With its cutesy curls and plaintive eyes, it’s no wonder the labradoodle became America’s second-favorite dog in 2010.
But the man who first invented the breed by crossing a Labrador with a poodle in the ’80s ended up regretting it.
“I opened a Pandora’s box, that’s what I did,” 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 a lot of them are just crazy.”
Originally, Conron’s creation came from a desire to do good. He was fulfilling a request from a couple who needed a pooch that would serve as a guide dog for a blind woman but also be hypoallergenic for her husband.
Once 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 actually unpredictable; some aren’t even hypoallergenic.
Purebreds crossed with other purebreds — better known as designer dogs — have been capturing our affections for the last 20 years. But the real cost of these dogs far exceeds their multi-thousand-dollar price tags, according to “Designer Dogs: An Exposé Inside the Criminal Underworld of Crossbreeding” (Apollo Publishers, out Tuesday) by Madeline Bernstein.
Demand for these dogs has led to a corrupt underground economy that funnels animals through puppy mills, swap meets, Internet sales and retail stores that often buy from…