There are so many doodle breeds out there! When hearing of a new doodle cross for the first we often hear questions such as “how much does that kind shed?” or “would that one be good for my allergies?” The answer to those questions regardless of specific breed is maybe! There are a lot of factors to consider!
First of all, let’s understand what makes a mixed dog breed “hypoallergenic.” For most people, the dander of a dog is what causes their allergic reaction. All dogs produce dander, but those with a curly, non-shedding coat are shedding much less of it than their flat-coated canine friends like a Labrador or German Shepherd, for example.
The curly coat of the poodle traps the dander rather than allowing it to float freely through your house every time your dog shakes off.
A normal shedding dog, sheds much of their dander along with their hair on a daily basis simply by walking around your house and laying on your furniture. A poodle (or as we will soon discover, a number of mixed dog breeds), has a curly, sticky coat that traps the dander close to the skin. And all that hair and dander comes off in one beautiful clump when your dog gets groomed rather than slowly but surely filling your house every day via shedding!
Poodles have long been known to be the most hypoallergenic breed out there. There is simply no match for the tight, coarse, non-shedding curls when it comes to trapping the dander and helping with allergy symptoms. There are a few other breeds with similar coats such as the Portuguese Water Dog or Irish Water Spaniel.
Historically, however, the poodle is by far been the most popular of these curly, non-shedding breeds due to their amicable temperament. In addition to their amazing coats, they also tend to be the easiest to train of the non-shedding group.
Some other dog breeds that are lower shedding (but not quite as delightfully curly and hypoallergenic as the poodle!) include many terrier breeds such as the Yorkshire terrier, soft-coated wheaten terrier, etc. The schnauzer and a number of toy breeds including the Bichon Frise, Havanese and Maltese are also often mentioned as lighter-shedding companions.
So when it comes hypoallergenic mixed breeds, the idea is typically to take a dog breed that is high-shedding such as a golden retriever but combine it with a low-shedding dog breed such as a poodle in order to produce offspring that has some of the characteristics and personality traits as the shedding parent but also less shedding as compared to a purebred Golden Retriever.
Sounds great! But as usual it’s not quite as simple as it may first appear! The genetics and generation of your doodle pup will have everything to do with how hypoallergenic he is. This is true of the vast majority of doodle breeds.
So if you have heard “Labradoodles are better than Goldendoodles when it comes to allergies” or “get a Bernedoodle, mine doesn’t shed at all!” – please understand that these comments are reflective of the genetics/generation of a particular dog, not reflective of the breed as a whole. We could easily find a Goldendoodle that still sheds moderately as well as one that does not shed at all.
So on the one hand, this is good news for allergy-sufferers, as the options are almost endless! Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Sheepadoodles, Bernedoodles, Aussiedoodles, Newfypoos, Cavapoos, Cockapoos, Pyredoodles and all the other popular doodle crosses can all be good options for allergy sufferers! On the other hand, if you are an allergy sufferer, it is not as simple as picking a doodle breed. You must know what generation to look for and what questions to ask a breeder to ensure you are getting the lower-shedding varieties of these doodle crosses.
So let’s take a quick look at the generations of doodles to help understand which ones are the best options for allergy-sufferers!
For purposes of this article, we will use the Bernedoodle as our case study. So we will use the Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle as our purebred parent examples. However, the same formula would apply to any doodle breed.
F1 = Bernese Mountain Dog X Poodle
The “F” stands for “filial” and is simply a way to denote generation. So an F1 Bernedoodle means “First Generation Bernedoodle.” This is the initial cross, so one parent would be a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog and the other a purebred Poodle.
The F1 generation is a good choice for those who are particularly attached to the Bernese Mountain Dog (or the “other” non-poodle breed in their particular doodle breed) as you are close to the roots and will definitely preserve some Berner 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 Bernese Mountain Dog but more than some of the later generations we discuss below.
F2 = F1 Bernedoodle X F1 Bernedoodle
An F2 Bernedoodle denotes a second generation cross—an F1 Bernedoodle bred to an F1 Bernedoodle. Again, you see a 50/50 even split between the breeds — the resulting puppies will be 50% Bernese Mountain Dog, 50% Poodle. However, again, you are likely to have some shedding.
This is the worst choice for allergy-sufferers as it is 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 flat coat gene so may still be quite heavy shedders. This generation is a good choice for people who love both the Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle personalities and want a good mixture of both breeds but are flexible on hair type and shedding.
F1b = F1 Bernedoodle 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% Bernese Mountain Dog. 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.
F1bb = F1b Goldendoodle X Poodle
The more b’s, the more poodle! In this case, an F1b Bernedoodle has been backcrossed again to a purebred Poodle. The result is 88% poodle and 12% Bernese Mountain Dog. 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 doodles crossed with a 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 Bernedoodle —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 Berner 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 Bernese Mountain Dog to Poodle, so this can look like an F2 Bernedoodle bred to another Bernedoodle. 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 regard 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 Bernedoodle 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. Bernese Mountain Dog), the less chance of any sly shedding genes slipping in!
Many Doodle Mixes are Hypoallergenic Breeds
If you are an allergy-sufferer than really any doodle mix would be a good fit for you provided that you are choosing a later generation. To break it down simply, we strongly recommend avoiding an F1 or F2 cross if you are an allergy-sufferer. F1b, F1bbs, or multigenerational doodles will typically be a good option. But as always, asking your breeder about the parents’ genetic coat testing is important to ensure you are getting a low-shedding dog even in these later generations.
If you are insistent on having a first generation cross, then choosing two non-shedding breeds would be your best option. There are many doodle crosses that involve some of the other lower-shedding breeds we mentioned previously in this article. For example, a first generation Schnoodle (Schnauzer X Poodle) will shed less and be more hypoallergenic than a first generation Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever X Poodle).
Either way, if you have allergies it’s important to do your research as some people with severe allergies will even react to a purebred Poodle. We hope this article gets you started in the right direction!
Jenna and the JLDD Team