‘Doodles’ Lead Pack of New Dog Breeds


Last month, dog breeder Beverley Manners traveled from her Victoria, Australia, home to Chicago to visit some of the 103 puppies she has sent to U.S. families during the last three years. The dogs, a hybrid of Labrador and poodle, are known as labradoodles--doodles for short.

“Come on, it’s Grandma,” Manners cooed to labradoodle Darby, born at her Rutland Manor kennel five months ago but who now resides with a North Shore family. Pup and breeder reunited at a Glencoe grooming demonstration, one of several events planned during Manners’ stay.

Labradoodles are relatively new. Breeding began in Australia some 30 years ago, where the dogs originally were bred as assistance dogs. With the intelligence, low-allergy and nonshedding qualities of poodles, and the loyal, easygoing temperament of Labs, the labradoodle was developed to be of help, particularly to people with disabilities who had allergies as well.


Selective breeding focused on those desirable qualities, and soon people were choosing labradoodles as pets too. Today, labradoodles come in colors from chalk to cafi to black with wavy or curly coats. Sizes are miniature, medium or standard.

Many owners learned about the breed via the Internet, saw photos online and visited doodle chat rooms but in most cases never laid eyes on a labradoodle until theirs arrived.

“The funny thing is that I had never purchased anything on the Internet before,” said Steve Fennell about buying his family’s labradoodle, Boomer, 18 months ago.

But how much is that doggy on the Internet? Far more than kibble. Australian-bred pups can run around $1,200, plus another $1,200 to ship them stateside.

Closer to home are just a handful of domestic breeders, including Paul Buccelli of Avoca, Mich., who has been breeding doodles for nearly three years. His St. Clair Kennels sells first-generation pups for $750 each.

“It’s like a phenomenon taking over,” said Buccelli. “I’ve got three breedings full [already reserved for buyers] that we haven’t even bred yet.”


The breeders agree that they haven’t forgotten the dogs’ roots. Both Buccelli and Manners have promised to donate puppies for canine assistance. “With such a new breed in the U.S., there just aren’t that many labradoodles around,” Buccelli said.

He has pledged a puppy to a California woman with disabilities, and Manners intends to donate two pups to Guide Dogs of America.

For more information, contact Rutland Manner at or St. Clair Kennels at