When it comes to dogs, a "doodle" doesn't mean a nifty little drawing, but refers to a hybrid dog -- a purebred Labrador retriever or golden retriever crossed with a purebred poodle. Also referred to as designer or crossbreed dogs, hybrids are created by mating two purebred dogs of different breeds. As hybrid dog breeds become more established, hybrids may pair up to create purebred hybrids, such as two schnoodles making another schnoodle. No hybrid dogs, whether the offspring of hybrid parents or created from two different purebred breeds, are recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Making a Doodle Dog
The poodle, golden retriever and Labrador retriever are among the American Kennel Club's top 10 most registered breeds. The poodle is popular because he's intelligent and people-oriented with the bonus of a low-shedding coat. The golden retriever is even more popular, maybe because he's so devoted to his family. Ranking first in the American Kennel Club's dog registrations, the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog of all, perhaps because he's gentle and gets along with just about everyone and everything. When you combine a poodle with a golden retriever, you have a goldendoodle; a Labrador retriever and a poodle make a Labradoodle.
Labrador and Golden Differences
Though the golden retriever and Labrador retriever are different breeds, they share similar qualities, including their size, easygoing temperament, intelligence and trainability. They do have different coats, with the golden sporting a medium length coat, compared to the Lab's short coat. Both are energetic, though the Lab tends to be a higher-energy dog than the golden retriever.
Poodles come in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard. Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are about the same size, standing approximately 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder. The type of poodle used to create the doodle dog will influence how tall the Labradoodle and goldendoodle will stand. According to the Australian Labradoodle Association of America, a Labradoodle may stand between 14 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 15 and 65 pounds. The Labradoodle's size ranges between 14 and 16 inches tall for miniature Labradoodles, 17 and 20 inches tall for medium dogs and 21 and 24 inches tall for standard Labradoodles. The Goldendoodle Association of North America recognizes four sizes of goldendoodles: petite, standing less than 14 inches tall and weighing less than than 25 pounds; miniature, between 14 and 17 inches tall; medium, standing between 17 and 21 inches tall; and standard, reaching more than 21 inches tall.
Coat Colors, Condition
The Labradoodle's coat may be a variety of colors, including gold, red, black, cream, chocolate, brindle and multipatterned. The goldendoodle's coat colors include cream, gold, white, chocolate, black, silver and multipatterned. The goldendoodle's coat may be closer to his poodle parent's, with a curly finish, flat like his retriever ancestor's or a wavy combination of both parents. The Labradoodle's coat may be wavy, curly, wiry or woolly. Depending on how much poodle power his coat has, either doodle dog's coat may not shed much.
Generally, a Labradoodle should be a happy, social dog with a high energy level. His Labrador and poodle roots tend to result in an intelligent dog who is loyal and devoted to his family. Chances are he'll also enjoy going for a swim, as both breeds are naturally drawn to water. The goldendoodle may not be quite as active as the Labradoodle, however he's similarly outgoing and affectionate with his people. Both doodle dogs are responsive to training and are good candidates for games such as agility and fly ball, as well as serving as therapy dogs.
A doodle dog's health often depends on his parents. There's no way to guarantee any dog's health, however, using a reputable breeder is the first step to minimizing your dog's risk of inherited disease. Poodles are prone to progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, hip dysplasia, thyroid and adrenal disorders, idiopathic epilepsy and other conditions. Toy and miniature poodles are prone to the orthopedic conditions luxating patellas and Legg-Perthes; standards are vulnerable to bloat and immune disorders such as Addison's disease. The Labrador retriever is susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia as well as exercise induced collapse. The golden retriever is also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as some forms of cardiac and eye disease. Both retrievers have a 12- to 14-year life expectancy, while the Labradoodle and goldendoodle life span generally ranges between 10 and 15 years.