The answer to this question also depends on exactly what you mean by high-maintenance. You may have seen a Standard Poodle with a traditional haircut prancing down the street and wondered if the poodle is as high-maintenance as he may appear at first glance.
Since doodles are typically made up of at least fifty percent Poodle (plus another breed such as a Golden Retriever in the case of a Goldendoodle, Bernese Mountain Dog in the case of the Bernedoodle, etc.), many wonder if some of these perceived “frou-frou” traits will be apparent in their doodle. Is this a dog that will high-step around puddles and shy away from traditional dog activities like fetch or tug-of-war?
Doodles Don't Inherit High Maintenance Behavior from Poodles
Thankfully, the Poodle is not as delicate as he appears! Because of his unique curly coat and sometimes rather extravagant haircuts, it seems that the Poodle belongs in a showroom and not out romping in mud puddles. But don’t let his appearance fool you. The Standard Poodle was originally bred as a retrieving dog (specifically for the water). In fact, the sporting clip method of trimming the coat was originally used to facilitate swimming.
Even in pet Poodles, the shaved muzzle and feet are common so as to keep dirt and debris from clinging to the curly coat in these areas. Standard Poodles are actually quite athletic, moderately active and extremely intelligent. Retrieving is a skill that requires dutiful obedience on the part of the dog, and the Standard Poodle is no exception. Despite his looks, this is the kind of dog that is highly trainable and can keep up with an active, sporty owner.
As a result, your Standard Goldendoodle will likely be smart, trainable, and athletic based on the Poodle part of his heritage. He will be more than willing to accompany you on adventures, keep up with you on hikes, etc.
Most are not afraid to romp hard at a dog park and come back covered in mud. Furthermore, Poodles (and doodles) are an overall healthy breed. They are not overly sensitive to their environment—typically tolerating both heat and cold well. So when it comes to physical hardiness, doodles are relatively low-maintenance and easy to manage.
Doodles Can Be High Maintenance In Other Ways
First, their coat requires extra care as compared to other dog breeds. One of the reasons doodles have become so popular is because of their low-shedding coats. Typically, the curlier the coat, the less your doodle will shed. However, while you can happily thank the poodle parentage for the lack of dog fur in your house, on your clothes, etc., there are other disadvantages to this type of coat.
First, it can mat easily which means frequent brushing. We typically recommend brushing or combing your doodle around two to three times a week. The curlier doodles may need to be brushed daily in their trouble spots where matting occurs most easily (around the ears, tail, etc.).
Secondly, your doodle will not shed, but it does not mean you won’t ever have to clean up after him. The curly coat is a magnet for leaves, sticks, mud, and anything else your doodle walks through in the backyard. Some doodle owners end up opting for the traditional Poodle cut to help keep those sticky feet cleaner!
Finally, and most importantly, your doodle’s fur has to be groomed and cut regularly. Unlike most other dog breeds, a Poodle’s fur will grow continuously and if left ungroomed they will be a dreadlocked mess! This is one of the main ways that doodles could be considered high-maintenance as they must receive baths and haircuts on a regular basis. Most doodle owners have their pets groomed roughly every 6-8 weeks.
Another way that doodles may be considered high-maintenance is their “needy” personalities. While we have clarified that Poodles are still very dog-like in regard to enjoying play and other athletic activities, they are not the type of dog to be left alone in the backyard all day.
They are intelligent—very intelligent; in fact poodles are often cited as the second smartest dog breed according to a popular qualitative research study done in the 1990’s. Check out our recent blog post to learn more about this attribute which can be a bit of a double-edged sword.
Doodles Like to Get Exercise & Be Social Dogs
In other words, doodles are typically highly intelligent especially those combined with another ultra-intelligent dog breed such as the Border Collie (bordoodle), Golden Retriever (goldendoodle), etc. and this can be both a huge advantage when it comes to ease of training as well as a disadvantage when it comes to wanting a low-maintenance dog.
A doodle left at home alone all day with limited exercise and social interaction will likely become very bored, restless, and in turn, destructive. An owner of a doodle must be prepared to put their doodle’s sharp mind to work through training and exercise.
Poodles, and therefore doodles, are also known for being incredibly people-oriented. They often make excellent service dogs and therapy dogs because of their innate sense of intuition and being in tune with their owner’s emotions. They have often been described as almost humanlike in both their overall smarts and emotional intuition. The result is the most devoted companion you could ever ask for, but again, the downside is that this is not a low-maintenance dog breed.
They will want to be with you in any room of the house—often waiting for you outside of the shower, following you to the bathroom, etc. Their sensitivity to human emotions also means they can be sensitive to harsh correction. A doodle may be prone to anxiety if they are subjected to yelling or other harsh behaviors and/or receive too little quality time with their owners! To have a happy, well-behaved doodle, an owner must be prepared to spend time with their pup and should not be surprised that their doodle prefers to be at their feet or on their lap all day every day.
Their higher-than-average intelligence and people-oriented nature means that doodles can be some of the most well-behaved and obedient dogs out there, but this does not happen overnight. An owner must be willing to put in the time and energy necessary to harness the doodle’s smarts and devotion through training!
In conclusion, we find that the doodle is a relatively high-maintenance breed. The combination of their coat, which needs to be groomed frequently, and their intelligent, people-oriented temperament which lends itself to needing a good bit of human interaction and activity, makes them a less-than-ideal breed for those who simply want a dog who can act as a yard ornament or otherwise occupy themselves alone all day.
Though not the most low-maintenance breed around, doodles are worth the extra “hassle” as their qualities make them well-suited to be the lowest shedding best friend you’ve ever had! The extra time spent grooming, interacting with, and exercising your doodle will be repaid with a lifetime of loyalty, emotional support, and endless clever tricks!
Jenna and the JLDD Team