‘I created Labradoodles and spawned a monster’

Labradorable: Most Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, which means they don’t shed their fur. © Getty

Are Labradoodles really a “Frankenstein’s monster”? That’s what their creator, 90-year-old Wally Conron, says. He believes the “unhealthy” dogs set a dangerous trend.

Throughout history, inventors have regretted their creations: the atomic bomb, the AK47, and now the Labradoodle.

“I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster,” says 90-year-old Wally Conron.

The Labradoodle was born in 1989, when Conron came up with the idea of “a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the Poodle”.

Today, polls regularly declare them the public’s favourite dogs, and they started a trend for copy-cat, “designer” dogs.

For Conron, this can only be a bad thing.

“People are just breeding for the money,” he warns. “Unscrupulous breeders are crossing poodles with inappropriate dogs simply so they can say they were the first to do it.”

“I find that the biggest majority [of Labradoodles] are either crazy or have a hereditary problem,” explained Conron. Labradoodles are generally prone to epilepsy, food allergies and Addison’s disease, which means that their bodies cannot regulate stress.

But other experts have cast doubt on his comments.

According to the Labradoodle Association, members of the cross-breed are “generally considered healthy dogs”, unlike many pedigree breeds.

So, is it fair to call Labradoodles a “Frankenstein’s monster”?

Labradon’t

It certainly is, say some. The trend for “designer dogs” has led the cruel mass-production of unhealthy puppies to be sold on to people who want a fashion accessory rather than a loving pet. Up to two-thirds of these dogs suffer from chronic pain and spend their lives struggling for air. It’s obscenely cruel.

Don’t be so sure, respond others. From bulldogs that can barely breathe to cancer-plagued Basset Hounds, pedigree dogs are far more likely to be unhealthy because of their tiny gene pool. We should have more cross-bred creations like the Labradoodle, not fewer.

You Decide

  1. Would you like to own a Labradoodle?

Activities

  1. Research a breed of dog. List its characteristics and any health problems it is likely to suffer.

Some People Say...

“Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.”

Martin Luther (1483-1546), German Professor of Theology

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Labradoodles are a cross between a Labrador retriever and a Poodle. The cross-breed was first created by Wally Conron in Australia, as a guide dog for people allergic to fur.
What do we not know?
It is hard to pin down exactly what they look like. Labradoodles can weigh anywhere between 30 to 65 pounds, and can come in lots of different colours.

Word Watch

Pandora’s box
In Greek mythology, Pandora is given a box by the gods containing all the evils in the world and told not to open it. She, of course, does.
Frankenstein’s monster
In Mary Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein creates a living monster from the dismembered body parts of corpses.
Poodle
Poodles generally do not shed their fur, so they are pets good for people with fur allergies.
Unscrupulous
Dishonest, with no moral principles.
Hereditary
Passed down from your parents.
Epilepsy
A condition that affects the brain, causing seizures.
Addison’s disease
When your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol. Symptoms include pain, weakness and weight loss.
Regulate
Control.
Pedigree
Pure-bred.

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