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HOW WAS THE LABRADOODLE BREED CREATED?

A meeting with Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle


The origins of the Australian Cobberdog breed start with Wally Conron, a guide dog trainer who needed to find a hypoallergenic breed that could be used for this work
Discover the origin of the history of the Labradoodle with Wally Conron, the creator of this breed in search of a hypoallergenic and well-balanced dog

A MEETING WITH WALLY CONRON

When we started our study in Australia on the Australian Cobberdog, the person we were most interested in meeting was Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle. Much has been written about him and we wanted to find out firsthand what he thought of the breed. It was important for us to learn about his story and experience. Even though Wally Conron is known as the creator of the Labradoodle, his main work has always been a guide dog trainer. He has worked with these dogs for 25 years, in addition to work with horses, therapy dogs in prison, and with "remedial dogs," which is what he calls dogs that visit hospitals. He is fully aware of the enormous capacity that animals have to help humans, so he could explain the breed in carrying out this work.

The first Labradoodle

Wally Conron tells us that he worked with an association for the blind with a breeding and training programme to prepare guide dogs. The majority of these programmes firstly consisted of selecting puppies, a period of socialization, and then follow-up training to match them to the user. He usually worked with Labradors and Golden Retrievers, until one day when he received a very special request. It came from a blind Hawaiian woman whose husband had an allergy to dogs.

It is well-known that the curly hair of the Poodle is hypoallergenic and doesn't shed or provoke dandruff, so for 3 years he worked with 33 large-sized poodles, trying to find one suitable for this work. Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful. Not one Poodle showed the necessary aptitudes to become a guide dog. Time passed, and his boss pressured him to make an unprecedented decision: cross one of his Labradors with a Poodle, hoping that the result would satisfy the Hawaiian woman's particular request. “And that's how it happened,” says Wally with a big smile. The pertinent tests were conducted on the 3 puppies born in this litter, one of which was completely hypoallergenic and had the necessary aptitudes to become a guide dog.

Discover the origin of the history of the Labradoodle with Wally Conron, the creator of this breed in search of a hypoallergenic and well-balanced dog

Development of the Labradoodle breed

Despite the fact that the perfect cross led to a dog capable of working as a guide dog that didn't provoke allergies, Wally Conron came up against a problem that he hadn't expected: even with a waiting list 6 months long, people didn't want a dog that wasn't a purebreed. The puppies were growing and he couldn't find socialization homes that would take in the Labradoodle puppies. Not one. Seeing the need to change the population's perception of these puppies, he decided to call the media and announce the creation of a new breed, conceived to do assistance and therapy work. The news spread, and within 24 hours he had already received hundreds of calls from people wanting to have one of these wonderful dogs. “They didn't want a crossbreed, they wanted a Labradoodle," Wally tells us, slightly perturbed. 

Discover the origin of the history of the Labradoodle with Wally Conron, the creator of this breed in search of a hypoallergenic and well-balanced dog

And that's how it all started. He had the perfect combination to create guide dogs and families that wanted to socialize them, so he decided to develop the Labradoodle breeding programme. However, another problem, even greater, was about to appear. In order to continue breeding the Labradoodle to establish it as a breed, he needed male Poodles for mating. When he asked for advice from the Kennel Club, he came up against a wall. The pure breed breeders were totally against his breeding programme of what was still then considered a mixed breed. They assured him that if he took any of their specimans to mate, the Kennel Club would remove him from the registry and impede him from presenting at any more exhibitions and championships. Luckily, Wally found support in some breeders who offered him their males as long as the Kennel Club didn't find out, and the criteria for selecting the male was their even temperament and recognition that they were free from hereditary problems.


This was how he had Labradoodle litters and selected from them wonderful dogs that could be converted into great assistance dogs. With a lighthearted tone, he laughs as he tells that, when he was able to cross a Labradoodle with a Labradoodle, he called it a Doubledoodle. And the next generation he called a Tripledoodle. However, from the beginning of this programme Wally Conron had been threatened, sued and even beat up by pure breed breeders who accused him of perverting their work. This was clearly a reaction of fear on the part of the breeders for all of the international attention focused on the Labradoodle that Wally had obtianed. For this reason, he finally gave up, tired of the continuous fight against so many of those who formed part of the dog world in Australia, and retired before being able to register his breed with the Kennel Club. Nonetheless, the foundation had been laid, and despite the fact that Wally Conron ended his Labradoodle breeding programme, there were many breeders who have continued to develop the breed up until today.

THE OPINION OF WALLY CONRON ON THE LABRADOODLE

In his own words, the Labradoodles that he bred were brilliant, he never had temperament problems with them, and they were very intelligent and easily trained. This was because he took great pains to carefully select the parents of the puppies. The problem with the Labradoodle was its success. The breed became very popular and the breeding farms began to breed them without any type of criteria. They simply put two dogs together without studying the possible hereditary health and behaviorial problems, nor were they tested for being hypoallergenic. This is how, little by little, the breed was undermined, and soon perceived to be too nervous and slow to learn commands and incapable of being assistance dogs. Witness to this, at times he regretted having initiated this fever, as it also gave way to the crossing of other breeds that made no sense. For him, the cross between a Labrador and a Poodle made sense to the degree that it served to create good guide dogs that did not provoke allergy. When this was no longer the case, the Labradoodle had no reason to exist. Fortunately, after Wally Conron retired, there were other breeders like Mellodie Woolley who decided to continue heeding this criteria, achieving great results. 

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