Schnoodles are "teddy bear" dogs beloved for their calm demeanor, high level of intelligence, and low-allergen coats.
This curly-haired hybrid dog is a cross-breed between the poodle and the schnauzer. Breeders have created schnoodles from toy to standard and even giant sizes who can range from 5–70 pounds depending on their lineage. The schnoodle is often recognized as a dog that may be more "allergy friendly" for its low-shedding coat, which it inherits from both the poodle and schnauzer (though no dog is truly 100-percent hypoallergenic).
There can be a great deal of variation in schnoodle sizes depending on the specific breed of their parents. Schnauzers and poodles make interesting parents for the schnoodle because of the drastic variation in their family stature.
Poodle breeds come in three different sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Similarly, the schnauzer breed includes giant, standard, or miniature sizes. When any of the three sizes of poodle mixes with any of the three sizes of schnauzer, you get a schnoodle. The size range of these pups can be quite extreme depending on the size of the parents. A giant schnauzer crossed with a standard poodle creates a "giant schnoodle" that can weigh up to 80 pounds. On the opposite side of the scale, a toy poodle and miniature schnauzer will create a "toy schnoodle" that can weigh 5–10 pounds.
On average, though, a standard schnoodle (standard schnauzer and standard poodle mix) stands 26 inches tall and weighs around 60–70 pounds. Miniature schnoodles are most popular, however, and will stay in the 10–20 pound range. The wide sizing variation is why it's vital to meet the parents of your schnoodle before adopting and have knowledge of their specific lineage. Prospective owners don't want to anticipate a 20-pound schnoodle and end up with a dog three times that size.
"There is so much variability in schnoodle size because there are genetic influences not just from the parents, but also the grandparents and great-grandparents," says Erica Irish, DVM, who practices in Minneola, Fla. "You can have two dogs who are mid-sized, but one of their offspring will be a large breed. The schnoodle is not quite like older breeds that have been around for hundreds of years." Size variations aside, schnoodles are beloved for their low-allergen coats, which means they shed infrequently and tend to have less dander that can cause issues for allergy sufferers. While those curly coats—which come in all shades—may mean less vacuuming for owners, their hair grows quickly and will require regular combing and trimming.
Schnoodles carry the best traits of their parents: the energy and intelligence of poodles alongside the trainability and loyalty of schnauzers. (Both of these breeds are featured on our list of the smartest dog breeds). Schnoodles are well-known for their inherited smarts, and they are easy-to-train once their owner understands the best way to motivate them.
If you find your schnoodle is not motivated by treats, try using dinner time as a training opportunity. Owners may also need to use toys and praise to get their schnoodle to learn new tricks. Irish says schnoodles' high intelligence means they can also become standoffish or stubborn in certain circumstances.
"Poodles and schnauzers are loyal, funny, and sometimes stubborn breeds. All of these personality traits often apply to the schnoodle, regardless of its size," Irish says.
This breed thrives in households with older children and adults, but because of their skittish personality, they may need training and patience before interacting with younger children. That being said, if a schnoodle is well-socialized as a puppy, then she will be affectionate, enthusiastic, and ready-to-learn as she grows.
"Schnoodles take a minute to warm up to people," says Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM, who practices in Texas and works as a veterinary consultant (and also owns a schnoodle). "They can be standoffish at first … but once they realize you are not going to hurt them then they will go, 'Ok now you're my best friend.'"
Smaller schnoodles make excellent lap dogs and can thrive in an apartment because of their calm demeanor, while larger schnoodles will need a backyard to play in. Living up to their "teddy bear" nickname, most schnoodles enjoy lounging with their family after a long walk, and they live well with other animals that they have warmed up to.
Their relaxed personalities mean schnoodles can be left at home for short periods of time (though no dog should be left alone for long) without turning destructive. Even with their calm energy, though, schnoodles will need regular exercise because they are predisposed to diseases that are made worse by weight gain.
If prospective owners do not have a backyard, the schnoodle will benefit from a regular walking route or access to a dog park where they can run around. While they are not as eager as retriever dogs, many medium-sized or large schnoodles enjoy swimming or playing fetch with their families if they are in the mood.
"It's better for schnoodles to get exercise. It's not that they will be totally active and goofy on their own; some of their personalities are very calm," Irish says. "But, if they have too sedentary of a lifestyle or too lazy of life, then they are going to gain a lot of weight and have a lot of health problems down the road."
Every owner knows the joys and challenges of a schnoodle's curly coat—especially when it gets shaggy. While these pets are loved for their low-shed coats, a schnoodle's hair will constantly grow and require frequent grooming.
If schnoodles spend a lot of time outdoors hiking or swimming, their fur can get matted. Ochoa recommends that owners maintain a good bathing routine for their dog and plan on grooming their schnoodles every six to eight weeks. Some owners will opt to brush and trim their dog's coat at home, while others prefer to leave it to the professionals.
"They need frequent grooming," Ochoa says. "If you keep them long and fuzzy like a teddy bear, you are going to have to brush them a lot. With my dog, we end up brushing her a few times a week just to keep the tangles and the matts out."
Schnoodles typically live between 12–15 years, though smaller varieties may have longer lifespans than their larger cousins.
As a hybrid dog, schnoodles can be predisposed to similar health issues as schnauzers and poodles. Irish says this means schnoodles are prone to pancreatitis and liver disease, and they may also develop orthopedic issues like luxating patella (when the dog's kneecap moves out of place). Owners should look to their parent breeds for other potential issues: Schnauzers are at an increased risk for bladder stones, epilepsy, and diabetes, while poodles are at a higher risk for endocrine issues. It's important to watch for signs of each in your schnoodle, depending on her genetic background.
"The good news is that mixed or hybrid breeds tend to have a lower risk for disorders that are influenced by genetics, so schnoodles may be less likely to have these problems compared to the purebred schnauzer and poodle," Irish says.
Low-allergen designer dogs like schnoodles are increasing in popularity, but they are not a regulated breed. Because there is no formal "breed standard" for these dogs, aspiring owners can run into problems when they get an animal from an unlicensed breeder or a commercial dog breeding facility that does not produce the healthiest puppies. Irish advises only working with reputable breeders who have paired multiple generations of schnoodles and have established heath screenings in order to get the healthiest dog.
"Anyone can take a toy poodle and mate it with a schnauzer and go, 'Look, it's a schnoodle!' But, it will look totally unlike the dogs you see pictured as schnoodles," Irish says. "You want to make sure that you're purchasing from someone who follows the rules."
A few important red flags to watch out for when looking for a schnoodle or another hybrid dog. Be wary of breeders who:
As a hybrid, schnoodles are a relatively young species of dog. This breed was only developed in the 1980s as people began demanding more variations of low-allergen dogs that were mixed with poodles (think: the ever-popular labradoodle and cockapoo). The creator of the designer dog movement, Wally Conron, has expressed regret for making the original poodle hybrid, remarking that modern breeders do not always give the poodle hybrids proper health screenings. It's important to ask breeders for health records of parent dogs, both to learn more about any conditions your puppy may be predisposed to and as a reference check against potential puppy mills.
The parent dogs of a schnoodle have a long history as loyal hunters. Standard poodles were originally bred as duck-hunting, water retrieval dogs, while schnauzers can be traced back to the 15th century when they were used as small animal hunters.
Schnoodles are not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, which only recognizes purebred dogs. While the schnoodle's parent breeds have their own National Breed Clubs that need to qualify for AKC registration, this hybrid does not. Today, schnoodles remain a popular dog, but it's vital that potential owners do their research and purchase responsibly.