These lovable-looking hairballs are rapidly picking up popularity as family dogs, which, I'll admit, is a much better fate than spending your life in a designer handbag with only a tube of lipstick and an iPhone for company. And I suppose there are worse breeds to mix than two of the most intelligent in the world... To give a brief history of the Goldendoodle-- Well, there's not a lot to tell, seeing as how the breed is a little over ten years old. What I can tell you is that they've been designer dogs from the get-go, and they were designed to be a bigger version of the cockapoo. This makes the original breeders' intentions less than pure, but, well - let's put the dogs on the stand, shall we?
THE PROS: For a mixed breed, these guys actually have a fairly predictable temperament, which is a major plus. It seems all owners are in agreement: their dogs are affectionate, friendly with all folks, and generally goofy, fun-loving clowns. It's not hard to see why they're a good choice for families.
Here at MoT, we love a dog with a use (even Yorkies once had jobs). And Goldendoodles have got 'em! Poodles were originally gun dogs that retrieved waterfowl. Just like Golden retrievers! This means that little Doodle has retained retrieving instincts from both Mom and Dad, so even this family dog can earn its keep moonlighting in the field. Another big plus is that they can be used as guide dogs, and if bred right to minimize shedding, they'd be perfect for those with an allergy in need of an assistant dog.
Happily, these hybrids are much longer-lived than their Golden retriever parents, and the average lifespan of a Goldendoodle seems to be 15 years. (How they've calculated this when Goldendoodles only hit the scene mid-1990s, I don't know.)
THE CONS: Yet again, we see people breeding two dogs with numerous health concerns in common. Goldies and poodles share hip dysplasia and a number of eye disorders. A good breeder will screen for these things. Unfortunately, most Goldendoodle breeders refuse to breed a 'purebred' (7th generation or more) Doodle, due to the fact that, of course, a first-generation hybrid puppy will have hybrid vigor, and therefore be much healthier than its parents.
Oh, you silly people! Why must you do this? Hybrid vigor can never ever be depended on to eradicate health problems! You'd be much better off finding two healthy Goldendoodles and breeding THEM together than two different dogs with the same health issues. Hybrid vigor is not a magic cure!
It must also be pointed out that Goldendoodles aren't all that 'hypoallergenic', thanks to their Golden retriever parentage. Whoops! Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the trouble of unpredictability in hybrids. Luckily, it looks like backcrossing a Goldendoodle with a poodle can produce a light- to non-shedding dog, but those with anything more than moderate allergies may have to sit this breed out.
COULD A PUREBREED SERVE THE SAME FUNCTION?
Depends. Do you believe in hypoallergenic dogs? Remember, it's not all about the fur - allergens lurk in things like saliva and dander as well, and Goldendoodles can't help you there. If it is the fur, though, may I recommend an Aghan Hound, an Irish Water Spaniel or a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier? All these dogs are also promoted as being hypoallergenic, and they too are fluffy companions big enough to romp around with.
The fact that Goldendoodles can be used as guide dogs is an interesting point to consider, though. If I could get evidence that people who couldn't have guide dogs due to allergies/asthma before are now getting along fine with a Goldendoodle - great! Heck, let's breed more! But can we please quit it with the first-generation breeding? As I'm sure I'll rant about in a later post, hybrid vigor is next to communism on the plausibility scale. In an ideal world it would work out, sure, but this is the real world and neither will fly. Two breeds with genetic health problems in common may well be more likely to produce unhealthy offspring, whereas the pups of two healthy dogs of the same breed should turn out A-OK. Start breeding Goldendoodles for real, breed for specific qualities, and for goodness' sake give them a sensible name. Goldendoodle sounds like it came straight outta the reject pile when they were naming the Twinkie. 'Goldendoodle the Kid' just didn't have quite the same ring to it.
All in all, when it comes to Goldendoodles ... this jury is out, confused, and a little hungry for Twinkies.
EDIT: As Emele pointed out, it turns out poodles themselves are taking off as hypoallergenic assistance dogs! Apparently they're uncommon, and some people prefer poodle hybrids due to their temperaments, but Standard poodles are taking to it quite well. Bad news for Doodles, I'm afraid...!