One of the most coveted and recognisable dogs, the labradoodle, may actually be a ‘monster,’ says the breed’s alleged progenitor.
According to Wally Conron, an Australia native is often said to be the first person to breed the labradoodle —a cross between a poodle and a Labrador —the dog opened up a ‘Pandora’s Box.’
‘I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair,’ Conron told Australia Broadcast Network.
‘She wanted to know if we could come up with a dog that she could use as a guide dog and her husband wouldn’t be allergic to.’
The issue, says Conron, who was working for the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia at the time, was not in finding a breed less harsh on one’s allergies, but was finding one that was hypoallergenic and had the right temperament.
Poodles, though they met the shedding criteria, didn’t quite have the same friendliness factor as Labradors, so Conron decided to mix the two.
After nine weeks, Conron successfully brought his first-ever Labradoodle pups into existence and just like he expected, the dogs were mostly hypoallergenic like poodles and amiable like Labradors.
What Conron didn’t know, however, was that his attempts to publicise the breed would rocket his creation into an international phenomenon.
Following a six-month period of unsuccessfully trying to convince organisations to use the labradoodle as a service dog, Conron said he turned to the Royal Guide Dog’s Association PR department.
After his organisation released information to the press, the labradoodle officially took off.
‘I could not visualise the publicity that a crossbred dog would get,’ Conron told ABC.
‘Cars would stop and people would get out of the car and say to me: ‘Excuse me, what sort of dog is that?’ I’d say “it’s a labradoodle!” ‘
From there, Conron said he received interest from breeders and other hobbyists who quickly latched onto the dog’s characteristic coat and temperament and began to create versions of their own.
‘I realised the reason for these unethical, ruthless people [was] to breed these dogs and sell them for big bucks,’ Conron told ABC, adding that his intention was always to breed the healthiest dogs.
‘I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster… When I’m out and I see these labradoodles I can’t help myself, I go over them in my mind.’
Popularity and loose adherence to breeding practices have worked to undermine the breed’s health, he says.
‘I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem. I do see some damn nice labradoodles but they’re few and far between,’ Conron told ABC.
Despite Conron’s regrets, the labradoodle eventually went on to be used successfully as service dogs notes ABC, had given rise to several offshoots, including the golden doodle (a golden retriever and poodle) and the jackapoo (a Jack Russell terrier and a poodle).