a puppy, but can’t afford good breeder prices, look to backyard breeders for a puppy.  Unfortunately, going this route may be cheaper in the beginning, but it’s very likely going to be way more expensive down the road when that cute, cheap puppy with the bad breeding turns out 

  • to have hip dysplasia at 2 or 3 years of age, 
  • has back problems because it has horrible structure, 
  • has a genetic disease that was 100% preventable had health screening been done on the parent dogs
  • bites your child or your grandma because it has horrible temperament issues (temperaments are also genetic, by the way)…this list goes on and on.  

Or, you save up, and you get a well-bred, well-raised puppy from a quality, ethical breeder 

  • Who can show you all the health testing that has been done on the parents, and the parents’ parents, right up the line.  
  • With registered pedigrees, 
  • Who belongs to a breed club with a specific code of ethics, 
  • Who has been breeding for years and has an excellent reputation
  • Who stands by what they breed with a health warranty
  • Woh will take their puppies back for any reason, at any stage, should you no longer be able to care for that dog.  
  • Who provides you with endless resources and assistance and is there to help you for the lifetime of that dog.  

Can a well-bred dog from an ethical breeder develop health issues down the line?  Of course.  But are their puppy’s chances are far greater, far improved by being born into a good breeding program?  You better believe it!

What Happens When A Dog Doesn’t Work Out?

Whether you adopt, get a puppy from a backyard breeder, or get a puppy through a reputable and ethical breeder, there is a chance that something will happen, and you’ll no longer be able to care for that dog. 

This could be an untenable situation with the dog, a change in personal circumstance, or any number of reasons why someone may no longer be able to continue to care for a dog. So, what happens to the dog? 

In both the first two scenarios, the dog is most likely going to wind up either back at the shelter they came from, dropped off at a shelter to be rehomed, or, when the shelters are full, just set free to roam at large and fend for themselves.  

This is so unfortunate for them. For the puppy being returned to the shelter, it’s another strike and another rejection for him/her, which causes further emotional issues. For the dog that came from a backyard breeder, he/she has no idea what is going on or where his/her family went. They’re just dumped on the system, terrified and lonely, and this is extra taxing on the shelter system.  

These dogs do not ask to be bred.  They have most likely been poorly bred, have structural issues, temperament issues, health issues, and now they are the responsibility of the shelter. Dogs that come from bad breeding typically come with an array of issues and are not likely to be adopted out.  

Deanna Thompson is the executive director of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) and says right now (July, 2022) the facility has no space for any more pets.

“It’s kind of our worst nightmare come true,” she said. “We have seen a huge increase in the number of people looking to surrender their pets, as well as the stray population increase, and it’s just been weeks and weeks and weeks, and we haven’t been able to catch up. We’re desperate for people to adopt or foster an animal right now.” Cite: excerpt from CTV News Story by Keven Flemming

During COVID lockdowns, a great many irresponsible breeders popped up and cashed in. You saw it. Everyone wanted a dog, and they wanted it now. People were at home. The kids were bored. It seemed like the perfect time to get a dog.  

Unfortunately, this created the perfect storm for backyard breeders to make their move. These unethical, temporary breeders do not vet their clients. They let anyone purchase a dog, no matter the situation.  They are just in it to sell puppies. Now the shelters are full of these badly bred, poorly placed dogs that people no longer have the time for because they went back to work or cannot manage because of the dog’s health and temperament issues.

Do Your Homework

You really need to do your research when choosing a breeder.  Just because a breeder belongs to a registration body (CKC, AKC, etc), does not mean that they’re doing all the things they should be doing.  

I’ve seen countless registered CKC breeders who do not do any health testing.  They say, “I know my lines”, or, “none of our puppies are sick”.  

This is not acceptable, and it shouldn’t be good enough for you. Genetic health screening, as well as physical health testing of breeding dogs is crucial in the creation of healthy puppies who have the best chance at long and healthy lives.  

A breeder who is doing all the health testing will happily provide you with proof. 

  • Find out how a breeder is raising their puppies. 
  • What are they being raised on, blankets, towels, newspapers…..this causes hip dysplasia. 
  • Do they have a program geared toward puppy development that changes from week to week with the stage of the puppy’s development?  
  • Are they going to regularly update you in regard to the litter’s progression and provide photos and videos so that you can see that the pups are healthy and see where they are being raised?  
  • Where are the breeder’s breeding dogs?  
  • Does the breeder have 12 or 14 breeding dogs all living in their home?  If so, those dogs are not having their needs met, which will affect what kind of mother they will be.  
  • Is the breeder just breeding one breed?  If not, take that as a serious warning sign.  
  • Will your puppy come with a health guarantee?  
  • Does the breeder provide you with a lot of valuable information to help you get started on the right foot with your new puppy?  
  • Are they there for you when something goes wrong?

You should want to get your puppy from a Professional Breeder!

Professional Breeders used to get a bad rap….making money on the backs of animals. This is actually such backward thinking. Breeders’ who do it on the side, who don’t belong to a breed club, who don’t do any health testing, who don’t warranty their puppies, who don’t have a program in place to specifically develop the puppies they are breeding…these are the one’s making money on the backs of animals.  

Choosing a puppy from a professional breeder means supporting practices that benefit the breed, the dogs, and their owners long term. 

Professional Breeders devote their lives to breeding great dogs. 

  • They work, literally, 24/7 when they have puppies. 
  • It’s like farming. They don’t go away on the weekends. They can barely take vacations. 
  • Everything they have and everything they do is invested in their breeding programs.  
  • They’re always there for their families and constantly work toward being better, doing it better.
  • Their reputations are everything to them, and you, the client families of professional breeders, reap those benefits.  
  • Professional breeders are responsible for the animals they have produced.  
  • Through careful placement, they do not create problems for the shelters.  
  • Through legal contracts or surgeries, they do not contribute to the overpopulation of unwanted pets.  
  • Through passion, education, and experience, they are breeding great family pets that better people’s lives.

Making an Ethical Choice

Please choose carefully the next time you’re looking to grow your family with a pet, whatever the type of pet. A pet should be a member of the family. A pet is a big responsibility and one that can immeasurably enrich your life or, make your life very difficult.  

The choice of where you get your next pet is up to you, the consumer, but I hope you now possess a deeper appreciation for the role professional breeders have and the difference they make in the lives of the dogs they bring into the world. 


Australian Labradoodle Breeder at
Since 2011, I've dedicated myself to breeding Standard Sized Australian Labradoodles, fueled by a passion for holistic practices and exceptional quality. My focus lies in fostering strong bonds between humans and dogs, crafting loyal companions for therapy, service, and family — spreading love, one precious puppy at a time.
Alana Holst

Alana Holst

Australian Labradoodle Breeder

We make a heartfelt promise to our cherished puppies and their new families, dedicating ourselves to the health, happiness, and lifelong well-being of every Labradoodle we raise and to fostering a supportive community among our adoptive families. Learn more about us.

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Australian Labradoodle Momma at Big Rock Labradoodles

Where Care Meets Excellence!

At Big Rock Labradoodles, we champion a comprehensive, science-based, and holistic approach in breeding and nurturing exceptional standard-sized genuine Multigenerational Australian Labradoodles. Our commitment to atypical rearing strategies ensures that we never settle for the ordinary — we strive for extraordinary dogs destined for prolonged and fulfilling lives. Learn more about our code of ethics and our adoption process. When you feel ready to welcome a new family member, we invite you to fill out our adoption application — the first step towards finding your new furry family member.

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