"I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” said Wally Conron
Wally Conron, who bred the world’s first labradoodles back in the 1980s, has called the breed his “worst regret.”
In a recent episode of Australia’s ABC News podcast, Conron explained that when he first went about creating the breed, it wasn’t to make “big bucks” on a cute pet, but to help a blind woman from Hawaii who needed a guide dog, but had a husband who was allergic to canines.
Conron, who worked for Guide Dogs Victoria at the time, explained that while he initially thought it would be easy to find a suitable dog, the process ended up taking years.
“At first I thought, this will be a piece of cake. The standard poodle will do the job. It’s a good working dog, has a non-shedding coat,” he said. “Over the period of three years, I tried 33 standard poodles, but not one was successful.”
Tasked with coming up with an alternative idea, Conron decided to try and breed a standard poodle with no known
hereditary problems with a Labrador, a breed traditionally used as guide dogs.
Although finding the right dogs was difficult, Conron eventually got the right match and as a result, three puppies were born.
“It was great but I still had worries. Were they non-allergic, were they going to be suitable? So we sent the clippings of the coat and the saliva to Hawaii. There was only one in the litter of the three that her husband wasn’t allergic to,” he said.
Then a new problem emerged: what to do with the leftover dogs?
Guide Dogs Victoria faced problems trying to find the pooches homes, as nobody seemed willing to take a chance on an unknown breed, so Conron decided to reach out to the media — which is when the problems started.
Rebranding the dog as the labradoodle, demand for the adorable canines skyrocketed.
“I realized what I’d done within a matter of days,” he said, adding that he went to his boss and said, “Look, I’ve created a monster. We need to do something about it to control it.”
“I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” he said, noting that as the breed’s popularity increased, some “unethical, ruthless people” seemed more concerned with breeding the dogs “to sell them for big bucks,” rather than to make sure the dogs would be healthy.
He added, “That’s my big regret.”
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Conran went on to share that whenever he sees a labradoodle these days, he can’t help but look for problems.
“I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem. But I do see some damn nice labradoodles that are steady, just like I’d breed, but they are few and far between,” he said.