When Frank Sinatra sang “Regrets, I’ve had a few,” he may have been speaking for the man who created the labradoodle.
Three decades ago, Australian dog breeder Wally Conron from Victoria was asked to breed a non-shedding guide dog for a blind woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to long-haired dogs.
“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,” Conron told the ABC.
Conron initially thought a standard poodle would fit the bill, but decided to crossbreed a poodle with a Labrador retriever after he determined a poodle’s temperament wasn’t suitable for a successful guide dog.
The intention was to create a dog that was able to work like a Labrador with the hypoallergenic coat of a poodle.
Conron’s canine creation became known as the “labradoodle.”
That was in 1989. Thirty years later, the labradoodle is one of the most popular mixed-breed dogs in the world, according to the New York Post.
But that isn’t exactly good news to Conron, who expressed regret for creating the dog on the “Sum of All Parts” podcast.
“I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster,” Conron lamented. “I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem.”
Although Conron said he has seen some “damn nice labradoodles,” he says “they’re few and far between.”
But some labradoodle owners, like Martha Watton, have a bone to pick with Conron’s position on the pooch.
“[My labradoodle] has the perfect mix of lovingness, intelligence and everything. When I’m feeling down or stressed, he picks me up, comes for a cuddle and I feel better again,” Watton said, according to the BBC.
She added: “My grandad has dementia and we take Barney to see him at the care home and he’s the perfect calm dog to have around — he doesn’t bark.”
British vet John Whitwell told the BBC that labradoodles are “happy, healthy dogs” with no major health problems.
“I don’t think they’re particularly crazy, they do seem to make good family pets, I don’t think I’ve ever met one that was vicious or injured a family member.”
Still, Conron complains that other dog breeders are more concerned about making money than the best animal.
As a professional dog breeder, Conron said his biggest concern was always about breeding the healthiest pups, but says other breeders don’t have the same philosophy.
“I realised the reason for these unethical, ruthless people [was] to breed these dogs and sell them for big bucks,” Conron said on the podcast.