08/10/2019 12:00 AM
They are cute and cuddly, and are known for being ideal for people with pet allergies — but the man who first came up with the idea of the labradoodle now worries that he created a monster.
The crossbreed was developed in Australia to help a blind woman whose husband was allergic to long-haired dogs, Wally Conron told the ABC podcast Sum Of All Parts.
Conron initially thought that a standard poodle would be able to do the job, but after trialling 33 different standard poodles he concluded that the breed didn’t have the right temperament to be a guide dog. Instead, he came up with the idea of a brand new crossbreed — “a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the poodle”.
The result was a litter of three pups, one of which — named Sultan — ended up working as the world’s first labradoodle guide dog.
Subsequent publicity — helped by the striking name given to the new breed — triggered huge demand for labradoodles and other poodle crossbreeds, but Conron is concerned that unscrupulous breeders are not doing enough to ensure the new puppies are healthy.
“When I’m out and I see these labradoodles I can’t help myself, I go over them in my mind,” he said.
“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.”
However, John Whitwell, a vet in York, is more optimistic about the future of the labradoodle. He told the BBC that the dogs are generally happy and healthy, with no major health problems.
“I don’t think they’re particularly crazy, they do seem to make good family pets,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met one that was vicious or injured a family member.”
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