Learn more about the origin of anti-doodle bias and hate, the trends, and where I see Doodle mixes heading.
Understand what it's like for Doodle Parents who encounter this bias and learn what some of the issues groomers, breed purists, and trainers have with Doodles.
This episode is just one step closer to Bridging the Doodle Divide™.
Listen to the full discussion on groomers and Doodles on episode 3 at https://thedoodlepro.com/3
Listen to the full history of Labradoodles and Cobberdogs.discussed on episode 3 at https://thedoodlepro.com/podcast/14
Read Full Transcript:
According to one of the largest pet health insurers in the US, National Mutual Insurance Co If doodles counted as a single breed, they’d be more popular than german shepherd dogs, ranking #4 after labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and french bulldogs.
My research has found many doodle parents select their mix based on a love for the breed crossed with the poodle. For example, the Bernese mountain dog has a tragically short lifespan compared to other breeds. Crossing with a poodle often extends their lifespan while preserving much of their goofy charm. Or they lost their Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to heart conditions and want to avoid that high risk again.
Just as common, they are drawn to the friendliness of a golden or the athletic nature of an Aussie but have allergies that don’t make those dogs possible without crossing with a poodle.
There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog, and breeders who claim such are doing a disservice. All dogs have saliva, carry in grass and pollen, etc. There are lower-allergen dogs, and many doodles and oodles are fantastic matches.
I have been obsessed with dogs since birth, scrawling letters to Santa and begging him to sneak me a puppy so my allergic mom wouldn’t know. I explained I’d keep the puppy in my room and there’d be no way her asthma would suffer!
I was devastated when I found my own allergies to dogs developed and grieved the best furry friends I’d been waiting my whole life to love.
It wasn’t until I met poodles and doodles that my dream became possible.
Whether it be because of allergies, desire for a cleaner home, or just an attraction to their teddy bear looks or buoyant personalities, new doodle parents are often taken aback when they are rejected by trainers or groomers for service or receive snarky judgement from vets or pet professionals.
The backlash with Doodle hate and bias is real
I have found it to be a form of virtue signaling amongst pet professionals to rage against the existence and popularity of doodles. Many are frustrated at the mismatch that can often happen between this high energy and maintenance dog and first time dog owners or young families.
But the doodle hate is so strong in the industry, I’ve had some fellow trainers confide in me that they actually enjoy many doodles but don’t say so publicly as it’s an unpopular opinion in our field.
If you are looking for a Doodle community on Facebook, you’ll find one camp of anti-doodle groups mostly made up of pet professionals like Why are doodle people like this with 19k members, sorry but ‘genetic dumpster fire’ is not a recognized breed with 19k followers, did you brush it with a spoon, why are doodle breeders like this. Etc.
In these groups you’ll see valid frustration over heartbreakingly pelted matted coats but also overall disdain and mockery. You’ll see quotes like Another doodle owner that makes you seriously question humanity and “I wish all doodles would burn in a fire.”
Amongst doodle fan groups you’ll also find why are doodle haters like this, service dog training and support for doodle handlers only, a group where we look at why doodle haters are so extra, Why Are Doodle Hating “Karens” Like This?, DIY Doodle grooming whose rules exclude groomers as they don’t welcome their advice.
In those groups, they often refute criticism of their dogs’ mix but you’ll also find groomers attacked and criticized for choosing humanity over vanity and not painfully dematting a dog for hours.
Just like our politics, the two camps are becoming more and more entrenched and the understanding and open communication between them farther and fewer between.
This is why one of my missions as The Doodle Pro is to Bridge the Doodle Divide. We all love animals and dogs and want the best for them. This debate is getting in the way of reaching that goal. I bring pet professionals to Doodle Parents to help them solve their dogs’ unique challenges (increased matting, ear infections, allergies, extended puppyhood behaviors, jumping, etc). And am a voice for doodle parents to pet professionals explaining why they “didn’t just get a poodle” or how some are intent on selecting from health tested and deliberately socializing breeders. I am able to speak to both as a long-time pet professional and dog trainer and as a doodle parent myself.
My honest conversation with grooming industry expert River Lee is still my most popular podcast episode to date. She and I were able to honestly give each other’s perspectives and deliver some difficult truths about doodle’s coat care needs to doodle families. Doodle parents have been shocked to hear the groomer’s perspective. Groomers are doing back-breaking work with 70-90lb dogs and dont’ have time to sit for an hour educating parents on coat care and maintenance.
I’m honored to help bridge that gap. And those relationships serve both sides, it was a pleasure to visit with River’s groomers and share how Doodle parents are often told their dog’s coat is low-maintence or to wait to get their dog’s coat groomed for 6-12 months as it will “ruin their coat” (both myths by the way).
I’m currently running my free 10 day doodle parent challenge and I asked challengers about their experiences. Here are some of what they shared:
Ace: I choose to get the doodle breeds as my service dogs because the living situation i have has restricted my breed choices so much that either i get a doodle breed as my service dog — or i flat out dont have a service dog.. and that means life beyond the mailbox at the end of my driveway basically ceases to exist..
Holly:We had our reproductive vet talk crap about doodles,
I have actually been attacked verbally for owning and breeding doodles. … that I am unethical and that I scam people and am money hungry. Farthest from the truth. I give back so much
Heather: Yes! Mostly judgement that it’s not a rescue dog! Thankfully my vet loves cavapoos! He says that the cross helps have a healthier dog than a purebred cavalier.
Carol: Even some of my good friends shamed me for buying from a breeder and overpaying for a “mutt”. Not the vet or a trainer but friends, which really hurt. I’m a first time pup parent and have a son that’s allergic to dogs. I needed the doodle for his sake and my sanity. I have no background for dealing with a problem dog. Also shamed for spending so much. Well it’s my money and that how how chose to spend it. If I had spent that money on a vacation no one would have cared.
Sammi: When calling around to get pricing on grooming. I had one say “i refuse to goom any kind of doodle/poodle as ALL you owners don't take proper care of them and i have to shave then down to nothing because of mats ” keep in mind this person has never met me or Rex.
If you’re wondering why “doodle haters” are so angry, there’s a few reasons.
The demand and price of doodles has attracted many unscrupulous breeders. If you want to run a puppy mill and make the most profit, doodle mixes are an easy choice.
I see that as starting to change for two reasons. First, the market has become saturated. Sadly, many of those mills have seen the easy money stop rolling in and are dumping puppies they can’t sell to rescues.
Secondly, prospective buyers are becoming more informed.. And selective.
They are asking breeders for OFA and Pennhip scores, if they are using ENS or Puppy Culture with their pups.
Doodle critics often point out that no reputable line of poodle or other breed they are crossed to would ever sell a dam or sire to a doodle breeding program. So the stock is flawed that they are starting from.
This is becoming less the case and doodle lines like the Australian Labradoodle are becoming longer.
The official organizations do act as gatekeepers to each doodle mix being acknowledged as a breed. Remember, they need to do so one by one, doodles are not a monolith.
In order to create a breed standard and get some respect in the canine community, some groups have tried to disassociate themselves from the “doodle” trend.
As I discussed in epsidode 14, all about labradoodles, The amounts of clubs and associations developed and disbanding is regarding Labradoodles is quite overwhelming and would be a whole series Of episodes. and that's again just sinceThe 1980s. People are very passionate about their Labradoodles and trying to preserve The original purpose of the breed as service and therapy animals. Some of those really feel like the mix went off the rails without a standard, including Wally himself.
After Australian labradoodle started with the Cocker spaniel infusion, the irish softcoated wheaton was infused into some labradoodle lines in 2004. This was done to avoid the chronic ear infections many doodle families are familiar with and create a stockier build.
Beverley Rutland-Manners claims to be the mastermind behind that cross and what would later be called the Australian Cobberdog. Her website states, “Not many people know this, but when I submitted the developing pure breed for acknowledgement by the master dog, breeders and associates (MTBA), In 2011, it was under the name Australian labradoodle. The MTBA Advises me that the name has such a stigma attached to it It would never be accepted By any all breeds, pure dog registry in the world, including the MTBA. But they also said that my very lengthy submission and meticulous records would be accepted. If I came up with a different name.
Beverly explained that cobber is a colloquial term for buddy or friend in Australia, so she changed the name to Australian Cobber Dog. As many breeds become distinctly different from their original heritage, Cobber dog loyalists argue their breed is not a oodle or doodle mix at all.
In fact, they are the first mix with poodles that has created their own DNA sequence, stud registry, and breed standard to be formally recognized as a breed in development in modern times
Cobberdogs are bred to be more therapy focused, with a tendancy to hold eye contact and be in tune with their owners. They have a fleecier coat and are often called a dog with human eyes.
When I polled cobberdog families, i was struck by the resistance to being lumped in with “doodles.” Owners wanted to push back on the common saying that their cobberdogs were “australian labradoodles, but special.”
The doodle explosion has completely changed the grooming industry, and they are still in the middle of adjusting. Unfortunately groomers are usually the ones who have to break the news that their dogs are experiencing very painful and unhealthy matting, and they are being attacked as the messengers.
For the full story on groomers, listen to episode 3 of this podcast for a full breakdown of what’s going on with grooming industry, prices, and what is driving them to turn away doodles.
Trainers are frequently frustrated by what they often find a mismatch between the high energy, extended puppyhood, and demanding coat maintenance needs of a doodles and first time pet owners. Additionally, coat colors that are extra popular right now, like merle from aussies or red from fielding golden lines carry higher levels of energy and exercise needs.
Doodles are not a single breed, or even officially a breed. This is why I do my Bonus Breakdowns where I share in detail the difference between the doodle mixes.
The more informed we doodle parents are and the higher standards we expect of our breeders, I hope will mean the less frustration we will receive from pet professionals. And by voicing WHY our doodle are a match for so many of us to pet professionals and their unique benefits will mean more understanding from them as well.
A common refrain from doodle haters is Why didn’t you just get a poodle. After having my own standard poodle, working with various sizes of poodles, and over 25 different doodle mixes over 30,000 hours of direct work with them, I can tell you doodles are different. Doodles give many families with allergies access to the unique breed traits, to varying degrees, of the other breed they are crossed with. For example, a goldendoodle can often bring a friendlier outlook to a more anxious poodle when the golden and poodle are crossed together.
Until we have more breed standards amongst doodles, the reliability of the traits in each mix isn’t reliable yet. But I’m happy to help bridge the doodle divide to help bring us closer to work together.