Hello dear readers! I am so glad you have joined me once again. Now that you have read a few blog posts, I am going to really go out on a limb and likely offend 90% of you. Today we are going to discuss the newest trend in dogs - doodles!!
So, what is a doodle? A doodle is a mixed breed dog that is a mix of any number of breeds, in any number of configurations, where one of the parents is part poodle. Is a doodle a breed? No. I am sorry, but there is no such thing as a "pure-bred" doodle. Does this matter? No. However, I do think owners need to truly understand what they are buying and why. In this post I will cover some traits of doodles and hopefully clear up some misconceptions.
Doodles are definitely popular right now. As we have seen happen with so many other breeds in the past, from chihuahuas to Cocker Spaniels to dalmatians, the desirability of a breed goes up with popular opinion. However, many times owners do not do their due diligence to find out about the breed they are enamored with and often end up with a dog that does not fit their family or lifestyle. In the case of doodles, people see their cute little fluffy faces and think they will make great family dogs, which they can, but there are many issues to consider first.
The common blood line of a doodle is, of course, the poodle. Poodles are wonderful dogs that are highly intelligent, athletic, and bred to be working dogs. Contrary to the image some may have in their mind of a fluffy, pampered pooch, poodles are high energy with minds always on the go. Doodles can be part poodle, part anything else, but most commonly are crossed with Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Australian Shepherds. These are also all high energy working breeds. If an owner is hoping for a low maintenance dog that can be left alone at home for hours a day while the family is at work and school and expect no issues, a doodle is not the right dog. These sorts of situations produce bored, frustrated dogs that become destructive. I have many behavioral consults with owners of doodles that are at a loss because their doodle is eating shoes, furniture, or other objects, or is digging holes in the yard, or cannot be left alone due to anxiety issues. Doodles need to be played with and walked at least once daily, for 2-3 hours a day. They need puzzle toys and safe chew toys. Human interaction is a must for these smart creatures. They do not do well crated or left alone in the backyard. Another complaint I hear often is that the doodle is too hyperactive or too mouthy. Families with small children are upset when the doodle becomes an adolescent and begins jumping on and wanting to rough house with the children. Again, this is normal behavior for a young, rambunctious doodle. If you have younger children, a doodle may not be for you.
Health is yet another issue to consider before committing to a doodle. Much of this issue can be remedied by choosing a well-bred dog from a reputable breeder. However, doodles in general come with a host of health issues that a potential buyer needs to be aware of. Doodles come with the common ailments of poodles, and then add the common issues of their other breed as well. The most common issues I see in my practice with doodles are hip dysplasia and allergies (both environmental and food). Hip dysplasia is genetic and can range from mild to severe but is always painful. These dogs need at a minimum, lifelong monitoring and medication, and often total hip replacement, which costs from $3,000-$5,000 per hip. Allergies in dogs, are just like allergies in people, they cannot ever be cured, they must be managed. Sadly, they can make a dog miserable. We can tackle this issue from many angles including diet, supplements, shampoos, and medications, but cost is going to be a factor to consider. Other issues to keep in mind if you have a doodle are bloat (GDV), heart disease, and cancer, as doodles have a high risk of all three.
It seems to be a common misconception that doodles will be laid-back, low maintenance dogs. We have already dispelled the myth of the laid-back part, but what about low maintenance? Well, I am sorry to report that this is also a myth. Doodles require, not only frequent professional grooming (at least monthly), but also frequent (think daily) brushing. Their cute curly coat is high maintenance and if not taken care of properly, will lead to health issues. If you do not brush your doodle regularly, they will mat, and these mats can cause sores and infections of the skin. They are painful to shave, and your groomer will be left with no choice but to shave your doodle to the skin to do so. Grooming a large dog is expensive, but it is a necessity.
Many owners state that they are buying a doodle because these dogs are "hypoallergenic". False. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. There are some breeds that have hair as opposed to fur. Hair grows continuously and therefore does not shed as much and needs to be cut regularly (a poodle's coat for example). This is a great choice if you do not like fur shed in your home. However, the allergens that trigger human allergies are found in the pet's saliva and urine and they become attached to dander from the pet's skin. Having a low shedding dog may or may not decrease the amount of these proteins in your home. Interestingly, people find that their allergies differ from pet to pet, regardless of the hair coat. Some pets just trigger different people's allergies differently. Therefore, it is always a good idea to spend time with a potential pet before adopting or purchasing it if you have pet allergies.
In conclusion, if you have done your research and know that a doodle is for you - awesome! There is nothing better than a well-informed owner. Let me suggest though that you do just a little more and make sure you know where your doodle is being bred. I humbly suggest that you try your best to rescue a doodle. Due to all of the reasons above, there are tons of doodles (and others) in rescues all over the US. These dogs would love to find their forever home with you. If you need more convincing, let me know and I will send you some information on the horror of puppy mills. Please do not buy from a pet store or anywhere that supports these cruel places. If you must purchase, thoroughly check out your breeder. Go to their facility and demand to see the parents and where the animals are kept. Ask for their breeding license. If you need any information on rescue organizations, let me know!