Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Trouble with Doodles

Let's just get one thing straight.  I like mixed breed dogs.  They are so interesting, no two are alike.    I'm ok with oops breedings, they do happen sometimes.  It's when they happen more than once, that I start to lose patience.   I know plenty of people who have "sport breed" mixes, created just for agility or flyball or whatever.  I'm ok with that too, as long as they all get homes that have all the information they need on that particular mix of  breeds (how high drive they will be, that they will need a job to do).  However, the animal shelters are full of mixed breed and purebred dogs alike, so I say spay and neuter is best.

Doodles (you'd have to be living under a rock for the last 10 (?) years to not have heard that term) are mix breed dogs.  The most popular Doodles are the Labradoodle (Labrador mixed with Standard Poodle) and Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever mixed with Standard Poodle).  There are many other designer dog "breeders" that have taken the doodle name and run with it, but these two are by far the most popular in my area. 

Here are a few troubling Doodle facts:

  • Most Doodle owners think their dog is a purebred, and why wouldn't they??  I did a search on and found 33 results for books on Labradoodles alone!!  Here's one  example .  This book boasts it's part of the "Kennel Club Books, Designer Dog series"  KENNEL CLUB??  Obviously not AKC, but to the unknowing prospective Doodle owner.. sounds pretty official to me.  No wonder they are fooled.
  • Doodle "breeders" (yep, I will always keep that word in quotes for this conversation) don't give enough or sometimes ANY information on their chosen "breed".  We've already established that they don't even tell people they are a mix.  
  • The majority of these puppy mills  "breeders" don't tell people the dogs need grooming!  In fact, they tell them the opposite, that they NEVER need grooming.   Here is the thing.. most people KNOW that a Poodle needs grooming.   Why on earth would you think said Doodle would not??  Most are shocked and very disappointed to know there will be work involved as well as Standard Poodle prices for the grooming.  IF the dog favors the Poodle side of the family.
  • Most new owners are dismayed to find out that many Doodles shed!  YES.. shed!  HMM.. how could this be?? They are the perfect hypoallergenic breed, are they not??  Let's break this down.  Golden Retrievers and Labradors shed, profusely.  So, if your dog takes after those breeds in looks and coat type, there will be shedding.
  • Now we are back to what I said before about mixed breeds.  No two are alike!  People have no idea what they are getting when they buy a puppy.  There are coat type differences as well as size differences.  We have a few Goldendoodles that are pushing 100 lbs.. and they aren't overweight! 
  • There is a common misconception that Doodles are more healthy than other (purebred) breeds.  It's just not true.  There has always been talk that mixes are more healthy than purebreds, that the combining of the two breeds somehow cancels out all the bad genetic defects.  That would be nice, but no.  If one of the parents had hip displaysia, or chronic ear infections, or eye disease, the pups will have a chance to inherit all that wonderful stuff. 
I know some very sweet, adorable Doodles.  The newest rage around here is Miniature Goldendoodles.. breed a small Golden to a miniature poodle, then keep breeding small Doodle to smaller ones, and there you have it, a very expensive "designer dog".  We have a couple of owners that got their Labradoodles at an out of state shelter.  The dogs were the "wrong" coat type, which is the more harsh, wiry coat that sheds.  The puppy mill they came from was "culling" the dogs without curly hair, as more people wanted them.  Luckily a shelter stepped in and got many out of there, and it was advertised they were up for adoption.  These are great dogs, who just happen to shed.  The best thing about that particular coat type is that it rarely matts, and can actually go without full haircuts.  They resemble a large schnauzer mix, very wirey coat, eyebrows and a beard.

Recently a client came in with her new Goldendoodle pup. This was their second try at a Doodle, as the first one they had, was returned to the "breeder" due to a serious health issue.    She wondered when the dog would start getting curls.  Uh.. Never.  She was  disappointed.. she said "we really like him, but he just doesn't look like we thought he would".   Right there, you know she probably bought him off the internet, and was never told what his coat would be like.  Here is a picture of the little guy (I'm told he is a miniature, but at his age, I'm fairly sure he will be large) 

A close up of the sparse hair growing on his ears... no curls arriving anytime soon.
He sure is cute though! 
Here is a photo of another Goldendoodle puppy I groomed, to show you what the other coat texture looks like.

Adorable!  This dog will take 10 times the coat care the other one will.
The Lab/Goldendoodles have long been advertised as the perfect blend of two breeds.  Non-shedding and curly.  Many are drawn to the scruffy, natural look of the dogs.  Well, I've got news for them, they could have a Standard Poodle, most of the time, for less purchase price. When obtained from a good breeder it will also have health testing and probably guarantees that last longer than 48 hours.  Other than the docked tail, a groomer can make a Standard Poodles haircut look any way you want.. including scruffy.  Another bonus??  Poodles do not shed.  If you don't like surprises, that helps alot.

J's husband recently came home from a day of hunting at a game farm.  He told her he was now thinking about getting a hunting dog after seeing the dogs at the farm work. They were amazing!  He then told her what kind he wanted.. same breed as the game farm's best hunting dog.   I nearly choked when she told me it was a Labradoodle!!!!!!  HA!!  Yeah, that  isn't going to happen anytime soon at J's house.  That said, it's no surprise the "breed" can hunt.. both Poodles and Labs are hunting dogs.  Just really funny that someone like J's husband, who has lived with her conformation dogs and purebreds for so many years, would actually suggest they get a Doodle!

If you have a Doodle, please don't be offended by this post.  Like I said, I love mixed breeds, and chances are, you love your Doodle.  I just wish these "breeders"wouldn't rip people off and withhold important information about their prospective pup.  If you have been thinking about buying a Doodle, please be educated.   And, by all means, please check your local shelter.. you might just be surprised to see the Doodle of your dreams waiting for you there.

I leave you with a question.  Do you think the original "designer breed" the Cockapoo, would have been an even better seller, if they had been called Cockadoodles??


  1. That's a fantastic post, and it's important people are educated. We have three rescue dogs, and one of them is a Goldendoodle. I find it so frustrating that people buy dogs with the same frame of mind as purchasing a piece of clothing. To me it's all about unconditional love, and that includes wearing dog hair on your fleece sweater!

  2. I so wish people would understand exactly what you said! There are soooo many "designer" breeds out now it's scary!

  3. I have such a pet peeve when it comes to doodles, this post was awesome! :)

  4. A groomer I worked with got so mad when people said their dog was a "teddy bear" breed. Lol. I once asked someone what they paid for their "shorkie" and about died when they said $550.