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Because the sheepadoodle is not a pure breed, there are no hard and fast rules about the dog's size, coloring, and appearance. However, the most common coat you'll find is a black-and-white patchwork pattern. The size of a sheepadoodle varies depending on whether the Old English sheepdog was crossed with a standard poodle, miniature poodle, or toy poodle.
The sheepadoodle can tend toward one parent or the other in appearance—some will have more of the square face of an Old English sheepdog and others will have a more poodle-like domed head. But nearly all sheepadoodles share the patchwork of black and white markings that sometimes give them the appearance of a panda. These black and white markings can sometimes fade into gray (similar to an Old English sheepdog's coloring) as the sheepadoodle ages. On rare occasions, a sheepadoodle will be red and white.
In general, a sheepadoodle bred from a standard poodle will weigh 65–85 pounds and stand 18–27 inches tall. Sheepadoodles bred from mini poodles and toy poodles will be smaller.
As with most poodle mixes (affectionately termed "doodles"), the coat of a sheepadoodle can tend more to be straight or more curly—and it's generally hard to tell until the puppy gets a little older.
Sheepadoodles are often compared to Bernedoodles, which are a mix between a poodle and a Bernese mountain dog. Bernedoodles have a similar giant teddy bear vibe: big fluffy paws; shaggy faces; and furry, floppy ears. However, Bernedoodles come in a greater variety of colors and share more of the Bernese mountain dog's personality traits.
The sheepadoodle owes a lot of her easygoing temperament to the Old English sheepdog, a good-natured, shaggy breed that was developed to help bring cattle and sheep to market.
"Sheepadoodles have been described as a playful and energetic breed," says Stacy Choczynski Johnson, DVM, veterinary expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance. "Something that's interesting about them is that they're a mixed designer breed dog, meaning that there's a good chance they'll inherit different traits from either side of their DNA. Because of this cross breeding, there can be a pretty wide variety of personality traits depending on the individual dog."
Typically, sheepadoodles are wonderful family dogs that love attention and children even more. They're exceptionally playful and sweet, and they enjoy the company of other dogs. While they might alert you to a passing stranger with a bark, they're typically a little more mellow than breeds developed specifically for guarding the home.
Training a sheepadoodle will depend on which traits the dog inherits from her parents. While Old English sheepdogs can at times be independent-minded, poodles are typically very eager to please their parents by sitting on cue and learning tricks. Sheepadoodles also inherit a great deal of intelligence from their poodle forebears and have a working dog's herding instincts from the Old English sheepdog side.
"Using a ball launcher for a good game of fetch is a great way to burn off energy," she says. "If your sheepadoodle enjoys the company of other dogs, a playdate in a fenced yard would be a great way for them to socialize and stretch their legs."
And while your sheepadoodle might like to splash through some water like her poodle parent, Choczynski Johnson recommends sticking to "land-based play" because post-swimming cleanup can be time-consuming.
With their thick coats, sheepadoodles are excellent dogs for cold-weather climates. In warmer climates, Choczynski Johnson says, their owners can trim their fur a bit shorter and make sure they can relax in cool indoor spaces with plenty of water.
Sheepadoodles typically enjoy the company of other dogs and taking part in playtime at dog parks. However, given the sheepadoodles' herding background, they occasionally have a tendency to try rounding up small animals and children, so keep an eye on them at dog parks that allow small dogs and large dogs to mingle.
While no dog are fully hypoallergenic, the combination of the Old English sheepdog and the poodle results in a very low-shedding coat, even in the first generation. Because of this, sheepadoodles can be a good fit for people who are allergic to dogs.
Because they become so attached to their families, some sheepadoodles can develop separation anxiety if they're left alone for too long.
"All of the doodles are very connected to their people and have a tendency to be a little bit on the anxious side when left alone," says Irith Bloom, a certified dog trainer and board member at the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Bloom suggests using positive reinforcement training from the moment your sheepadoodle puppy gets home.
"Start training them right away [so] that small periods of time away from you are OK," she says. You can gradually increase from 30-second increments until the puppy starts to realize it's not a big deal. If you have to leave your dog at home alone for long hours, look into options like doggy day care or a dedicated walker.
As with all breeds that go from tiny puppy to large dog, it's important to start sheepadoodle training with the adult dog in mind: Don't allow or encourage your puppy to do anything you wouldn't want a 90-pound sheepadoodle doing a year from now.
One potential advantage to a mixed breed dog is hybrid vigor, the idea of relatively lower occurrence of genetic diseases cropping up in offspring from two vastly different genetic lines. "So a lot of times, if there's a genetic predisposition to a disease in the one breed and you breed to another breed, sometimes you can cover that up so that the problem doesn't happen," Bloom says.
Some scientists, however, dispute that hybrid dogs are inherently healthier than their purebred brethren. Whether you're looking for a sheepadoodle or purebred pup, consider a breeder with an excellent track record who does health screening for both parents.
That being said, sheepadoodles by all accounts are relatively healthy dogs that live from 12–15 years.
As with all large dogs, it's important to know the symptoms of bloat, a condition in which a dog's stomach fills with gas and expands or twists to cut off blood flow to organs.
"For all dogs, but especially deep-chested dogs, I encourage feeding half of the food in a food muzzle of maze," Choczynski Johnson says. "This helps slow down eating, which can prevent stomach bloat in large dogs. This also helps your puppy learn how to have some independent time and get mental stimulation while eating."
The origins are the sheepadoodle are murky at best: While humans have been cross-breeding dogs as long as there have been breeds, the popularity of sheepadoodles as a special hybrid of their own really only took off in the past decade or so. Some articles indicate that the "doodle" naming convention started in 1992, which is possibly when the mixing of poodles to create a line of low-shedding dogs started to take off.
The sheepadoodle's ancestors, however, have long historical roots. Old English sheepdogs were developed in the west of England as drovers, or dogs that helped livestock move along the dusty roads to market. Their tails were docked to indicate that they were working dogs (this also kept their tails away from wayward hooves), giving this breed the nickname "bobtail."
On the other side of the sheepadoodle family is an even older breed: The poodle is one of the oldest purebred dogs, coming from France via Germany, where they were a duck-hunting dog. The curly coat that protected them from chilly water and their superb intelligence made them excellent retrievers.
- One thing is undeniable: People really, really love their sheepadoodles. Popular sheepadoodle ambassadors on social media include Otis, a big fluffy boy with a small sidekick named Sully; Zammy, a giant floof who also volunteers as a children's hospital therapy dog; and Millie, a mini sheepadoodle who lives in New York and loves to smile for the camera.
- Bunny the "talking" sheepadoodle is a TikTok star, known for her funny button-speech conversations.
- The mixed breed took another leap in popularity when Olympic figure skaters Meryl Davis and Fedor Andreev announced that they had adopted a mini sheepadoodle named Bilbo.