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Designer dogs are all the rage in the U.S. and a growing trend across the world. People are really going breed-crazy, throwing together dogs to create new breeds like an American Neo Bull (American Bulldog and Neapolitan Mastiff mix) or a Bernedoodle (Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle mix).
The list of strange dog breeds goes on and on (no joke, just click here for a full list). And while many are scrambling to get their hands on the “hottest” dogs or the “cutest” new breeds, this blind demand comes at a steep, steep price.
On one hand, the designer dog trend contributes to higher euthanasia rates in shelters. In fact, 5,500 dogs are killed in U.S. shelters every day, yet somehow we keep producing more simply because some want a certain “type” to take home, leaving homeless dogs with little chance of finding the forever families they deserve.
The demand for hybrid breeds has also given rise to cruel and unsustainable puppy mill operations, where dogs are often confined to cramped wire cages or kennels and suffer from severe health problems that can range from kidney disease to respiratory disorders.
Wally Conron, who created the first Labradoodle and is credited with starting the designer dog trend, has seen the hybrid dog demand give rise to these often unseen or unrealized effects and is now speaking out against the industry.
According to the Associated Press (AP) via TODAY, Conron, working in the 1980s with the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia, bred a prized Labrador and Poodle pair to make the world’s first Labradoodle in an effort to fulfill a request from a couple that comprised a wife with vision problems and a husband with allergies. They had wanted a guide dog that would work well to satisfy both of their needs.
In no time, the Conron’s Labradoodle became the “hot” dog to have, and the hybrid breed grew to more public fame with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Tiger Woods, and others becoming their guardians.
Conron laments his unsuspecting role in launching the designer dog craze.
“I’ve done a lot of damage,” Conron recently told AP. “I’ve created a lot of problems.”
“Marvelous thing? My foot,” he said. “There are a lot of unhealthy and abandoned dogs out there.”
While Conron may not become a full-on activist like ex-dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry has in an effort to change the industry and people’s minds, his comments still signal a dawning realization that simply because we “want” something doesn’t mean we should go ahead and do as we please, as other sentient beings often get entrapped in the mix, becoming objects of abuse and misuse instead of admiration.
Image source: rickhogan / Flickr