It was 1989 when Wally Conron created the famous crossbreed pet Labradoodle, which has since then became a global favorite. He was working for Guide Dogs Victoria in Australia when he bred the first Labrador-Poodle hybrid. Last Friday, the now 90-year-old spoke on an ABC podcast as a guest speaker and revealed remorse for beginning a trend of designer breeds. He even went as far as to call the breed his “life’s regret.”
Conron’s deep regret lays in how his invention of the Labradoodle inspired “unethical, ruthless people” to breed the dogs without thinking of the offspring’s health conditions. “I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster,” he explained that many Labradoodles today are “either crazy or have an hereditary problem” with very “few and far between” healthy examples of the new breed.
His initial purpose of crossing a Lab with a standard Poodle was to provide a guide dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dogs, as a standard Poodle has a non-shedding coat. One of three puppies in the resulting litter did not trigger the man’s allergies and proved the experiment a success. The puppy was sent to Hawaii to be the blind woman’s guide dog. But no one else wanted the two remaining puppies, and so the PR department spread the word about this new breed. Labradoodles very quickly became popular in Australia and then the world.
Today, designer pet breeds are globalized and capitalized. On the podcast, Conron expressed concern that people have now gone too far with crossbreeding for profit, which increases a dog and it’s offspring’s risk of congenital disease. He was particularly scornful of the new Rottweiler-Poodle cross that is also known as a Rottle or a Rottie-Poo.
CNN reports a quote from Colin Tennant, a British expert on dog behavior with 45 years of experience: “In essence, you are blindly breeding and altering genetics of the line without foreknowledge.” Tennant added that they breed dogs a certain way because “we find that attractive, with no consideration for the permutations we are producing with regards the dog’s welfare or health.”