Have you heard about the Sheepadoodle, the Sheepdog Poodle mix? Dogs, as you know, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Large, small, heavy, light, fluffy, short haired…
There’s a breed out there to suit any and all pet lovers. And now there are mixed breed options too.
But these cute crosses don’t come without their fair share of controversy.
So before we go into details on the Sheepadoodle, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the rise in designer dog breeds.
In and of itself, there’s nothing particularly unethical about the idea of crossbreeding dogs.
In fact, the puppies are often healthier than ‘pure’ pedigree dogs.
Committed pedigree-loving dog owners will argue that these hybrids are just glorified mutts and do nothing but dilute pedigree dog breeds. But very few canine enthusiasts across the world think in those terms.
So long as the breeding is sensible and the two breeds are compatible, there is very little issue.
That said, it’s worth remembering that you could get any personality aspect of either dog, which makes your crossbreed somewhat unpredictable.
However, careful and considered crossbreeding can create hybrid dogs that fuse two pre-existing breeds together in perfect harmony.
You can read more about the pedigree vs mixed breed debate here. But for now, let’s get back to the Sheepadoodle!
Popularity of crossbred dogs like the Sheepadoodle continues to soar and it’s not hard to see why when you consider all the facts.
What Is A Sheepadoodle?
Big, fluffy and lovable, a Sheepadoodle really is an incredible-looking dog.
A mixture between a Poodle and an Old English Sheepdog, these beautifully blended pooches really appear to be the best of both worlds.
Fun loving and friendly, this crossbreed is intended to have the active nature and curly hair of a Poodle and the smarts and energy of a Sheepdog.
Of course with a mix we can’t know for certain whether they will be a blend or more like one parent than the other, but we’ll look at this in more detail a little later.
What we do know is the new breed mix has attracted a certain level of fame recently after Olympic skater and former Dancing With the Stars winner Meryl Davis and her partner, the Russian figure skater Fedor Andreev, showed off their Sheepadoodle to the world.
But while celebrity endorsements like this will always boost a breed’s profile, the Sheepadoodle’s real selling point is just how amazing it looks.
Origins Of The Sheepadoodle
Being a mix, the Sheepadoodle’s origins, understandably, don’t go back all that far. In fact, this hybrid breed hasn’t existed more than about thirty years.
The first time that breeders intentionally bred Old English Sheepdogs with Standard Poodles was the late 1980’s, in the USA. The name ‘Sheepadoodle’ wasn’t coined until 1992, however.
But why mix the two breeds?
Well, as with all ‘designer dogs’ it’s all about crossing two breeds in order to attempt to create a ‘better’ dog. A superdog, if you like.
Bred correctly, crosses can take the best characteristics from each breed and even phase out those traits not best suited to domesticity. But it is down to random chance whether your puppy will exhibit traits from one parent or the other, or a beautiful blend of both.
Here’s what you can get from mixing the two together to create a Sheepadoodle.
From The Standard Poodle Side
Sensitive, easy to train and intelligent, Poodles are excellent family pets.
They are calm and patient around children and intuitive to humans in general.
Poodles are also hypoallergenic and hardly shed any hair at all.
You cannot be sure whether your cross will be a shedder or not, as the Sheepdog is a high shedding breed.
Poodle crosses can come in a variety of coat types, and there is no way to know what their shedding will be like until they are grown up.
The idea with the Sheepadoodle is the highly-strung nature of the Standard Poodle will be lost in the mix. But you can’t bank on that, and any personality trait from either parent could be expressed.
Add A Sprinkling Of Old English Sheepdog
Playful, fun, and great company, Old English Sheepdogs are adored by their owners. But they’re not without their downsides as family pets.
Sheepdogs are often shaggy and not overly fussed with cleanliness.
Crossing the breed with Poodles could eliminate this potential downside. But you just don’t know until your pup is full grown, so don’t rely on it.
The cross is also intended to dampen the Sheepdog’s urge to want to herd anything and everything. But again, this is not by any means a certainty.
You could end up with a high shedding Sheepadoodle that herds your kids and has the Poodle’s high strung nature too.
It really is up to chance genetically speaking. However, there are things you can do to increase your odds when it comes to temperament.
A Sheepadoodle puppy can inherit the behavioral characteristics of each breed – so the new dog could well act more Sheepdog-like or more like a Poodle.
What breeders and owners hope for is that it’ll be a relatively even mixture of the two.
The huge majority of owners report that their Sheepadoodles are energetic, good-natured and loyal. They make for excellent family pooches as well as top drawer companion dogs.
They can be more than a little needy, though.
Like many other breeds of dog, Sheepadoodles really don’t enjoy being left alone at home for long periods of time.
Sheepadoodles have been proven to have wonderful temperaments time and time again. But you can increase your odds of this by picking a puppy from two friendly parents, and with thorough socialization.
Owning an old English sheepdog poodle mix is a joy. Very few owners report personality ‘defects’ from the cross.
They’re almost always described as sweet, friendly and loving.
But you can increase your chances of a good-natured dog by socializing it when young.
Take your new puppy somewhere new every day, have visitors every day and make sure they meet a range of people. Especially kids.
The socialization window is open from 8 weeks to 14 weeks, and after that rapidly closes. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your pup happy with all sorts of people coming and going.
When you pick the right parents and socialize your pup thoroughly they have the best chance of becoming as affectionate to children as anyone else in the family.
Suitability As A Family Dog
Provided members of your family are often home and your Sheepadoodle isn’t left for long periods throughout the day, you’ll hopefully encounter no major issues if you train and socialize them well.
These dogs are generally good around kids and as such, make fantastic family pets.
Bear in mind, though, that there is a small chance that the instincts inherited from their sheepdog parents may lead them to want to herd a little.
This herding is only natural and shouldn’t cause any real issues.
It can mostly be trained out of the dog’s behavior, so don’t be hugely upset if your Sheepadoodle does feel a slight urge to round up and guide people.
But this can be a reason to wait until your children are a little older before bringing home your dog.
Sheepadoodle Size, Height, And Weight
Male Old English Sheepdogs grow up to about 22-24” high, weighing up to about 80 or 90 pounds, 100 pounds at a maximum.
Fully-grown male Standard Poodles grow up to 24” tall and can tip the scales at almost 80 pounds.
A Sheepadoodle full grown will weigh anywhere between these figures.
Compared to many Poodle crossbreeds, the Sheepadoodle mix is actually quite a large dog, especially when compared to crossbreeds like Cockapoos (Poodles mixed with Cocker spaniels).
Because they’re a mix, different sizes and weights can be achieved, depending on the specific breed type and stature of the parent dogs. If breeders want to create a Sheepdog/Poodle cross that’s smaller than average, they just select the mates carefully.
And that’s how mini Sheepadoodles come about, through selective breeding.
Mini Sheepadoodles usually weigh around 50 pounds and don’t measure much more than around 13-15” tall.
Sheepdog and Poodle mixes will generally be white, black or – more often than not – a mixture of both black and white.
Over time, a more blueish/grey color can begin to dominate.
Old English Sheepdog Poodle Mix Grooming
You’ll need to invest in a brush and comb and give your Sheepadoodle a good five minutes of grooming a day.
Start them off from pups and they’ll enjoy the process.
If you struggle with the task you’ll need to take them to a professional dog groomer.
If you fail to groom your Sheepadoodle, their coat will mat.
With some pedigree dogs, health issues can really cause major problems. But with crosses like this, the odds are in your favor.
Make sure you pick a puppy from health tested parents.
Standard Poodle Health
The Standard Poodle parent must have as a minimum good hip scores, PRA clear, a clear eye test from the vets and no family history of any of the above medical problems.
Old English Sheepdog Health
As a minimum the Old English Sheepdog parent should have good hip scores and a clear eye test of less than a year old.
Standard Poodles live on average 12 years. Old English Sheepdogs average around 10.5 years.
You can expect anything between these figures for a Sheepadoodle dog.
Your pet’s life expectancy is directly linked to its health, though.
Opt for two health tested parents and you are giving yourself the best chance.
Exercise And Training Requirements
Sheepadoodles need plenty of mental stimulation and physical exertion.
Sheepdog Poodles mixes have ‘medium’ energy levels, meaning they have plenty of energy but that it can be focused into regularly daily walks and training sessions.
What’s more, they’re more than happy to slouch about in the evening.
Provided you’re there for a little company, that is!
There is one thing that’s definitely worth noting with Sheepadoodle exercise though.
As they get older, because they are quite large dogs, they can get a little on the heavy side. So keep up those walkies. Even into their advancing years.
There’s barely a cuter sight in the world than that of a baby Sheepadoodle. But don’t forego sense and your ethics just to get one into your home.
The best thing to do is to find a good Sheepadoodle breeder.
This particular mix is very popular, so you won’t struggle to find breeders. But you need to picky and choose one with scruples.
Look for top breeders that obviously demonstrate a love for dogs and have strict rules themselves. If a breeder seems happy to sell to you with little or no questions asked, you might want to dig into them a little.
How ethically do they breed? How well do they really look after their dogs?
The mother should be a treasured pet or working companion, and have a clear bond with the owner. She should have a defined purpose beyond producing puppies, and the breeder should have health and temperament as their priorities.
Both parents should be health tested and the breeder should be actively keen to provide proof, as well as answering all of your questions.
Perhaps the only really legitimate concern with the trend for so-called ‘designer dog’ breeds is that it encourages breeding.
Many ask why breed a dog when you can just adopt? Crossbreeds are just mongrels, after all. And there are plenty of beautiful mutts needing a new home in adoption centers across the world!
Ideally, you would be able to rescue a Sheepadoodle. This not only saves you money, it helps out an abandoned mutt in need too.
But not everyone is suited to a rescue dog, or meets rescue centers’ strict criteria.
And as with any of the more unusual breeds or crossbreeds or dog out there, it’s not always possible to find a really specific mix up for adoption.
How much you need to spend to get your dream Sheepadoodle will depend on a few different things.
Size, color, coat, general appearance, and cuteness all play a part.
It’s all pretty subjective, though. Sheepadoodle puppies are as much as the breeder says they are.
Generally speaking, though? You can expect to spend anywhere from $800 to $2,500 for one.
Don’t make your choice based on price, as good breeders will often require more money to cover their additional expenses.
Is A Sheepadoodle The Right Dog For Me?
Sheepadoodles are rapidly increasing in popularity. And we can see why.
When well bred and well socialized they’re good with people, gentle, and love exercise.
Perhaps those dog lovers than need tiny pet pooches or are worried that they are out of the house too much might need to keep looking, however.
If you are committed to training, socializing and picking the right pup from the right breeder then you are off to a good start.
Best suited to homes where someone is around for much of the day, the Sheepadoodle can make a lovely pet in the right home.
Do you have a Sheepadoodle? Let us know about your precious pup in the comments section below!
References and Further Reading
- Institute of Canine Biology
- Day and Penhale. 1992. Immune-mediated disease in the old English sheepdog. Research in veterinary science.
- Corley and Hogan. 1985. Trends in hip dysplasia control: analysis of radiographs submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, 1974 to 1984. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Steinberg et al. 2000. Cerebellar degeneration in Old English Sheepdogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Barnett 1978 Hereditary cataract in the dog. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Standard Poodle
- Martin et al. 1980. Canine Hip Dysplasia: Breed Effects. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
- Gelatt and MacKay 2005. Prevalence of primary breed-related cataracts in the dog in North America. Veterinary Ophthalmology.
- Dodds 2005. Bleeding Disorders in Animals. World Small Animal Veterinary Association.
- Gentry et al. 1977. Diagnosis of classic hemophilia (hemophilia A) in a Standard Poodle. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
- Mellersh, C. 2012. DNA testing and domestic dogs. Mammalian Genome.
- Downs et al. 2013. Genetic screening for PRA associated mutations in multiple dog breeds shows that PRA is heterogeneous within and between breeds. Veterinary Ophthalmology.
- Bellumori et al. 2013. Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed-breed and purebred dogs: 27.254 cases (1995 – 2010) Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Sampson and Wood. 2010. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Hoppendale, George & Moore, Asia – Sheepadoodles: The Ultimate Sheepadoodle Dog Manual for Care, Costs, Feeding, Grooming, Health and Training
- Coile, D. Caroline – Designer Dogs: Portraits and Profiles of Popular New Crossbreeds
- The Kennel Club