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Let’s Talk About Doodle Dogs

A Doodle dog stands in the grass over a red ball looking up at the camera.

In the last two years, the Humane Society of Utah has seen a large influx of doodle dogs surrendered to our shelter. This blog will address why and what you should consider before bringing home one of these popular dogs.

What’s a doodle dog? 

First, what is a doodle? A doodle is any breed of dog mixed with a standard, miniature, or toy poodle. For example, a golden doodle mixes a poodle and a golden retriever, aussiedoodle = Australian shepherd x poodle, and bernadoodle = Bernese mountain dog x poodle.

Doodles gained notoriety from Wally Conron, a breeding manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia in the 1980s. Conron tried to find a guide dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dogs. He came up with the idea to cross a poodle with a Labrador retriever, hoping the positive traits that make Labs great service dogs would combine with the non-shedding characteristics of a poodle. This history may suggest that doodles are hypoallergenic and make great family pets.

Are all doodles hypoallergenic?

However, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. Allergens carry in dander (dead skin cells), saliva, and urine, so they are impossible to avoid altogether. Some dogs produce fewer allergens or shed less than others, but no dog is completely free of allergens. In addition, allergies vary from person to person, so you never truly know if or how badly you will react to a particular dog. That’s why we always suggest treating every dog as an individual and interacting with them before bringing them home.

Second, it’s not black and white when it comes to genetics and mixing breeds. When you take the genes of two breeds, there is no guarantee of the puppy’s traits. You risk losing the desirable characteristics of each breed and inheriting health issues and undesirable traits. While mixing two dogs may counteract some of the specific hereditary diseases from each parent dog, there’s still no guarantee about which genes your pup will inherit. You could end up with any combination of these conditions, especially in the first mixed generation. Please keep in mind where and how we raise puppies can also contribute to their adult behavior. Puppies who experience early exposure and positive interactions with different people and environments in a home setting will have a better chance of success.

Doodle puppies who “look the part” and are supposedly hypoallergenic often cost more than doodle puppies who still shed or have a nontraditional-looking coat. That’s right; doodles have different types of fur! Many appear wiry, like Jack and Simba (pictured below). While wiry doodle coats will likely shed, they won’t require the regular trips to the groomer for trims and de-matting like a poodle coat will.

Do all doodles act the same? 

Third, because doodles are mixed with many other breeds, their behaviors come in a wide variety. For example, some families expect their doodle to behave low-key and goofy like their friend’s golden doodle. But, they preferred the blue merle coloring of the sheepdoodle or aussiedoodle may be in for a big surprise. Richard (pictured below) went through multiple families for not “behaving” like a doodle. He had a poodle coat, but he exhibited strong herding breed-like behaviors. 

Grey and white doodle dog Richard plays in yard with a tennis ball in his mouth.
Richard’s DNA test revealed he was a standard poodle sheepdog cross.

Doodles come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and can make wonderful additions to most families. However, we encourage you to do your research and understand that the doodle puppy in front of you may grow up differently than you expect. We often have poodle mixes available for adoption at HSU. Take a look at our website first if you’re considering one for your family. Like all our dogs, they come spayed/neutered, microchipped, dewormed, and have age-appropriate vaccinations.

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