Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Is an F1 doodle better than an F2? Are F1b’s really the best doodles for allergies? What do all these F’s and b’s mean when it comes to doodle generations anyway?
These are some of the questions we get in regard to doodle generations, so let’s see if we can bring about some clarity to this often confusing topic.
The topic of generations is commonly surrounded by confusion and many owners are not even sure which generation they actually own or how to “crack the code” of the various letters and numbers even if they are aware of the denotation.
For purposes of this article, we will use the Goldendoodle as our case study. So we will use the Golden Retriever and Poodle as our purebred parent examples. However, the same formula would apply to any doodle breed. One would simply substitute the purebred parent associated with the doodle you are interested in: “Bernese Mountain Dog” for the Bernedoodle, “Old English Sheepdog” for the Sheepadoodle, etc.
F1 = Golden Retriever X Poodle
The “F” stands for “filial” and is simply a way to denote generation. So an F1 Goldendoodle means “First Generation Goldendoodle.” This is the initial cross, so one parent would be a purebred Golden Retriever and the other a purebred Poodle. The F1 generation is a good choice for those who are particularly attached to the Golden Retriever (or the “other” non-poodle breed in their particular doodle breed) as you are close to the roots and will definitely preserve some Golden Retriever traits in both personality and physical appearance.
These dogs typically have loose, wavy coats. The downside of the F1 generation is they tend to still shed some—less than a purebred Golden Retriever but more than some of the later generations we discuss below.
F2 vs F1? An F2 = F1 Goldendoodle X F1 Goldendoodle
An F2 Goldendoodle denotes a second generation cross—an F1 Goldendoodle bred to an F1 Goldendoodle. Again, you see a 50/50 even split between the breeds — the resulting puppies will be 50% Golden Retriever, 50% Poodle. However, again, you are likely to have some shedding. The F2 generation is actually the most unpredictable in regard to hair type as a simple Punnett Square illustration would reveal.
Some of the puppies are likely to get two copies of the Golden Retriever flat coat gene so may still be quite heavy shedders. This generation is a good choice for people who love both the Golden Retriever and Poodle personalities and want a good mixture of both breeds but are flexible on hair type and shedding.
F1 vs F1b? An F1b = F1 Goldendoodle X Poodle
The “b” in this description stands for “back cross.” In other words, the original hybrid cross has been bred back to a purebred parent (typically the poodle). The result is a puppy that is 75% poodle and 25% Golden Retriever. These puppies typically have wavy to curly coats and reduced shedding. The F1b generation is a good choice for allergy sufferers or those who simply want less fur to clean up around the house.
It is important to note that while the vast majority of breeders, an F1 Goldendoodle bred back to a Golden Retriever could still technically be called an F1b goldendoodle as the “b” simply means bred back to a purebred parent. Most breeders would avoid this type of F1b as the result would be a dog that sheds as much as Golden Retriever, but it is still good to know to avoid potential confusion. Always ask your breeder to verify what breed and generation each of your puppy’s parents are.
Quiz time: What would you call the puppy born to an F2 Goldendoodle and a Poodle?
If you answered “F2b” then congratulations, you’ve cracked the doodle code! A “b” added onto any of the generations of Goldendoodle simply means one of the doodle's parents is a purebred instead of designer (again, almost always a purebred Poodle).
F1bb vs F1b? An F1bb = F1b Goldendoodle X Poodle
The more b’s, the more poodle! In this case, an F1b Goldendoodle has been backcrossed again to a purebred Poodle. The result is 88% poodle and 12% Golden Retriever. While this may sound like a lot of Poodle, the result is a predictably curly, low-shedding coat that is great for allergy-sufferers.
As doodle breeders, we have a lot of positive things to say about our poodle parents and the Poodle breed as a whole — you can read more about their history and characteristics here. So the doodle crosses with higher percentage of poodle are still fabulous family dogs but may have less obvious characteristics from their “other” breed. In the case of an F1bb Goldendoodle —the dog will be more similar to a Poodle in regards to coat, physical structure and certain traits but still have a little dash of retriever to keep things interesting!
F3 and multigenerational = various combinations beyond the F2 generation
Some breeders use the term “F3,” while others denote any cross after the F2 generation as “multigenerational.”
If you run across the term “F3,” it can actually mean two different types of combinations. Put simply it means you are now 3 generations removed from the original cross of Golden Retriever to Poodle, so this can look like an F2 Goldendoodle bred to another Goldendoodle. In this case, most reputable breeders have been careful in selecting their parents and would avoid breeding straight coated, high-shedding parents.
So, most F3’s will have low shedding, wavy coats. Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, asking questions about your puppy’s parents is an important step in finding the right breeder and puppy for you and avoiding mishaps!
An F3 can also mean an F1b X an F1b. This would of course be similar in regards to coat type and breed percentage breakdown as an F1b.
One will rarely, if ever, stumble across anything “higher” than an F3 as most breeders begin to call any doodle after this a “multigenerational” doodle. The multigenerational doodle could be any combination of Goldendoodle parents past the third generation.
The positive side of the multigenerational doodle is that these are typically one of the best options for allergy sufferers as a reputable breeder has been careful to select non-shedding parents in their line; the more generations removed from the original shedding parents (i.e. Golden Retriever), the less chance of any sly shedding genes slipping in!
However, because multigenerational can denote a variety of crosses, it is important to ask your breeder about your puppy’s parents, grandparents, etc. if you want to understand the exact breed breakdown or are concerned about preserving a certain percentage of Golden Retriever.
Understanding F1 vs F2 vs F1b vs F2b Is Not Essential
At the end of the day, we often tell our puppy parents to not get too hung up on the exact terminology related to the generation of their pup. Knowing what you prefer in regard to personality and coat type is enough information to have a reputable breeder guide you to the right doodle for you.
When it comes to goldendoodles, we have come across the most incredibly loving and intelligent dogs of every generation!
Jenna and the JLDD Team