Updated: Dec 30, 2020
As you probably already know, there are a large variety of different doodle breeds (various poodle crosses).
Doodles are a relatively recent phenomenon that began in the 1990’s with Goldendoodles and Labradoodles. The original purpose was to create a guide dog or service dog that was hypoallergenic. The goal was to produce a low-shedding pup that was still highly intelligent, trainable, and agile.
The Goldendoodle and Labradoodle certainly fit the bill! For this post, we highlight the history of the doodle here to emphasize that the original intention was not to create a curly-coated couch potato. Rather, service dogs must possess a decent bit of (well-channeled) energy to have the motivation to their job.
Also, keep in mind that by definition, all doodle breeds are part Poodle. The Poodle — both miniature and standard size, is a relatively high-energy breed. They were originally bred as sporting dogs - specifically for retrieving game from water. This job of course requires smarts and athleticism! They are known for being incredibly clever, witty, and enthusiastic companions.
Their curly coat and trainability are the hallmarks that have made doodles so popular! However, if you are looking for a pup that needs very little exercise and sleeps most of the day, the doodle is not the best choice for you. Rather, the slothful English Bulldog comes to mind. Doodles are known for their incredible intelligence. Often high intelligence is coupled with energy as smarter breeds need more mental stimulation to keep from being bored. With that being said, some doodle breeds are calmer than others.
The Doodle Breeds That Are Not the Calmest
Let’s start with which doodle breeds are officially not the calmest. Most herding breeds are known for having the aforementioned combination of high intelligence and high energy. Herding sheep or cattle is a job that requires tremendous athleticism and the ability to follow human direction to a tee.
As a result, herding breeds are generally off-the-charts when it comes to both their quick learning as well as their energy and athleticism. Today they often excel in dog sports such as agility and frisbee! Some of the herding breeds most commonly combined with a poodle are the Old English Sheepdog (Sheepadoodle), Australian Shepherd (Aussiedoodle), and the Border Collie (Bordoodle).
Any of these types of doodles will tend to be athletic and smart, but not particularly calm. They will be a good fit for active families who enjoy outdoor activities!
Working Doodle Breeds Are Calmest
Many of the working doodle breeds would be a good choice for families wanting something a little more low-key. Some of the more popular working doodle breeds include the Newfypoo (Newfoundland X Poodle), Bernedoodle (Bernese Mountain Dog X Poodle), and the Pyredoodle (Great Pyrenees X Poodle). In the case of the working breeds, each was bred for a specific job based more on physical abilities rather than mental trainability.
As examples, the Great Pyrenees was bred as a livestock guardian. His job was to be a strong, physical protector but also be able to work on his own independently — not needing the mental stimulation and human interaction that a herding breed requires.
Similarly, the large Bernese Mountain Dog was bred to pull carts in the farmlands of Switzerland. These fluffy, oversized working dogs do not require the same level of exercise as the aforementioned herding breeds or a purebred poodle, but they are still physical, athletic dogs who would not prefer to be cooped in a kennel all day, either.
Without livestock to guard or carts to pull, these lovable giants need some form of consistent exercise to remain at their happiest. But after a decent walk, many Bernedoodles, Pyredoodles, etc. are more than willing to take a good long nap on the sofa, preferably with you! Keep in mind, however, that while these working doodle breeds can be a bit calmer on average, they can also be a bit more challenging to train as their heritage tended to breed for brauns rather than brains! Most have a streak of stubbornness or independence that can sometimes pose a training challenge.
Some Smaller Doodle Breeds Are Also Good Options for Pet Owners Looking for Tranquility
Some of the toy doodle breeds are also a good option for those wanting a lap dog rather than a marathon runner! The reason is that many toy breeds were bred simply for human companionship rather than an athletic job. Some breeds such as the Shih-tzu or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are known for being quite snuggly and only mildly or moderately active.
So the Shih-Poo or Cavapoo may be a good choice for those wanting a smaller dog that does not require a high amount of exercise and/or mental stimulation. But be warned that just because they do not need a lot of exercise does not mean these dogs are not demanding. As previously mentioned, the miniature poodle and toy breeds were bred primarily for companionship, so while they don’t need a daily run, they do need lots of human interaction and will not do well if left alone for long periods of time.
It seems every doodle breed has its advantages and disadvantages. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to finding the right breed for your family, we do often recommend the Goldendoodle as a fairly calm and well-balanced breed. This breed seems to strike the middle ground when it comes to a lot of factors including energy level, trainability, etc.
The Golden Retriever comes from a sporting background (retrieving game on the hunt) so certainly has some athletic roots. But in recent decades, they have become renowned for their obedience and ability to serve as therapy and service dogs. In fact, the Golden Retriever is the number one breed in the service dog industry.
The emphasis on breeding them for these therapy abilities has produced what many people think of as the Golden Retriever we have today. Most are pets and companions and are overall mellow and obedient. So in the Goldendoodle you have a fairly active, athletic dog, but also one that is generally mellow and extremely trainable. This balance of moderate activity and trainability is often a good choice for families who want a happy companion who is up for an adventure but can also be taught to remain calm inside the home.
Pick From These Laid Back Doodle Breeds
In conclusion, those wanting a calmer and smaller doodle would do well to consider the toy doodle breeds such as a Cavapoo or Shih-Poo, particularly if they are able to provide many hours of companionship with their pup throughout the day. Those wanting a bigger, slightly more active dog would consider the Bernedoodle or other working doodle breeds.
For those wanting a good combination of both calmness and trainability may find the goldendoodle to be the perfect match! Also keep in mind that every pup has his/her own individual personality as well. Your breeder should be able to help guide you on which pups stand out as calmer regardless of their breed!
Jenna and the JLDD Team