According to a guy on the Internet named V. Ryan, “An iconic design is usually a design that is ground-breaking and one that sets new standards in its field. It is a design that other designers and manufacturers follow, as it becomes a benchmark for other similar products. Furthermore, an iconic design is one that stands up to the test of time, remaining a good design, despite the passing of years, decades and even centuries.”

Other than Coca-Cola, my favorite example of an iconic design is the Apple iPhone launched in 2007. Apple took the cell phone, coupled it with touch screen technology and turned it from a phone into a multi-use, mini-computer. Other companies, such as Blackberry and Samsung have followed Apple into the smart phone realm and everyone seems to have to have one. I know my eleven year old keeps telling me he’s the only kid without an iPhone!

When people think of design, they usually think of objects. But what about the ubiquitous doodle dog? It is that shaggy-haired, plumed-tail, panting, happy dog we see in ads, at dog parks and nearly in the White House. The doodle dog has changed the way people look at and breed dogs.

Many people want a smart dog that won’t shed, may be healthier than other breeds and will therefore live longer. A poodle fits the bill, hence the oodle or poo in these dogs’ names. What is ground-breaking about doodle dogs is that consumers are no longer trying to find a breed that fits with their needs, they are looking to create the perfect dog and the proliferation of doodles is evidence of this trend. Poodles have been mixed with over fifty dog breeds to make these seemingly perfect pooches. Doodles have been around for twenty-six years and their popularity is not waning.

I read a fascinating novel a couple of years ago that embodies the doodle dog craze. Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, is a modern day Hamlet involving dog breeding. I was less interested in the Hamlet aspect of the story than the fictional dogs these people were breeding. The Sawtelles would acquire dogs with interesting personality traits and breed them with their existing stock to create “super dogs” for lack of a better word. The family’s business was to train and sell these dogs. The Sawtelles were not concerned with how the dogs looked but with how they behaved. Historically, keeping lines of purebred dogs intact has been as much about preserving the looks as the behavior, often resulting in unhealthy dogs.

The first doodle was created as a design tweak to the seeing-eye dog. In 1988, a blind lady with allergies needed a guide dog that was hypoallergenic. Wally Conron, a puppy-breeding manager with The Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia, bred a lab with a poodle and the first Labradoodle was born.

What is the attraction? Why in the world have these dogs become so popular? Many people find a breed of dog and they stick with it, owning only Labrador Retrievers, Collies and Papillons, etc. As a kid, I loved looking through the Encyclopedia of Dogs. I fantasized about my favorites, the Great Pyrenees and the Newfoundland. I always wanted to own one of each. I’d thought about breeding them and the beautiful black and white puppies they would have. For some reason, people think, including myself, that when you mix these breeds with a poodle, you get a better dog.

In 2001, my husband and I were looking to get a hypoallergenic dog. My brother had suggested a Labradoodle. I had a problem with the goofy-sounding name but my husband was all over it. We ended up with a Labradoodle, from Judy Hahn at Gleneden Farms, who I believed was one of the only Labradoodle breeders at the time in the United States. We ordered our dog and paid the deposit on the $600 price tag. We had a change of heart and cancelled our order. Six months later we reordered the same dog, same litter and had to pay $1,000 as the popularity had grown!

We still have Rainbow, a spry thirteen-year-old dog. We added Sunshine, the Pyredoodle last August to our family. As she wasn’t big enough, Thunderstorm, the Newfypoo, arrived last week from a lovely breeder, Becky, at Big Doodle Pups. What I didn’t like about the latter breeds is that they drool and they lumber about and die younger than I’d like. By breeding these big dogs with the poodle, we got big, bouncy dogs without the big dog problems.

There is clearly a mad scientist angle to this. How many different dogs can be bred with poodles and how will they turn out? From an artist’s point of view, I like that my dogs all “match.” They look good in my home. You can call me kooky but I do take my dog ownership responsibilities seriously.

Why do people love doodles? They are great looking dogs that come in all shapes, sizes and colors. While my Labradoodle and Pyredoodle are shedders, many are not. Both have been healthy and easy to train and so far my Newfypoo puppy is a love bug! Just an FYI, many of these breeds also come in minis. But I will say that it is hard to get the visual out of my mind, of a toy poodle, climbing up a ladder to do his duty by say a Great Dane female, resulting in a mini Danoodle!

Kathleen Thometz is an artist, freelance writer and founder of Doodle Art & Design, a mobile art program. She has one husband, four children and three doodle dogs, Rainbow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. She blogs at kathleenthometz.com, has contributed to the mid and Chicago Parent.

Kathleen Thometz

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the mid.com and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...