We often get the question, “are doodles purebred?” This can be a confusing topic for our puppy parents. On the one hand, they are seeking out a reputable breeder to get a dog with specific, predictable characteristics which captures one definition of a “purebred.”
On the other hand, doodles are not recognized as a specific breed by the AKC (American Kennel Club) and several other notable dog breed organizations. Doodles are sometimes called a “designer breed” or a “hybrid.” This means they are the result of an intentional breeding of two (sometimes three) different purebreds.
In other words, doodles are not “purebred” in the purest sense of the word, but the intentionality behind their breeding mean they are not your average mutt, either — they still have knowable genetics and predictability in regard to their physical and temperament traits.
What Makes a Dog Purebred?
Most “purebred” dog breeds have been around for centuries and have a specific heritage. There are requirements including a specific height and weight range, coat/coloration, etc. The long history and clear cut consistency among these breeds earns them recognition by the AKC and they can be registered and tracked through this organization and participate in dog shows.
So, if you want a long-recognized historical breed that can participate in dog shows, then an AKC or UKC breed may be right for you. However, many people are choosing doodles for other reasons! You can learn about some of these reasons in our recent post we discussed why doodles are so popular.
Often people seek out doodles because of their incredible versatility. Many people love that doodles come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.The versatility stands in contrast to the very specific regulations that surround “purebred” dogs.
Crossing Breeds with Poodles
The Poodle has many wonderful qualities and in and of itself is a wonderful breed to own but by crossing different breeds with the Standard Poodles, the possibilities are almost endless and add a little differences and nuances in each doodle breed’s personality. For example, our Goldendoodles tend to be incredibly affectionate and laidback based on the Golden Retriever in their heritage while an Aussiedoodle will have a greater intensity that makes him a great choice for agility or other mentally challenging activities based on his herding background.
But even within a specific breed of doodle such as the Goldendoodle there are a variety of colors and sizes to choose from. Using a Toy or Miniature Poodle can produce smaller versions of this breed. The smallest Goldendoodles can be less than ten pounds, while those bred with standard poodles can be as large as 80+ pounds.
The poodle coat comes in a huge variety of colors including solids, sable, phantom, merle and more! As a result, any of the doodle breeds have a large variety of colors. Many families find the versatility of the breed to be a huge selling point. We love matching the right breed and size of doodle to each family depending on their needs. And the exciting color wheel is an added bonus!
Another reason someone might consider a doodle is what is known as “hybrid vigor.” This is a fancy way of saying what many people have heard before, “mutts are healthier than purebreds.” There is some truth to this statement but it does not replace the importance of finding a reputable breeder of a doodle or other hybrid breed.
Many genetic disorders are “recessive traits” so when the genetic pool is small (as is the case with purebreds, especially some of the rarer ones), then these recessive traits start to pop up more often. Many purebreds have specific diseases or health concerns associated with the breed. Irish Setters are known for epilepsy, Basset Hounds are known for intervertebral disc disease, etc. This does not mean that hybrid dogs or even mutts cannot have these issues, but it is less likely as they are more genetically diverse.
So doodles, can be healthier than purebreds on average, but genetic testing is still critical especially as more and more doodles are bred together (known as multigenerational doodles). Breed specific issues are still likely to surface if a breeder does not do genetic health testing on both parent dogs. For larger breeds, one of the main concerns is hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, standard size doodles are still prone to hip dysplasia if a breeder does not perform joint testing on parent dogs.
Still, there is some validity to the healthiness of doodles. The Standard Poodle is an overall healthy breed with a high life expectancy (12-15 years), so their genetics tend to help lessen the potential health issues that some of the other breeds that make up the other half of popular doodle breeds (i.e. Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc.) are known for.
For example, Bernese Mountain Dogs in particular have a low life expectancy and are known for a number of health issues. In fact, Bernese Mountain Dogs have one of the lowest life expectancies in the canine world with some estimates as low as six years. Thankfully, once bred to the Standard Poodle, the size is reduced a bit and health issues are mitigated so the life expectancy increases to around 12+ years.
Extremely large breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, etc. often benefit the most from being bred to a poodle to create a hybrid breed. Their giant size is diminished which serves to naturally increase life expectancy and improve joint health.
Doodles Technically Don't Qualify as Purebred
In conclusion, doodles are not a historically recognized breed, so are not typically referred to as “purebreds.” However, they are the product of two purebred dogs so still have some predictable characteristics while also allowing for more versatility. Many people prefer owning a doodle thanks to this versatility as well as the potential for a greater life expectancy than some purebred dogs.
Whether looking for a purebred that is AKC recognized or searching for a doodle or other “designer dog,” it is important to take time to research and find a reputable breeder as this is the biggest key when it comes to the genetic health of your pup!
Jenna and the JLDD Team