Updated: Sep 17
Cockapoo, Cavapoo, Maltipoo, Labradoodle, Yorkiepoo, Colliepoo to name a few. F1, F2, F3, F1b, F2b. When you look at the puppy and dog market today it seems like almost every other dog is some sort of poodle mix. Any of the doodles or poo mixes is a poodle cross of some variety. But how easy is it all to understand and what exactly are you looking at? In this article, I'll try to explain it in simple terms and give you a little bit of background information on the subject.
A little bit about the Poodle itself.
I'll start by giving you a little bit of background on the poodle itself, after all, they're at the center of the whole doodle boom.
Poodles come in 3 sizes. Standard being the largest at over 15" at the shoulder. The miniature is the middle size, between 11 and 15 inches to the shoulder and the toy is up to 10 inches to the shoulder.
Poodles in the standard form are one of the oldest pure breed dogs with the miniature and toy size coming about much more recently. Whilst the poodle is commonly believed to be a French dog, where it is known as a "Caniche" or "Chien Canard", which translates to "duck-dog", its origins are actually in Germany. The name Poodle comes from the German "Pudelhund", or "Pudel" which in English means "Puddle" or "to splash about" and "Hund" in German means "dog" and gives you a clue as to what the original poodles were used for. If you've not already guessed it they were a retrieving breed that excelled in water retrieves.
As a very intelligent breed with excellent swimming abilities and a crisp, curly coat designed to protect against the elements the poodle was and still is an excellent water retriever. The iconic "Poodle clip" that I would associate with the show ring came about when hunters would cut the coat in such a way as to help the poodle move through the water more easily whilst the patches of hair left on the poodle would protect the vital organs and joints from the cold.
It is this low shedding coat, their intelligence, and general joy for life that has made the poodle crosses so popular and resulted in so many "designer" breeds.
Poodles, Doodles, and other crosses.
With the increase in popularity of poodle crosses it is only right that we talk about the terms we see associated with them and probably one of the biggest myths I hear when people talk about them, "Poodles and the crosses don't shed their coat". This is not true. They are classed as low shed breeds and the more poodle they have in the mix then as a general rule, the lower shed they will be. Poodles and poodle cross still need to be groomed regularly and still need to have their coat clipped occasionally. If they don't they can and will matt and need the matting clipped out near the roots for the coat to start to grow again and to keep the dog happy.
The coat type will vary depending again on which cross is used but also how much poodle is in the mix. If you want a more curly, poodle type coat then you need to look for more poodle to be in the mix. When crossing 2 different breeds the outcome can vary massively. You may get a litter that all looks the same or they may all look totally different and nothing like either parent. You may get a spaniel looking dog with a poodle coat or you may get a poodle looking dog with a straight spaniel type coat, it's not as simple as crossing 2 dogs together for the first time and getting a predictable outcome, but it can be. Let me explain.
F1, F2, F1b, F2b, genetics, and what it all means.
Whenever we cross two different breeds together to create what is essentially a hybrid we use the terms F1, F2, and so on. I'll explain a little more and for the sake of the example I will use a cocker spaniel and a poodle as the example but it is the same regardless of which breed of dog we cross with the poodle.
The first time we breed a cocker spaniel and a poodle together we get cockerpoos which are known as F1's or first generation. The puppies from this litter can look like either parent in coat type and appearance or as a mixture between the 2. There is no way to guarantee what they will look like as genetics is a very complicated subject and completely random. But at the F1 stage, the appearance of the puppies can range massively from dog to dog and litter to litter.
If we breed an F1 with an F1 we get F2's, or second generation. Now with the F2's the coat type is slightly more predictable but still not guaranteed. If you breed a curly F1 with a curly F1 there is a good chance that you will get the majority of puppies as curly F2's, but there is an effect known as the "granddad effect" where some or all of the puppies could look more like one of the grandparents, i.e a poodle or a spaniel or a mix.
F2 to F2 will give F3's and again the outcome of the litters becomes slightly more predictable with each generation, depending on the parents bred from.
If however, we breed an F1 to an F2 this generation is known as F2's as the number moves up by one from the lowest number. So F2 to F3 gives F2's. F1 to F3 gives F2's and so on.
You may occasionally see a small "b" attached to some of the terms, for example, F1b or F2b. In simple terms, this means that the parents have been bred "back" to one of the original breeds, in this case, a poodle or a cocker spaniel.
So for example an F1 cockerpoo bred back to a poodle would be F1b's and would generally give a tighter, curlier poodle type coat as there is a higher percentage of poodle genetics in the mix. Equally an F1 bred "back" to a spaniel would also be F1b's but may have a straighter spaniel type coat.
Anytime a "b" is in the mix of F1b, F2b, and so on and this is bred to another cockapoo then the b stays. The same rules apply for the F-number ie F1 or F2 etc but they would have a "b" on the end. So F1b bred to F1 gives F2b's. F2b bred to F2 gives F3b's and so on, much the same as if we look at the explanation for the generation numbers above.
I hope this gives a little more of an understanding of the Poodle, the poodle crosses, and how the generations of each cross are numbered, it can all be a little bit daunting and often misunderstood at times but with a little bit more knowledge it will hopefully help you get to grips with the poodle cross and some of the terms which go with it.
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