Have you noticed more fluffy, family-friendly dogs (who could be mistaken for teddy bears) trotting about your neighborhood lately? You’re not the only one! Doodle dogs, with their signature shaggy-haired look and affable personality, are hard to miss. And they’re becoming quite the phenomenon.
But why such a gain in popularity? Turns out, during that rollercoaster ride of a year called 2020, more pet parents than ever were bringing dogs home to join their families. And many of those four-legged companions bounding in to join the pack were smart, lovable, slightly derpy dogs affectionately called “Doodle” dogs.
What is a Doodle dog?
“Doodle dog” is the name commonly associated with a dog who has a Poodle as one parent and another purebred dog as the other parent. In other words, a Doodle dog is a cross between a Poodle and another breed.
For example, if a Poodle parent and a Golden Retriever parent have an offspring, the pup is part Golden Retriever and part Poodle. (By the way, the name commonly given to this specific Doodle dog is Goldendoodle or Groodle. More about this type of Doodle dog in a minute.)
Unlike mixed breed dogs, Doodle dogs are intentionally bred as cross breeds or hybrids.
Some sources or news outlets refer to Doodle dogs and Poodle mixes a “designer dogs.” But if you ask a Doodle parent, you’re much more likely to hear descriptions like “smart,” “family members,” or “loveable.”
In fact, I asked 100 Goldendoodle parents to describe their dogs in one word. You can read their answers here: What is a Goldendoodle.)
Of all the types of Doodle dogs, the Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever – Poodle mix) is the most popular in the U.S. as revealed by Rover.com in a report of the 20 most popular dog breeds of 2021. The Labradoodle (a hybrid of the Poodle and the Labrador Retriever) is the second most popular Doodle dog breed.
In addition to these two popular pooches, you may have heard of other Doodle dogs such as Aussiedoodles, Bernedoodles, and Schnoodles. We’ll get into more detail about other types of Doodle dogs in a bit. First, let’s take a look at how Doodle dogs originated.
A brief history of the Doodle dog
Doodle dogs are rising in popularity and becoming the sweethearts of the 2020s, but did you know that they have been around for quite some time?
In fact, if you’re a trivia or pop culture buff, you may be interested to know that Fang, a Labrador Retriever and Poodle mix, made regular appearances on the weekly 1960s TV show, Get Smart.
However, Wally Conron is credited for introducing the Doodle dog—specifically, the Labradoodle—in the 1980s while working for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia. In his endeavor for a guide dog that was suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander, he brought together the low-shedding, intelligent Poodle with the trainability, intuitiveness, and friendly nature of the Labrador Retriever.
The first Labradoodle guide dog
The result? The first Labradoodle guide dog, Sultan, who served as a highly regarded guide dog for many, many years. For the complete story, please read ABC News Australia’s article, The first ever Labradoodle wasn’t a designer dog, he was a guide dog.
Since then, many Labradoodles (and Goldendoodles) have followed in Sultan’s pawprints becoming dogs with a job—therapy dogs and service dogs.
However, for all the goodness Doodle dogs have brought to our world, according to the same ABC article, Conron regrets his decision. He believes he created a “frankenstein.” What does he mean?
From what I gather, his concern is that he has unleashed a trend that will create mixes of dog breeds that aren’t intended to be bred together and would result in longterm health issues. This is why it’s important that, as dog parents, we protect the future Doodle dogs by finding reputable breeders who care about the long-term health of Doodle dogs.
If you’re considering a Doodle dog of any type, ask questions. Learn about the health of the parents, focus on temperament, and don’t fall for lingo like “rare.”
Do your due diligence to protect and ensure these dear dogs are loved, nurtured, and supported.
Before we move on, there is more to Sultan’s story.
Sultan the Labradoodle (and his Poodle parent) both made important contributions to their people. In the words of John Gosling (manager of the guide dog services program and the “dog dad” to Sultan) as he remembered the lives of these two dogs, “You were here for a reason. It was the reason for many people to have good guide dogs. You did what you had to do and you did your best at that.” 🐾❤️🐾(Source: ABC News.com/au)
Doodle dogs make a meteoric rise as America’s sweethearts
Next, let’s fast-forward a few decades. Today, Doodle dogs—more specifically, Goldendoodles and Labradoodles—are making a meteoric rise as America’s sweethearts.
What are the most popular Doodle dogs in the U.S.?
According to data collected in an annual report by Rover.com, the largest network of dog walkers and pet sitters, there are two Doodle dogs that make the list of the top 20 most popular breeds in the U.S. They are:
- The Goldendoodle—the fifth most popular dog breed out of the top 20 of 2021, according to Rover. The Goldendoodle’s popularity has risen significantly over the last three years. In 2019, there were 10th, in 2020 ninth, and now in the top five.
- The Labradoodle—the 15th most popular dog breed of 2021 out of the top 20, according to Rover. In 2020, Labradoodles came on the scene overtaking the 19th spot. In 2019, they did not hold a place in the top 20.
Along with the Goldendoodle and Labradoodle’s rise in popularity there’s been a meteoric rise in dog parents creating communities and bonding through their shared love of dogs, too. Many Doodle dog parents are joining Facebook groups with other like-minded Doodle dog parents to swap stories and share tips on raising a Goldendoodle puppy, finding a professional groomer, or just sharing cute or silly photos of their beloved dogs.
Other pet parents are attending Doodle days at local pet-friendly establishments, or even going on Doodle romps—organized large group dog play dates. There is even an International Doodle Dog day on the holiday calendar registry. (For all the dog-friendly holidays, please check out my pet holidays and dog holidays calendar.)
Doodle dogs are bringing great joy to their people.
Goldendoodles and Labradoodles: A look at the two most popular Doodle dogs
Next, let’s take a closer look at the personality and characteristics of the two most popular Doodle dogs, the Goldendoodle and the Labradoodle.
The Goldendoodle (Groodle)
A cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle, the Goldendoodle (or Groodle) is typically a smart, energetic, eager-to-please, family-friendly dog. It’s important to note, however, because the Goldendoodle is a crossbreed, traits and characteristics are not as predictable as with purebred dogs.
There are several types of Goldendoodles as well as sizes, and colors. This is mostly due to the variety of sizes and colors of the Poodle, and to a lesser degree, the Golden Retriever. A Goldendoodle’s coat texture can vary, too, from curly to wavy to straight.
Depending on the coat type, these teddy bear dogs typically need frequent brushing and Goldendoodle grooming at home to maintain the coat.
Since the Goldendoodle’s parent breeds are both sporting dogs, Goldendoodles tend to be energetic and require daily walks or exercise.
Also, many Goldendoodles enjoy playing fetch. Why? This natural retrieving instinct comes from the Poodle and Golden Retriever. Both were originally bred as hunting dogs.
Typically intelligent dogs, well-bred Goldendoodles have the temperament to become therapy or service dogs. Also, as with any intelligent dog, if not given enough mental and physical stimulation, they are smart enough to come up with their own ways to stimulate their minds (i.e. you see a shoe, a bored Doodle dog sees a chew toy).
My 8-year-old Doodle dog is a sweetheart of a red Goldendoodle, my daily inspiration, and the absolute best dog ever. (But of course, every Doodle parent says their dog is the best ever…and who could disagree!)
If you’re considering adding a Goldendoodle to your family pack, please check out my article on 29 Goldendoodle pros and cons for a deep dive into what you can expect.
The Labradoodle is a cross between the Labrador Retriever breed and the Poodle breed. Typically, the Labradoodle is an affectionate, active, and a smart family dog.
It’s important to note, however, just as with the Goldendoodle (or any crossbreed for that matter), traits and characteristics are not as predictable as with purebred dogs. With that caveat, a carefully bred Labradoodle is more likely to be intuitive, smart, and friendly. In addition to becoming family companions, some Labradoodles may become service or therapy dogs.
Like the Goldendoodle, the Labradoodle coat can vary widely in color due to the variety of coat colors the Poodle breed brings to the mix, and a bit from the Labrador Retriever, too. The coat texture can vary from curly to wavy to wiry to smooth. This wide variation is due to the extreme difference between the coats of the two parent breeds. The Lab has a short, smooth coat (like the dog in the photo below) and the Poodle has a curly coat.
What are some other types of Doodle dogs?
Goldendoodles and Labradoodles get much of the spotlight. But there are other Poodle mix breeds that have been popular for quite awhile and even some that you may not be as familiar with. The following is a list of “Doodle, “oodle,” or “poo” mixes:
- Cockapoo—a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix. This crossbreed has been on the scene since the 1960s.
- Yorkie Poo—a Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle mix who’s been a consistent loving companion for years.
- Cavapoo or Cavoodle—a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix, especially adored in Australia.
- Aussiedoodle—an Australian Shepherd and Poodle mix.
- Bernedoodle—a Bernese Mountain dog and Poodle mix.
- Schnoodle—a Schnauzer and Poodle mix.
“Oodle” dogs are globetrotters
We’ve talked a lot about the popularity of Doodle dogs in the U.S., but what about our neighbors? Here’s a rundown of how our fluffy dogs are making homes happier in more places than the U.S.
Our neighbors to the north ❤️ Oodle dogs, too
Doodle dogs are making homes happier in Canada, too. According to Rover.com, the Goldendoodle is the fourth most popular dog breed for 2021 in Canada. This is up from seventh in 2020.
A-OK in the U.K.
While I couldn’t find numbers around Doodle dog popularity in the U.K., I did find that Goldendoodles are listed as one of the 10 most spoiled dog breeds according to Country Living magazine online.
Popularity continues in Australia
Of course, we would be remiss not to talk about where it all started. As mentioned earlier in this article, Doodle dogs have been part of Australia’s pack for decades.
However, today the most popular Doodle breed for our friends down under is not the Goldendoodle or Labradoodle, but the Cavoodle (also known as the Cavapoo), according to Pet Insurance Australia. The Cavoodle is a hybrid mix of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle (toy or miniature). According to Pet Insurance Australia, the top 20 most popular dog breeds for 2020 include the following Oodle mixes:
- Cavoodle #1
- Labradoodle #10
- Spoodle #12 (a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix, Cockapoo)
- Groodle #18 (another name for the Goldendoodle)
Why are Doodle dogs so popular?
Much of the popularity of Doodle dogs can be attributed to the purebred dogs in the family lineage. Humans are falling for smart, family-friendly dogs, and Doodle dogs—especially Goldendoodles and Labradoodles—are stealing their hearts. Plus, factor in the possibility that Doodle mixes tend to be lower shedding than other popular breeds, and you’ve got a winning combination.
With rising popularity comes important watch-outs
If you’re considering adding a Doodle dog to your family, be alert. With increasing popularity comes increasing opportunities for unscrupulous people to take advantage of unsuspecting future dog parents.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), pet scams are up with over $3 million dollars in losses, and the average amount per victim is $750. Most of these happen online. Please take your time and do your homework.
Related to this, it’s important to know that the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize Doodle dogs. If you’ve read my articles before, you know that I always caution anyone who is considering choosing a Doodle dog to run—don’t walk—away from a “breeder” who says they have “AKC registered” Doodle dogs. This is a huge red flag. Unsuspecting future pet parents have been taken by this ploy.
Resources for new Doodle dog parents
If you’re interested in rescuing a Goldendoodle or Labradoodle, check out IDOG rescue or Doodle Rescue Collective. Also, before you bring your puppy home, make sure you have all your new puppy supplies. My new puppy checklist is a great place to start. You may enjoy my seven “golden” lessons for bringing a new Goldendoodle puppy home based on my own happy and (slightly harried) experiences.
Finally, as adorable as Doodle dogs are, they are still puppies and they go through all the typical puppy stages from potty mania to “chewy-bacca” where they mouth everything. I like to say that they will pull on your heartstrings…and your shoelaces, too. 😉 Trust me. I’ve been there! For helpful tips, please go to my article: How to Teach Your Puppy to Sit, Stay, Come.
Finally, the most important factor in what makes a Doodle dog a sweetheart? You! With proper socialization, positive training, time, and attention, patience, and most importantly, heaps of LOVE, Doodle dogs can share oodles more love with you than you could ever imagine.