"I opened a Pandora's box and released a Frankenstein['s] monster," 90-year-old Wally Conron told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, calling the designer dog breed his "life's regret."
According to the BBC, the Australian breeder created the Labradoodle in 1989 to meet the specific needs of one couple from Hawaii. The wife was blind and needed a guide dog, but her husband was allergic to the type long hair found on typical service dogs like labs. Conron's solution was to crossbreed a poodle with a Labrador. That way, his clients would have a dog with the obedience and temperament of a Lab and the short, curly coat of a poodle.
The experiment produced some unintended consequences: Labradoodles are prone to a number of health problems, such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia. They're also incredibly adorable, which has been enough to make them a popular pet breed despite their genetic baggage.
Since the inception of the Labradoodle, designer crossbreeds have become a hot trend in the dog world. Conron says that the practice has encouraged breeders to cross poodles with "inappropriate" breeds, prioritizing cuteness and novelty over the dogs' wellbeing.
Health issues aren't exclusive to Labradoodles. Many designer dogs are more vulnerable to hereditary diseases that make life harder for both the pooches and their owners. That's one more reason to adopt instead of shop—even if it means the dog you take home doesn't have a catchy breed name.