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Australian Cobberdog is the name to define a pure breed ‘Labradoodle’ originating in Australia. In Australian slang, a cobber is a ‘mate’, and the name Cobberdog was chosen because it means ‘dog-friend’, referring to the breed’s primary purpose as a therapy and assistance dog. This is a role for which it is ideally suited, thanks to its friendly, loyal and loving nature and exceptional intelligence and learning ability.
Like the Labradoodle, the ‘Cobber’ (Australians always abbreviate names!) is descended from Labrador and Poodle ancestry. From the Lab side, he has acquired a wonderful, consistent temperament that is ideal for a therapy and assistance dog, and from the Poodle side, a beautiful hypoallergenic coat. Yet, despite being bred primarily for these pragmatic qualities, rather than for good looks, he is undeniably good-looking, highly adorable and extremely cute!
Cuteness factor notwithstanding, the Cobberdog is the perfect family dog as well as a first-class therapy and assistance dog. He has the ideal amount of energy to serve as an assistance dog, is very intelligent and quick to learn how to do his work and shows great sensitivity to children, seniors and everyone in-between. Close family contact, mental stimulation and moderate exercise keep him content, and he thrives on a long daily walk.
The Cobber does not have a hair coat, but rather a fleecy or woolly coat that is soft and silky, odourless even when wet, non-shedding and allergy friendly. It may either be wavy or ringlet, with more defined curls. The coat doesn’t shed, and the skin doesn’t peel or flake, meaning that it doesn’t affect most people who usually have an allergy to dogs.
This fabulous coat comes in a variety of colours, including solid black, silver, coffee , blond, gold, silver, blue and red, colour combinations, such as Merle (chocolate and blue) and parti (a combination of any one of the solid colours with white), and shaded colours (various tones of the same colour).
The breed is available in 3 different sizes, large (height of 50 – 58 cm and weight of 20 – 35 kg), medium ( height of 43 – 50 cm and weight of 12 – 20 kg), and miniature (height of 33 – 43 cm and weight of 6 – 10 kg).
You may be forgiven for thinking that the Australian Cobberdog is just a fancy name for a ‘Labradoodle’, but there are some important differences between the two. The original purpose of the Labradoodle, which came into being first, was to cross a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle in order to create a hypoallergenic service dog. However, as the popularity of the Labradoodle took off, unregulated breeders jumped on the bandwagon and tainted the Labradoodle ‘brand’ by breeding for prettiness and profit.
The Australian Cobberdog was later created from the original Labradoodle ancestry, along with strict breeding stipulations and registration requirements so that the breed would have a controlled lineage and become officially recognised, as well as to continue to fulfil its original purpose as a hypoallergenic service dog.
In contrast, the Labradoodle continues to be mass-produced by a vast range of breeders who are not governed by regulations or standards. In some cases, other breeds have been introduced into the lineage. This has resulted in inconsistencies in appearance, temperament and health between Labradoodles, making them largely unsuitable as service dogs; nevertheless, they continue to be a highly popular – and lucrative – ‘designer breed’.
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The Australian Cobberdog was developed for his even temperament and kind, friendly, intuitive and empathetic nature. He is therefore the ideal dog both for families and those in need of a therapy or assistance dog. He is fantastic with children in general, and working as a therapy and assistance dog, has provided exceptional physical and emotional support to children with conditions such as anxiety, autism, Downs Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
You will struggle to find fault with the Cobberdog’s nature. He is sociable, trusting, enthusiastic and joyful, and is always eager to please. Active, with a comical goofy nature, he can be mischievous; he loves to play the clown and make people laugh. Friendly, loving, attentive and obviously loyal to his own family, he is entirely non-aggressive. He gets along well with other dogs and pets of all kinds, including cats, birds and rodents. Living with him is lots of fun!
He is a very intelligent dog who will meet your gaze and look deeply into your eyes, seemingly with an incredible combination of wisdom, understanding and curiosity, as if he is trying to read what you expect of him. His sensitivity and his ability to perceive people’s moods and to understand who needs care make him an excellent therapy and assistance dog for those who have difficulty interacting, including small children, the elderly and the physically challenged.
This is a very versatile breed which adapts well to any environment, whether city or country, large house or small apartment – as long as he gets enough exercise, both physical and mental. He has no problem spending hours alone waiting for the family to return from work or school; he never gets bored and can entertain himself by playing with a toy or stick or inventing some interesting activity to pass the time.
To become a successful therapy and assistance dog, it is essential to be a fast learner, and the Cobber is known for his ability to train quickly and learn a multitude of tricks and unusual or special tasks. Because of his intelligence and thirst for learning, he needs plenty of mental exercise to prevent boredom from setting in and to avoid behavioural issues. He can attempt to outsmart his owner if undisciplined, so it is very important that he has a firm but calm, consistent owner. Daily one-on-one playtime, learning new tricks and attending dog training classes are all good ways to keep him stimulated.
This breed gets a clean bill of health as it has been meticulously DNA health screened for successive generations, with carriers of known diseases removed from the breeding programs of MDBA registered breeders.
Breeding dogs are required to be DNA Health Screened prior to registration for the following disorders:
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In the late 1980’s, Wally Conron, at the time the breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia, received a request for a hypoallergenic guide dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dogs. After trialling – and ruling out – Poodles, who have the right coats but the wrong temperament, he decided to cross a carefully selected Poodle with a working guide dog Labrador, and the first ‘Labradoodle’ litter was born.
After some initial media publicity brought the new crossbreed to the public’s attention, the demand for this new ‘designer dog’ skyrocketed way beyond Conran’s expectations and, much to his dismay, quickly became a victim of its own success. With no breeding standards or criteria, anyone could breed a Labradoodle by crossing any old Labrador with any old Poodle and sell the pups for a large sum, with no regard for their hereditary quality.
Unfortunately, the Labradoodle became an unpredictable breed with widely varying characteristics, even between puppies within the same litter. Their temperaments varied significantly, and many were not hypoallergenic. Poor breeding techniques have resulted in some significant health concerns, including hip dysplasia, eye disease, epilepsy and allergies.
For these reasons, some concerned breeders went back to the original origins and long-term vision for the Labradoodle to start again, this time with strict breeding regulations and registration criteria in place. A new name was required to distinguish it from the Labradoodle, and thus the Australian Cobberdog came into being.
The Australian Cobberdog is descended from the original, genetically sound strains of the Australian Labradoodle and was officially recognised as a pure breed in development in January 2012 by the Master Dog Breeders and Associates (MDBA) Global Pure Breed registry. Only registered MDBA breeders that guarantee a breeding programme that complies with the breed standard can issue the Australian Cobberdog pedigree.
According to the MDBA, the founders of the Australian Cobberdog made many hard decisions to ensure the health, predictability of temperament, characteristics and management requirements of their breed have been optimised. Breeders are required to genetically, rather than visually select, parent animals for their good health and consistent temperament, traits and characteristics, resulting in healthy and consistent puppies. The result of these stringent requirement is a healthy, identifiable and predictable breed of hypoallergenic dog that is reliably suited to service, therapy and assistance work – thereby continuing Wally Conran’s original mission.