Expert: Raising a Goldendoodle – Insight from 10 Top Breeders

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Goldendoodles” (written by Erin Hotovy and available on Amazon) we interviewed 16 of the top Goldendoodle breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Goldendoodle owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Goldendoodle, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Goldendoodle from either a breeder or rescue?

Consensus:

While Goldendoodles are almost universally smart, friendly canines with even tempers, they are each individuals as well. If you are rescuing a dog, make sure everyone in the household spends some time with it before making your choice and let the rescue group help guide you to the right dog. Because they are in such high demand, some unscrupulous breeders may use inferior breeding practices, often resulting in Goldendoodle pups with poor health. Be sure to do your research when choosing a breeder and ensure that the parents are passing on healthy genetics. Meet the prospective parents if at all possible, and insist upon proper health certifications.

Best Quotes:

If possible meet the mom and the littermates; much of a pup’s personality will come from their mama. A Goldendoodle litter should be even-tempered without a huge swing between individual pups. If you are choosing from a rescue, consider what the pup has gone through to this point and don’t expect the same pup as you would find at a breeder. Rely on the expertise of the rescue group to help you make a good decision.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

 

Do your due diligence! Research the breeder thoroughly. Contact past buyers, their vet, their trainer, even their groomer. Do not rush into a puppy purchase. A quality breeder will require an application and a deposit to be placed on a waitlist. The wait can be up to a year, but there is a reason people are willing to wait. Rushing into a puppy purchase from a backyard breeder can cause years of expensive heartbreak.”
Maureen Simpson-  Arizona Goldendoodles

Health testing is a must. These can be posted online, which is best, or copies can be emailed as proof of testing.”
Beverly Eckert-  Hilltop Pups LLC

Check for reviews or complaints. Word of mouth is the best. Choose a small breeder to ensure your puppies get a lot of early personal intervention.”
Diane Prewitt-  My Doodle Babies

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Consensus:

Goldendoodles are consistently friendly, intelligent, and  trainable crossbreeds with a strong sense of joy and playfulness. They are generally very attuned to the needs of their owners and many experts refer to this breed’s propensity for looking people in the eye when interacting with them. There also seems to be a tendency for Goldendoodles to display hybrid vigor, and many Goldendoodle pups grow up to be larger, stronger, and healthier than either of their parents.

Best Quotes:

Very human-like. All puppies are a lot of work but I have found Goldendoodles to be the easiest puppies so far. They are very quick learners and want to please. They bond with their people and truly become part of the family. They are very in tune with their humans.”
Amie L Paulson-  Clovies Creation

I love the eye contact and loyalty to their human families. Many of our moms, dads, and puppies smile. After being gone all day, a Goldendoodle smile can light up your world.”
Donna LaQuiere-  Music City Goldendoodles

From my first litters of ‘doodles, I noticed that the offspring were very engaged with humans. They seem to make eye contact more than other dogs I have had in my life. I also noticed that they seemed to be calmer than either parent breed.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Versatility. It is amazing how the Goldendoodles are so good at adapting to their family’s lifestyle. They can hike all one weekend then spend all the next weekend watching TV. They love either one. The Goldendoodles just love attention and to be part of anything that looks fun. They are incredibly playful.”
Bart Hainz-  Heartland Goldens and Mini Goldendoodles

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Goldendoodles that would surprise them?

Consensus:

Goldendoodles are extremely smart and trainable, they are even capable of learning exactly who in the house is most likely to make them stick with the rules and who isn’t. They tend to be calmer and more even-tempered than many of the other ‘doodle mixes, particularly their cousins the Labradoodles. While most individuals are aware that Golden Retrievers were originally bred for water, fewer realize that Poodles are also water dogs. Goldendoodles have webbing between their toes, and most of them absolutely adore swimming.

Best Quotes:

What they are capable of learning. They are so smart that it can get them into trouble. People assume that dogs that are counter surfing, getting into things, or figuring out gates are naughty or bad dogs. Simply not true. This is a highly intelligent breed that needs to be challenged. Their owners must remain one step ahead of them. Discipline and structure will give you an amazing dog.”
Tamara-  Daizy Doodles

Most people group them with Labradoodles and assume that they have the same high energy as a Labradoodle. While they do have some energy and they like to play, they do not have near the energy or require as much activity as the Labradoodle.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

They have webbed feet. Both Poodles and Golden Retrievers were bred to hunt, retrieve, and swim.”
Donna LaQuiere-  Music City Goldendoodles

Question #4:  How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Consensus:

It is important for your new puppy to have a safe area to play and interact that is free of dangerous items and is also easy to clean up in the event of spills or housebreaking accidents. While Goldendoodles are extremely intelligent and able to quickly pick up new commands, some of them have a little trouble with the idea of housebreaking and it may take a little longer than most new owners would expect. A crate was listed by many experts as the most important item to have on hand. When employed properly, the crate is not only a housebreaking tool and a way to keep your dog out of trouble when you aren’t home, it also provides them a cozy space where they feel safe.

Best Quotes:

The most important thing to have ready is a crate. This will not only aid in housebreaking but will keep the puppy and your home safe when the pup must be left without supervision. It also provides a personal space for the puppy to have alone time.”
Maureen Simpson-  Arizona Goldendoodles

Puppy proof the home. Puppies think that everything is a toy for them to play with. Crawl through the house looking for anything that you don’t want them to play with. Also, look for items that could be harmful to your new puppy and remove them. Section off areas in the house for the puppy to play in that are very easy to clean up if they do have a potty accident.”
Bart Hainz-  Heartland Goldens and Mini Goldendoodles

Accept the Murphy Goldendoodle law: if a puppy can get into trouble, chew something, or potty somewhere— they will. Have a puppy safe area where the pup can stay when not supervised, and buy stock in paper towels.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

Crate training and baby gates. Goldendoodles should be taught boundaries and limits right away. Be prepared for a few sleepless nights but do not give in. This breed is so brights and it really needs structure. You will need to have plenty of chew toys on hand to redirect puppy nipping. What you put in is what you will get out so be prepared to teach the puppy what you want from them. Research,
Read up.”
Tamara-   Daizy Doodles

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Goldendoodle owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Consensus:

New owners are often unprepared for the amount of housetraining involved with a new Goldendoodle pup, but if they remain consistent, they will eventually succeed. Like most puppies, young Goldendoodles explore their surroundings with their mouth and it is simply astounding how many things that they can find to chew up. It is essential that new pet parents puppy-proof the house and ensure that anything dangerous or important is out of their precious pooch’s reach.

Best Quotes:

They take far longer to potty train than you would expect. It will happen; don’t lose patience and keep your expectations low. Crying at night. Tire your puppy out. If you leave your puppy alone all day, then again while you go to a kids’ soccer game, then get busy and ignore it through dinner, bathtime, and bedtime. Well, of course, it’s going to keep you up at night. It is your job to keep your puppy and her energy managed.”
Cherrie Mahon-  River Valley Doodles

Accidents in the house. The puppy may be timid the first couple of days while getting used to their new surroundings.”
Amie L Paulson-  Clovie’s Creation

This is classic for all new puppies. They will chew, bark, and whine while learning new things about their environment. Give toys to them that are safe for chewing. Remain calm and let them know everything is okay if they are barking at things outside. Never encourage behavior you do not want to continue.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:

Goldendoodle dogs are highly intelligent animals with a reputation for being quick learners, and they are, except in the area of house-training. You are likely to be picking up after your Goldendoodle pup longer than you will expect, but with patience and consistency, they will get the idea. Although the most commonly mentioned housetraining tool was a crate, experts also recommended using jingle bells on the door handle and monitoring your pup’s food and water intake.

Best Quotes:

Crate training is a great tool for house training. It keeps the puppy contained and safe when he is not being supervised. It is not a kindness to crate the puppy every hour of the day, however, as he needs interaction with the other members of his family. When you see your puppy circling and sniffing the floor, take him outside ASAP. There are also bells that you can attach to the door which you can train our puppy to use as a way to communicate his need to go outside.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Crate train your puppy and give them nap breaks throughout the day.”
Beverly Eckert-  Hilltop Pups LLC

Keep your eye on them unless they are in their crate. Take them out every two hours to pee. Don’t free-feed your dog while housetraining them.”
Diane Prewitt-  My Doodle Babies

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Goldendoodle with other pets?

Consensus:

For the most part, this hybrid tends to be naturally sociable with both people and other dogs, making socialization mostly about allowing your Goldendoodle pup to have as many positive experiences as possible. Some of them, however, are not as socially inclined as others. Less socially inclined Goldendoodles may respond more positively to one-on-one or very small group interactions and some may even become overwhelmed in larger groups. Don’t force your dog into a situation where they are uncomfortable.

Best Quotes:

Offer lots of opportunities to socialize, but don’t force it. Not all Goldendoodles are social butterflies. Goldens might be the goofy, affectionate family favorites, but poodles are often quiet, sophisticated and loyal. The dog that lies quietly in the midst of a bunch of animals is a well socialized dog. They don’t always have to be in the middle of the pack playing.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

Start slowly by introducing your well-vaccinated puppy to other dogs one by one. Puppy parks can be a little overwhelming for a new puppy, so start by visiting with just one or two other dogs at a time.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

They are naturally social so walks in the neighborhood or taking your dog to obedience class to be around other animals is usually enough.”
Karla Green-  Willowgreen Goldendoodles

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Goldendoodle need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Consensus:

These dogs are active, athletic dogs that require daily exercise, but not as much as the closely related Labradoodle hybrid. One or two brisk walks a day will do, although the walks will most likely be punctuated by several social greetings. Be careful of their joints when they are puppies. Activities that involve running on hard surfaces or jumping exercises that are too high or too frequent can damage your pup’s growing bones and joints until they have fully developed, between eighteen months and two years old.

Best Quotes:

It varies. Some Goldendoodles are very high energy, others not so much. A good breeder should match the puppy’s energy level to yours. As a general rule, most Goldendoodles need at least one good walk or stroll or a rousing game of fetch daily.”
Maureen Simpson-  Arizona Goldendoodles

Walks at least twice a day. Know that your walk may take longer because your doodle thinks it needs to greet everyone on your route, and it expects everyone to greet them as well.”
Dede Hard-  Red Cedar Farms

While they are puppies we limit high jumping and running for long periods on hard surfaces. This is a large breed that grows very quickly and pet parents need to protect their joints from hard or heavy play at first. This breed usually loves the water, so dog beaches are a great weekend activity, and swimming has a low impact on dog joints.”
Tamara-  Daizy Doodles

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:

These dogs are, as a rule, highly intelligent and they delight in pleasing their owners, making them extremely easy to train. On the other hand, they are also smart enough to exploit their owner’s weaknesses and to do a little training of their own. Experts generally recommend beginning consistent training as soon as possible and continuing throughout the dog’s life. It is particularly important that all of the people in the household remain consistent with your Goldendoodle, or they will learn to exploit the weakest link.

Best Quotes:

I found Goldendoodles to be very trainable. My favorite method of training them is with the clicker. I start clicker training and the puppies are about four weeks old. The best time to train a puppy is from about four to twelve weeks. Intensive training in the first several months of puppies life produces amazing results. This golden training window starts to close as the puppy reaches four months old, so persistence in the first half-year of the puppy’s life gives exciting results! Continued training is important all throughout the dog’s life.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Both easy and hard. They are so smart that they learn your weaknesses. They learn who in the household is going to make them listen and who is a sucker for cute eyes. If you are not consistent within a household, for instance if some people let the dog jump up and others don’t, the dog will learn for each person. How smart is that.”
Cherrie Mahon-  River Valley Doodles

Goldendoodles are easy to train because they are smart and have an eagerness to please their owners. Be consistent with their training and use positive reinforcement by praising the puppy with great affection. Treats can be used for training, however, the puppy then learns to expect a treat after every command we have always trained our dogs with affection because it’s what they love.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behavior that a Goldendoodle might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

 

Consensus:

As a group, Goldendoodles don’t exhibit a large number of undesirable behaviors, but they do start to become more apparent when these dogs aren’t properly trained or if they become bored. Bored Goldendoodles tend to jump up on people, chew things up, dig holes in the yard, and bark more frequently, all of which can usually be dealt with by employing regular training sessions as well as a little extra mental stimulation. They do have a fairly strong prey drive, making them more likely than average to chase after rabbits, cats, and squirrels.

Best Quotes:

Most unwanted behaviors are from dogs that are bored and lacking attention or stimulation. Often just adding some training or including them in more daily activities, such as car rides to and from school, can help them.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

Jumping on people and barking. Go to a dog obedience class as a puppy to avoid those bad habits.”
Karla Green-  Willowgreen Goldendoodles

Goldendoodle puppies love to chew. During the first few months make sure that a dog toy is always in reach to quickly provide an appropriate substitute for your hand, sleeve, pants, or shoelaces. Eventually, they learn which items are OK to chew on.”
Darren Smith-  Doodle Pups

I found that a Goldendoodle’s prey drive is one trait that’s usually unwanted. This can show up as being difficult with feline members of the family as well as other types of family pets. I have also found that Goldendoodles love digging for moles and chasing squirrels. The digging can be a frustration for the Goldendoodle’s family. Distractions and exercise can help with that.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Question #11:  Do Goldendoodles make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Consensus:

Goldendoodles enjoy new adventures and are always happiest when they are with their families, so they love traveling. Fortunately, they are bright, easy to train animals as well, making them generally well-behaved, pleasant company on any length of trip. Experts noted this dog’s propensity for developing car sickness, but also mentioned that it usually fades away by the time they are adults.

Best Quotes:

Yes, they love to travel and are smart, so can be taught good manners. Puppies will get carsick but most outgrow it. Start out with small trips.”
Diane Prewitt-  My Doodle Babies

Most Goldendoodles absolutely love traveling. It is like they know it is a special day and they just suck up the special family moments.”
Bart Hainz-  Heartland Goldens and Mini Goldendoodles

Yes. They are great companions, flexible, and usually laid back.”
April Power-  Power Puppies LLC

Yes. Goldendoodles make good everything companions. They are at their best when they are with their people.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other breeds?

Consensus:

For the most part, Goldendoodles have no need for a specialized diet and tend to do quite well on most commercial dog foods without a lot of fillers. There does appear to be a sensitivity to chicken, sometimes causing itching and yeast infections even for dogs who haven’t tested positive for an actual allergy. Both Poodles and Golden Retrievers are deep-chested breeds, so in order to avoid bloat, it is best to feed your Goldendoodle several smaller meals throughout the day rather than one or two larger meals.

Best Quotes:

No, not really. It is important to feed them a food that provides protein sources first on the ingredient list. So many dog foods are made with fillers that do not serve your Goldendoodle or meet their nutritional needs.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

We have found that many are sensitive to chicken, even when it doesn’t appear on allergy tests. If they appear to have chronic yeast infections, ear infections, or hot spots, it’s usually diet-related. Fix the diet and all of those often cease. Poodles have sensitive tummies sometimes, so it’s best to find a food that works for them and stick with it. We free feed to help avoid bloat; only feeding this breed once a day is not a good idea. Ours love organic veggies added to their food.”
Tamara-  Daizy Doodles

A lot of Goldendoodles are allergic to chicken. It can cause weepy eyes.”
Diane Prewitt-  My Doodle Babies

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Consensus:

If you want to avoid grooming, the Goldendoodle is not for you. While these dogs do shed less than other dogs, it is not because they have less hair. These dogs require a minimum of once daily brushing and combing at home to avoid a matted coat as well as fairly frequent bathing. Although you could learn to cut and style your Goldendoodle’s coat on your own, most pet parents opt to have a professional groomer do it for them, usually every three to five weeks.

Best Quotes:

When acquiring a Goldendoodle, families need to know that they will need to maintain the coat on a regular basis. Goldendoodle’s coats can get matted very easily. They require consistent brushing, combing, and clipper cuts. This usually means a trip to the dog groomer’s about every three months, as well as brushing and combing at home every day.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Pick a hairstyle that suits your lifestyle. If you don’t want to brush all the time or want to go longer in between grooms, cut them shorter. Remember that the coat transitions many times. The puppy coat is the easiest to care for, but it can mat very easily during the transition to the adult coat.”
Amie L Paulson-  Clovie’s Creation

Find a groomer that is familiar with ‘doodles. Run an electric clipper (without the blade) over your ‘doodle every week when it is a puppy so that it gets used to the sound and vibration. Your groomer will love you.”
Dede Hard-  Red Cedar Farms

A quality conditioner can help prevent hair from tangling. It seems most Goldendoodles have a hair length point where the hair tends to mat or tangle. Once you find that point, schedule a grooming appointment prior to your dog’s hair reaching that point.”
Bart Hainz-  Heartland Goldens and Mini Goldendoodles

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

Consensus:

The Goldendoodle is the cross between a Poodle, a dog that does not shed, and a Golden Retriever, an accomplished shedder. Many Goldendoodles inherit the non-shedding coat of the Poodle, while some inherit the coat of the Golden Retriever, but most fall somewhere between the two. Although breeders are able to get a good idea of the type of coat the pup will have based on the genetics of the pup’s parents, there is no way to know how hypo-allergenic or non-shedding the coat will be until the adult coat grows in, sometime between the dog’s first and second year.

Best Quotes:

This is going to be based on genetics. I have so many people tell me that breeders tell them all ‘doodles are 100% hypoallergenic and they don’t shed. This is simply untrue; they have retriever in them. The amount of shedding will vary by coat and by what traits they inherited from which parent.”
Tamara-  Daizy Doodles

Minimal. Choose your breeder wisely. Some Poodles carry unknown shedding genes. Your breeder should be familiar with coat genetics if you want to ensure you’re going to get a mostly non-shedding Goldendoodle.”
April Power-  Power Puppies LLC

There is always the chance of shedding but a good breeder knows the coat genetics of the parent dogs. Most Goldendoodles will leave “doodle tumbleweeds” in the corners, but no hair on furniture, clothes, etc. There is often hair that comes out when brushing and bathing, just like people. There are some Goldendoodles who shed more, but that is not the norm.”
Jennifer Tramell-  Music City Goldendoodles

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Goldendoodles?

Consensus:

Both Golden Retrievers and Poodles are prone to several recessive genetic diseases, but fortunately very few of them overlap. This means that the Goldendoodle is much less likely to inherit a genetic disorder than either a purebred Golden Retriever or a purebred Poodle. Having both parents tested beforehand for certain diseases, such as cancer, Von Wildebrand’s bleeding disorder, or liver problems, will reduce the chances even further.

Best Quotes:

There are specific genetic diseases that are concerning for either purebred Golden Retrievers or purebred Poodles, but there are very few that overlap, which is another benefit for Goldendoodles. We test for Von Willebrand’s bleeding disorder because it is very common in poodles and occasionally found in retrievers. The overall genetic health is much better in ‘doodles than it is in their parent breeds, as many of these diseases are due to recessive genetics typically only present in one breed or the other.”
Kristine Probst-  Island Grove Pet Kennels

Goldendoodles can inherit the Golden Retriever breed’s tendency toward acquiring cancer. Having a poodle parent is a benefit in that the Goldendoodle has less chance of getting cancer than the Golden Retriever. The Poodle genetics can pass down eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, as well as liver problems and knee problems. It is a great idea to get a puppy from parents who have had their line tested, although it is still no guarantee of perfect health. Random health issues can arise even with excellent testing results.”
Laura Chaffin-  Cimarron Frontier Doodles

Hip dysplasia. Neutering and spaying your dog before six months old can contribute to this and other health problems.”
Diane Prewitt-  My Doodle Babies

Hip dysplasia is common in breeds that grow quickly like Golden Retrievers and that is found in ‘doodles as well.”
Dede Hard-  Red Cedar Farms