The Goldendoodle is a "designer" dog created by breeding the Poodle to the Golden Retriever. They are a popular dog for families, dog sports and therapy work because of their pleasant personalities and supposed "hypoallergenic" qualities.
The History of the Goldendoodle
The idea for crossing Poodles and Golden Retrievers began back in 1969 when it was thought that this hybrid would make an excellent service dog. Although no dog can actually be "hypoallergenic," it was thought that the hair of a Poodle would be less problematic for people needing service dogs who also suffered from allergies. The mixes became popular in the 1990s based on the success of another similar designer mix, the Labradoodle. Presently the hybrid is not recognized as a breed by any of the major respected dog registries like the American Kennel Club although they can be registered by the Goldendoodle Association of North America. They also can be registered with the Continental Kennel Club if both purebred parents are registered with CKC as well.
Goldendoodle Physical Characteristics
Since the Goldendoodle is a hybrid, it's difficult to describe a standard for the breed as their looks and temperament may vary from litter to litter. There are three sizes of Goldendoodles that are bred today and their sizes come from their Poodle parent. If the Golden Retriever is bred to a Miniature Poodle, the size range is around 15 to 30 pounds. Standard and medium Golden Retrievers are derived from breedings with Standard Poodles. The medium ranges from around 30 to 45 pounds and the standard can be anywhere from 45 to 100 pounds. There's also a "teddy bear" Goldendoodle, which is the mix of a Poodle and an English Creme Golden Retriever. Some Goldendoodle's have more of the physical appearance of a Poodle, with a pointed snout and slender build while others look more like Golden Retrievers but with a curlier, fluffier Poodle coat.
The Coat of the Goldendoodle
The Goldendoodle's double coat can vary depending on the dog and its parents. Usually a Goldendoodle's coat is very similar to a Poodle's, which is soft and curly, although it can also be wavy or straight. They can come in a few colors including apricot, black, chocolate, cream, gold, light brown, red, sable, silver and white (also known as "English cream"). They also can come in parti-color, merle, brindle and phantom patterns. They tend to be minimal shedders but do require frequent brushing to keep their skin and coat healthy and mat-free. The more "poodle-like" their fur is, the more often you will need to brush them. Some Goldendoodle owners keep their dogs' coats clipped and short which will need to be done every two to three months.
The Goldendoodle is prized for their friendly, outgoing temperament and intelligence. They are energetic dogs that do not have extreme exercise needs like their Golden Retriever parents. They are known to be particularly good family dogs and are gentle and playful with young children. They also tend to get along well with other pets in the home. They are generally friendly with strangers and enjoy meeting anyone they can so they're not likely to be a very good guard dog.
Goldendoodle Exercise Needs
Goldendoodles need regular daily exercise but you won't need to take up jogging to keep them happy. A good half-hour walk each day coupled with some play time in the yard or in the house will keep these dogs happy. They are good dogs for people who love outdoor activities and make great hiking and beach companions. These dogs love water and would do well in a home with a dog-safe swimming pool. You will also need to give them regular mental exercise as they're intelligent dogs who enjoy having something to do. Taking them to an obedience class, training tricks and giving them interactive toys are excellent ways to keep their minds active.
Training a Goldendoodle
The Goldendoodle is very people-focused and are easy to train. They also tend to be highly food motivated so finding a good reinforcement for them isn't difficult! These dogs are popular for activities like therapy dog work because of their intelligence and gentle, friendly disposition. They are also used often for service dog work and for competitive dog sports like agility and obedience. Goldendoodles can be at risk for developing separation anxiety since they are so people-focused, so it's important when they're young to train them to tolerate being alone.
Goldendoodle Health Concerns
The average lifespan of a Goldendoodle is about 10 to 15 years. There are a few health conditions that the hybrid, as well as their parent breeds, are known to be at risk for.
- Bloat, or gastric torsion, is a deadly condition where a dog's stomach twists due to too much gas and fluid buildup. A dog can die from bloat if not treated immediately.
- Cataracts are a cloudiness that forms on the lens of a dog's eye and may be removed with surgery.
- Ear infections are common with these dogs because of their long ears and fluffy hair, so keeping their ears regularly cleaned is important.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia are painful joint conditions that can lead to lameness and surgery may be necessary to correct them.
- Hypothyroidism is a condition affecting a dog's thyroid glands and can lead to weight gain, lethargy and dull skin and coat.
- Patellar luxation is an orthopedic condition affecting a dog's kneecap. It may require surgery to fix.
- Progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative condition of a dog's retina that can cause vision loss and blindness.
- Von Willebrand's disease is a blood disorder that causes hemorrhaging and may require the dog to have blood transfusions.
Getting a Goldendoodle
A Goldendoodle puppy from a breeder will cost around $1,500 to $3,000. Since they are not eligible for registration with the AKC and other established registries, the first place to start looking for a reputable breeder is the Goldendoodle Association of North America. The website Goldendoodles.com is an "owner-created" site listing breeders who are recommended by other Goldendoodle owners.
Rescuing a Goldendoodle
You can find Poodle and Golden Retriever mixes in many shelters and rescues. Many will most likely not be labeled as a "Goldendoodle" but as a "Poodle Mix" or a "Golden Retriever Mix." Searching on their parent breeds using websites like Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet may reveal Goldendoodles available for adoption near you.
Is the Goldendoodle Your Dog of Choice?
The Goldendoodle is a great dog for families with children. They make wonderful companions for the average dog owner or the experienced trainer who wants a smart, easy going dog for competitive dog sports, service dog work or working with people in hospitals and other health care settings. They do require a decent amount of grooming but are a low shedding mix. The downside to the breed is the cost of a puppy which can be high, and the fact that being a hybrid, you won't be sure about what your adult dog will look like though meeting the parents can help you get a good idea before you decide to take a puppy home.