The Truth About Owning a Goldendoodle

We added a Goldendoodle puppy into our family earlier this year – and boy has it been a journey. I blogged about my bout with the puppy blues. I shared on YouTube and Instagram how hard it was to have a puppy in the house. I feel like we’re finally starting to come out the other end where our pup is a lot more love than she is work. And wow do I have loads to share about the experience of being a Goldendoodle owner.

Because there is a LOT breeders and the internet don’t tell you.

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

First things first.

If you’re here to get enraged about the “adopt don’t shop” mantra – please kindly click away. People choose to adopt or shop for a whole host of different reasons – many of which are highly personal.

We had been wanting to add a dog to the family for years, but landed on a Goldendoodle puppy intentionally and thoughtfully. This decision was taken seriously and we contemplated a lot of options. Ultimately we wanted the experience of raising a puppy. We also were adding a dog to the family during the height of the pandemic – when shelters wouldn’t even call me back because adoption rates were so wildly high and crazy competitive.

Point being – I made the choice I made and I stand by it. We adopted our cat from a shelter and have mad respect for that experience. For us, sourcing a puppy from a reputable breeder was the right choice at the time (and honestly, given the competition at shelters, the only real choice).

But I digress.

Who this post is for.

This post is for all ya’ll out there that are where I was a year ago: researching like crazy! I was in the market for a Goldendoodle puppy and was after all the info on the breed I could get.

What exactly is a Goldendoodle?

Goldendoodles are produced when a Golden Retriever is mixed with a Poodle. There are many different types and generations of Goldendoodles. For example, when Golden Retrievers are bred with a Standard Poodle, the result is a “Standard” Goldendoodle (basically the full size of the breed). You can also find Medium and Mini Goldendoodle options – all of which are determined by the size of the Poodle.

There are also different “generations” of Goldendoodles. Goldendoodles are a “designer” mutt. For example, our doodle isn’t first generation (a Golden Retriever bred with a Poodle). Lemon’s parents were both first generation Goldendoodles. The parent breeds of the puppy ultimately determine the generation of the puppy – and different generations are known for different traits (such as coat type, temperament, body size and shape, etc).

Goldendoodle generations.

Like I said, Goldendoodle dogs come in a whole host of generations. This breeding variety can offer a lot of trait blends you might find in a Poodle Golden Retriever mix, from coat type to body shape and more.

  • An F1 Goldendoodle is 50% Golden Retriever and 50% Poodle. This is the first generation of Goldendoodle.
  • When an F1 Goldendoodle is bred with a purebred Poodle, the result is an F1b Goldendoodle.
  • When an F1b Goldendoodle is bred with a purebred Poodle, the result is an F1bb Goldendoodle.
  • When an F1 Goldendoodle is bred with another F1 Goldendoodle, the result is an F2 Goldendoodle. Our dog, Lemon, is an F2 Goldendoodle.
  • When an F1 Goldendoodle is bred with a F1b Goldendoodle, the result is an F1bb Goldendoodle.
  • Any breeding between Goldendoodles of generations F1b or later is considered a “multigeneration” or “multigen” doodle.

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

The brutal truth about owning a Goldendoodle.

People will likely get upset that you chose to shop and not adopt.

Yep – please refer to the above. When you choose to purchase a pet from a breeder instead of adopting from a shelter you’re absolutely going to get some flack both online and in person. It’s just how it is. If you’re going to source from a breeder, be prepared for a little judgement and learn to be okay with it.

Goldendoodles come with the “designer dog” stigma, so even the people who “shop” for dogs probably won’t like your dog.

We can all hold hands and acknowledge that the “adopt don’t shop” folks don’t love us Goldendoodle owners a ton. Ironically – neither does team purebred! Folks who run in the purebred dog circuit sometimes have strong opinions about the lineage and breeding standards of a dog. Because Goldendoodles are “designer” and not purebred, there are no real standards for breeding. This fact often infuriates people in the purebred groups because they can’t comprehend why someone would pay such a high price point for a “mutt.”

Goldendoodles are not purebred dogs. “Goldendoodle” isn’t technically a legitimate, official, AKC recognized dog breed.

Honestly, I do understand where the criticism about the Goldendoodle breed comes from. It’s truly because the breed isn’t recognized as an official breed that there are no standards for breeders to be held to. The result? A lot of really nasty, unsavory backyard breeding tactics.

Many Goldendoodle breeders are unscrupulous and hard to verify.

Unlike an AKC recognized breed where you can search for reputable and verified breeders, no such official list exists for Goldendoodles. This means most of us shopping for a Goldendoodle are just hitting up Google, praying to see good reviews, and maybe hopefully getting a good word of mouth recommendation from another doodle owner.

There are plenty of ethical, legitimate Goldendoodle breeders out there. Unfortunately, there are also equally an amount of unscrupulous breeders that don’t invest to ensure the health of the puppies and the well being of the parents.

I’ve found that the best way to source a reputable Goldendoodle breeder is to get actual personal word of mouth recommendations. See a doodle when you’re out and about? Kindly ask the owner where they got their dog from and if they liked the experience. Extra points if you can learn about the health of the dog. Health problems that crop up later in a Goldendoodle’s life are often a result of poor breeding.

I also highly recommend only buying from a breeder that performs various health screenings on the parent dogs. Good breeders should be testing for the Goldendoodle health issues seen most commonly. I’d absolutely recommend working with a breeder who tests all parents for hip dysplasia, eye health (to check for progressive retinal atrophy), and more. There are no health testing requirements when it comes to breeding doodles, so all health tests are at the expense and discretion of the breeder. Good breeders DO test!

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

goldendoodle

Goldendoodle sizes vary widely – and breeders cannot guarantee them.

Breeders often price their Goldendoodle puppies by size. Standard size Goldendoodles tend to cost less than Mini Goldendoodles because the Miniature Goldendoodle size is considered more popular.

That said – please know from a current Goldendoodle owner that breeders can’t actually really promise you any specific weight range when your dog is full grown.

Goldendoodles are a mixed breed group at the end of the day – so weight fluctuates wildly. Best estimations can absolutely be made based on the weight of the parents, but ultimately no breeder can accurately promise or guarantee the end size of your dog. I’ve personally met plenty of people who bought a Mini doodle only to end up with a 45+ pound dog when it’s all said and done – which would technically qualify the dog as a Medium size.

Sizing as advertised by a breeder is a ballpark range, not an absolute promise.

Goldendoodle coat types are almost impossible to predict, meaning it’s possible your “non-shedding” doodle might shed.

Another Goldendoodle trait often promised by breeders is coat type. From color to curls – breeders love to advertise promises that unfortunately aren’t easy to keep.

Goldendoodle colors and coats do change as your dog grows. Most Goldendoodle coats lighten over time unless they’re bred for a specific gene that causes the coat to darken. This gene is rare, so most likely the color of the puppy you choose on pick day won’t be the color of your full grown dog. Puppy coats also may be curlier or straighter than their adult coats. Since Goldendoodles do shed their puppy coats, it’s actually fairly difficult to predict (and therefore impossible to promise) specific coat types. Unfortunately the dark curly coat you fall in love with when bringing your puppy home might in fact shed away to a much lighter or straighter coat.

Also – hot take – the Goldendoodle hypoallergenic and non-shedding promise pumped out into the world by breeders is a bit of a myth.

Many people opt for Goldendoodles because they’ve been told by friends or convinced by a breeder that this breed is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Goldendoodles. No dog breed is completely hypoallergenic and Goldendoodles, because they’re a mixed breed, are impossible to guarantee as hypoallergenic. Goldendoodles have wide ranges of shedding rates because they’re a mixed breed. Goldendoodles with more Golden Retriever in them have a higher likelihood of shedding than generations with more Poodle (or potentially more mixed).

The long story short here is that no breeder can actually promise to you that your Goldendoodle puppy won’t grow up to shed or trigger allergies. Unfortunately with a mixed breed it’s truly impossible to predict.

Goldendoodle coats require a lot of maintenance.

For the most part, Goldendoodle coats do require a fair bit of maintenance. This is especially true if you like your doodles hair to be long and shaggy. Goldendoodle puppy fur is fine and both tangles and mats easily. We have to brush out Lemon’s coat once every 1-2 days otherwise she gets matted. We also loved her shaggy puppy haircut, but have transitioned to a shorter cut as she’s gotten older. The shorter cut is so much easier to maintain than that beautiful, long look.

goldendoodle

Goldendoodles are known for having gut issues.

Puppies in general are known to have sensitive stomachs, but Goldendoodles as a “breed” are notorious for gut issues. From allergies to just general bubble gut, doodles can tend to have finicky tummies. This may mean you’ll need to try out a host of food options, play around with supplements, or even limit treats and chews. It also means you might need to put up with random bouts of diarrhea.

Dog ownership isn’t all glitz and glamour!

Goldendoodles are known for having allergies – both food related and seasonal.

Lemon wakes up every single morning with eye boogers thanks to her seasonal allergies. Yuck!

But in all seriousness, allergies are actually a fairly well known fact of doodles in general. Many doodles are allergic to specific food ingredients, such as chicken (we actually cut all chicken out of Lemon’s diet). Doodles are also susceptible to seasonal allergies and allergies to specific plants, grass, etc.

I would say overall, allergies don’t really impact our day to day life with our dood. We just give her some supplements, watch her diet, and try to discourage rolling around in freshly cut grass.

Goldendoodles are expensive.

Goldendoodles are wildly expensive. Period. End of story.

To purchase a Goldendoodle in 2020, the average puppy would ring in at multiple thousands of dollars. Like, anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 USD on average. Even in more rural areas, breeders were still able to charge a pretty penny. Many people actually fly puppies into wherever they live from rural breeders just to save money! The Goldendoodle price on the market seems to be increasing every single year, so no doubt by the time you’re reading this post the price has gone up.

On top of the actual pricing of a Goldendoodle puppy, it’s because of all the potential health issues that Goldendoodles can cost an arm and a leg. Lemon had stomach issues from the moment we brought her home, resulting in expensive vet visits, tests, medicines, and food. To this day Lemon eats 50% fresh food for her diet, which costs about $60+ weekly. We’ve also got Lemon on a few supplements for her gut, coat, and skin – all additional costs.

For the record, I highly recommend getting pet insurance for your dood.

Goldendoodles have endless amounts of energy.

Somewhere along the way I feel like Goldendoodles got the reputation for being amazing for beginner dog owners and as family dogs. I don’t necessarily disagree – but I also don’t think enough people acknowledge the amount of energy this breed has. Goldendoodles are like Energizer bunnies. Man, do they have a lot of energy!

Goldendoodles constantly need to be engaged or have something to do. Sure, they’ll find times to nap just like any other puppy or dog. But for the most part, this breed is not a lap dog nor are they a true couch potato. Goldendoodles will require a minimum of one healthy walk per day, often more.

Goldendoodles can survive on less exercise, but the result is often behavioral problems that may lead them to ultimately be surrendered. If your dood is chewing on furniture and baseboards – it may be because they’re bored.

Goldendoodles are smart AF.

Both Golden Retrievers and Poodles are known for being smart breeds, so it’s really no surprise that Goldendoodles are as smart as they are. One of the most frequently asked questions about doods that I get over on Instagram is about trainability of this breed. Goldendoodles make for amazing training class dogs. These doods are sharp as a tack and genuinely love to be challenged and work with their humans. The concept of potty training and household manners came much easier to Lemon than it did to my childhood Shitzu (…he really didn’t have a clue…).

It’s because Goldendoodles are so smart that I truly have to insist that if you add a dood into your family you do train them in classes. These dogs are so smart and can get a little bit stubborn – if not properly trained it’s very possible they will outsmart YOU!

goldendoodle

Goldendoodles are re-homed at high rates because not enough people do their research into the facts of this designer dog breed.

For as expensive as these designer dogs are – they do actually end up surrendered. Whether in shelters or to specific doodle rescue groups, many doodles get “rehomed” or relinquished because owners really didn’t know what they were getting into. They just saw a cute puppy and fell in love.

Some owners purchase their Goldendoodle puppy imagining a sweet, mellow, curly, non-shedding, hypoallergenic pup only to find out their puppy is, well…a Goldendoodle. Loads of energy. May or may not shed. But yes, still very sweet.

Goldendoodles are not only misunderstood as a breed, but they’re often misrepresented by breeders. Unfortunately a lot of breeders will make promises they can’t really keep when it comes to size and coat type. When it comes to energy level, I personally just don’t think many people realize that these dogs have a lot of energy to burn and it can end up being an unpleasant surprise. I knew my pup would come home with energy, but even I was surprised by just how much energy she had to burn each day!

Lemon typically gets walked twice per day. We also absolutely love taking Lemon to training classic, sport classes, and doggy daycare – all of which really wear her out. Positive reinforcement training can work your dood’s brain. Sport classes like nosework or agility are also great energy releases! Doggy daycare is an amazing way for dogs to socialize together in a safe, supervised environment.

Goldendoodles have the BEST personality and you’ll love your dog to death.

I know this post may read as a whole list of cons – I promise you that’s not the intention. What I’m intending to do in this post is really to just present all the facts because these are the facts. I’d love to see fewer Goldendoodles end up in rescues or shelters as a result of misinformation or uneducated owners who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

Goldendoodles are an amazing mixed breed. Out of all the dog breeds out there – I honestly still see each and every day why my husband and I chose to go with a dood. Lemon is funny, quirky, and goofy – and so are all her siblings. Lemon is insanely smart and incredibly loving.

Even after all the late night bouts of diarrhea, the endless vet visits, the tangled fur, the training woes, and the morning eye boogers – we love our dog. We love our Goldendoodle. We love Lemon.

Thinking of adding a dood to the family? Feel free to drop questions into the comments below!

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