File photo – Labradoodle dog with a tongue hanging out. (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
With her cute curls and plaintive eyes, it is no wonder that the labradoodle became America’s second favorite dog in 2010.
But the man who first invented the breed by means of a Labrador with a poodle in the 80s and ended up regretting it.
“I opened the box of Pandora, that is what I’ve done,” said puppy-breeding manager Wally Conron in 2014. “So many people are just breeding for the money. So many of these dogs have physical problems, and many of them are just crazy.”
Originally Conron the creation came from a desire to do good. He was the fulfillment of a request from a couple, who had a pooch, that would serve as a guide dog for a blind woman, but also are hypoallergenic for her husband.
As soon as the magic canine was produced, word got out and everyone wanted one. There was just one problem: Labradoodles don’t come out the same way every time. Their coats and their behavior — are unpredictable; some are not even hypo-allergenic.
Purebreds are crossed with other purebreds — better known as designer dogs — is the capture of our affection for the last 20 years. But the real cost of these dogs is much greater than their multi-thousand-dollar price tag, according to the “Designer Dogs: An Exposé In the Criminal Underworld of Hybrids” (Apollo Publishers, from Tuesday) by Madeline Bernstein.
The demand for these dogs has led to a corrupt underground economy that funnels animals through puppy mills, swap meets, Internet sales and retail stores often buy from notorious sources.
Bernstein, an animal-welfare expert, calls it the “high price of cute.”
The cost of the breeding of labradoodles is the fun if you think of teacup dogs. The mini Yorkies, Pomeranians and Chihuahuas — are often seen riding in the purses of celebrities such as Paris Hilton — are made by breeding runts with runts. But runts are usually the most unhealthy dogs from the litter, and that health problems are passed. Teacup mothers often die at birth.
Most legitimate breeders will refuse to get in the teacup dog business, which means that most are shipped in from South Korea.
Russian strongman President Vladimir Putin is not immune to the charms of designer dogs. At the end of 2016, he got a trio of genetically modified Malinois pups that were made to be stronger and fitter than normal dogs, with state-of-the-art-sniffers for detecting drugs and explosives. But his “super war dogs” also proved to be defective. Despite the fact that cloned from a dog with the right characteristics at a leading lab in Seoul, they did not succeed in training and obedience tests, could not understand Russian commands (those only understood Korean) and could not adapt to the merciless Siberian cold. Putin exiled to an unattractive task of guarding a prison.
Pure-bred dogs, of course, have long suffered from health problems, the French bulldog is one of the most prominent examples. Their more and more flattened nose make breathing difficult, while their distorted body shapes mean natural mating is impossible now. (Artificial insemination is used.) When it’s time to give birth, mother dogs must have C-sections, because the French bulldogs’ heads are too big for a natural birth.
In an attempt to stop the madness, Bernstein predictable and people will take their pets from shelters. But what if you have your heart set on a labradoodle, goldendoodle, puggle or maltipoo? First, says Bernstein, never buy a teacup dog. Then find a reputable breeder. Responsible breeders do not sell their dogs via the Internet (although advertising their company online is fine). They should not ask you to meet in a parking lot (it is more common than you think). They go in one or two breeds — not several. There should not be multiple litters available — you must wait. You should be allowed and encouraged to look around, the breeder of the goods. And you should be able to ask for references from previous clients. Life can be ruff for a pup on his journey to a friend forever, says Bernstein, so it is important that people take the time for finding a pet in the right way.
This story was previously published in the New York Post.