Creator of first designer dog breed laments craze he started

Tucker, a 3-year-old Labradoodle, jumps on his owner Mike Pentz at their home in Columbus, Ohio. For the first time in the Westminster Kennel Club's 138-year history, mixed breeds are welcome.

A stunning admission by the inventor of one of the nation's most popular designer dog breeds

Wally Conron, a dog breeder in Australia, said he wishes he'd never crossed a poodle with a Labrador Retriever to create the Labradoodle.

“I’ve done a lot of damage,” Conron told The Associated Press this week by phone from his home in Australia. “I’ve created a lot of problems.”

  “Marvelous thing? My foot,” he said. “There are a lot of unhealthy and abandoned dogs out there.”   

Conron developed the breed 32 years ago to fulfill a request from a couple in Hawaii. The wife was blind and needed a guide dog. Her husband was allergic. Thus the Labradoodle craze was born and with it the "designer dog" industry that gave us: the puggle, bichonpoo, cavashon etc. the mixed breeds that have fueled the puppy mill industry.

All Things Pawsible near Philadelphia specializes in rescuing Labradoodle breeding dogs from puppy mills. The rescue and its foster families spends untold hours and thousands of dollars rehabilitating the survivors who have spent years in wire cages with no socialization.

I've seen the dogs come out of the mills with the faraway stares and the body language that says: "Just let me curl up in a corner in the dark."

It's not just the emotional damage to the dogs that comes with cruel living conditions, the random breeding leads to painful and expensive- to-correct genetic problems.

As Conron put it: "Instead of breeding out the problems they are breeding them in."

The timing of Conron's "discovery" 30 years ago coincides with the explosion of puppy mills in Lancaster County that led to Pennsylvania being known as the "puppy mill capital of the East."