Is a Doodle right for you?

Doodles are very popular pets, and for good reason. They are cute and fun, but they can be high-maintenance. Learn the pros, cons, and must-haves for this adorable breed.

I saw my first Doodles in the early 2000’s while pet sitting in San Mateo County. They varied in size and color and looked scruffy. I recall one reddish female about 30lbs, very shy, that I used to walk. When I asked the owner what mix it was she got offended and replied, “Third generation Labradoodle!” In the years following this encounter I was equally unimpressed. Coming from an animal welfare background, I felt entitled to judge people who bred or bought dogs. I stuck with rescues and called it good.

Fast forward to the 2020’s when age and humbling life events have gifted me wisdom. Through my humane work I learned that the pet overpopulation problem is really the lost pet problem, and thus I shifted my focus to consulting with shelters to improve their stray return to owner practices and later to educating owners on keeping their pets safe with ID tags, microchipping, and the like.

I began to seriously change my tune, as did many small business owners, after Covid lockdown. Pet sitting was not needed as no one was traveling, and dog walking went the way of the Dodo bird as folks started, and continued, to work from home. I had to pivot. My good friend who is a Master Groomer had been nudging me for some time to learn the trade, and I finally gave in and let her train me. I found that grooming came naturally to me, and I already know how to handle dogs safely and humanely, so it was a shoo-in. Last year I opened my own shop in Sonoma County and decided to specialize in … you guessed it … Doodles.

Rather than fading away like so many fads, Doodles only increased in popularity over the years. From the original Labradoodle – where the breed name Doodle originates – sprang new types like Aussiedoodles, Bernedoodles, and Sheepadoodles. More than once I heard the cry, “They’re doodling everything!” Today you can choose a Doodle of just about any size, color, coat type, and personality. So this begs the question: should you welcome a Doodle into your family?

One of the biggest pros to this breed (mix) is that they are ADORABLE. With the right grooming, they resemble a living teddy bear with a soft round face and a button nose. By and large, they are friendly. Many Doodle owners report that their dogs are very bonded to them, follow them everywhere, love to walk, hang out on the couch, or do anything together. They are clownish, funny, and playful. That said, every dog is an individual requiring love, exercise, and training to be their best self.

They can be a good choice for individuals with allergies. While no dog is truly “hypoallergenic,” dogs that do not shed can work in such a home. Poodles do not shed, but the other parent (Labrador, Golden, etc.) definitely does, so it’s a toss-up if the offspring will or not. While everyone wants a puppy, buying or adopting an adult Doodle may be a better choice as you can see for sure which type of coat the dog has.

You can choose which size and breed type works best for your family. Because Poodles vary in size, Doodles can be bred (to an extent) in different sizes. Be aware, however, that as a mixed breed adult size is a bit of a gamble. I have seen “mini” Doodles end up weighing 50lbs! Breed plays a big part as well. In my opinion breeding Doodles with high-drive dogs is not a good idea. I learned this when I assisted in the rehoming of an aggressive Bordoodle. Most people want Doodles for a sweet family pet, not a working dog. Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs make good Doodles in my opinion.

As mentioned, I got into Doodles when I got into grooming. There’s a reason for this. They MUST be groomed regularly, no exceptions! Do not get a Doodle if you can’t afford it or can’t be bothered. Depending on where you live, be prepared to pay $150+ every 6 weeks at minimum. Ask your groomer to show you how to properly brush your dog’s coat to keep it clean and unmatted between appointments.

In the spirit of, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” I welcomed a Bernedoodle into my home. Maya is now the sweet and hilarious love of my (dog) life. My search for a puppy opened my eyes to the perils of scams, puppy brokers, and puppy mills. To help others I created an article and video on the subject which I encourage you to check out. Because Doodles are so popular, there are many available for adoption in shelters and rescues, so I would encourage you to start there. If you decide to buy a puppy, I strongly suggest you choose a local breeder so you can visit, interact with the dogs, and ask questions about health, temperament, and socialization.

On, and one more thing you’ll appreciate if you decide to share your life with a Doodle: put your socks away! 😊

Want to learn more about Doodles? Check out Doodle Doods, a great resource for information about behavior, grooming, puppy raising, and more!