You may love your adorable pet labradoodle, but the crossbreed's creator has likened the dog to "Frankenstein's monster." On a recent Australian podcast, he called the creation his "life's regret."
Wally Conron, 90, was working for Guide Dogs Victoria when he first crossed a Labrador with a poodle in 1989. Now, he says the trend of designer dog breeds has created a slew of unhealthy pups.
"I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster," Conron told an Australian Broadcasting Corporation podcast last week.
He said his "big regret" is that his creation has led to "unethical, ruthless" breeders who don't consider the health of the puppies.
Conron said healthy labradoodles are "few and far between," with most of the animals having hereditary issues. Similar health issues have been a concern among other mixes, such as cockapoos and puggles.
"Why people are breeding them today, I haven't got a clue," Conron said.
Cross-breeding can lead to increased health issues in dogs, especially when breeders care more about money than taking care of the animal. According to Conron, the trend has gone too far.
The first-ever labradoodle was bred as a guide dog for a blind woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to dog hair, Conron said. He thought of using a poodle because their coats don't shed. None of the 33 standard poodles he found were successful as guide dogs, leading Conron to mix one with a Labrador retriever.
The result was a litter of three, one of which was sent to the woman in Hawaii. Labradoodles quickly became popular in Australia after news of the remaining two pups spread.
"I realized what I had done within a matter of days," he said. "I went to our big boss at the time and I said to him, 'Look, I've created a monster. We need to do something about it to control it.'"
But the damage had been done. "Designer dogs" are sold for thousands of dollars these days, and some unethical breeders are eager to pump out more pups regardless of their health issues.
"I've done a lot of damage," Conron told The Associated Press in 2014. "I've created a lot of problems."