Over60

Family & Pets

"I created a Frankenstein's monster": Inventor of most popular dog breed haunted by regret

The labradoodle is one of the most popular dogs around the world - it is no wonder how with their cutesy curls and plaintive eyes. 

However, the man who first invented the breed in the 1980’s admitted he has some feelings of regret for creating the infamous labradoodle. 

"I realised what I had done within a matter of days,” Wally Conron told abc.net.au.

As a professional dog breeder, Wally said he mainly worried about breeding healthy, happy pups. 

However, he believes labradoodle breeders do not share the same concerns. 

"I realised the reason for these unethical, ruthless people [was] to breed these dogs and sell them for big bucks," Wally says.

"I opened a Pandora's box and released a Frankenstein's monster.

"When I'm out and I see these labradoodles I can't help myself, I go over them in my mind.

"I look at it thinking, does it have hip dysplasia, has it got elbow problems, any other problems I can see?

"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."

Mr Conron first crossed a labrador and a poodle in the late eighties after he was asked to breed a non-shedding guide dog. 

"I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair," he says.

"She wanted to know if we could come up with a dog that she could use as a guide dog and her husband wouldn't be allergic to," he says, speaking to the ABC podcast Sum Of All Parts.

He trialled 33 different standard poodles after deciding a “standard” one would “do the job”, he decided they didn’t have the right temperament to be a successful guide dog. 

After three years of attempts, Wally came up with the idea make a brand new crossbreed or "a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the poodle".

After breeding three dogs, he shipped one off to the blind woman and her husband who lived with the dog well into his retirement.

The other two, he found, were extremely hard to get rid of as “no one wanted a cross breed,”

Out of sheer frustration, Mr Conran approached Guide Dogs Victoria’s PR department and asked them to say they’d bred a “special breed.”

"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 said.

Quickly Wally found it became a sensation. 

"I could not visualise the publicity that a crossbred dog would get," Wally says.

"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!'"

While the gorgeous dogs have captured the attention of many over the last 30 years, the cost of them far outweigh their multi-thousand dollar price tag.