Everywhere you look for labradoodle information, they will tell you the benefits of the breed. They are calm yet bubbly, inquisitive yet easily trained, affectionate yet content to rest as a part of the family. They are perfect for single owners and families with children of all ages on paper. Plus, who could say anything negative about them with a face like theirs?
One voice arose early in dissent when the breed first became popular. In fact, breeder Wally Conron called the entire fluffy water dog species nothing short of a mistake.
While there are cat people everywhere, this man wasn’t just a heckler from the sidelines. He created the breed in the 1980s in response to a customer looking for a hypoallergenic seeing-eye dog.
From that first litter to the global hysteria which followed in the form of designer mutts, he has called it his “life’s regret.”
This blog will outline how bad actors can take up even the best intentions. And how that transforms into an ethical crisis affecting thousands of dogs yearly.
The World Learns About Conron’s Creation
Wally Conron was working with labrador retrievers to develop his seeing-eye dog program. Their good-tempered nature, eagerness to please, and teachability made them fantastic candidates for the rigors of the program. The problem, as always with water-loving dog breeds, was shed.
A blind customer in Hawaii was looking for a dog that would not upset her husband’s allergies. Conron examined the other breeds he had worked with in the past and believed that perhaps the excitable temperament of the hypoallergenic poodle could be offset by the gentle nature of a retriever. Three pups were born from the retriever mother, and one, Sultan, was deemed to be up to the task. This left the other two—how to sell a mix no one had heard of?
Using a PR firm in Victoria, Conron helped spread the word about a specialty breed, the “labradoodle.” The campaign was an unexpected hit that leveraged something mixed dog owners had never had before—the ability to “boutique” their mutts with fancy names.
The Labradoodle Fallout
The news of this exciting new breed spread quickly, and so did consumer demand. Overnight, any breeder who had the resources to blend two purebreds together had the market to do so. Traditional concerns like complementary genetics, pleasant personalities, and diverse bloodlines disappeared in the gold rush to create the next “doodle.”
What naturally followed were neurotic, poorly-bred crosses that had shorter lifespans and fewer placement opportunities than mutts had ever had. Pursuing profit stripped all ethics from backyard breeding programs, while consumers were none the wiser. With Sultan and his siblings as a model, it was hard to conceive a local alternative as less enthusiastic than the original.
Nowadays, there is no shortage of “doodles” on the market. While it is still possible to find a responsibly bred pet, there is an overwhelming amount of pets bred without scruples elsewhere.
It was not Wally himself who opened the box. It was labradoodle breeders who saw the opportunity for profit over ethical breeding standards. When breeding stock is compromised over lines, it’s not only the animals that suffer. All future generations and the families that must endure the fallout of their poor genetics.
The moral here is that profit cannot take precedence over responsibility. Like any other commodity, pets are resources that must be balanced against their environment. Anything less, compromises the good they offer and reduces future generations’ chance of enjoying their benefits.
At Ethical Inc., we view our natural supplements in this light. We can quickly lose things to profiteering that seem here to stay. Our safeguard is ethically highlighting every step between plant to package. Like a good breeder, you can trace the lineage and see for yourself how no step was missed. We want you wagging your tail as much as a well-loved companion might.
If this story had you turning your head like a dog at the whistle, let us know! We are committed to sharing ethical stories worldwide that help us understand and visualize our role as consumers. We hope to share some of our passion without compromise in our own way, and we hope you do too.