The Goldendoodle, which also has been called a Golden Poo, Goldie Poo or Groodle, is a fairly new "breed" that has been developed in North America and Australia largely as a result of the skyrocketing popularity of its Labradoodle cousin. A first-generation Goldendoodle is a hybrid of a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle. While Labradoodles were bred to be guide dogs for vision-impaired people with dog-sensitive allergies, Goldendoodles have been bred primarily to be family pets, although they can also make terrific service dogs. Goldendoodles are wonderful additions to almost any home. They usually have the kind, friendly, trainable, people-oriented disposition of their Golden Retriever ancestors, blended with the natural intelligence and low-shedding coat of the Poodle. First-generation Goldendoodles are highly variable in appearance and coat. Multi-generation Goldendoodles - whose parents both are Goldendoodles - are much more consistent in type. If well socialized from puppyhood, Goldendoodles usually are great with children, adults, strangers and other pets.
History & Health
Over the past few decades, Poodle hybrids have become increasingly popular. The name "Goldendoodle" was first used in the United States in the early 1990s, several years after Wally Conron coined the term "Labradoodle" for its Australian cousin. The Labradoodle was developed as a guide dog for vision-impaired people who themselves or whose family members suffered from dog allergies. As the Labradoodle's popularity rose astronomically among service and companion dog owners in the late 1980s and 1990s, other dog fanciers decided to cross Golden Retrievers with Standard Poodles, to see if the gentle nature and cheerfulness of the Golden and the coat and intelligence of the Poodle would produce a combination as popular as that of the Labradoodle.
First-generation (F1) Goldendoodles are the hybrid offspring of a Golden Retriever bred to a Standard Poodle. These Goldendoodles may or may not be allergy-friendly, and their coats can shed a little or a lot. First-generation littermates rarely share consistent traits. They tend to be either more like a Golden or more like a Poodle in terms of temperament, coat, size, shedding propensities and hypo-allergenicity. However, they do have what is called "hybrid vigor," which makes them generally healthier than either of their parents or other purebred dogs of either ancestral breed. Hybrid vigor is what people refer to when they say that mutts are usually healthier than purebred dogs. First-generation Goldendoodles are not good choices for people with allergies or other sensitivities to dogs. They really are true mutts, even though both parents theoretically come from pure but unrelated lines.
First-generation backcross (F1B) Goldendoodles come from first-generation Goldendoodles bred to purebred Poodles. This cross increases the chance that the offspring will have more of the desirable Poodle-like traits, including low-to-no-shedding coats that cause fewer flare-ups in people with allergies. Multi-generational Goldendoodles come from breeding Goldendoodles to Goldendoodles. It is these dogs that are being used to improve and standardize the temperament, type and coat of this up-and-coming "breed." Multi-generational Goldendoodles have the most consistent characteristics. They are the best bet for people with allergies. Unfortunately, most Goldendoodles in the United States are still first-generation dogs that have a Standard Poodle and a Golden Retriever as parents. Multi-generational Goldendoodles remain relatively rare.
The dog-loving public was immediately enamored with the Goldendoodle. Its popularity grew to epic proportions in the 1990s and beyond, as so-called "designer dogs" became the latest fad. However, unlike most fads, the appeal of the Goldendoodle hasn't faded. The American love-affair with Goldendoodles prompted the creation of "mini-Goldendoodles" from crosses of female Golden Retrievers to male Miniature or Toy Poodles. The first reported Miniature Goldendoodle litter arrived in January 2002, attracting a great deal of attention. As word spread, more people jumped on the bandwagon to breed small Goldendoodles that were perfect for apartment and city living.
At this time, Goldendoodles are not recognized as a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United Kennel Club (UKC), the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) or any other widely-recognized all-breed purebred dog registry. However, Goldendoodle aficionados are making concerted efforts to standardize their type and temperament so that eventually they will be fully accepted by purebred dog registries. The Goldendoodle Association of North America (GANA) claims to be the only organization dedicated to creating and maintaining a reliable registry for the Goldendoodle. Its stated mission is to promote and guide the development of the Goldendoodle to achieve a consistent standard for the "breed" in terms of coat, type, health and temperament. These efforts are opposed by the American parent clubs of the Golden Retriever and Poodle, which view Goldendoodles and similar hybrids as genetic gambles that create expensive designer mutts bred primarily to deceive the buying public into thinking that there is something "better" about them than their purebred predecessors. The debate over whether the Goldendoodle should or should not be considered an independent breed will no doubt continue for many years.
The American Kennel Club has developed a program that allows mixed-breed dogs, and purebred dogs of breeds that are not yet recognized by the AKC, to be "registered" and to participate in AKC-sanctioned Rally, Obedience, Agility and Coursing events, and also to obtain their Canine Good Citizen title. Dogs enrolled in this "AKC Canine Partners" program must be spayed or neutered. Goldendoodles of any generation can participate in AKC Canine Partners events. Wolf-hybrids are excluded.
As hybrid crosses like the Goldendoodle develop richer genetic variation, they will become healthier and more likely to live longer than either of their parental lines. Today, the average life expectancy of a Goldendoodle is 10 to 14 years. They probably are predisposed to the same diseases as the Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle. These include skin disorders such as ichthyosis (any of several generalized skin disorders marked by dryness, roughness and scaling), eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), von Willebrand's disease, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Goldendoodles have a tendency to gain weight with age, so owners should monitor their food intake. Overweight dogs have a higher incidence of orthopedic problems. Goldendoodles should be kept active and trim for as long as possible to promote joint and heart health and a long, happy life.
Temperament & Personality
Goldendoodles of whatever generation are usually friends of everyone and strangers to no one, which makes them an ideal choice as a family dog. Due to their affable, outgoing personalities, Goldendoodles also make excellent companions for people with disabilities. They are cheerful, trustworthy, gentle, affectionate, smart and highly trainable animals that have a keen desire to please. When properly socialized, Goldendoodles get along famously with kids, strangers and other companion animals. They don't have a particularly strong prey drive and can be quite compatible with cats and smaller dogs, when introduced in a good way. These are social dogs that thrive in the presence of people and crumble if they are not given enough time, attention and affection. Like any dog, Goldendoodles can get into mischief and develop behavioral problems if they are left alone for long periods of time. Goldendoodles require a moderate amount of exercise and can live happily in urban or rural environments. This is a "breed-in-progress," whose temperament and other traits should become more consistent and predictable as time goes on.
The Goldendoodle is an active, highly energetic dog suitable for all types of athletic activities, such as flyball, agility, hide-and-seek, fetch-and-retrieve and other outdoor canine sports. Even though its original ancestors, the Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle, were bred as hunting dogs, the Goldendoodle has not been bred or widely used for that purpose. These dogs need a big, safely enclosed area in which to romp and run around. They also benefit from daily walks. Many Goldendoodles are instinctively attracted to water and love to swim. Running, swimming, playing, walking or otherwise romping for several hours a day will keep a Goldendoodle mentally and physically fit.
Most Goldendoodles are smart and easy to train. They are eager, willing learners that respond best to positive reinforcement and gentleness. Harsh, loud corrections or training by punishment are not helpful when working with these (or most other) dogs. Socialization and training should start while the dog is still a puppy and continue throughout its life. A well-socialized, well-trained Goldendoodle is a happy Goldendoodle and a wonderful companion.
Because it is such a young "breed," the behavioral traits of the Goldendoodle are not yet well-characterized. Certainly, if left unattended in a crate or elsewhere for long periods of time, a Goldendoodle will become bored and lonely, and may become depressed and destructive. Dogs bought from puppy mills or backyard breeders who have no regard for the health, disposition and overall consistency of the "breed" may have serious temperament and behavioral problems, such as aggression, fear-biting, timidity, separation anxiety, digging, destroying furniture and excessive barking, among others. People who are considering acquiring a Goldendoodle need to be sure that their lifestyle and schedule will permit them to spend lots of time with their new companion, so that behavioral problems can be prevented or at least nipped in the bud. They also should be sure to get their Goldendoodle from a reputable breeder. With these few thoughts in mind, the Goldendoodle is an excellent choice for someone who wants a mid-sized, fluffy, cheerful canine companion that is not too high-maintenance but still is energetic enough to share an active lifestyle.
First-generation Goldendoodles are a hybrid cross of a Standard Poodle with a Golden Retriever. The appearance of these Goldendoodles, even within a single litter, can vary dramatically. They may be stocky, blocky and coated with straight or slightly wavy hair like a Golden Retriever, or they may be slender, refined and covered with tightly coiled curls like a Poodle. As the generations get farther and farther away from the initial outcross, the appearance of the Goldendoodle becomes more consistent. In other words, as Goldendoodles are bred to Goldendoodles (rather than Standard Poodles being bred to Golden Retrievers), the characteristics of the dogs become much more recognizable. Multi-generation Goldendoodles are medium-sized dogs with extremely soft, wavy-to-curly coats that typically hang in loose ringlets everywhere on their bodies. They have soulful, sometimes mischievous-looking eyes and endearing facial expressions. They are simply adorable to look at.
Size and Weight
The hybrid nature of the Goldendoodle's lineage creates offspring that have a wide range of heights and weights. Generally, their size is in the mid-range of the Standard Poodle and the Golden Retriever. Goldendoodles currently come in several varieties, none of which are universally recognized. The Standard Goldendoodle is the largest and most common variety, being over 21 inches in height and typically weighing over 50 pounds. The Medium variety ranges from 17 to 21 inches at the shoulder and normally weighs between 35 and 50 pounds. The Miniature Goldendoodle is between 14 and 17 inches in height and weighs from 25 to 35 pounds. The Petite variety should be less than 14 inches tall and weigh less than 25 pounds. Most first-generation Goldendoodles have a Standard Poodle as a parent and thus are Standard-sized.
Coat and Color
Poodles and Golden Retrievers are the main contributors to this "breed." As a result, the Goldendoodle's coat may be flat, wavy or tightly curled, depending upon the generation and genetic background of the particular dog. The same litter can produce puppies with widely different coat types, especially in a first-generation cross (a Poodle bred to a Golden Retriever). When left unclipped, the Goldendoodle's coat can grow up to 8 inches in length. Goldendoodles can look like shaggy Retrievers or like Poodles with relaxed curls. Usually, they fall somewhere in between.
Goldendoodles come in a number of different colors, including cream, gold, apricot, red, chocolate, brown, black and grey. They also come in color combinations, called "parti colors," which look patchy in appearance.
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Sources: American Kennel Club