Man who 'invented' the labradoodle says he created a 'Frankenstein'

Australian Labradoodle Puppies Playing In Basket
In the late 1980s, Walter Conron bred a Labrador with a standard poodle to create a "Labradoodle". (Getty)

The man credited with “inventing” the labradoodle says that he regrets creating the first so-called “designer dog”.

Walter Conron laments that he “created a lot of problems” and that he feels as though he's made a Frankenstein.

In the late 1980s, Conron was working as the breeding and puppy-walking manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia when his boss set him a task.

A blind woman had written to the organisation asking for a guide dog that didn't shed hair because her husband was allergic to it.

The couple asked if they could breed a dog that would accommodate both the wife’s vision problems and the husband’s allergies.

After 33 attempts try to train a standard poodle, which don't shed hair, he realised they “just didn't make a good guide dog”.

Conron then decided to take his best Labrador bitch and breed it with a standard poodle.

They created three crossbreed puppies that needed to be boarded out to be trained and socialised but no one would take to them, he said, so he needed to come up with a gimmick.

That's when he came up with the name “Labradoodle”, he said. “We told people we had a new dog and all of sudden, people wanted this wonder dog.”

A happy Labradoodle dog stands and looks happily at the camera outdoors.
A happy Labradoodle dog stands and looks happily at the camera outdoors.

Soon, A-listers including Jennifer Aniston and Tiger Woods wanted a Labradoodle, and President Barack Obama's family considered the breed as a first pet.

Although the labradoodle turned out to be great guide dogs, Conron says that the “designer dog” trade has been abused by unscrupulous “backyard” breeders who are more interested in making money.

He also said that a lot of the animals have health and behavioural problems as well as the fact that some don’t have non-allergenic coats.

"When the pups were five months old, we sent clippings and saliva over to Hawaii to be tested with this woman's husband,” he told ABC Science.


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"Of the three pups, he was not allergic to one of them. In the next litter I had there were 10 pups, but only three had non-allergenic coats.

"Now, people are breeding these dogs and selling them as non-allergenic, and they're not even testing them."

"They're crossing any kind of dog with a poodle. They're selling them for more than a purebred is worth and they're not going into the backgrounds of the parents of the dogs.

 EDITORIAL USE ONLY MP Jonathan Reynolds, with Labradoodles Clinton and Kennedy, is announced as the winners of the 24th Westminster Dog of the Year competition organised jointly by Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club, at Victoria Tower Gardens in London with runners-up MP Rebecca Harris (left) and Lurcher Milo, and MP Liz Saville Roberts with Dogs Trust Rescue Dachshund Fiona.
Labradoodles Clinton and Kennedy, are announced as the winners of the 24th Westminster Dog of the Year competition organised jointly by Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club in London. (PA)

He said the majority of dogs he sees either have hereditary issues or have a bad temperament.

"There are so many poodle crosses having fits, problems with their eyes, hips and elbows, a lot have epilepsy. There are a few ethical breeders, but very very few."

Conron said that although he has helped a lot of blind people, he regrets creating the first crossbreed.

"I opened a Pandora's box, that's what I did. I released a Frankenstein. So many people are just breeding for the money.

"Today, people pay ridiculous prices for poodle crossbreeds, and unscrupulous breeders are crossing poodles with inappropriate dogs simply so they can say they were the first to do it.

"There are cavoodles (cavalier king charles spaniel/poodle), groodles (golden retriever/ poodle) schnoodles (shnauser/poodle), and even roodles (rottweiller/poodle).

“You can't walk down the street without seeing a poodle cross of some sort.

"I just heard about someone who wanted to cross a poodle with a rottweiler. How could anyone do that?”

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