Breeder Regrets Creating the Designer Dog

photoIn an interview that sounded eerily like the story of Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the Labradoodle expressed deep regret in creating the breed, the original "designer dog" that started the modern day trend.

Wally Conron developed the Labradoodle when he was working for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia. He needed to develop a service dog with the appropriate temperament as well as one that would not trigger a reaction in people who were allergic to dogs. And there, the Labradoodle was carefully created.

Now, Conron sees the damaging effects of the craze for the breed he created. Today's mixed breed designer dogs are not always created with the same careful breeding in mind, as many backyard breeders and puppy mills take advantage of people's desire for the breed, cutting corners and focusing more on profit and less on improving the health and temperament of the dogs they create.

Conron blames himself for opening "Pandora's Box" and creating a "Frankenstein." He urges families looking into a designer breed to choose their breeder carefully, and never purchase a puppy from a pet store, a backyard breeder or any breeder that is not concerned with the dog's well-being.

Better yet, check your local shelter or rescue group. Even designer dog breeds end up homeless, neglected, and abused. Furthermore, spay or neuter your pets (or if you choose not to spay/neuter, be a responsible pet owner and keep your dog properly contained) and don't add to the existing pet overpopulation problem.

Since the start of the designer dog craze, breeds have started to include such mixes as the "Aussiedoodle," "Maltipoo," and the latest joke from the Super Bowl--the "Doberhuahua."

When bred properly and carefully, designer dogs like the Labradoodle can make fantastic family pets, and will live up to the high standards that Conron originally intended. But do your research beforehand and you'll end up with a dog with a better temperament who will not suffer the damaging effects that dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders so often do.

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28 Comments

  1. Marcia

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I love my maltipoo and think she is beautiful, smart and fun to be with. She sheds very little and although does need grooming is a delight.

  2. Pamela

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I'm sorry Mr. Conron went on to regret something that probably benefited allergic people needing service dogs quite a bit.

    But the invention of designer cross-breeds didn't start people being greedy in their desire to make money off of dogs. Unfortunately, human kind has that nasty habit no matter what breeds are out there.

    And the advice to think carefully before bringing a dog home never goes out of style.

  3. Heather

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I have two 'designer' dogs, that I use the 'popular' name for, but they are rescues and they are mutts, a bullmation (english bulldog/dalmation) & a Puggle (Pug/Beagle). I laugh every time I see a $1,000 or higher price on a mutt at the store. I just want to say in my day it was called a mutt. I also want to post a sign that says if you want a mix go to the shelter they are full of them.

  4. Kaitlin

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    As a shelter worker, I can attest to the author's statement that even designer dogs can be found in shelters. I've seen plenty of "-doodles", Chiweenies, and other designer mixes come in our doors. There's truly no reason to buy a dog if you are looking for a companion pet. If you do your research, are patient, and maybe willing to travel, you can find your perfect pup and save an animal's life.
    I know Labradoodles were born from a desire to do good, but human ignorance and greed has taken over, and I have no respect for someone who breeds dogs simply for profit when there are thousands dying in shelters and on the streets every single day.

  5. Linda White

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I have a designer dog (technically that is) but most people don't know about her type. She's a greyhound/husky mix, they are bred to be fast sled racing dogs. I got Maya at a rescue in a part of our state (Michigan) that holds sled races. I don't tell people she is a "designer" dog, I say she's a hybrid mix. But let me tell you, I'm actually surprised that there aren't more of her type in the general public. She's a great dog, smart, fast (great running companion), quiet (rarely ever barks) and just a sweetheart. I don't know her background, the rescue we got her from only said a family had her and moved and couldn't take her. Before we got her, my husband wasn't a dog person, but he was quickly won over by her athleticism. He takes her for bike rides and he's had her at a top speed of over 20 mph! My daughter will run 6 or more miles with her, doing 8 mph or so. Plus, she is just a beautiful dog!

  6. Dan

    February 10th, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I have a Lhasa poo and i just love him. Hes so fun and smart. He just does not like being groomed, he has to stop playing lol. Hes a great companion dog.

  7. Dipsy's PAL

    February 10th, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I greatly admire Victoria's work encouraging humane, modern training techniques, but this is nonsense on stilts. The existence of puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders has little to do with the existence of LabraDoodles or other Poodle mixes. If anything, the problem is more severe among purebreds: does no one remember the craze 1960s for Dalmations after Disney 101 Dalmations was released? How about the horrific health problems among purebreds caused by the AKC breed standards?

    My ten year old GoldenDoodle came from a reputable, ethical breeder who provides health records and eye and hip test results for all the parent dogs, as well as a two year warranty against genetic diseases that will pay for medical treatment.

    Direct your ire at pet shops selling purebred dogs with AKC papers that only live a few years because of inbreeding and an obsession with conformation.

  8. priya

    February 10th, 2014 at 11:59 am

    i think the poodle crosses are out of control. too many of them and the cockapoos are now the worse of the lot. the first two or three generations were ok, the newer lot are neurotic, yappy........so not how the breed is supposed to be.

  9. Laura

    February 10th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Personally I'd never spend the money people are asking for designer dogs. All of my pets are from shelters or rescue groups, And to think my Beagle/Lab mix is considered a mutt. He is the sweetest best behaved dog you'll ever meet.

  10. Anne Rayner

    February 10th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    so true as a groomer I come across so many badly bred poodle crosses who have been bred fro financial gain with no health or welfare concern fro the puppies, who go to unsuspecting owners that have no idea how high maintenance these dog will be. usually are matted to the skin as no advice on grooming or clipping has been given or if it has it is incorrect .and why do they have such stupid names???

  11. Jennifer

    February 10th, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I think it's unrealistic and a little arrogant for this breeder to believe he is solely responsible for the "designer" dog craze. If he hadn't created the labradoodle, someone else would have. You aren't going to get backyard breeders trying to make a buck to stop by appealing to their hearts. What we need are strict federal laws regulating pet breeding.

  12. Tracey Varga

    February 10th, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Being a dog adoptions manager at a large shelter I can relate to this. We also regret the day he created this new breed and all the others that followed...The world does not need more animals carelessly brought into it. It saddens me that every day animals die because someone must have a designer dog or a pure bred dog for whatever reason while shelter dogs die by the thousands...

  13. Carolyn

    February 10th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Absolutely agree. Plenty of shelter dogs needing homes. We need less backyard breeders, more adopters. If someone breeds dogs, it ought to be to make a breed healthier and stronger.

  14. Debra

    February 10th, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I've gotten my Goldendoodle, Labradoodle and Maltipoo all from shelters and I adore them all. I agree, no pet stores, no backyard breeders, look at the shelters first, those dogs never forget that you saved them.

  15. Barb

    February 10th, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    My daughter adopted a lab mix from a lab rescue. He was 3 months and did not have the "bulk" of a lab. Every one asked what he was? On doing a DNA test we found he was lab poodle, 50/50. He had been left at a shelter by a breeder and probably would have been put to sleep if the lab rescue hadn't stepped in and taken he and his brother in. He is a wonderful dog but sheds like a lab so off course the breeder did not want him. A designer dog gone wrong but well loved and we wouldn't trade him in.

  16. Mandi Bridgeman

    February 10th, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I had a yorkie-poo in 1987 and one now. What's odd is that a lot of the dogs at the pound which make them stronger breeds. It is know that pure breeds (some examples pugs, bulldogs) have been interbred within their "purity" and suffer from health problems. A malti-poo is a stronger dog then a poodle alone which typically suffer from a variety of illnesses. Now some over this overbreeding is definitely creating more problems (aka juggle, but they shouldn't generalize. And my Tabitha says she is perfect just the way she is : )

  17. DeLinda

    February 10th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I think people should slow down the breeding in the United States - there are millions of dogs out there looking for homes. Not just in shelters, but specific breed rescues.

    If you want a dog - a "designer" dog isn't what I'd suggest. It's not a dress or a purse, it's a dog.

    Adopt.

  18. June

    February 11th, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I believe this issue is equally problematic for ALL breeds of dogs, not just designer breeds.

  19. daniel slinkert

    February 11th, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Let me start that I am dead against Puppy mills, puppies from petshops and the likes. We own 5 dogs 3 of them rescues 1 accident and 1 from a large breeder. I love them all equally but the one I regret is from the larger breeder, at the time I was more or less pushed into getting him and luckily he turned out fine. The latest acquisition a 6 months pedigree Border Collie was "overstock" from a reputable KC registered breeder (and probably judge as well) equally bad actually worse as she is supposed to be KC endorsed. My first dog a rescue from Battersea dogs home was an accident and is now considered designer Doberman x Schnauzer, he's 12 and retired but very lovely dog although having him was a very steep learning curve in dog training and ownership (some person tried the same mix and asked £9500 mine was £ 80 with a voucher for neutering). Number 2 A collie x GSD also an accident can also be considered a designer dog, I got him as a rescue after his mum was shipped off when she was pregnant. Both are lovely and healthy dogs. Number 4 was an accident from friends they thought their bitch was no longer in season got her back and were mistaken. Non of my dogs are pedigree and given the interest of quite a substantial part of the show breeder world I would avoid most dogs bred for showing. I'd rather choose a dog from a working line coming from family environment who have socialised the pups as well as they could. And also do not forget the lovely dogs from shelters and rescue centres, you can see what the dog is like when being an adult and this is brilliant for first time owners.

    Designeer breed = clever marketing name for cross breeds or mutts = more money fro the breeder

    Daniel

  20. Anna d'Araille

    February 11th, 2014 at 6:42 am

    In my opinion breeding of any animal should be licensed and all animals should be registered. It's up to government to create laws really protecting animals, not just giving ppl vague guidance, nobody reads nor bother understanding lengthy law documents, everybody understands fines and prison sentences. Make people obtain a licence to breed (and I don't mean to fill a paper and pay a fee, I mean take a course and pass exam first!), compulsory spaying/neutering of pets and National Animal Birth Register, including small animals. That happens, overpopulation of pets sorts itself out, breeders will think twice, pet owners will think three times before taking responsibility for a new life.

  21. Connie Cosemento

    February 11th, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I have my third labradoodle and they come from established breeders that do genetic testing, socializing and require recommendations. These dogs are everything that W. Conron envisioned. One went to agility Nationals and another will probably too. The problem is that back yard breeders are enabled by the uninformed buyers or those that want the name for a dime. Pet stores do the same thing. Let us not undermine the wonderful characteristics that W. Conran was able to envision and breed for. Information, information, information to the buyers, please.

  22. Jen B

    February 11th, 2014 at 9:23 am

    @Mandi Bridgeman

    There is a large misconception that designer breeds are healthier simply because there are two different breeds, but the issue is when you are breeding two unhealthy dogs together, it doesn't matter if they are purebred/the same or if they are different. And, of course, those people who are breeding for money are going to be less likely to search for just the right pair to breed together, to do health testing, and make sure the mom/pups get whatever they need.

    And even if you do all of this testing, I think the main issue is the fact that there are so many homeless dogs that it is careless to be breeding mutts in the first place.

  23. Bob

    February 11th, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Paid some good money for the F1b Labradoodle, but have saved it back hundreds of times not having to buy vacuum cleaner bags or allergy pills. No shed/low allergy makes a great pet.

  24. Regina

    February 12th, 2014 at 8:09 am

    @Connie Cosemento

    You are part of the problem. Sad.

  25. Tamara Dormer

    February 13th, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Yes, designer breeds end up in shelters, but so do pure-bred dogs. 25-30% of dogs in shelters are pure-bred here in the U.S. I'm NOT advocating breeding, but if the dogs are already here we must be responsible for them. Those who continue to want a breed should check their shelters first, then go to a breed rescue of which there are rescues for every breed out there. My breed however is a CLG Cute Little Girl ;-)

  26. Laurie

    March 1st, 2014 at 8:54 am

    A good breeder; will always test their bitch and dog before breeding. That way weaker dogs (bad elbows or eyes) are kept out of their lines. I don't see this with the "Designer Dogs". The breedings are not being done in the best interest in the what is being created. When friends want a DD I always tell them to get the results of the breeding pairs tests. No one has them to offer up.

  27. Sharina

    March 1st, 2014 at 11:58 am

    There are 2 common misconceptions in the responses that make a good opportunity to clear them up. There are NO hypoallergenic or nonallergenic breeds of dogs. And all dogs shed, unless they have no hair (including whiskers) to begin with. There are studies on this matter and they can be found, by those who really want to know the truth, in the veterinary literature. Go to AVMA.org to look.

    I also think Victoria, that you should have said your dog walks on a loose leash with you because you have trainer it to do so, not because she wants to. Most dogs, if let off leash, will pursue their own interests and that may not include walking with the owner. This is a good place to emphasize that your dog performs because you have taught it to follow commands, because you have trained it.

  28. Sharina

    March 1st, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Although the breeder of labradoodles thought he was carefully selecting for breeds to make the mix from, he should have considered at least 2 things: First, the dogs were being created to serve people with handicaps that might make it difficult to care for a long haired dog with a beard that traps saliva and creates a smelly mess on the face. This mixed breed is not very suitable to people who may not be able to care for it properly. Care of the coat is a lot of work for these dogs. Secondly, both breeds have a very high number of breed associated heritable disorders. Labrador has 38 known heritable diseases, the Poodle has 44 (Veterinary Medical Guide to Dog and Cat Breeds) with many others listed as found in those breeds. Furthermore, they share many of the same heritable diseases. Unless the parents were being health tested as recommended by the breed associations, and what good pure breed breeders do, making this cross was in fact not as responsible as good pure breed breeders do in health testing the parents.

    People who are critical of "breeders" are usually talking about breeders of pure bred dogs. What everyone needs to realize is that every dog that gets pregnant or impregnates another dog belongs to a breeder. There are responsible breeders, almost entirely breeders of pure bred dogs, and irresponsible breeders, many of whom also breed pure bred dogs. Responsible breeders make every effort available to produce healthy puppies by health testing the parents and limiting breeding to the healthiest dogs possible. They socialize the puppies and try their best to sell them to responsible owners. They guarantee them against certain genetic defects and are available to the new owner for the life of the dog for support, answering questions, and helping owners find resources. They will take back any dog they ever bred no questions asked if and when the owner has to give the dog up. You can find this information in each breed club]s code of ethics (for example, German Shepherd Club of America, just Google it) Everyone else varies, from sloppy, careless breeding to not even knowing the female was pregnant until the puppies arrive. This includes pure bred breeders who breed anything to anything and don't do or care about health testing, puppy mills, designer dog breeders who don't health test and select parents based on those tests, your neighbor who lets his dog roam and get pregnant or impregnate, your neighbor who wants his kids to see the miracle of birth ( but isn't there to see the miracle of death when the puppies are euthanized at the shelter because there aren't enough homes), backyard breeders who hope to make a fast buck selling puppies whose parents aren't health tested, and the list goes on.

    With the advent of designer breeds, the shelters started filling up with unwanted dogs of those "breeds" as people bought cute names and false claims (hypoallergenic, non-shedding) and discarded the failed product. These dogs rarely carry a guarantee of re-homing with the breeder if the buyer fails.



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