Doodles have increased massively since their first documented intentional breeding in 1989, so it’s clear that we dog parents love something about these dogs!
And I do agree, when they done right (like any popular dog breed), they’re magnificent dogs and great family members, and I understand why they’re one of the most popular dog breeds (without being a recognised breed…)
However, did you know that there are already dog breeds that have that aesthetic? So, whilst you may think you want a doodle, why not consider one of these instead, because they’re actually declining in popularity in most instances, and absolutely could use some loving homes that cherish their looks and their purebred status!
Before we get there though, let’s just get everyone on the same page…
[ don’t want the introduction to doodles? Head to the shortlist! ]
What is a Doodle dog?
Doodles are considered a “designer dog”, as they have been designed by humans with… no real purpose (okay, they were, once upon a time, but they were deemed to be unfit for that purpose, and simply became a “pretty” dog people wanted), surging into popularity in the last decade.
Doodle are a hybrid between Poodles and another dog breed, which usually gives them a portmanteau styled name of both parent breeds that ends in “Doodle” or “poo” depending on how it sounds. For example;
Labrador x poodle = Labradoodle
Golden Retriever x poodle = Goldendoodle
Cocker spaniel x poodle = Cockapoo
Cavalier King Charles spaniel x poodle = Cavapoo.
But collectively, they’re referred to as “Doodles”.
They are often confused with purebred doodles, but they aren’t the same thing. The difference is in the genetics; both have labrador retriever genes, but purebred doodles are bred to be more of a mix between the two breeds than their Doodle counterparts.
Sometimes, this breeding practice also gets similarly conducted with smaller dogs that don’t shed, such as the Bichon frise, maltese, or sometimes shih tzu’s with the focus on a diminutive, small dogs with a non-shedding coat.
Why Are Doodle Dogs So Popular?
Doodle dogs are all the rage right now. But why? What makes these dogs so popular? Why have they become such an important part of our culture? Here are a few of my theories:
Doodle dogs appear to be popular because they’re cute and they have a bouncy demanour.
Doodle dogs are popular because they’re cute, fluffy and cuddly. They have a really positive vibe and have a goofiness that’s pretty adorable. Doodle dogs are easy to train, loyal and loving towards their owners, as well as good with small children.
They are often marketed as “hypoallergenic” and supposedly less likely to have health issues than other dog breeds – because they’re a mix.
Doodles are often marketed as “hypoallergenic” and were originally bred to be a hypoallergenic of “low allergy” alternative to some of the fab 5 service dogs, making them an option for allergy sufferers. But, sadly, no dog can truly be hypoallergenic. Yes, they produce less dander, and shed less hair, but they do still shed hair and dander. They will also pick up allergens on their daily walks and can cause allergic reaction from their saliva too.
The other faux marketing thing is that because they’re a hybrid or cross bred (or mutt), they’re meant to be healthier and supposedly less likely to have health issues than other dog breeds.
Doodle’s are super smart.
Doodle’s are super smart and learn easily, which makes them one of the most popular dogs for first-time dog owners. They can be trained easily, and many doodles are used as therapy dogs. They also excel in dog shows and agility competitions where they have to perform a variety of tricks and jump due to their athleticism.
Afterally, they are mainly high drive working dogs… and that often gets forgotten by the doodle poodle parent, and often they lack mental stimulation as opposed to just exercise to satiate their high energy dog.
Doodles love to learn new things – so if you want your Doodle to learn how to sit on command or roll over, there are plenty of videos online with tips on how to train them yourself!
The only downside is that doodle dogs can cost more than other breeds of dog, both in the cost of a puppy and in grooming costs
- The cost of a doodle puppy
- Grooming costs for a doodle dog
- Food expenses for your new pet, including food and treats.
- Veterinary bills (including vaccinations, spaying or neutering).
- Training classes for basic obedience and behavior modification training
So Why Are They Disliked By Professionals Of The Dog World?
Doodles are adorable, fun and playful dogs – but a lot of dog snobs and dog professionals (trainers, vets, groomers etc) don’t like them. The problem is that they’re not purebreds, so they don’t have the same history or characteristics as other breeds of dog. Since doodles aren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), this means that they can’t compete in their shows or any other events associated with them and their breeders aren’t required to follow any rules when breeding.
This leads to a lot of unscrupulous breeding, and breeding practices that focus solely on the money for a designer breed of dog, meaning that the quality of the dogs in both body and mind is very much compromised.
This is something that leads doodles to be called “Neurotic”, because they become plagued with things like separation anxiety or reactivity, which are pretty rough to live with.
Doodles also have a high maintenance coat that a lot of dog parents struggle to cope with, and then often get angry a their groomers for shaving them down and destroying their “cute” look, when their coat (sadly) was becoming a welfare issue as matting in doodle coats is very uncomfortable for the dog.
Doodles can be found in almost every breed of dog that you can think of; from a Malipoo (malinois x poodle – yikes!), sheepadoodle (old english Sheepdog x poodle) to a yorkipoo (Yorkshire terrier x poodle).
And this? In itself is something (certainly in the united states) that is becoming almost like a plague (and I love a well bred doodle, please don’t get me wrong!) but people are literally just crossing poodles with a dog breed to market them as a doodle and heck with the consequences.
And worse? Sometimes they’re masking the dog’s actual purebred status in favour of it being called a doodle. Less than scrupulous breeders are turning to capitalize on designer dog breeds, on the supposed hypoallergenic coat (again, there’s no such thing), and tricking pet parents that this dog is the perfect family pet because of it’s doodle status – and I’m not down for that.
Alternatives To Doodles
With over 400 dog breeds in the world, 200 recognised AKC dog breeds and 60 foundation stock breeds (who are all looking to become recognised dog breeds), there is almost certainly a dog breed out there that suits you! This is another reason that professionals are saddened by doodles, because whilst these guys thrive, some dog breeds are seriously declining in popularity, in favour of a designer cross breed.
And guess what? Most of these are great with young children, older children, are active dogs, come in a whole host of various colours and different sizes – so there should be a great choice of doodle alternatives here!
10 Dogs Who Look Like Doodles But Aren’t
1 – Lagotto Romagnolo
The Lagotto Romano is a rare Italian water dog, who was first bred in the 19th century. These dogs are highly intelligent and can be trained to retrieve ducks from lakes and ponds. They also love swimming! The Lagotto Romano is recognised as a “foundation stock” breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
They are a medium-sized dog, with males weighing between 30 and 40 pounds and females weighing in at 25 to 35. They have a thick coat that can be black, white or brown. The Lagotto Romano is known for its large nose and alert expression.
2 – Portuguese water dog,
The Portuguese water dog is a rare breed of dog that was bred in Portugal to help fishermen with their work. They are often seen as part of a team that includes a fisherman and a boat, but they can also be trained to work on land. The Portuguese Water Dog has a thick coat that protects them from the cold when they’re swimming or diving into the water. These are fully recognised by the AKC.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized dog with a deep chest and strong legs. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years. The breed has been used by fishermen in Portugal for hundreds of years, helping them catch fish by swimming into the water and retrieving nets when they are full.
3 – Barbet
Recognised by the AKC as a full-member breed, the Barbet (pronounced Bar-bay, which means Beard) is a French hunting dog used for flushing and retrieving birds. The Barbet has a short, flat head and a long, square muzzle. It has feathering on its legs as well as its tail and ears. They come in black, brown, gray, white & fawn.
The Barbet is a medium-sized dog with a round body and strong legs. They have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. The Barbet is a lively and energetic dog that loves to spend time outdoors. They are very loyal and make great companions for active people who like spending time in the woods.
4 – Pumi
The Pumi is a Hungarian herding dog that has become very popular in its native country. They are known for their long, thick coat and black-and-white coloration. The Pumi may be the only breed that comes in this color pattern.
The Pumi is an ideal dog for active people who like to hike and explore. They have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years and are considered a medium-size dog. The Pumi is a highly intelligent breed, which makes them very easy to train. They are energetic and playful but also calm and affectionate with their family members.
5 – Spanish water dogs,
Also known as Spanish water hounds, these dogs are another popular breed that loves the water (have you seen the theme yet?). This is a loyal and intelligent breed that has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. They are medium-sized dogs with a long, thick curly coat that comes in brown and white or black and white.
6 – Kerry Blue Terrier
These dogs originated in county Kerry, Ireland, and whilst the origins are debated about (from russian influence to Spanish influence), the Kerry blue became an all round farm dog, famed for it’s terrier tenacity! It was originally used for ratting, or finding rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters and hares – but later added herding cattle to it’s resume.
These energetic and loyal dogs have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are considered large-sized dogs with a curly coat that comes in black, blue or gray.
7 – Poodles (Standard poodles, toy poodles and miniature poodle)
Lots of people forget that the poodle is another water retrieving dog, and that’s where it’s famed cut comes from! Aimed at keeping the joints warm whilst swimming. The poodle can be found in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy. The standard poodle is the largest of the three with a height between 24 and 28 inches (61 to 71 cm) at the withers. It has a graceful, long neck and dainty head with floppy ears.
Poodles come in three sizes, so the toy poodle, miniature poodle and standard poodle. These dogs are deemed to be some of the most intelligent dogs in the world! So they’re very adaptable and capable dogs. This is usually where poodle mixes are able to gain the label of “Hypoallergenic dogs” (even though it’s false), because their curly hair as opposed to fur means they need regular grooming as opposed to shedding all year round.
8 – Otter hound
The otter hound is a breed of dog that was developed in the United Kingdom for hunting otters. It is one of only two breeds of dog specifically bred for hunting, the other being the American water spaniel. The otter hound is a strong, powerful dog with webbed feet and a long tail. It has a water repellent coat that is dense and curly or rough in texture, with a soft undercoat. The breed is known for its deep chest and muscular build.
The otter hound is a medium-sized dog, with males weighing between 30 and 40 kg (66 to 88 lb) and females 25 to 35 kg (55 to 77 lb). The otter hound has a short, thick fur coat which is usually black or brown in colour, with white markings on the chest, feet and tail tip. Its ears are long and drooping – just adding to the super cute factor!
9 – Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington terrier is a small, active dog with a curly coat and long tail. It has a broad head, small eyes and erect ears. The breed was traditionally used for hunting rats and rabbits, but is now mainly kept as an indoor pet. The bedlington terrier has a short, thick coat that can be black, brown or tan in colour.
10 – Irish water spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is a breed of dog that was developed in Ireland as a gundog. It has an exceptionally curly coat which can be black, brown or liver-coloured. The breed is related to the Portuguese water dog and the American water spaniel.
They are a bigger dog than the spaniels, definitely being in the “large” category of dogs. Theymore closely related to retriever breeds in their tasks than the typical “Spaniel”. The Irish water spaniel is a good swimmer, and can be trained to retrieve game from both land and water.
It’s All About The Cut
When it comes to the doodle appeal, it’s all about that cute cut, and whilst most of these are cut to their ‘breed standard’ cut, if you want the look of a Goldendoodle, or Labradoodle, all you have to do is show your groomer what you want their cut to look like. But remember! That whilst it means you get a lot of creative freedom with your dog’s appearance, it also comes at the cost of a LOT of upkeep.
Remember, when it comes to training…
That regardless of which of these wonderful, affectionate dogs you choose, positive reinforcement is always the way to go. Whether you of for an otterhound or a Goldendoodle, or any of the other doodle dog breeds, focus on their breeding, their training, and regular brushing. this dog may just be one of the ‘companion dogs’, but it doesn’t change the fact that all dogs deserve to be properly cared for – and that includes proper training.
If you need help finding your perfect choice dog with a low-shedding coat – get in touch and let’s figure out what’s right for you! Or, if you want help with training, let’s chat!
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!