The Incredible Goldendoodle: 12 Facts About the Goldendoodle Breed
First gaining popularity in the 1990s, the goldendoodle dog is generally affectionate, intelligent, and low-shedding. A goldendoodle, sometimes known as a groodle, is considered to be a “designer breed,” which is a dog bred from two purebred parents — in this case, a poodle and a golden retriever. Because of their sweet nature, groodles make great dogs for first-time owners.
If you are looking for a goldendoodle puppy, go to a reputable goldendoodle breeder or a rescue shelter. Many pet stores knowingly or unknowingly stock puppies from puppy mills, so going to a reputable breeder or rescue shelter is a far better option.
If you aren’t sure where to find a reputable breeder, contact the Goldendoodle Association of North America, the only breed club for the goldendoodle.
Goldendoodles are designer dogs, not purebreds, so they can’t be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, they can be registered with the AKC Canine Partner Program, which not only puts your goldendoodle’s background on record, but it also allows them to participate in AKC events.
This program also gives reputable breeders information with which to make responsible breeding decisions. As a dog in the partner program, your dog will even be enrolled in the AKC’s Lost and Found Recovery Service.
Here are some of the things you should know about goldendoodles!
A Goldendoodle is a Designer Dog
Designer breeds are deliberately bred to combine the best traits from both their parent breeds; however, there are no guarantees the puppies will have the desired attribute(s) of the parents.
The size, temperament, health, color, and other attributes of the puppies may vary. This means that not all goldendoodle puppies will be non-shedding, like their standard poodle parent, for example.
As a cross between a poodle and a golden retriever, the goldendoodle has been rapidly gained popularity since the 1990s, when it was recognized as a designer breed (also called a hybrid breed). The goldendoodle is now among one of the many “doodle” dog breeds, which include:
- Labradoodle: Labrador retriever and poodle
- Schnoodle: Schnauzer and poodle
- Bernedoodle: Bernese mountain dog and poodle
Australia’s goldendoodle, sometimes called a double doodle, is an Australian labradoodle mixed with an English goldendoodle.
The goldendoodle is now one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Unfortunately, the popularity of designer breeds has led to some irresponsible breeding decisions, which is why it is important to always seek out a responsible breeder for any breed, not just the goldendoodle.
Among other problems, irresponsible breeding can result in health problems.
As mentioned, the parent breeds for the goldendoodle are golden retriever and poodle, both of which are purebred dogs. The poodle parent may be a standard poodle or a miniature poodle. From both parent dogs, goldendoodles inherit friendliness and intelligence.
Bred as an even tempered hunting dog, the goldendoodle’s golden retriever parent originated in the mid- to late 1800s in the Scottish Highlands. In 1911, the breed was officially recognized as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club in England and the AKC in 1932.
The breed’s popularity in the United States really took off in the 1970s when President Gerald Ford had a golden retriever named Liberty. The golden retriever has become a classic American family dog, both on and off television.
Easily recognizable with their golden frilly coats and big smiles, golden retrievers are known for their friendly, devoted, and gentle disposition. Their personalities and trainability make golden retrievers good service dogs.
Golden retrievers typically come in three colors: light golden (pale and somewhat creamy), golden (typical yellow color), and dark golden (almost red). They also come in three types: English, American, and Canadian; however, the difference between the types are subtle.
Regardless of type and coat color, golden retrievers are typically around 21-24 inches tall and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds when they are full grown, and they all tend to shed.
The origins of the goldendoodle’s poodle parent is Germany, despite the misnomer “French poodle,” which technically doesn’t exist! Poodles were originally bred in Germany to hunt and retrieve ducks.
Poodles have thick hair, not fur, and because they had to jump into cold water to retrieve prey, their owners took to clipping their coat on their legs so they could more easily swim, while leaving longer hair around their internal organs and joints to protect them from the cold.
This means that the distinctive poodle cut actually has a purpose. Because poodles have hair (and not fur), their coat doesn’t stop growing and it rarely falls out, unlike fur, which grows to a point and falls out (also known as shedding).
Poodles now come in three sizes: toy, miniature (mid-sized), and standard. Regardless of their size, given their temperament, poodles generally make good service dogs.
They Make Great Service Dogs
Service dogs help thousands of disabled Americans to enjoy greater independence. Though service dogs, or guide dogs, might traditionally be associated with the visually impaired, service dogs assist people with all sorts of disabilities.
Certain breeds of dogs, like goldendoodles for example, make better service dogs than others.
Though certain breeds tend to be better suited to becoming service dogs than others, the evaluation to be a service dog is done individually for each candidate. Even if a dog owner thinks their dog is a great pet, that dog might not be good as a good service animal.
There are some general characteristics that indicate a dog might be able to become a good service dog. These characteristics are:
- Anxious to please
- Enjoys being with people
- Doesn’t react negatively to being touched or petted by strangers
- Focuses and ignores distractions
The testing to determine whether a dog will make a good service animal is extensive. Each year, a number of goldendoodles pass the tests and go on to become service dogs.
Even after dogs pass the testing to determine whether they would make good service dogs, there is extensive training before they “graduate” and become service dogs.
Service dogs are trained for a number of tasks but they are also exposed to a wide variety of situations. For example, a goldendoodle that is training to be a service dog may be taken on public transportation, go out to shopping malls, ride in elevators, and cross busy streets.
It should be noted that a service dog is not the same thing as an emotional support animal. Service dogs perform specific tasks for disabled people who cannot manage those tasks for themselves. An emotional support animal provides emotional comfort to people with specific emotional conditions or mental health issues.
While service dogs and guide dogs undergo extensive training and testing, an emotional support animal does not.
Goldendoodles Are a Treat to Train
Goldendoodle dogs make good companions; they enjoy being with people. They are known for their trainability, which makes them ideal dogs for first-time owners.
Being intelligent like their purebred parents, the poodle and the golden retriever, goldendoodles can learn and retain training routines fairly easily. It is best to train your goldendoodle from a puppy, if possible.
Being both sensitive and smart, goldendoodles pay attention during training. With natural trainability, they also respond well to positive reinforcement. That’s why it’s a good idea to reward your goldendoodle with treats and attention for good behavior. This will be far more effective than punishing bad behavior.
As part of training, it is also a good idea to socialize your goldendoodle. Let them get used to people and other animals; use plenty of positive reinforcement during the process.
If you adopt your goldendoodle at an older age, this may not be possible. Still, your goldendoodle will still likely be motivated by treats and positive reinforcement, which means that they’ll still be highly trainable.
The Three Types of Coats
When many people hear the word “goldendoodle,” they picture a golden dog with wavy fur. However, goldendoodles can come in different colors and have varied coat types: wavy, curly, or straight. Regardless of coat type, a goldendoodle sheds less than other dog breeds.
The curlier the goldendoodle’s coat is, the more hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergic reactions in people) the goldendoodle will likely be. This makes them a better choice for dog lovers who suffer from allergies. The curly hair means the dog will release less dander, which can trigger allergic attacks.
It should be noted that no dog, even a goldendoodle with a very curly coat type, will be 100% hypoallergenic. A regular bath and grooming or trip to the groomers can help keep the dander and shedding under control, no matter what coat type your goldendoodle has.
Wavy or shaggy patterns are common for most goldendoodles. A goldendoodle with a wavy coat is generally low-shedding, but that doesn’t mean that all goldendoodles with this coat type will be non-shedding. This coat type is fairly easy to maintain; however, a wavy goldendoodle will still need to be brushed regularly to avoid mats. A groomer can advise you on a regime for coat care.
Curly goldendoodles have a curlier coat, ranging from a loose relaxed curly to a more curly wooly coat, more like that of their poodle parent. However, most goldendoodles with curly coats don’t get quite as curly as a poodle, although they will likely share the trait of minimal shedding, have less dander, and be more hypoallergenic. A goldendoodle with a curly coat requires more brushing or more frequent trips to the groomers.
Some goldendoodles have straight or flat coats (also known as an improper coat) and don’t look quite as teddy bear-like as their curlier counterparts. They also don’t have the “beard” that so many people find endearing on goldendoodles. However, they are fairly easy to groom.
The straight coat is more in line with the golden retriever parent’s coat. Goldendoodles with straight coats are moderate to high shedders, so they are not recommended for families with allergies.
If your heart is set on a goldendoodle with a particular kind of coat, talk to a reputable goldendoodle breeder. A reputable, experienced breeder can tell you the probability of the puppy’s coat type and how much the puppy will likely shed.
For example, a puppy with a smooth face will more likely have a straight coat. The more waves and crimps there are in a puppy’s coat, the more likely it is that the dog will have a curlier coat.
However, regardless of the coat, the puppies will grow up to be a lovable goldendoodle with floppy ears!
Goldendoodles don’t just look like teddy bears — they are also friendly like teddy bears. They make excellent companion dogs and enjoy spending time with people. Because they are highly social, goldendoodles are prone to separation anxiety when their people are gone for long periods of time.
The goldendoodles’ friendliness and easygoing nature makes them great family pets. They are remarkably gentle and patient with children. Most goldendoodles get along well with other animals, too, especially if they have been well socialized.
Despite their size, goldendoodles do not make good watchdogs. Their innate friendliness extends to strangers, too, so goldendoodles are more likely to want to play with strangers than to ward them off.
Possible Health Problems
As a healthy dog, a goldendoodle can generally have a reasonably good lifespan for a dog, about 10 to 15 years. This is influenced by their parent breeds. Golden retrievers live around 10 to 12 years, while poodles tend to live 10 to 18 years, depending on their size. As a general rule, smaller breeds tend to live longer.
Sadly, goldendoodle dogs are prone to certain health concerns or problems. For example, like both parent breeds, goldendoodles can be prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic condition in which the hip socket doesn’t form properly and can be prone to inflation or to dislocate, particularly as the dog ages. It is closely related to patella luxation, a condition that causes hip dislocation.
Hip dysplasia can also contribute to arthritis in the goldendoodle’s hips. Though hip dysplasia can’t be cured, it can be managed. A vet can diagnose whether your goldendoodle has it.
Von Willebrand disease is an inherited breeding disorder that can affect goldendoodles. This health problem is caused by a deficiency in the amount of a specific protein that is necessary to help develop blood platelets (used for clotting).
Dogs with von Willebrand disease often don’t show outward signs of having the disease, while others may bleed spontaneously, from the nose for example, or bleed profusely after trauma or surgery. Like with hip dysplasia, there is no cure for this disease; it can only be managed.
Some goldendoodles get skin diseases, such as sebaceous adenitis. The sebaceous glands provide the skin with moisture and helps the dog’s immune system. However, in some cases, the glands become inflamed.
This generally cosmetic skin disorder generally starts at the head and neck and works its way back. This is a hereditary condition that can result in loss of coat. The skin becomes scaly as the sebaceous glands become inflamed. A vet can detect the condition and recommend a skin treatment and medication to manage it.
Heartbreakingly, some goldendoodles can experience heart conditions, some of which are hereditary. For example, aortic stenosis, narrowing of the aortic valve, means the heart has to work harder to push the blood through the body.
Aortic stenosis can often be inherited from the goldendoodle’s golden retriever parent, as golden retrievers are prone to the disease. It can leave them vulnerable to heart failure.
Goldendoodles are also prone to ear infections. Oftentimes, this is caused by the buildup of wax and debris in the ear canal. One of the most obvious signs that your goldendoodle has an ear infection is a smelly, black, waxy material in the ears.
Goldendoodle ear infections can be caused by allergens like pollen, chemicals, mold, or bacteria or yeast; ear mites can also cause ear infections.
Some goldendoodles love swimming, and this can make them prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears, which can cover their ear holes and trap moisture and heat that breeds harmful bacteria and yeast.
Progressive retinal atrophy is an incurable disease that goldendoodles sometimes inherit from their golden retriever parents. Dogs with this typically begin showing symptoms between six and seven years of age. It is a disease that affects the photoreceptors in the dog’s eyes and can gradually lead to blindness. With progressive retinal atrophy , generally the dog’s night vision is affected first and then daytime sight.
There are a few things you can do to help your goldendoodle live longer and avoid certain health issues. The first thing is to always go to a reputable breeder; their puppies have fewer health concerns.
Overbreeding and bad breeding practices can result in more health conditions and an increase in the chances of hereditary diseases for the offspring. Many reputable breeders guarantee their puppies, and some even offer lifelong services.
Reputable breeders will also test their dogs, so if a goldendoodle breeder tells you that tests aren’t necessary because there haven’t been any health issues in the parent lines, walk away and find a breeder that tests. Good breeders screen their dogs for genetic diseases so they breed healthy puppies.
Many diseases are hereditary, and poor breeding practices can make it more likely the parent breeds will pass certain diseases on. The Goldendoodle Association of North American has a list of goldendoodle breeders who are reputable and practice good breeding, which can be a great resource for pet parents.
There are five key areas than can increase your dog’s lifespan:
- Proper eating and nutrition
- Proper weight
- Mental wellbeing
- Good exercise routine
- Healthy teeth
Maintaining healthy habits in these areas can help your goldendoodle have a longer, healthier lifespan.
The goldendoodle dog may well look like a sedate cuddly teddy bear when it’s sitting, but be advised these dogs have very high energy levels, which is typical of a poodle mix.
Goldendoodles — especially goldendoodle puppies — need lots of play and activity time to bring down their energy levels. They do well with active families and are a good match for energetic children.
Having an intelligent dog has its advantages, but they also need to be kept engaged. Without sufficient activity levels, your goldendoodle dog will grow bored — and a bored dog is more likely to get into trouble.
Though goldendoodles will mellow out somewhat as they age, they will still need high activity levels to keep them engaged and to channel their energy. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog, so be prepared to keep your goldendoodle dog well exercised to curb those exuberant energy levels. Walks, playing fetch, and socializing with other dogs can all be good forms of exercise.
Not Ready for a Big Commitment? Get a Mini
A regular goldendoodle isn’t a small dog. These friendly dogs can stand up to 21 inches tall and weigh up to 100 pounds, so if you aren’t ready for a big dog commitment, the miniature goldendoodle may be a better option for you.
A mini goldendoodle stands about 14-17 inches tall and only weighs up to about 35 pounds; however, its size will depend on their parent breeds, as well as the luck of the genetic lottery.
A miniature goldendoodle is a recent mixed breed with a purebred poodle parent — a miniature or toy poodle parent, that is. Like their bigger cousins, mini goldendoodles are popular because of their friendly, outgoing temperament, social nature, and intelligence. Mini goldendoodles make friends very easily with strangers or other animals.
Also, they tend to be low-shedding, which means less dander to irritate allergies; however, remember that low-shedding doesn’t mean no shedding. Though they tend to be hypoallergenic, it doesn’t mean that they are completely allergy free.
The coat types for mini goldendoodles are usually wavy or curly. Coats will grow long if they are not trimmed regularly at the groomers. Miniature goldendoodles need to be brushed at least once a week to keep their coat from matting.
Miniature goldendoodles also have floppy ears. Like their adorable bigger cousins, mini goldendoodles still have high energy levels and need good activity levels to keep them from getting bored.
It should be noted that mini goldendoodles like to bark. Like many smaller breeds, they bark when they are curious, when they are bored, or when they hear strange noises. Though they can be trained to bark less, they won’t stop barking completely, so if you are looking for a quiet dog, this may not be the choice for you.
A Water Lover
Goldendoodles are a crossbreed of two water loving dogs; however, that doesn’t mean every groodle loves the water. Many goldendoodle dogs do have an instinctive love for water and enjoy swimming, playing, and splashing around, but you will occasionally find goldendoodles who don’t.
With groodles of any age, especially goldendoodle puppies, it is a good idea to get them used to the water so they can more easily make the transition to swimming, which they will instinctively do. Swimming takes concentration and can be overwhelming, especially the sensation of weightlessness for a goldendoodle puppy, so be patient.
On the beach or lakeshore, goldendoodles may love to run around and splash in and out of the water. Remember, swimming can be exhausting, especially for a goldendoodle puppy, so make sure your dog gets rest in between bouts of water play.
You’ll have to teach your goldendoodle how to enter and exit the water, particularly pools. Many goldendoodles will jump right in a pool, but they may not know how to exit. You can get special tools like ramps to help your water loving goldendoodle exit the water safely.
It is important to supervise your goldendoodle in the water so that everyone can be safe while having fun. Be mindful that those adorable floppy ears on your goldendoodle dog means that they can be prone to ear infections.
The Colorful World of Goldendoodles
Though the stereotypical image of a goldendoodle might be an apricot-colored one with a wavy coat type, the truth is goldendoodles come in many colors: apricot, cream or beige, red, brown, gray, black or even multiple colors (called parti). Even with the first generation of puppies, the coloring depends on the dominant and recessive color genes of the parent breeds.
The colors of the goldendoodles’ coat come from their parent breeds. For example, purebred golden retrievers come in three colors (golden and light and dark golden) and standard poodles come in a variety of colors. This is why goldendoodle puppies can come in an array of colors, too.
As they age, some goldendoodles, especially ones that are dark brown or black, are prone to “silvering” or getting lighter. Born with a black coat, a sable goldendoodle puppy turns a creamy shade with age, although the fur may retain dark tips. Goldendoodles can also have various other coat color combinations: parti, tuxedo, merle, brindle, and phantom.
Regardless of their color, goldendoodles tend to have low dander.
Socialize Them with Ease
If you have a goldendoodle puppy, socialization is important; it is also beneficial for older dogs, too. Dogs that are not well socialized, especially when young, are more likely to have bad manners or adopt aggressive habits.
However, a well socialized goldendoodle dog is easy to achieve. Doing this makes your groodle more likely to be happy, less anxious, and more at ease with the world.
What is socialization? Dog socialization is the practice of acclimating your dog to other people and pets and different places, sounds, smells, and sights; it is best to have full socialization for the first two years of your goldendoodle puppy’s life.
But it doesn’t have to end there, as socialization can continue throughout your dog’s life. This will result in better behavior from your pup in the future because your goldendoodle dog will be more comfortable in social situations.
With a new puppy or a shy older dog, introduce your canine friend to people a couple at a time. People should crouch down and let the dog approach them in their own time.
At the park, let your goldendoodle decide who to meet and for how long. If your dog is afraid, don’t force contact; instead, let your dog sniff and explore. Your goldendoodle should meet all sorts of people.
Part of socialization is letting your dog meet other dogs. Sniffing and cordial play are fine, but if your dog seems intimidated, pull back. Sometimes, a multi-dog game of balls or frisbees can help.
Though they are naturally curious, groodles are not among the dog breeds with a strong prey drive. They may be friendly with cats or smaller dogs; others can be more shy until properly socialized. Again, until you know how your goldendoodle will react, go slowly.
Daily walks are a good way to start socializing your goldendoodle. Like labradors, once goldendoodles are used to being out in the world, they are friendly and social. They love to play with new friends, whether on four legs or two.
They Are Highly Intelligent
Goldendoodles are highly intelligent, perceptive cross breeds, partly because they are a mixed breed from two intelligent parent breeds. This, combined with their natural friendliness and trainability, can make them good therapy dogs.
Though they make great family dogs, goldendoodles can get bored and into trouble if left to their own devices without mental stimulation. Boredom can lead to behavior problems like chewing and digging.
Teaching your goldendoodle new tricks and games is one way to keep boredom at bay; exercise is also important (remember, a tired dog is a good dog). You can find a number of ideas for puzzles toys for pets online. If you can, take your goldendoodle with you when you go places. They will love it!
As you can see, there is a lot to love about goldendoodles. They are intelligent, friendly, sociable designer dogs bred from poodle and golden retriever parents. They come with three different coat types and in many colors.
Goldendoodles are high energy, so they will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation, but they make great family dogs or service dogs!