What on earth is a Doodle (other than an absentminded drawing)? It’s a cross between a Poodle and another type of dog breed — generally with adorable results reminiscent of a teddy bear.
But who thought to start making these crosses and why? And how did they become so popular? Let’s find out!
What Is a Doodle?
In the dog world, a doodle is an adorable and energetic bundle of fur and fun whose personality often makes it a perfect family pet. It is created by crossing a poodle with another type of dog or breeding two of the same type of Doodle together.
The goal is usually to retain the intelligence and hypoallergenic traits of the Poodle while adding positive qualities from the other breed. For example, the friendly attitude of a Golden Retriever or the trainability of a Labrador.
There are a wide variety of Doodles. For example, the Labradoodle, Sheepadoodle, Bernedoodle, Goldendoodle, Schnoodle, Aussiedoodle, Springerdoodle, and the Saint Berdoodle.
There are even lots of strange but interesting combinations like the Huskydoodle, Boxerdoodle, Weimardoodle, and Mastidoodle! Yes, that last one is a combination of the giant English Mastiff and a Poodle. Though usually smaller than a Mastiff, they are usually quite a bit larger than a Standard Poodle, the largest size of Poodle.
The Very First Goldendoodle
Meet Monica Dickens, the great-granddaughter of the famous author Charles Dickens. She was on a quest to create an intelligent, mild-mannered dog that wouldn’t leave your carpet looking like the floor of a beauty salon.
So she combined a happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever with a ***hypoallergenic poodle. Voila! The Goldendoodle.
She bred this dog in 1969. However, the popularity of the breed didn’t explode until the 90s. It needed a little marketing help along the way, which we’ll learn about in a moment.
A Hypoallergenic Guide Dog
In the late 1980s, a couple from Hawaii reached out to Australian breeder Wally Conron for a solution to their situation. The blind wife needed a guide dog but her husband was highly allergic.
Conron started out trying to train a poodle as a guide dog. However, after working with dozens of dogs, it just wasn’t working out.
So he tried a new tactic. He bred a Labrador with a Poodle and tried to train that dog. Well, the training was a success, but he ran into a problem with human snobbishness. These dogs were crossbreeds and nobody wanted to board and train non-purebred dogs.
A Marketing Gimmick
To solve this problem, Conron decided it was necessary to invent a new dog breed. After all, if the cross were its own breed, it would suddenly become desirable and people would be more than happy to take them on as aid dogs.
Now, the idea of crossing other dogs with poodles (and the funny name combinations) was already around. For example, Cockapoos (a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross) originated in the 1960s. (They may also be called Cockadoodles but the ridiculous name didn’t catch on as much).
However, they hadn’t become popular yet. And people weren’t seeing them as purebred dogs. They were crossbreeds of two different purebreds.
So Conron decided to change the phrasing. He went to the PR team and told them to “go to the press and tell them we’ve invented a new dog, the labradoodle.”
And that was all it took.
Immediately after, people were scrambling to be one of the first to own this new “designer breed.” While this term may spark images of tiny dogs riding in Gucci bags, it is actually a term referring to the intentional crossbreeding of two purebred dogs.
Earlier we mentioned there are lots of types of Doodles. In one list, we found 61 different types of Poodle mixes that have been dubbed some sort of crazy name. Some are doodles and some are poos, like the Cavapoo and Yorkipoo.
So while there are many crosses a few really stand out.
After Conron’s marketing bit, the popularity of the Labradoodle took off. Everybody wanted a “hypoallergenic” dog with the favorite traits of Labradors. It also helped that they look really awesome. After all, a Labrador is kind of a plain dog but a Labradoodle is adorable!
Trouble in Paradise
However, it wasn’t all amazing. When crossing two different purebred breeds, you don’t always get consistent results. And that was the case with these doodle crosses.
Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are all high-energy breeds. The Poodle by itself didn’t work out as a guide dog for Conlon for this very reason. They were too energetic and didn’t have a calm temperament to tame them down a little.
Well, some of the crosses between Poodles and other breeds turn out exactly the same. They get all the high energy of both their parents without the calming temperament.
On top of that, Doodles are commonly marketed as hypoallergenic dogs because they don’t shed like a Poodle. Most Doodles do shed less than their non-Poodle parent but only some of them are truly hypoallergenic according to lab results.
This has led to many of these dogs being surrendered to shelters. People think they are buying a hypoallergenic dog, only to discover that the allergy sufferer in their family can’t handle the particular pup they bought.
Conron himself has expressed sadness for having kickstarted this breed’s popularity. Though it has made him a lot of money, the trend has also led to irresponsible breeding and the health problems that often accompany this.
But, one last positive is that the wild popularity of these “designer breeds” have helped some people get out of the mindset that purebreds are the only type of dog that matters.
Typical Traits of a Doodle
Obviously, traits will vary among Doodle depending on the second dog breed that is chosen. However, there are a few general traits that you’ll see among most Doodles.
Most Doodles will have wavy or curly hair that sheds less than their non-Poodle parent. Some individuals with curlier hair will require haircuts like a Poodle. Others with wavier hair will need frequent brushing to remove loose hairs.
They can come in a wide variety of colors, even when the non-Poodle parent is always the same color. For example, Goldendoodles can be black, light tan, apricot-colored, and many other colors in between.
The size of a Doodle will vary depending on the size of the parents. As you probably know, Poodles range in size from the tiny teacup Poodle to the larger Standard Poodle. What’s surprising is that Doodles don’t always stick close to the size of the non-Poodle parent.
Both Labradoodles and Goldendoodles can range in size from small 15-pound dogs up to over 80 pounds! The best way to estimate your Doodle puppy’s adult size is to examine the parents.
Taking Home a Doodle
Interested in one of these unique dog breed crosses? As the more popular mixes like the Goldendoodle and Labradoodle are stabilizing, it’s becoming easier to get a predictable dog. However, because of the mixed nature, there can always be surprises.
One thing is for sure, though. If you choose to bring a Doodle into your home, you’ll get a fun-loving companion who will offer lots of snuggles and kisses for years to come!
*** It should be noted that no dogs are fully hypoallergenic. Poodles are, however, less likely to cause allergy attacks among sufferers.