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Here is a Labradoodle pup, lying down sideways, looking cute.Cat'chy Images - Nynke van Holten/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Everyone in the dog park gets the deal with labradoodles. They are, well, you know.

Famously, the breed was created to match the guide-dog instincts of a labrador with the non-shedding nature of a poodle. They were meant to be hypoallergenic service dogs.

But they turned out super-cute and you don’t need to vacuum twice a day if you own one, so the market for them went bonkers.

Infamously, the man who popularized them, Australia’s Wally Conron, eventually washed his hands of the whole thing.

“I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem,” Conron said back in 2019. Elsewhere, he called the labradoodle his “life’s regret.”

This seems a bit much, and doesn’t take the poor labradoodles’ feelings into consideration. This must be how the Monster feels when Victor Frankenstein talks about him to other parents: “I just wanted something to hang around with at the lab. I didn’t mean for all those villagers to die. Maybe it’s because he’s made from reanimated corpses, but he’s just a little bit … you know.”

If you have a dog that vaguely resembles a doodle, you’ve had the following experience. Other dog owners will sidle up to you and say, “Is that a doodle?” As neutrally as possible, you will say, “No.” And they will say, “Oh good. Because doodles …” – and then pull a face.

Doodles are the Nickelback of dogs. Like a lot of things that don’t matter in the least, people have strong feelings about them.

How do you solve the doodle perception problem? You go full Hollywood on it – total rebranding.

Have you heard of cobberdog? Neither had I. But don’t worry. You will soon.

Like a labradoodle, cobberdogs are from Australia. Like a labradoodle, cobberdogs are hypoallergenic. And like a labradoodle, cobberdogs are labradoodles. They just – and here’s the complicated part – gave them a different name.

Cobberdog was minted about 10 years ago. As one website hawking them puts it, they are “pure-breed labradoodles.” Which is a fun trick many royal families have been pulling for centuries.

Like any other kind of dog these days, they are exceedingly hard to find. If you manage to do so, it will put you back. A cobberdog puppy goes for about $4,000 – not a ton in dog terms, but more than is typical.

I called up Dr. Cathy Gartley, a working vet and a theriogenologist at the University of Guelph. She’s an expert in animal reproduction. After the prelims, I told her I was calling about cobberdogs.

“Oh yeah,” Gartley said wearily. “Cobberdogs. Sure. I know about the latest crazes.”

I didn’t have to do much prodding here before Gartley was off on a learned, dog-lover’s rant: “It’s gotten way worse during the pandemic, but this has been going on for years. Somebody mates two pure-bred dogs. They get a mutt. And then they charge twice as much as they would have for the pure bred. Which astonishes me.”

Gartley wants me to be clear – she’s not picking on cobberdogs.

“It’s not just – put this in quotes - a ‘mutt,’” Gartley said. “It’s a dog that has a recognizable past and has been bred true. As compared to one of these things doesn’t equal the other – like Labradoodles.”

Gartley’s issue is with dog fads and the resultant mercantile madness that perverts responsible breeding.

In the sixties, Cruella de Vil made Dalmatians a thing. Ever since, Dalmatians have become notorious for being four-legged ding-dongs. In the eighties, it was cockapoos.

In the nineties, every primetime soap-opera heartthrob had a chocolate Lab to let you know that though he was complicated, he wasn’t that complicated.

“Everybody thinks chocolate Labs are idiots,” Gartley said. “I work with groups who won’t use them to this day because they think they’re stupid and untrainable. They aren’t. They just have a reputation. They get that reputation because the people breeding them are just out for your money. Not all of them, of course, but some.”

Gartley also has an issue with owners who ignore what a dog is – a living thing bred through hundreds of generations to do a specific job.

“You don’t pick a miniature poodle to be your scent hound. Also, you don’t go buy a scent hound and have it live on the 32nd floor of your apartment building.”

If you’re reading this right now and thinking about getting a dog, this is where you say, “I’m not fussy. At this point, I’ll take a large, fluffy rat, as long as it’s good natured.”

A genre of stories about the scarcity of available pets has been created during the pandemic. That’s another thing Gartley worries about. What happens to all the penthouse basset hounds when half the workforce abandons the home office?

But if you trying to buy a pet, Gartley’s advice is to maximize your inconvenience.

“If you can drive in on a Saturday and drive out with a puppy on Sunday, that is definitely not a dog you want,” she said. “The harder it is to get a dog, the better off you are.”

Gartley is between dogs at the moment. She just put her name in for a Labrador, a dog she’s had in the past. She’s also had a Bernese mountain dog.

“The Bernese would not fit in my kayak,” Gartley said – very possibly the most Canadian sentence ever uttered.

She’s thinking about retiring “and I can see a lab puppy fitting nicely beside me in the kayak.”

So what’s the verdict on cobberdogs? Good thing? Bad thing? Franken-thing?

“I guess what I would say is that I would never go for a cobberdog,” Gartley said. “But I also wouldn’t go out and get an Irish wolfhound, and I love those dogs. They just aren’t for me. You should get the dog that works for you. It’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what dog that is.”

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