Updated: Dec 30, 2020
As doodle breeders we often get a variety of questions regarding the health of various doodle types. So, which doodle breed is the healthiest?
A similar, related question is how long can I expect my doodle to live? Our overall answer to this question is that the most popular doodle crosses tend to be healthy, robust dogs living on average 12 years for standard sizes and 14+ years for miniature sizes. (Read about small designer dog breeds here.)
Size and reputable breeding (in particular screening for genetic diseases) tend to be the biggest factors when it comes to the health and lifespan of your doodle.
Assessing the Healthiest Doodle Breeds & "Hybrid Vigor"
Health is naturally one of the main concerns of any dog owner as an unhealthy dog can be a drain financially and emotionally. Fortunately, when it comes to doodles, the various Poodle crosses tend to be quite healthy across the board thanks to “hybrid vigor.”
This term is a fancy way of saying what many have heard quipped throughout their life, “mutts are the healthiest kind of dogs.” While this is a very general statement, the basis rings true. When combining two or more breeds, the offspring is typically genetically healthier. “Hybrid vigor” refers to the tendency of a hybrid dog to have less health issues and generally be healthier with the addition of more genetic variety than a single-breed dog.
Inbreeding is a big concern when it comes to dog breeds and health. The smaller the gene pool for a particular breed of dog, typically the more genetic problems. This is typically seen in rarer dog breeds such as Norwegian Lundehund. The rate of inbreeding is high in these rare breeds as the limited number of purebred parent dogs often means the parents of any given litter are distantly related. The result is often adverse issues in the offspring including infertility, lower lifespans, etc.
Thankfully, when it comes to doodles, inbreeding is typically not a concern (provided you are purchasing your pup from a reputable breeder!). In general, it's perfectly fine to buy a puppy from a breeder, just be sure to do your homework and read up on their past reviews. Here's a guide to what questions you should ask before buying a puppy.
Cross Breeding with Poodles Leads to Healthy Doodle Breeds
Doodle breeds tend to combine a relatively common, well-known breed with the ever-popular Poodle, which provides lots of genetic diversity! In fact, some of the doodle breeds were specifically started in order to improve the health of one or more parent dog breeds.
For example, the Bernese Mountain Dog is known to have one of the shortest lifespans in the canine world (6-8 years). At least partially due to the inbreeding issue highlighted above, the Bernese Mountain Dog is plagued with health issues including cancer, digestive issues, etc. Thankfully, once bred to the Standard Poodle, the health issues are mitigated so the life expectancy increases to around 12+ years.
While hybrid vigor does typically improve the health of all doodle crosses, it is not meant to replace reputable breeding standards and health testing! While the odds of genetic diseases decreases with the doodle crosses, such genetic diseases are not ruled out.
As a result, to positively ensure that you are getting a healthy pup, it is important to find a breeder who screens for genetic health issues and joint issues. Breed specific genetic health testing on the parent dogs ensures that your pup will not have a genetically inheritable disease. While the Poodle is typically considered to be a relatively healthy breed, they are still prone to some genetic conditions including progressive retinal atrophy and Von Willebrand’s disease.
Hip and elbow testing is especially important for larger breeds of dogs to avoid the common issue of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis of the joints, or crippling lameness in severe cases. This is a genetic condition and therefore all parent dogs need to be health tested against it.
The combination of hybrid vigor and good breeding practices will typically result in a genetically healthy dog. Still, this is only a partial answer when it comes to understanding health and lifespan among dog breeds.
Size is another important factor to consider- particularly when looking at the “giant” dog breeds. Most giant dog breeds have lower-than-average lifespans. This is true of the Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Saint Bernard, and many other dog breeds that have been bred for their large stature.
Information on Doodle Lifespans & How Long They Live
When bred to the smaller (at least relatively speaking!) Standard Poodle, the lifespan of these giant breeds increases by around 4-6 years! Their size typically decreases from around 100 or more pounds to around 60-70 lbs. (depending on the exact size of the parent dogs). Still, the overall fact that smaller dogs tend to outlive larger dogs does hold true even among doodles. While you can expect a Bernedoodle to typically live longer than his purebred counterpart (Bernese Mountain Dog), the Miniature Bernedoodle will likely outlive them all!
Scientists are a bit puzzled as to why the size of a dog seems to impact his lifespan so greatly - large dogs simply age faster than their tinier canine friends, but regardless as to why this is the case, we can see it play out clearly by comparing the Standard Poodle and Miniature Poodle. The Standard Poodle tends to live around 12-14 years while the miniature or toy variety tends to live 14-16 years or more. One Toy Poodle named Chi-chi is cited to have lived to the ripe old age of 24!
So if lifespan is of great importance to you as a dog owner, then considering a doodle over a purebred large breed dog will positively impact your dog’s average lifespan. And choosing the miniature size in a particular doodle breed will also likely add years to Fido’s life.
There are many other factors to consider besides lifespan when it comes to choosing the size of your next doodle. We recommend making temperament your number one priority when selecting your doodle companion but lifespan is certainly one secondary factor to consider!
Not only do Miniature Poodles and Doodles tend to outlive their larger counterparts, but they also tend to have less joint and mobility issues. The larger the dog, the more weight and wear and tear is placed on the joints. So even when a pup is free from hip dysplasia or other specific abnormalities, the larger dog will still be more likely to develop arthritis or other muscular-skeletal issues as they age.
A larger dog is also more difficult to manage when it comes to helping him with his mobility. Your twenty pound miniature doodle can easily be carried up the stairs or into the car if he or she needs the extra help. The same cannot be said for a 70 lb. Bernedoodle!
In conclusion, doodles of any breed often make a good choice for those wanting a genetically diverse, healthy dog. If overall lifespan and mobility are important to you, then choosing a smaller doodle (typically bred with a Miniature Poodle) from a reputable breeder may be the right choice for you!
Jenna and the JLDD Team
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