He Regrets His Designer Dog Creation

It never ceases to amaze me how owners of an intentionally crossbred dog refers to it as being “purebred”.  A case-in-point would be the Labradoodle which is a cross between the Labrador retriever and the Poodle.  Those who market these dogs refer to them as “designer dogs” to give a hint of sophistication and elitism and to avoid the negative label of “mutt” or “mongrel”.  Of the many designer dogs now available, a majority involve crossbreeding Poodles with another breed.  The earliest designer dog was the Cockapoo, which is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle and first appeared in the 1950’s.  It never achieved much popularity.  Today, there is a wider selection of designer dogs from which to choose.  There is the Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever/Poodle), the Schnoodle (Miniature Schnauzer/Poodle), Cavoodles (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle), Roodles (Rottweiler/Poodle), the Yorkiepoo (Yorkshire Terrier/Poodle), the Shihpoo (Shih Tzu/Poodle), Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle), the Lhasapoo (Lhasa Apso/Poodle), and my favorite, the Poochon (Bichon Frise/Poodle).  There are other designer dog crosses but the Poodle is used in the mix more frequently due to their non-shedding coat quality.  It is presumed the hypoallergenic trait will result in the puppies.
Wally Conron is credited with the creation of the Labradoole.  In the 1980’s, Conron was the puppy breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia when a blind woman from Hawaii wrote to them asking if they could provide her with a guide dog that wouldn’t shed hair as her husband was allergic to it.  Conron thought this an easy task and decided to use the Standard Poodle as it is a working dog that doesn’t shed.  In the course of three years, Conron tried 33 dogs and they all failed.
Out of desperation, Conron mated his best Labrador retriever with a Standard Poodle which resulted in a litter of three pups.  He thought he would have no problem placing the puppies with foster families to be trained and socialized before entering them into the guide dog program but no one wanted them because they were not purebred dogs.  So Conron created the name Labradoodle and, along with his PR team, came up with a gimmick, saying they invented a new dog, spreading the word worldwide.  It worked and within weeks Conron had more than enough foster homes for his pups.  Everyone wanted to know more about this “wonder dog”.
Since the Labradoodle is a hybrid, the resulting puppies did not have consistently predictable characteristics.  All Labradoodles have some common traits, however, their appearance, working ability and behavioral characteristics are unpredictable.  Labradoodles’ coats vary from wiry to soft and may be curly, wavy, or straight.  Many Labradoodles shed but the coat sheds less and has less dog odor than a Labrador retriever and there is no certainty the dog will be hypoallergenic.  Conron sends hair clippings and saliva samples of his pups to be tested for hypoallergenic characteristics before considering them for the guide dog program.  What angers him is people are breeding Labradooles and selling them as non-allergenic without testing them.  They are crossing any kind of dog with a poodle and selling them for more than a purebred dog without going into the dog’s parent’s background.  Now there are many poodle crosses with eye problems, hips and elbows that are problematic, and epilepsy.
Conron feels he has released a Frankenstein as so many people are breeding just for the money and the results are many dogs with physical problems and he says, “A lot of them are just crazy.”  Conron is credited worldwide as the first person to breed the Labradoodle and it is something he is not proud of.  He feels he has done harm to pure breeding and made a lot of unworthy, unethical breeders quite rich.  He wonders now whether they bred a designer dog…or a disaster.