Designer dog breeds refer to the intentional breeding of two purebred dogs in order to achieve a cross that has characteristics of both breeds. The most common designer dog breeds today involve the poodle breed, which can produce a smaller dog over time.
If you’ve ever met a Poodle than you probably are familiar with their clever, witty personalities. Their intelligence coupled with their hypoallergenic, non-shedding coat makes it easy to understand why this breed is so popular.
In addition to its hallmarked intelligence and curly coat, the Poodle is also a very versatile breed - it comes in a variety of colors and sizes. This means that a Poodle cross can be a good fit for almost anyone as there is great flexibility in terms of size, color, and personality traits, depending on which other breed they are crossed with. The possibilities are almost endless, but today we explore some of the more common small Poodle crosses or doodles.
Many families are familiar with the Standard Goldendoodle or the Labradoodle as these breeds were the first well-known poodle crosses and continue to be the most popular today. People may be attracted to these breeds for their hypoallergenic, low-shedding coats and friendly personalities but prefer a smaller dog.
If you are one of those people, we have some great news — any standard size doodle cross typically also comes in a miniature size. The reason? The Poodle comes in both a standard and miniature variety. So even some of the world’s largest breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog can be successfully bred down to a smaller size over a few generations using miniature Poodle crosses.
In addition to the Mini Bernedoodle, Mini Goldendoodles (Golden Retriever X Miniature Poodle), Mini Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever X Miniature Poodle), and Mini Sheepadoodles (Old English Sheepdog X Miniature Poodle) are among the most popular smaller doodle breeds.
We have a word of caution here. All of the aforementioned mini doodles are not created equal.
Because the “other breed” represented in the cross is a larger dog, it does take time and multiple generations to successfully breed them down to a smaller size. We do not recommend first generation (or F1) crosses of these mini breeds. For example, some breeders may breed a Bernese Mountain Dog (around 100 lbs.) with a Toy Poodle (around 4 lbs.) via artificial insemination. This pairing is clearly unnatural and the resulting offspring can have structural abnormalities — long backs, short legs and other disproportionalities.
Furthermore, the larger the disparity between the two parents’ sizes, the more unpredictable the weights of their offspring. While most puppies will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the two parents’ weights, it is certainly possible that they could take after one parent such that a first generation “mini” Bernedoodle could end up being quite large like his Bernese Mountain Dog parent.
Be sure to ask your doodle breeder about both parent dogs’ sizes to gauge your pups’ estimated adult weight/height. The closer the two parents are in weight, the more reliable prediction you can make about your pup!
If you desire a Mini Bernedoodle, Goldendoodle, etc. just make sure that you are choosing a pup from a later generation. After two or three more gradual crosses, you can find a structurally sound and reliably smaller doodle that still has the adorable look of the Bernedoodle, Goldendoodle, etc.
Still, the mini sizes of these breeds tend to be around 20-30 lb range, which may be a bit big for some owner’s preferences. Of course the higher percentage of miniature or Toy Poodle used across the generations, the smaller the resulting offspring will be. However, those who are concerned with owning a particularly tiny dog while still fully preserving the characteristics of the “other breed” represented in a doodle cross (such as a smoother coat) may want to consider some doodle breeds that are naturally smaller.
Cockapoos and Cavapoos are two great examples of dog breeds that can be small and structurally sound even with a first generation cross.
The American Cocker Spaniel is around 20-30 lbs. and is known as the smallest member of the sporting dog family. Cocker Spaniels are generally easy-going, eager to please companions who still have a bit of hunting instincts and can enjoy a good game of fetch or other athletic activity. A first generation cross with a Miniature Poodle can achieve a smart, friendly Cockapoo cross that is reliably 10-20 lbs. at maturity.
A somewhat similar breed is the Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel X Poodle). Even smaller than the cocker spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is considered a toy breed and typically matures to 13-18 lbs. Bred specifically for companionship, this is a generally amiable dog who is laidback, calm and just loves to be near his owners. The resulting Cavapoo cross is one of the smaller and calmer doodle breeds, typically maturing to around 10-15 lbs.
The Smallest Designer Dog Breeds - Yorkiepoo and Maltipoo
We have named some popular smaller doodle crosses that are typically a good fit for families. Still, some owners want very tiny dogs! If you are hoping for a pup that matures to under 10 lbs. then you might consider one of the Toy Poodle crosses. Some of the most popular are the Yorkiepoo (Yorkshire Terrier X Poodle) and Maltipoo (Maltese X Poodle).
The Yorkshire Terrier and Maltese both mature to around 3-7 lbs. If crossed with a Toy Poodle, the resulting offspring will be in this same weight range. As with other toy breeds, the Maltese was bred chiefly as a companion dog. As a result he is typically loving, friendly, and loves to cuddle. The Yorkshire Terrier, while a member of the toy group, traces his roots back to a combination of terriers and toy breeds. As a result, he can be one of the spunkier toy breeds out there. He is lively and may like to chase small prey, but overall will still enjoy a good snuggle!
Keep in mind, the tinier the dog, does not necessarily mean the easier to train. Despite looking like an adorable stuffed animal, toy poodle crosses are known for being more difficult to housebreak than larger doodle varieties, and they are typically not the best choice for families with young children due to their extremely small size and resulting fragility.
Still, for those who are attracted to the tiniest pups in the dog world, the Yorkiepoo and Maltipoo make a good choice for a very low-shedding and loving companion.
Jenna and the JLDD Team