Wally Conron created the first hypoallergenic Labrador-poodle crossover while working for Guide Dogs Victoria in Australia.
It was a thoughtful innovation for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair.
“Why people are breeding them today, I haven’t got a clue,” he said on an episode of the Australian Broadcasting Program (ABC)’s podcast Sum of All Parts.
He went on to add that his “Frankenstein monster” creation is his “life’s regret,” given the huge increase in copycat crossbreeding that causes a lot of health problems for dogs down the line.
“I opened the Pandora’s box,” he said.
“People are just breeding for the money… unscrupulous breeders are crossing poodles with inappropriate dogs simply so they can say they were the first to do it.”
But Conron was the true first. He bred a yellow Labrador with a poodle in the 1980s, and they went on to have three mixed puppies.
Of the three, one named Sultan came back compatible for the woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair.
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They trained him and sent him off to the family in Hawaii, but Conron said they found it difficult to find anyone willing to take on the other two puppies.
“I said, ‘Can you get onto the media and tell them that we’ve bred a special breed? A breed called the Labradoodle — it’s non-allergenic’,” he told the podcast.
It wasn’t long, he said, before people started calling, wanting a Labradoodle puppy.
“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!'”
Conron said he realized his grave mistake “within a matter of days.”
The biggest problem, he said, is they can be “crazy” and have bad hereditary problems.
“I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem,” he explained.
“I do see some damn nice Labradoodles, but they’re few and far between.”
Not everyone shares Conron’s regret.
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When Sultan was ready to retire, he was flown back to Australia to live with the then-manager of the Guide Dog Services program, John Gosling.
Gosling also owned one of the other debut Labradoodle puppies, Harley.
“It’s actually turned out to be something, in my opinion, quite fantastic,” he told ABC. “I don’t have regrets at all.”
They’re both now buried in his backyard.
According to The Nest, Labradoodles can inherit a variety of problems, like eye diseases and cataracts, hip dysplasia, Addison’s Disease and even epilepsy.