The Doodle Pro Podcast: Unleashing Expert Training, Grooming, & Health Tips for Doodle Dogs & Puppies

All About Sheepadoodles (or Sheepapoo, Sheepadoo, and Sheepoodles)!

January 11, 2023 The Doodle Pro™, Corinne Gearhart Season 2 Episode 31
The Doodle Pro Podcast: Unleashing Expert Training, Grooming, & Health Tips for Doodle Dogs & Puppies
All About Sheepadoodles (or Sheepapoo, Sheepadoo, and Sheepoodles)!
Show Notes Transcript

This bonus episode is a celebration of Sheepadoodles, (or Sheepapoos, Sheepadoos, or Sheepoodles!), with research-based education about what makes them unique.  This episode will help deepen your understanding of your personal Sheepadoodle. Or if you're considering a Sheepadoodle, I'll be addressing the most common questions and concerns so you can make an educated decision on what to look for and how to select the perfect puppy to add to your family.  During this episode, you'll learn what desirable traits from both breeds can be enjoyed in a Sheepadoodle package, and which behavior traits will need a little extra work. We will discuss health concerns, testing you want to look for from a breeder, temperments, coats, colors, and much more. 

Of course, Sheepadoodle parents (or prospective ones) will enjoy this episode, but there are some juicy takeaways for any doodle lover!

Key takeaways include: 

  • History and purpose of Old English Sheepdog
  • Coat care
  • How herding traits show in their behavior
  • How protective and guarding traits show in their behavior
  • Old English Sheepdog traits that carry into Sheepadoodles
  • Poodle traits that Sheepadoodles carry 
  • Surprising facts about mini-Sheepadoodles! 
  • Next Thursday's bonus episode breed mix is... 

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If you enjoy keeping a meticulous home and having a meticulous-looking dog, this mix isn't for you. But if you love a shaggy disheveled, look. There's no match to a sheep, a doodle.

I first fell in love with Old English Sheepdogs in Disney movies, such as 101 Dalmatians And Peter pan with the Old English Sheepdog nanny.

And that is the look that many people are drawn to when they choose a sheepadoodle. They're looking for that Old English Sheepdog look with less shedding and maybe some more intelligence. While people are drawn to that. Look, we're going to dive in during this episode to talk about what's under the hood. 

Of that delicious lead disheveled coat. As we do with all of our doodle mix episodes, we're going to discuss their origin. And what is being mixed with poodles in order to get this sheepadoodle.

These dogs aren't just adorable Old English Sheepdogs with non-shedding coats and the intelligence of the poodle. They bring their own behavior and genetics of what both of their breeds were originally intended for. Old English, sheep dogs actually. Aren't really that old. When you look at the relative history of dog breeds, they're fairly modern and originated around England. In the 18 hundreds, they were intended for driving livestock to market and pulling carts and wagons there. Their owners docked their tails to prove that they were work dogs, which earned their nickname. Bob tales. Old English Sheepdogs range from 60 to one hundred pounds. And their life expectancy is usually around 10 to 12 years. 

Their eyes can be dark brown, blue, or even one of both. And they're renowned for their loud ringing bark. Their breed standard even describes it as clinging to pans together. They're not known as a Berkey breed, but they are very protective and bred to be watchdogs that protect the farm. When they're worried about an intruder, which can even mean seeing someone walk by your fence or front window, that's when you can count on hearing that loud clanging bark. 

In the late 18 hundreds, the Old English Sheepdog came to the U S and quickly became a rich man's dog. Five out of 10 of the richest families in the U S. owned, bred, or showed Old English Sheepdogs, including the Vanderbilts and the Guggenheims. Their body sits lower at the shoulder than their hips. 

This creates a bear-like roll they can be very fast when they run, but when they slow into a nice jog, they really do roll like a bear. 

The Old English Sheepdog coat is very prone to matting as it has an incredibly long disheveled outer coat. With a double coat underneath. It can really create a lot of matting on its own before even crossing in a poodle's curls. Owners of old English, sheepdogs, and their mixes are often caught by surprise. 

That they don't keep the black color in their coats. They usually begin fading from six to 12 months. And continue fading into their third year. This is due to a progressive gene called The locus that is found in both poodles and Old English Sheepdogs. Old English Sheepdogs can be prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, hereditary deafness, cardiac anomalies, and bloat. 

As Old English Sheepdogs were intended to drive livestock to market and pull carts and wagons. They still carry that herding instinct, which you can see. 

Well, in general, they're very gentle and loving with families and children. You could see that hurting piece come out when something moves by them really fast, including children. You might see barking or nipping at heels in an effort to try to keep things in order and in line. 

There are anecdotal stories that they were first mixed by the US army in the 1960s, but we're found to be too playful and carefree. But it's difficult to find any real documentation of that. 

The labradoodle and goldendoodle have kind of been the standard for doodles since they came on the scene. 

And then Bernedoodles became the new trend. That's been the case for the last 15 or 20 years. Sheepadoodles have recently really taken the doodle world by storm. And if you take one, look at them, you can't be surprised. Sheepadoodles can also be called Sheepapoo, Sheepadoo and Sheepoo.

They started to appear around 2007 and really gained momentum in 2017 when Olympic figure skater, Meryl Davis posted a picture of her new mini Sheepadoodle named Bilbo. You can still follow them on Instagram now. And he is just as cute as he started.

 Funnily enough. I find many Sheepadoodles are often the fastest mix in the doodle park. 

If I'm playing fetch with a group of different doodles, the mini Sheepadoodles always seem to beat out everyone. I find the standard Sheepadoodles while they go fast. They quickly turn into a more rolling or lumber gate. And the mini Sheepadoodles, just zip past them. 

 If you love keeping your house spic and span. 

And keeping your dog looking spic and span a sheep. A doodle might be a little difficult for you. Their coat acts like Velcro to every leaf, twig or Paulin when they go running in the yard and they can sometimes bring half of it back in with them. 

Their beards can be prone to Browning. And some people could find that messy looking, but if you love the disheveled, look, it just adds to their character. Sheba doodles can be the standard size from 40 to 90 pounds. Minis are usually less than 40 pounds. And the more unusual micro minis are 10 to 20. 

 You should not be finding a breeder, crossing an Old English Sheepdog with a Morel poodle as Old English Sheepdogs also carry the Merle gene. By crossing both of these together, you risk creating a dog that has blind deaf or has other serious health problems

Many families that have young children or smaller dogs are often surprised by their Sheepadoodles hurting. They seem to nip or be bothered by fast moving objects more than they expect. Herding dogs like sheep, the doodles have a decent prey drive and that hurting and prey drive can really kick in. When someone has young children or small dogs around, and they're not a dog that I would recommend mixing with toy breeds. Uh, or in a home with very young children. 

Even though they're gentle and playful. 

Especially the standard size can easily bowl a child over. And the dog can become very irritated and stressed by a toddler's frenetic movements. 

To create the sheep of doodle. We need to cross them with our poodle traits. As I discussed on our goldendoodle episode, when you're miniaturizing the sheep of doodle by crossing with a toy poodle. You're hoping for an extended lifetime, in addition to the more compact size. 

While toy poodles live more than 10 to 18 years. You need to keep in mind that they carry a risk of patellar luxation and collapsed trachea. And dislocating kneecaps. 

And toy poodles can also be barkier. If you're going for the midsize mini sheep, a doodle you're likely to cross with miniature poodles or perhaps a toy poodle. Miniature poodles can also extend their lifetime as they average 10 to 18 years. Though they do carry the risk of epilepsy, Cushings and retinal atrophy. 

As I mentioned earlier, I find many Sheepadoodles to be the fastest in the park. And that can come from the miniature poodle often having a higher energy level compared to standard poodles. 

That also means your exercise requirements for your mini Sheepadoodle. Might be more for their lifetime. If you're looking to have a fireplace dog that looks like a big bear rug, Miniature Sheepadoodles might not be your size. Now the standard poodle that crosses in brings a life expectancy of more like 12 to 15 years, very similar to the Old English Sheepdogs themselves. They're prone to hip dysplasia and bloat. And as you have both dogs in this cross being prone to bloat, I recommend speaking with your vet to see if preventative gastropexy is right for your dog. 

The poodle was bred to work as a water-retrieving dog and is highly athletic and intelligent. As most people know so in creating this cross, you're going to need to meet their needs through enrichment challenges, brainwork, and a lifetime of training. 

If you don't give a Sheepadoodle a job, they're going to find one. There are no guarantees of which traits a cross like aSheepadoodle will carry, but you can make an educated guess based on how much of each breed has been crossed into your particular Sheepadoodle.

If, for example, your dog is 3/4ths poodle. Otherwise referred to as an F1B, then you might expect them to be more active, possibly barkier, and non-to lower shedding coat. Both poodles and Old English Sheepdogs are bred to have a protective nature. 

Dogs don't know, bad guy from good guy. That's what a protective nature means. They know the familiar versus the unfamiliar. Or their people versus not their people. So when you see descriptions like this dog needs a lot of early socialization, would you see in the breed description for Old English Sheepdogs? 

This means you're going to need to be more intentional about early ongoing quality positive socialization with your Sheepadoodle. And there's a possibility that there's a ceiling as to how comfortable they can be with new people strangers or sounds or environments

All in all, when I see a client forum enter my inbox and it says that they have a sheep of doodle- I get excited. They're always fun to work with. They're eager to please. They take the greatest pictures and even my older kids get especially excited to meet them. I wouldn't pick them for someone's first dog, just because of their grooming needs. 

They're very prone to matting with the combination of the Old English Sheepdog plus the coat of the poodle mixed in. It's just a really more challenging coat to upkeep than some other doodles. They're also not the first dog I would pick if I had very young children, despite my love of the images of them as the nanny in Peter pan. 

But if I had had dogs before and was willing to do the code upkeep, they have a fantastic temperament. And the look that cannot be matched. 

Make sure you hit follow in your player so you don't miss next week's episode where we dive into another up-and-coming doodle breed. Aussiedoodles.