Labradoodle Breeders Hit Back At ‘Frankenstein's Monster’ Sledge
This week, the breeder who created the world’s first labradoodle made headlines for comparing himself to Dr. Frankenstein and saying the breed was his “life’s regret”.
Wally Conrad bred the first labradoodle litter thirty years ago in order to find a suitable guide dog for a blind woman whose husband had allergies.
In doing so, he inadvertently created what would later become one of the most popular crossbreeds of the 21st century.
He also launched a trend of crossbreeding specific dogs and selling them under catchy portmanteaus (see: the groodle, cavoodle, or moodle, just to name a few).
"I opened a Pandora's box and released a Frankenstein's monster," he told the ABC this week, repeating comments he's made frequently over the years.
"I believe that one-third of dogs bred today are the poodle crosses. People say aren't you proud of yourself, and I say, no. Not in the slightest. I've done so much harm to pure breeding and made these charlatans quite rich."
Labradoodle breeders are hitting back at Conrad’s comments, telling 10 daily that if the dogs really are “Frankenstein’s monsters”, then we need more monsters.
“Any dog that displays the characteristics of a labradoodle is a wonderful dog,” Keith McDonald at Story Book Australian Labradoodles told 10 daily.
“It’s no surprise they are so popular, and if you ask anyone who owns one and then listen to them gush about how wonderful they are then you begin to understand.
"I have seen the joy and happiness and the different they make to people’s lives. If that’s a bad thing, they I can’t begin to understand why.”
Sue Tarrant at Clairevale Labradoodles said the labradoodle-loving community would "strongly disagree" with the comments, and that "nothing could be further from the truth" than references to them being monsters.
“Labradoodles are in great demand as pets because of their intelligence and trainability, attractive soft wool or fleece coats, good looks and sociable temperament, a winning combination for many people seeking a family friendly dog,” she told 10 daily.
She also noted that plenty of labradoodles make good therapy or guide dogs, due to their calm temperament and intelligence.
“The teddy bear good looks and comical expressions and behavioural traits are just a bonus!"
Conron, the former breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australian (now known as Guide Dogs Victoria), told the ABC how he bred the first litter in order to create a guide dog suitable for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair.
The litter had three puppies, one of which fit the specific requirements needed. The other two were unwanted -- until Conron asked the PR team to drum up some publicity.
"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 told the ABC.
That was in 1989. Now, 30 years later, labradoodles might not be a recognised breed by any major kennel club, but they are in every dog park. There are 1.38 million photos tagged with the #labradoodlesofinstagram hashtag.
In part, the popularity was helped by Don Burke of 'Burke's Backyard', who championed the crossbreed. The crossbreed was promoted as the seemingly perfect dog: friendly, good with young children, relatively quiet, intelligent, hypoallergenic -- although this last characteristic is not always strictly the case.
For the hundreds of thousands of people who have owned a poodle cross, Conron's work will always be treasured.
But for the man himself, it will always be his life's regret.
"I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem," he said.
"I do see some damn nice labradoodles but they're few and far between."
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