My friend has a Labradoodle named Oliver. Oliver is big, blond, and beautiful — a canine Armie Hammer type, I’d say — which is why it pains me to say the following: Oliver, you were a mistake, a “Frankenstein’s monster,” a perversion of science who should never have been brought into this world.
I’m sorry!! I don’t feel that way, of course, but Wally Conron, the creator of the Labradoodle, does. As Conron told ABC Australia this week, the hybrid breed is one of his greatest regrets. He originally developed Labradoodles 30 years ago, when he was working as the breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia, after a blind woman in Hawaii contacted the association asking if they could breed a dog that could serve as her service animal, but without triggering her husband’s dog allergies. Conron found a suitable standard poodle, bred it with a guide-dog Labrador bitch, and in 1989, the first litter of Labradoodles was born. One of the three puppies, Sultan, went to work with the woman in Hawaii.
Soon, Labradoodle popularity skyrocketed, but Conron quickly saw that other breeders were not as scrupulous about breeding as he was.
“I realized what I had done within a matter of days,” he told ABC. “I realized the reason for these unethical, ruthless people [was] to breed these dogs and sell them for big bucks.”
“I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster,” he said.
Today, decades on, Conron says he can’t help but look over the Labradoodles he sees on the street.
“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.”
Many Labradoodle owners don’t share the creator’s concerns, though. In a BBC story about Conron’s remarks, several Labradoodle owners gushed about their pets. Like Barney, whose owner said, “He has the perfect mix of lovingness, intelligence and everything. When I’m feeling down or stressed, he picks me up, comes for a cuddle and I feel better again.”
Who knows, maybe Conron would feel differently if he met Oliver. But also, #AdoptDontShop.