Labradoodles, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle, have become a popular ‘designer’ breed for pet owners.
The creator of the popular labradoodle wonders if he was barking up the wrong tree when he came up with the idea for the world’s first designer dog.
The 81-year-old Australian man says he’s not sure he made the right decision to cross a poodle with a Labrador retriever back in the late 1980s. Since then, designer mixed-breed dogs have proliferated, giving pet owners the choice among groodles, snoodles and spoodles, among others.
”Today I am internationally credited as the first person to breed the labradoodle,” 81-year-old Australian resident Wally Conran told The Australian. “But I wonder, in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog – or a disaster.”
While working for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia in the early 1980s, Conran was contacted by a vision-impaired woman in Hawaii. She needed an allergy-free guide dog since her husband had allergies to dogs. Though no breed is completely hypoallergenic, Conran decided to try crossing a poodle with a lab. Once he found a trainable poodle with a good temperament, he mated it to the lab and three puppies were born. The vision-impaired woman’s husband learned that just one puppy was allergy free.
The new crossbred dog was a good fit for allergy sufferers who were vision-impaired, but the world’s first designer dog didn’t really catch on until Conran came up with a great marketing idea.
“I decided to stop mentioning the word crossbreed and introduced the term ‘labradoodle’ instead to describe my new allergy-free guide-dog pups,” he wrote.
The name caught on and interest in the labradoodle soared, but he began to worry about “backyard breeders producing supposedly allergy-free dogs for profit,” Conran wrote. He felt that he had opened up a Pandora’s box.
“Were breeders bothering to check their sires and bitches for hereditary faults, or were they simply caught up in delivering to hungry customers the next status symbol?” he wrote.
And, Conran added, “It’s not something I’m proud of. I wish I could turn the clock back.”