The breeder who created the original Labradoodle now regrets his decision to do so. He wishes he had never created this very popular and famous crossbreed in 1989. So, why was the Labradoodle created in the first place?
The “Why” the Labradoodle Was Created Is Simple
Wally Conron was associated with the Guide Dogs Victoria as a breeding manager during the 1980s. Conron was asked to come up with a guide dog that would not shed. A blind woman whose husband was severely allergic to dog hair needed a non-shedding guide dog. She needed a guide dog but her husband also needed to be able to breathe freely.
The breeder’s intentions were honorable. However, in retrospect, Conron now questions if he did the right thing in crossing the two breeds. He wonders if the famous crossbreed has become more of a “monster”, as he calls it, than a blessing. Instead of why was the Labradoodle created, he is asking himself, should it have been created?
He recounts cross-breeding the Labrador and Poodle for a blind lady whose husband had a very bad allergy to dog hair but says he has no idea why people continue to cross-breed the two breeds today.
The “How” to Solve the Problem Was Not So Simple
In the 1980s, Guide Dogs Victoria and Eye of the Pacific, based in Hawaii, joined forces to work on this issue. The task of finding a non-shedding guide dog did not appear to be too challenging. That turned out not to be the case.
Thinking first of a dog that did not shed, he came up with the idea of training a standard size Poodle. Conron worked with 33 standard poodles and came to the conclusion that they did not have the temperament or personality to serve as a guide dog. Back to the drawing board, as they say.
Conron couldn’t stop thinking of the poor, blind lady who still needed a guide dog 3 years after her plea for help. He could not give up! Thankfully, he finally came up with a solution to her problem. They needed to combine the non-shedding coat of a Poodle with a dog having the temperament of the Labrador Retriever. Ta-Da! The plan for a Labradoodle was conceived.
But, A Solution Was Found!
Luckily for Conron, his boss happened to have a healthy Standard Poodle. He verified that the dog had no genetically based health conditions to pass down. That solved one-half of the equation. They already had several Labradors from which to choose. Now, for the match-making!
Conron arranged for an afternoon “date” between the Standard Poodle, Harley, and the Labrador, Brandy.
Voila! Success! The first documented litter of what became known as Labradoodles was on the way.
Although Conron was thrilled when the three precious puppies arrived, he was apprehensive at first. He was unsure if they would make good guide dogs and knew that only time would tell. Time would allow him to find out if they were hypoallergenic, as he had hoped. They would also need to be trained and tested as guide dogs. Would they pass the test? Labradoodles were created for a very specific reason, after all.
Saliva and clippings from the coats of each puppy were sent for testing at a lab in Hawaii. Only one of the puppies was found to be suitable. The puppy had been named Sultan and, luckily, he had the best temperament to be a guide dog! Sultan completed his training and was sent to Hawaii to serve as the very first Labradoodle to be a guide dog.
However, Another Problem Arose
That left two more specially bred puppies that would be wonderful as guide dogs but no one seemed to want them. After waiting for six months, hoping a family would want one of the Labradoodles, he became frustrated. His next step was to ask the P.R. department of Guide Dogs Victoria to help him out.
Conron asked the P.R. Department to tell the media that he had created a special breed. He told them to emphasize that this new breed was hypoallergenic and called a “Labradoodle”. This was the first time that the dog was called by this breed name. They did not heavily emphasize why the Labradoodle was created.
None of them imagined the publicity that such a crossbred dog would receive. He reported that people would get out of a stopped car to ask what kind of dog he had. He told them it was a Labradoodle.
And, Another Problem Solved
It was a wonderful gimmick. Although people did not want a crossbred dog, once it was labeled as a Labradoodle, they love it. Changed the name but the dog was the same.
The demand for Labradoodles soon went wild. It extended way beyond the vision-impaired community. Guide Dogs Victoria received queries about Labradoodles from all around the world.
A canine researcher from Boston’s Broad Institute, Dr. Jessica Hekman, said that the reason why the crossbreed took off was straightforward.
We Are Only Human, After All
Evidently, it is human nature to want to tell stories about our dogs. Just having a story about a mixed-breed dog wasn’t very exciting. But, if it had a cool name, then, their story turned into a sexier tale. People wanted something that few others had.
When all the media attention caused such a demand for the crossbreed, Conron began to have a change of attitude toward his creation. He said that it only took a few days for him to realize what he had done and to regret it.
Although He Knew the Answer to the Query,” Why Was The Labradoodle Created”, Conron Had Some Serious Concerns
His greatest concern, as a professional dog breeder, had always been to breed the healthiest puppies possible. However, due to the immense popularity of the Labradoodle, some less ethical breeders jumped on the gravy train. He knew that these unscrupulous breeders were only in it for the money.
Three decades later, Conron still has regrets. He told ABC Radio National that he had opened Pandora’s box and released a canine Frankenstein’s monster. Whenever he is out and about and runs into someone with a Labradoodle, he worries about it. He wonders if it has elbow or hip problems, or, other visible genetic problems.
He claims that he only sees a few, really healthy Labradoodles. Apparently, Conron has found that most of them are either “crazy” or have a genetically carried health problem.
Not Everybody Agrees With Conron
But, not everyone shares Conron’s opinion about Labradoodles. Gosling, the owner of the original Standard Poodle used to create the Labradoodle, disagrees. Although just as surprised by the immediate popularity as was Conron, he saw it in a positive light.
Gosling never thought it was going to become so popular so quickly. He told ABC Radio National that their thinking had originally been directed toward specialized guide dogs for vision-impaired people with an allergy. He also recognized that it quickly went well beyond their simple plan.
Gosling added that, in his personal opinion, how things played out was quite fantastic. He, unlike Conron, has no regret. Of course, being the owner of the Standard Poodle father of the breed, he has a great story to tell! (some of it shared below)
Runaway Popularity Is Not Good For Any Breed
Labradoodles are just one of many dog breeds with what is considered to be runaway popularity. There are certainly quite a few people crossing poodles to all kinds of other breeds. Some of these breed combinations may not be done in the smartest way. There will always be people wanting to make a buck and not care if it is in the best interest of the dog at all.
Although Conron regrets breeding the Labradoodle, his crossbreeding three decades ago was important. It opened the door for the production of many successful Labradoodle guide dogs. Further, it fathered the current “oodle” crossbreed trend.
ABC Radio National tells us that the Golden Doodle, Schnoodle, Groodle and Cavoodle and Jackapoo, etc. all originated from Sultan and his littermates.
Sultan Had A Long and Highly Respected Career
Notably, Sultan was a highly respected guide dog. He was well thought of that when it came time for him to be retired, his owner had a difficult time deciding who should adopt him,
According to Gosling, the problem was that there were so many people who wanted Sultan when he retired. Gosling had remained in touch with Sultan as he performed his checkups annually, When Sultan’owner asked if he wanted him upon retirement, he was soon returned to Australia.
Sultan came full circle, back to where he started at Guide Dogs Victoria. He spent the last three years of his life working with Gosling.
How Does Sultan’s Story End?
When Sultan crossed the Rainbow Bridge, he was buried next to his poodle father, Harley. The paternal origins of the Labradoodle rest, side by side, in Gosling’s backyard in Melbourne.
Gosling, reflecting upon the legacies of these two dogs, commented that they were here for a reason. That reason was to provide many people with suitable guide dogs, He further commented that you do what you have to do and do your best while doing it.
Is There A Moral To This Story? Does The Answer to the Query, “Why Was The Labradoodle Created” Satisfy You?
Good advice for us all. We can all look back and question if we made the decisions during our lives. If we have done the best we could and for the right reasons each time, we have nothing to question. That is all any of us can do.
I also hasten to add that the many combinations of “doodles” that have been adopted into loving homes must account for something. They bring love, joy, and companionship to thousands of families every day. That has to count for something.
Dolly Woods is an apricot Cavapoo (Cavalier Spaniel and Poodle)
Holly Woods is a black Golden Doodle
Both are members of the Brian and Tiffany Woods family.
Thor is more curly-haired and Tank has a fluffier coat. Both Goldendoodles are well-loved by Nicole Combs Kolwyck
Just in case you have a dog that, for any reason, needs veterinary care that you cannot afford, check out this article. Look near the bottom for where to go for financial help. https://happymutt.org/can-you-afford-to-own-a-dog/