One of the most popular dogs right now is the Goldendoodle, a combination of Golden Retriever and Poodle.
They’re loved for their shaggy coats and teddy bear faces.
If you’re wondering if they’re a good fit for you or your family, as well as what it’s like to own and care for a Goldendoodle, this article is for you.
- The different colors and coat types of Goldendoodles
- What the personality of a typical Goldendoodle is like
- The truth about them being hypoallergenic
- How much grooming they actually need
- Whether or not Goldendoodles are healthier than purebred dogs
- How to find a good Goldendoodle breeder
- And so much more!
What Is A Goldendoodle?
A Goldendoodle is a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. They became popular in the 1990s because they have the personality of a Golden Retriever without all of the shedding. They range in size from under 25 pounds to over 50 pounds, depending on if they were bred with a Standard, Miniature, or Toy Poodle.
What Do Goldendoodles Look Like?
Because Goldendoodles are a mix of two different breeds, there can be a lot of variety in how they look.
(Even within a pure breed of dog, there is variety in appearance and temperament.)
Often when we think about mixed-breed dogs, we think that they are a perfect 50% blend of each parent’s appearance, but genetics are much more complicated than that.
Additionally, because this is not a purebred dog, there is no breed standard that dictates how Goldendoodles should look or act.
For example, both Golden Retrievers and Poodles have breed standards set by the American Kennel Club, and responsible breeders strive to produce dogs that fit the description of both appearances.
All that to say, Goldendoodles have a range of looks.
Let’s do a quick genetics lesson. (Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to understand!)
When you cross a purebred Golden Retriever with a purebred Poodle, the offspring are known as F1.
If you ran a DNA test on those puppies, they would be 50% Golden and 50% Poodle, though how different breed traits are expressed can still vary greatly.
Now let’s say you take one of those F1 Goldendoodles and breed it to either a purebred Poodle or a purebred Golden Retriever.
Those pups would be considered F1B.
If the purebred parent was a Golden Retriever, the F1B puppies will have more Golden Retriever DNA than an F1 puppy (which, remember, is 50/50).
And likewise, if the purebred parent was a Poodle, the F1B puppies will have more Poodle DNA than an F1 puppy.
Things get even more interesting if you cross two F1 Goldendoodles together.
When you breed two F1 parents, you get what’s called F2 puppies.
If you DNA test these puppies, you’d get a range of DNA percentages from the Golden Retriever and Poodle relatives.
While each parent contributes 50% of the offspring’s DNA, which DNA exactly gets passed down might lean a bit more heavily on the Poodle or Golden side just by chance.
Finally, a multigen Goldendoodle refers to a cross where one parent is either an F1B (or a multigen) and the other parent is any generation of Goldendoodle (or a purebred Golden or Poodle).
So to recap:
- F1 – Golden Retriever x Poodle
- F1B – F1 Goldendoodle x Purebred Golden or Poodle
- F2 – F1 Goldendoodle x F1 Goldendoodle
- Multigen – Two Goldendoodle parents (with one being either F1B or multigen) OR an F1B or Multigen Goldendoodle x Purebred Golden or Poodle
What was the point of this genetics lesson?
The way a Goldendoodle looks and acts can be influenced by what percentage each of the parent breeds contributed to a particular pup.
Some Goldendoodles have mostly Poodle DNA.
Others might be mostly Golden.
Others are 50/50, or somewhere in between.
Though it really does come down to which genes an individual pup inherits from each breed.
Goldendoodles can vary greatly in size, as Standard, Miniature, and Toy Poodles are used for breeding.
Since Standard Poodles are larger, their puppies will usually be larger than pups bred with a Miniature or Toy Poodle.
The size of the Golden Retriever parent can also impact the size of the offspring.
The Goldendoodle Association of North America lists four different sizes:
- Standard: Over 21 inches tall (at the shoulder) and 51 lbs. or more
- Medium: Over 17 inches tall and 36 to 50 lbs.
- Miniature: Between 14 and 17 inches tall and 26 to 35 lbs.
- Petite: Under 14 inches tall and under 25 lbs.
Goldendoodles come in many different colors, thanks to the Poodle genetics.
Golden Retrievers only come in various shades of gold, from cream to red, but Poodles have more variety.
The Goldendoodle Association of North America states that Goldendoodles come in the following colors:
- Parti (50% white, 50% solid colored marking)
- Abstract (less than 50% white markings on an otherwise solid coat)
- Phantoms (A solid coat with specific markings above the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, on the chest, inside of the legs, and under the tail)
While Goldendoodles are known for their shaggy look, there are several different coat types.
The texture of the coat is determined by different genes. (Don’t worry, we won’t give you another science lesson!)
Through careful breeding and genetic testing, breeders can produce more predictable coat types.
The Goldendoodle Association of North America provides a helpful guide to coat type and texture.
Coats can be curly, wavy or straight.
Goldendoodles have double coats, meaning there is a shorter, softer inner coat, and a longer outer coat.
Additionally, there is the factor of furnishings.
Furnishings refers to longer facial hair, on the eyebrows, muzzle and chin.
Golden Retrievers do not have furnishings, as their faces have shorter, smoother fur.
Poodles do have furnishings.
This may be surprising, as show poodles have their faces shaved short, but if you don’t trim their faces, the fur will grow out to be long.
An unshaved poodle face looks a lot like a curly Goldendoodle face.
Goldendoodles typically do have furnishings, which are inherited from the Poodle heritage, but they can also be bred without furnishings.
In this case, they look more like a Golden Retriever, with short fur on their face and longer, straighter fur on their body.
A huge selling point of Goldendoodles is that they don’t shed.
But is this actually true?
It all depends on genetics! (It’s hard to get away from genetics when it comes to Doodles.)
Before we get into it, it’s important to state that no breed of dog is completely non-shedding.
Breeds like Poodles are said to be non-shedding, but this isn’t completely accurate.
Hair follicles have a life cycle and eventually will die.
When they die, they fall out.
So while Poodles have hairs that will grow for a much longer time than a breed like Goldens, they will at some point fall out and be replaced by new hair.
When you brush a Poodle, you will find some hair in the brush, but it usually doesn’t stick to your clothes and furniture and cover your floor like Retriever fur.
So while it is very minimal comparatively, Poodles do shed some hairs as a part of the nature of follicle life cycles.
For the sake of clarity, we will continue to use the word “non-shedding,” but just be aware that there’s no such thing as absolutely zero shedding.
Okay, so back to whether or not Goldendoodles shed.
Furnishings, which we discussed above, are linked with lower to no shedding coats.
According to the Goldendoodle Association of North America, Goldendoodles with two copies of the furnishing gene will be “non-shedding”, while dogs with one copy of the furnishings gene will be lower shedding.
A Goldendoodle that doesn’t have the furnishing gene at all, will shed more like a purebred Golden Retriever.
So all that to say, there is a range of how much a Goldendoodle can shed, from Golden Retriever shedding levels on one end and Poodle levels on the other.
How much shedding you deal with as a Goldendoodle owner can also depend on how long you let their coat grow out.
Because furnished Goldendoodles have textured hair (whether it’s curly, wavy or straight), loose hairs tend to get trapped inside a longer coat.
So even a low or more moderate shedding Goldendoodle may seem like they don’t shed much if their coat is long, because the coat is collecting the shed hair.
It’s not until you brush them out that you see how many hairs have fallen out.
On the flip side, if the coat is trimmed short, there’s not as much fluff to hold in dead hairs that have fallen out, so you may find those hairs around your house.
Shedding is complicated when it comes to Goldendoodles.
If you’re concerned about shedding, find a breeder who uses genetic testing to do their best to predict the coat type of a litter of puppies.
Though, it’s impossible for a breeder to guarantee that a puppy will be low or non-shedding, genetic testing can help them make a prediction. (In fact, a breeder who makes such guarantees is a red flag and should be avoided.)
And remember, no dog is truly non-shedding.
How Do Goldendoodles Act?
We’ve covered how Goldendoodles look, so now let’s discuss their personality and behavior.
Just like with purebred Golden Retrievers, a Goldendoodle’s temperament can vary.
Goldendoodles that have more Golden Retriever DNA are likely to have more of a Golden Retriever’s personality, while those that have more Poodle DNA are likely to have more Poodle traits.
Generally speaking, though, Goldendoodles are highly social dogs who love human companionship.
Both parent breeds were historically used as hunting dogs, and therefore are inclined to bond and work cooperatively with their people.
Goldens and Poodles are very intelligent (both are commonly used as service dogs), so Goldendoodles are also smart dogs.
They are usually playful, happy dogs and can be quite clownish and silly.
A well-bred Goldendoodle should be confident and trustworthy in a variety of situations.
As with other types of dogs, some Goldendoodles can be nervous or anxious, reactive, or hyperactive.
This is why it’s important to purchase a Goldendoodle from an ethical, responsible breeder who prioritizes a solid temperament.
Goldendoodles can range in energy from moderate to high levels.
Most Goldendoodles need 1 to 2 hours of exercise per day.
How much energy their parents and relatives have can impact how much energy offspring will have.
Both Golden Retrievers and Poodles can range in energy from chill therapy dog to tireless hunting companions.
If you’re looking for a certain energy level in a Goldendoodle, you’ll want to talk with the breeder to see what the parents are like.
Goldendoodles are intelligent pups and tend to be easy to train.
They enjoy working with their owner and are often quick to pick up new skills.
Just like their parent breeds, Goldendoodles thrive with positive reinforcement training, whether you’re looking to train manners, basic obedience or advanced tricks.
How vocal a Goldendoodle is can vary.
Golden Retrievers are usually low to moderate barkers.
Standard Poodles tend to be moderate barkers, while Miniature and Toy Poodles are known to be more vocal.
So a Goldendoodle could fall anywhere from quiet to moderately barky.
Are They Good with Kids?
Goldendoodles can make nice family dogs.
Standard-sized Goldendoodles can be quite large, and could potentially knock kids over if excited or clumsy.
Goldendoodle puppies can be very mouthy and nippy, and so supervision and management will be needed to keep kids safe.
Most Goldendoodles are playful and enjoy the fun and attention of children.
Even though Goldendoodles tend to be even-keel and tolerant with kids, dogs and kids should always be supervised for safety, and kids should be taught how to interact with their pet respectfully.
How Are They With Other Animals?
Goldendoodles usually get along well with other pets, like cats, if introduced properly.
They aren’t known for having a high prey drive, but you should always be cautious and give a slow introduction.
Many Goldendoodles form adorable friendships with cats, bunnies or even birds.
For safety, it should never be assumed that a Goldendoodle will automatically be docile around other pets.
It’s best to take it slow and hire a certified, professional trainer if needed, to help guide you toward interspecies harmony.
Goldendoodles are a pretty adaptable mix.
They can do well in urban settings, suburban neighborhoods and rural homesteads.
The key is to make sure they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, or else they can become bored, destructive and obnoxious.
Goldendoodles do best with off-leash exercise, at least a couple times a week, more if you’re able.
They also love to be in nature, as both parent breeds were bred to run through fields and splash through water.
These are active dogs, and they need to move their bodies to feel content and to be well-behaved at home.
If you don’t have space for off-leash time, or your pup isn’t quite trustworthy off-leash, you could rent a Sniffspot, which is like Airbnb but for yards and property where dogs can safely run around.
You could also get a harness and 15 to 30-foot-long leash, which gives a Goldendoodle more freedom to explore, while keeping them safely attached to you.
On days you’re not able to provide off-leash exercise, regular leashed walks and playtime can help burn some energy.
Make sure you have enough time to commit to exercising, playing and bonding with a Goldendoodle before you get one.
Despite their relative flexibility and adaptability, these are not low-maintenance dogs.
Besides exercise, they also require daily brushing and frequent professional grooming, or else they can become severely matted.
This takes time and money.
We’ll get more into grooming shortly, but it’s an important consideration when evaluating if your lifestyle meshes with the needs of a Goldendoodle.
Are Goldendoodles Hypoallergenic?
Goldendoodles are often marketed as being a hypoallergenic breed, meaning they don’t trigger an allergic response for people who are allergic to dogs.
However, no breed of dog is truly hypoallergenic, even non-shedding breeds that are typically touted as being hypoallergenic, such as Poodles.
Breeds considered hypoallergenic often shed less and produce less dander than other breeds.
But people can still be allergic to small amounts of hair or dander, as well as a dog’s saliva.
So, there’s a chance that a person who is allergic to some dogs may not be allergic to a Goldendoodle, but it’s not a guarantee.
Some people will still be allergic to Goldendoodles.
How Much Grooming Do Goldendoodles Need?
The downside of a lower shedding dog is that they require more grooming.
Goldendoodles should be brushed every day to keep the coat free from tangles, mats and debris.
Because Goldendoodles have a double coat, it’s crucial that you brush all the way to the skin to ensure you’re detangling the entire coat.
It’s a common mistake for people to brush the outer coat, but miss the inner coat.
This results in a coat that is matted at the skin (which is known as pelting), and has to be shaved off completely.
Line brushing is a useful technique that can help you ensure you’re not missing any coat.
Here’s an excellent line brushing tutorial:
Goldendoodles should be professionally groomed every 4 to 8 weeks.
Keeping up with brushing at home will make your grooming bill cheaper and shorten the length of your dog’s appointment.
Are Goldendoodles Healthier Than Purebred Dogs?
One reason that people may be attracted to Goldendoodles is the idea that mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs.
Golden Retrievers sadly have a number of common health issues, and their life span is often cut short because of medical complications.
Some people will point to “hybrid vigor” when it comes to the health of Goldendoodles.
Hybrid vigor in dogs is when traits, such as health, are improved by crossing two unrelated breeds.
As this article from The Functional Breeding Collaborative explains, there have been some studies on hybrid vigor in dogs, however there are some issues within the studies that make it difficult to understand the effects of hybrid vigor in mixed breed dogs.
To quote the article, “The ability to utilize hybrid vigor in dogs has yet to be fully explored, but has the potential to improve the health, longevity, and optimum behavior characteristics in future breeding of dogs.”
So hybrid vigor might be a real thing in dogs, but the research isn’t quite there to give a definitive answer.
A 2022 report by pet insurance company Nationwide shows that Goldendoodles were 75% less likely to submit a claim for cancer than both Golden Retrievers and Poodles.
“Put another way, the combined relative risk for parent breeds of Goldendoodles having submitted a cancer claim is four times that of their crossbred offspring.”
While this isn’t a scientific study, it is enlightening information that suggests the possibility that Goldendoodles may be less prone to cancer than their parent breeds.
Of course, the health of the parents should be a priority when it comes to crossbreeding Goldendoodles.
If the parents have health issues, they can be passed onto offspring.
How to Find a Good Goldendoodle Breeder?
If you lurk around the internet long enough, you’re bound to come across “the great Doodle debate.”
Some people feel that an intentionally mixed breed dog is wrong.
You might also see claims that no Doodle can be ethically or responsibly bred.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
And our opinion is that a mixed breed dog, such as a Goldendoodle, can be responsibly bred by following certain breeding principles.
Again, mixed breed dogs have been a thing since the beginning of dog breeds and are not a new phenomenon.
Service dog organizations have been mixing dog breeds to produce the best service dog candidates for decades.
It is true that many Goldendoodles do come from puppy mill breeders, who capitalize on the demand for cute, fluffy dogs and breed dogs in terrible conditions and without concern for health or temperament.
Puppy mills also supply pet stores with Goldendoodle puppies, which should be avoided.
There are also breeders who have good intentions, but may not have the knowledge or dedication to breed Goldendoodles responsibly.
Then there are breeders who are just as dedicated, invested and responsible as purebred Golden Retriever or Poodle breeders.
These are breeders who health test their dogs, and only breed dogs who pass such tests.
They are people who consider the personality and behavior of their dogs before deciding to breed them, because they know that temperament is influenced by genetics.
They are prepared to make the hard decision to not breed a dog if their health or temperament is not going to jeopardize the health and behavior of a litter of puppies.
They provide a safe, enriched, interactive upbringing for puppies so they have already started their socialization and learning before they go to their forever homes.
These breeders are there to support their puppy buyers through thick and thin, just like a good Golden or Poodle breeder would.
If you’re looking to buy a Goldendoodle, these are the kinds of breeders you should look for.
Finding a good breeder can be really hard, especially because the internet is filled with cute photos and slick marketing disguising poor breeding practices.
The Goldendoodle Association of North America (GANA) provides a standard of ethics for Goldendoodle breeders.
This code holds breeders to a high standard of breeding, in consideration of both health and temperament of Goldendoodles.
Additionally, you can read about the health testing requirements of GANA members here.
GANA provides a directory of breeders in the United States and Canada who are members of their association and who meet the standards they have laid out.
If you’re considering buying a Goldendoodle, this is a smart place to start.
For more information on finding a good breeder, check out these guidelines from VCA Animal Hospitals.
Buying a puppy, no matter the breed or mix, should be a well-thought-out, planned decision, so resist the urge to buy a readily available puppy because they are cute or cheap.
A Goldendoodle puppy is a new member of your family who will be with you for the next 10 to 15 years, or even more, so it pays to choose a pup from a responsible breeder.
Is a Goldendoodle Right For You?
When considering if a Goldendoodle is the right type of dog for you and your family, think about your current lifestyle.
How much available time and energy do you have to care for, exercise, train, play with and groom a Goldendoodle?
Goldendoodles don’t reach adulthood until 2 to 3 years of age, so you’ll be dealing with puppyhood and adolescence for several years.
Do their temperament and personality match what you’re looking for in a dog?
Have you checked out other breeds or mixes to see if there is another option that may be a better match?
Goldendoodles are irresistibly cute (and SO fun to pet), and sometimes that can cloud a person’s judgment.
But when it’s the right fit, a Goldendoodle can be a delightful companion for both individuals and families.
They’re loving, intelligent, social and athletic dogs who love nothing more than being with their people.
If you liked this article, check out this article about Golden Retrievers vs. Goldendoodles.