BBC News –
Cute, cuddly and loveable… just some of the words you might use to describe labradoodles.
But how about “crazy” or even a “Frankenstein’s monster” with major health problems?
That’s what the creator of the first ever labrador-poodle crossover says.
In a recent interview on an ABC podcast, Wally Conron says the invention is his “life’s regret” and he hasn’t “got a clue” why people are still breeding them today.
He’s become concerned that an influx of copycat cross-breeds has created health problems for many dogs.
“I opened a Pandora’s box” Wally told ABC, “I released a Frankenstein”.
“People are just breeding for the money … unscrupulous breeders are crossing poodles with inappropriate dogs simply so they can say they were the first to do it.”
The first designer dog?
Wally, who’s Australian, created the labradoodle in the late 1980s.
It took a letter from a blind lady in Hawaii – whose husband was allergic to long-haired dogs – to spur Wally, then a breeding manager, into action. He decided to create a suitable guide dog for the couple.
After three years of trying to find a solution, in 1989 Wally came up with the idea of “a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the poodle”.
But despite his success, he feels regret because the labradoodle became “a bandwagon” – and his aim of only breeding healthy pups was not followed by others.
“I find that the biggest majority [of labradoodles] are either crazy or have a hereditary problem.”
‘The perfect companion’
Many owners certainly won’t recognise Wally’s words, though.
For Martha Watton, 20, labradoodles like Barney are the dream dog.
“He has the perfect mix of lovingness, intelligence and everything. When I’m feeling down or stressed, he picks me up, comes for a cuddle and I feel better again,” Martha told Radio 1 Newsbeat.
She adds Barney is “the perfect companion for anyone of any age”.
“My grandad has dementia and we take Barney to see him at the care home and he’s the perfect calm dog to have around – he doesn’t bark.”
‘A member of our family’
Grace Mandeville also agrees – she’s owned Juno for nearly two years.
”She’s a playful teddy bear who is obsessed with socks. Who needs toys for your dog when you have your own socks?
”She really is a member of our little family, plus I’m allergic to dogs and cats so there’s a massive bonus that I can share a sofa with her and not feel wheezy.
”Every morning she sits by the side of our bed waiting for us to allow her to come and give me and my husband a cuddle.”
John Whitwell, a vet in York, says labradoodles are “happy, healthy dogs” with no major health problems.
“I don’t think they’re particularly crazy, they do seem to make good family pets, I don’t think I’ve ever met one that was vicious or injured a family member.”
Keep calm and bark on…
But if you do have a particularly boisterous pooch, John says there are things you can do.
What if they won’t stop barking? As annoying as it may be, don’t tell them off because they’ll become “the centre of attention”.
“Take the dog away to a quiet area, leave it for 10 minutes and then let it out.”
He also advises you to channel your inner zen to avoid your dog doing laps of the house.
“When you get home, you’re obviously happy to see your dog and they’re happy to see you. But if you immediately go and greet the dog and you’re excited, you reinforce that it’s an exciting time.”
“Just make a tea and once the dog has calmed down, only then say hello.”
Because as we know, a cup of tea and a dog is a winning combo.