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Have you ever wanted a dog who’s not only playful, fun-loving and goofy, but intelligent and easy to train too?
If so, you may want to consider the Sheepadoodle — a crossbred canine created by breeding an Old English Sheepdog with a Poodle.
We’ll discuss the basics of the breed below, including their history, temperament, health concerns, price, and more. Read on to learn if the Sheepadoodle is a good fit for your family!
Whether you’re simply reading about Sheepadoodles because you’re curious, or you are considering buying one of your own, you need to pay attention to your spelling.
While a Sheepadoodle is a mix between an Old English Sheepdog and a Poodle, a Shepadoodle (one “e”) is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Poodle. That’s quite a different breed altogether!
One of the first popular Poodle mixes was the Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. The name “doodle” stuck and is commonly associated with many different Poodle hybrids today, including the Sheepadoodle.
Sheepadoodles can also be referred to as Sheepapoos, Sheeppoo, Sheepdogdoodle, or Sheepdoo.
Sheepadoodles are fairly new arrivals on the dog scene.
While there are anecdotal reports of the U.S. Army mixing Old English Sheepdogs with Standard Poodles to create military working dogs in the 1960s, it’s more likely that the breed originated in the 1990s or early 2000s as Poodle mixes started gaining popularity as family pets.
Their popularity exploded in 2017 when Olympic figure skater Meryl Davis and her fiancé posted a picture of their Mini Sheepadoodle puppy, Bilbo.
Because Sheepadoodles are a cross between Old English Sheepdogs and Standard Poodles, we will look at the parent breeds to give you an idea of what to expect when adding a Sheepadoodle to your family.
The history of the Old English Sheepdog is not clear, but it seems to have originated in about the mid-19th century. The breed was initially used to drive sheep and cattle to markets.
At the time, the tails of working dogs were docked to exempt their owners from paying taxes on them. This is why some kennel clubs (like the AKC) require Old English Sheepdog tails to be docked. Since the dogs were driving rather than herding, they didn’t need to use their tails as rudders the same way other shepherding dog breeds do.
Interestingly, at the turn of the 20th century, Old English Sheepdogs were extremely popular among the wealthiest families in the United States, with five of the ten wealthiest American families (the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Goulds, Harrisons, and Guggenheims) owning, breeding and showing the dogs.
Despite being the national dog of France, the poodle actually originated about 400 years ago, in what is now Germany.
The Poodle was initially used as a duck-hunting breed, which is part of the reason the Continental haircut was developed: This unique grooming style helps to keep a dog’s hips warm, while still allowing complete freedom of movement.
Poodles come in three different AKC-recognized sizes: Standard, Miniature, and Toy (in decreasing order of size). The Standard is the oldest variety of the three, with the Miniature and Toy varieties arising as people began to keep Poodles as companions rather than working dogs.
Poodles are one of the most intelligent breeds in the world, they bond strongly with their “pack,” and they have a strong desire to please their owners. These characteristics make Poodles some of the easiest dogs to train, and a great breed for first-time owners.
The language some breeders use to describe different types of Sheepadoodles can be confusing to those unfamiliar with genetics or hybrid nomenclature. Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated:
Most breeders produce Sheepadoodles by mating a Poodle with an Old English Sheepdog.
In such cases, the Poodle and Sheepdog parents are referred to as “P generation,” “founders” or “founding stock,” while the resulting offspring are called F1 Sheepadoodles.
If you breed two of these F1 Sheepadoodles together, the resulting offspring are referred to as F2 Sheepadoodles. Breed two F2s together and you get a bunch of F3s, and so on.
Sometimes, breeders pair F1 Sheepadoodles with one of the parent breeds – a practice called “backcrossing.”
Breeders produce backcrossed offspring for a variety of reasons. In the case of Sheepadoodles, backcrossing is usually performed to produce dogs who shed even less than typical F1 Sheepadoodles do.
In such cases, F1 Sheepadoodles are usually paired with Standard Poodles. The resulting offspring are then approximately 75% Poodle and 25% Sheepdog, and they’re referred to as F1b Sheepadoodles.
It’s important to understand that all dog breeds exhibit individual variation; this is even more true of hybrid breeds. So, while we’ll discuss some of the common personality traits of Sheepadoodle below, be mindful of the fact that individuals vary.
For example, Sheepadoodles often possess the goofy demeanor of their Sheepdog parent and the intelligence for which Poodles are famous, but they do so to varying degrees. Some Sheepadoodles will favor one parent, while their siblings take after the other.
Nevertheless, most Sheepadoodles will gladly play anytime you give them the opportunity, and most are also very easy to train. Additionally, because both parent breeds were required to work long hours in the field, they both have high energy levels. This energy level is almost always passed along to their Sheepadoodle offspring.
Because of their high energy levels and considerable intelligence, it is imperative that you keep your Sheepadoodle well exercised and mentally stimulated. Fail to do so, and your new pet may develop problematic or destructive behaviors.
Accordingly, you’ll need to make sure your Sheepadoodle gets at least one hour of exercise each day. You’ll also need to provide him with a couple of good toys to satisfy his instinctive urge to chew and keep his brain busy.
Just be careful: Sheepadoodles are pretty big dogs who can quickly destroy low-quality toys. Do yourself a favor and check out our guide to the most indestructible chew toys for large dogs.
Sheepadoodles shed relatively little, which is one of the primary parts of their appeal. This helps make them a great choice for allergy sufferers and those who simply don’t want dog hair covering their home.
However, and despite claims to the contrary, Sheepadoodles do require regular grooming. They don’t require as much maintenance as many other breeds (including their Poodle parents), but they will need to visit the groomer about once a month or so. Sheepadoodles also need to be brushed daily to help prevent mats and tangles from forming.
Sheepadoodles also require regular baths, like all other dogs. Just note that if you decide to bathe your Sheepadoodle at home, you’ll want to invest in a good hair dryer first. Sheepadoodle hair often looks a bit frizzy and takes forever to dry out when allowed to air dry.
There are a number of dog hair dryers on the market, but we’ve discussed a few of the best dog dryers for large breeds here.
Like many other breeds that don’t shed heavily, Sheepadoodles are labeled as “hypoallergenic.” However, no breed or combination of breeds truly is hypoallergenic.
The symptoms of dog allergies are typically triggered by dog saliva and dander – not fur. That said, shed hair often carries dander with it, so the less a given dog sheds, the less likely it is to cause allergy problems.
For people with mild allergies, a dog that doesn’t shed much may be acceptable if it is brushed and bathed regularly. For such people, a Sheepadoodle may make an excellent pet. However, people with severe dog allergies are unlikely to tolerate any dog dander and should avoid all dogs.
Since Sheepadoodles benefit from hybrid vigor, they are prone to fewer health problems than either parent breed is. However, they may be prone to conditions like:
Expect to pay between $1000 and $3000 for a standard-sized Sheepadoodle in a common color. Smaller or unusually colored puppies may cost more.
We couldn’t find any Sheepadoodle rescue organizations, but you may be able to find one at a shelter or via PetFinder. However, in all likelihood, you’ll have to purchase one through a breeder.
Always try to purchase your Sheepadoodle puppy from a source that provides you with the chance to meet the parents. Additionally, stick to breeders who perform health screenings for major medical problems on their breeding stock as well as the puppies they produce. Doing these things will help prevent you from supporting unscrupulous breeders or retailers.
Understand that many Sheepadoodle breeders will require buyers to sign purchasing agreements. Among other things, these agreements will often require you to return the animal to the breeder rather than relinquish it to a shelter.
You should also be prepared to answer a variety of questions about your home, family, and lifestyle, as many breeders are selective about the customers with whom they do business – they only want their puppies going to good, loving homes.
Sheepadoodles are very lovable dogs, who will fit in with most families who have the time, space and resources these dogs require. Just be sure to review the information above carefully and take your time making a decision.
Then, as long as you are sure that you can provide the type of grooming, exercise and stimulation these dogs need, start looking for a good breeder and thinking up names.