The beloved goldendoodle, a hybrid between a golden retriever and a poodle, earns popularity points for his affectionate tendencies as well as his beautiful hypoallergenic coat. Available in both the larger standard size and as a smaller miniature, goldendoodles are playful yet gentle dogs that crave a great deal of human interaction. They do best with daily walks or outdoor play sessions to fill their physical fitness needs. Because both of their parent breeds are highly intelligent, goldendoodles are ideal for families with small children, first-time dog owners, and as emotional support animals.
Because poodles range in size more than golden retrievers, a goldendoodle’s height and weight depend largely on his poodle lineage. Specifically, a standard-size poodle will result in a full-size hybrid, while a miniature poodle parent likely reduces a pup’s fully mature size. Standard doodles can stand more than 21 inches tall and weigh up to 100 pounds. Petites and miniatures typically weigh no more than 35 pounds and stand less than 14–17 inches tall.
The poodle breed’s many color variations also show up in goldendoodles. While the teddy bear gold hue has the biggest fan club, breeding can also result in black, white, brown, cream, and red variations. In very rare cases, a doodle bred from multiple generations of goldendoodles will have recessive color traits such as gray, blue, or multi-colored. These uncommon coats, although beautiful, tend to cost a pretty penny. The most common eye color for this breed is brown.
Perhaps one of the biggest appeals of goldendoodles is their hypoallergenic coat. As a descendant of the poodle—a popular option for dog owners with allergies—a goldendoodle sheds very minimally. A goldendoodle can have very curly locks or inherit a more wavy-straight mane from their retriever heritage. Doodles have a double coat that consists of a dense undercoat of short hairs beneath a top coat of longer hairs called guard hairs. Dogs with this type of coat need regular brushing.
For owners who want a big dog that doesn’t shed, a doodle that’s 75 percent standard poodle and 25 percent golden retriever (known as an F1B goldendoodle) is a good option. They inherit a curlier poodle coat that’s better for those with dog allergies.
Goldendoodles inherit a gentle nature from their golden retriever lineage, making them a wonderful option for families with young children. They’re naturally inclined to be careful with infants and toddlers, and will be patient companions for children as they grow up. Extremely affectionate, non-aggressive dogs, they love to socialize. Doodles have a low prey drive, meaning when they see smaller animals they don’t have the innate urge to hunt. Instead, they are laid-back and almost bashful. A goldendoodle will get along well with most cats and other pets.
They’re also incredibly trainable. They hail from two of the most intelligent parent breeds, after all. Both poodles and golden retrievers score in the top 4 of the 150 smartest dog breeds, according to the Goldendoodle Association of North America (GANA). The result: Goldendoodles are playful yet obedient with the proper training.
Near the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Lynne Whitmire has been breeding goldendoodles for over 15 years. The GANA blue ribbon breeder believes the goldendoodle’s temperament is one of the best things about them. “They're not happy unless they're with their people,” Whitmire says. “They think they are a full-fledged family member.”
A standard-size goldendoodle will require daily play and exercise time, whether that’s a morning walk or a backyard fetch session (or both). With such an easygoing temperament, they’ll flourish with additional playmates (dogs and humans alike). Doodles are also known for loving water. Swimming gives them another outlet to get their exercise.
While outdoor time is still important, a miniature goldendoodle is more apt to enjoy apartment living than a standard-size doodle. A dedicated owner will give their doodle plenty of outdoor time.
Neither the standard or miniature goldendoodle are excessive barkers as long as they have been properly trained and socialized.
Even with little to no shedding, goldendoodles still need consistent grooming to keep their coat healthy. They’ll need to see the groomer every 6–8 weeks, but won’t need much bathing beyond that. Frequent baths can actually cause dry skin, so experts recommend only bathing doodles if they are smelly or dirty. The curlier the coat, the more often they’ll need to be brushed. In general, a goldendoodle needs to be brushed daily to avoid painful matting. However, if they have a straight coat or a very short clip, weekly brushing sessions will be sufficient.
Goldendoodles need about half an hour of physical activity every day. A fenced backyard makes exercise easy, but a brisk walk around the neighborhood will also do. “They love water, they love to hike, but they also love being a couch potato,” Whitmire says. Doodles love social interaction with humans and animals, so they generally shouldn’t be left home alone for long periods of time. A lonely or bored doodle can develop separation anxiety and exhibit unwanted habits, including digging or barking. Proper socialization and attention should start early and continue throughout the dog’s life to ensure good behaviors.
Quick to learn and eager to please, these pooches are excellent for first-time dog trainers. They do best with positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior with treats or praise). Even a goldendoodle puppy is capable of learned behaviors through early training and socialization.
Goldendoodles have a lifespan of 10–15 years, and in general, they’re very healthy dogs. As with any new puppy, it’s important to request a health clearance from the breeder to ensure there aren’t any outliers to be concerned about. “Doing your research and identifying reputable breeders is crucial. This breed has been around for many years now and we have some excellent research supporting the breed predisposition,” Adam Christman, DVM, of Brick, N.J., says.
And, while goldendoodles are generally healthy animals, it doesn’t mean conditions won’t arise. “We know that goldendoodles are sensitive to atopic dermatitis, ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments in the knees, seizures, hip dysplasia, patella luxation, a blood clotting disorder known as von Willebrand Disease, and an eye condition known as progressive retinal atrophy,” Christman says.
Atopic dermatitis, a skin disease causing itching and redness, can be common in goldendoodles because of their coat. Varying types of cancer can also be passed down from the golden retriever parent, so that health clearance is important to ensure a healthy pup. Consult your vet about warning signs to look out for.
Since doodles are naturally water-loving animals, they may be more prone to ear infections than other dogs. Their floppy ears can trap moisture, so owners should clean their dog’s ears soon after any water-related activities or bathtime.
One of the biggest appeals of both crossbreeds is the hypoallergenic nature of their coats. However, goldendoodle coats can be longer and wavier, thanks to their golden retriever genes. Goldens also come in a wider range of colors; labrador variations typically come in light cream or black. Labradoodles are also slightly larger on average.
Although both types of doodles are very friendly, goldens are generally more enthusiastic about meeting new people. They inherit a social, happy-go-lucky attitude from the golden retriever that differentiates them slightly from their lab-mix cousins.
As goldendoodles gained popularity, breeders began taking requests for more variations. They introduced new sizes and traits to please all sorts of dog owners: petites and minis, unique colors, curlier or straighter coats. The goldendoodle may be one of the newest poodle mix crossbreeds, but its popularity is still on the rise.