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I’ve seen a crazy number of poodles (mixes?) on my walks the last few days, and I’ve realized that I honestly can’t tell what’s a purebred poodle and what’s a doodle. You guys have a couple threads complaining about people like me, so I decided to ask for good ways to know if a dog is a doodle or a purebred, because grooming doesn’t always tell you!

Do poodle tails, when undocked and not groomed short, have feathers like a golden retriever’s tail? I’ve always assumed poodle hair was more puffy, not feather-like. The feathers are usually what I look for to say, “Oh, that’s a doodle.” But then I realized that that may not be accurate.

Any other physical tips to know if a dog is a doodle or purebred?
 

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I’ve seen a crazy number of poodles (mixes?) on my walks the last few days, and I’ve realized that I honestly can’t tell what’s a purebred poodle and what’s a doodle. You guys have a couple threads complaining about people like me, so I decided to ask for good ways to know if a dog is a doodle or a purebred, because grooming doesn’t always tell you!

Do poodle tails, when undocked and not groomed short, have feathers like a golden retriever’s tail? I’ve always assumed poodle hair was more puffy, not feather-like. The feathers are usually what I look for to say, “Oh, that’s a doodle.” But then I realized that that may not be accurate.

Any other physical tips to know if a dog is a doodle or purebred?
It's not you. Some doodles do genuinely look like poodles. Especially the ones that are 75% poodle. I can for sure ID a well bred poodle, but I'm not always sure when there are so many out there that are poorly bred that don't conform to the poodle standard. A well bred poodle will be a square dog while most doodles that I see are not square. Poodles will also have more of a jaunty, flowing, effortless way of walking. Most doodles have a more clumsy walk. I have only seen one doodle that truly had poodle structure and movement, though I can't be 100% sure it wasn't a poodle since its owners just sat in their car while they let their dog run around without being supervised. :rolleyes: Most doodles will have that feathering on the tail, but I imagine a poorly bred poodle could have it, or a poodle puppy. A dog in a teddy cut is just really hard to identify though.
 

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Look at body structure. Poodles tend to be square equal height at shoulder to length. Also poodles tend to be more leggy type looking, they also tend to have more for lack of a better word thinner and longer faces than lets say Golden's. About the tail, they do tend to be more fluffy than feathered, except when the dog has a wavy coat, which sometimes does happen. Poodles should be more ballerina like, so thinner and daintier than a Golden. Less like bull dozer and more like a ballerina. I understand grooming does not tell you what breed a dog is. Most of the poodle type dogs you see will be doodles unless you live near a good breeder especially if they are multi colored.

I hope this helps.
 

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I second what Raindrops and EVpoodle said. There have only been 2 times where I could not tell a dog was a Doodle(one of them is 75% poodle and the other one I had saw walking with its owners on the sidewalk). I will show you 2 pics of Sisko. When he was a puppy, his tail was feathery, but I think he is almost done with his coat change and now his tail looks like a Poodle. Please give me a little bit, I need to find a way to pull them up😳
 

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I'm not sure why this is, but so many of the doodles I've encountered have extremely close-set eyes. But a fluffy face can intensify this effect.

As for poodles....there's really nothing quite like their bounce. Spend enough time with one and you'll be able to spot it a mile away. Peggy's been compared to a gazelle.
 

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I agree with Raindrops and PeggytheParti that one definite way to tell a purebred poodle is what I call the "poodle strut." They walk like they are almost floating on air, there's no other breed that has the purebred poodle strut. It's actually beautiful. When I first got my toy poodle I would just stare at his legs during our walks, I couldn't believe that they were floating in unison like that!
 

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I'm sorry Pytheis, I lost the first photo 😞 Sisko's tail used to be feathery, but has changed, so now it's curly. But what Sisko looked more like a doodle when he was a puppy.
 

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An illustrated Breed standard for Poodles


Not easy to tell with so many of every persuasion sporting the unshaven look, but as mentioned above, and, almond shaped eyes with a look of intelligence, ear set, tail set, and ATTITUDE. Poodles do prance and strut. The movement of a well bred poodle is like watching a beautiful horse. The horse people will need to specify. I think of Thoroughbreds, Arabians, wild horses.

And here's the various designations for the various crossings, basically by percentage of breed:

A F1 puppy is the result of a purebred retriever that was bred to a purebred poodle. A F1b is taking a dog that is itself a 50%-50% retriever/poodle cross (F1) and breeding it back to a “parent” breed (by “parent” breed, we mean either a retriever or a poodle, not its actual parent). Generally, a puppy that is F1b will be about 75% poodle and 25% retriever. Now here is where the numbers get a little more confusing…

You’re likely to hear varied information on what is a F2, F3, Multi-gen, etc. What are these? When we say F1b, that denotes that there was a backcross to a “parent” breed, hence the b. So, an F2 means that 2 first generation Doodles were bred together. F2 could also technically refer to a litter produced from a F1 dog bred to a F1b dog (although many refer to this as F2b to denote a higher percentage of poodle in the mix).

Most Doodle breeders consider a F3 as a breeding between F1b to F1b or F2 to F2 or any combination of higher generation Doodles. To save on too many confusing letters and numbers, anything F3 and above is often referred to as Multi-gen to denote that there are multiple generations of Doodles involved.
 

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I have more trouble with goldendoodles than labradoodles. Most of the labradoodles I've met have weird hair, coarser and straighter than you'd see with a poodle. They look a lot like a wire haired pointer to me. Even with trimmed faces, the head and muzzle are broader and blunter than a poodle would have.

Some of the goldendoodles I've seen have looked very similar to poodles. The hair was fluffy and curly, similar to a poodle. The faces are a bit broader than a well bred poodle, but not always drastically so. I think the crosses in my area tend to run 75% poodle, so its not surprising they'd look very poodly
 

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Discussion Starter #11
All very interesting points. Most of the dogs I see are thick and heavy-set. Definitely not what I’d call graceful or agile. They look similar, in my opinion, to the build of a Portuguese Water Dog. They also walk as though they’re heavy, no prancing, like a lumbering St. Bernard. Maybe I’ve only seen doodles then.
 

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All very interesting points. Most of the dogs I see are thick and heavy-set. Definitely not what I’d call graceful or agile. They look similar, in my opinion, to the build of a Portuguese Water Dog. They also walk as though they’re heavy, no prancing, like a lumbering St. Bernard. Maybe I’ve only seen doodles then.
I think you have. Doodles look like a bear when walking or running, and poodles look like a graceful race horse or gazelle. Mind you, a poorly bred poodle will have a thick face and body, and won’t be prancing gracefully. In that case it’s harder to tell but the tail might give it away. These dogs will still have fairly curly hair on the tail as adults, nothing like a doodle tail.
 

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"one definite way to tell a purebred poodle is what I call the "poodle strut." They walk like they are almost floating on air, there's no other breed that has the purebred poodle strut. " That's actually written into the standard. The poodle standard says: Gait: A straightforward trot with light springy action and strong hindquarters drive. Head and tail carried up.

It's that springy action that really defines poodle movement.
 

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I just did a google image search for "labradoodle," expecting to see the wiry coats I've seen out and about. But they all look like goldendoodles, too. I'm baffled.

¯\(ツ)
 

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I've noticed a lot of the golden/labradoodles have strange rear structure and look like they have weak rears. Which makes it look like they have little rear drive in their gait. But it may just be impacted by early neutering or the frequency of hip dysplasia. They walk like a heavy dog. Poodles should walk like they are very well supported. Effortless and springy. Misha mesmerizes people when he walks. He exudes pure joy.
 

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A bit of history
A white labradoodle wearing a leather harness stands in a garden.

Born in 1989, Sultan was the first ever labradoodle, serving as a guide dog rather than a designer pet.(Supplied: Guide Dogs Victoria)

Labradoodle wearing a leather harness.

Sultan travelled to Hawaii to work as a guide dog.(Supplied: Guide Dogs Victoria)

A groups shot of the first labradoodles.

A young Wally Conron with Brandy (left), labradoodle pups - Simon, Sheik and Sultan and their standard poodle father, Harley.(ABC RN: Fiona Pepper)

Two labradoodle pups sitting on grass.

Dog-genetics researcher Jessica Hekman says the labradoodle caught on as a breed because of its 'cool' story.(Supplied: Guide Dogs Victoria)

Realistically, probably not The First Ever poodle/lab mix bred, but Sultan (first photo) is from Wally Conron's guide dog breeding program, which is attributed to starting the craze.
 

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A white labradoodle wearing a leather harness stands in a garden.

Born in 1989, Sultan was the first ever labradoodle, serving as a guide dog rather than a designer pet.(Supplied: Guide Dogs Victoria)


Realistically, probably not The First Ever, but this pup is from Wally Conron's guide dog breeding program, which is attributed to starting the craze.
That's what I thought labradoodles looked like. Weird that all my google searches turn up the same fluffy dogs I think of as goldendoodles.

I actually like that wispy, wiry hair. I think it's really cute. But if I wanted a wiry breed, I'd get a German Wirehaired Pointer like my childhood dog. She was so funny and clever, and such a lovely size.
 
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