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Three Purebred Dogs That Are Alternatives to Doodles

A photo of a Lagotto Romagnolo running in a field.

Three Purebred Dogs That Are Alternatives to Doodles

One of the most popular designer dogs in the United States is the “doodle.”

While technically not a recognized dog breed, the doodle’s popularity cannot be denied and countless people enjoy their dogs as family pets. Among the more common doodles are the Labradoodle, Bernadoodle, Goldendoodle, and Shepadoodle.

Doodles, however, can present a few issues due to the unpredictability of crossing breeds willy-nilly. The truth about these purportedly non-shedding dogs is that, although many grow up to be compatible in a variety of family situations, some of the puppies are produced by inexperienced backyard breeders with little understanding of canine health and genetics.

For those looking for a similar type of dog but with a well-established background and pedigree, there are a number of established doodle look-alikes that can provide a reliable option for anyone considering a curly-coated companion. Here’s a look into three of these remarkable breeds.

Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto, as it is more commonly and affectionately referred to by those who enjoy these rustic dogs, may be the breed that most resembles a doodle. This Italian breed features a similar type of coat texture and body structure, and is frequently mistaken for a “designer dog.” However, the Lagotto has a working history and is known as Italy’s most precious “Truffle Dog.”

According to the AKC Breed Standard, male Lagotti stand between 17 and 19 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 28.5 and 35 pounds. Females typically measure from 16 to 18 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 24 to 31 pounds. The Standard describes the Lagotto as “tractable, undemanding, keen, affectionate, and extremely attached to its owner… and easily trained.”

Unlike doodles, the Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient breed with a lot of history behind its curly appearance. The breed originated from retrieving water dogs in several regions of Italy, including Comacchio and Ravenna. The Lagotto’s former hunting instinct has been modified by careful selection so that the dog is not distracted by the scent of game. Instead, a very good nose and natural gift for searching have made the breed extremely efficient at finding truffles, a culinary delicacy. And at the end of a busy workday, the Lagotto makes an ideal companion and an excellent watchdog.

Spanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog (SWD) resembles the Lagotto Romagnolo in addition to many of the doodle mixes. This breed comes in a variety of the same colors that the designer dogs do; however, for Conformation show dogs it is considered a disqualification for a SWD to be tan-point, tri-color, parti-color where one of the colors is not white, or Albino. Smooth or wavy coats are also a disqualifying physical trait.

As defined by the AKC Breed Standard, males of this breed stand between 17.5 and 19.75 inches tall at the withers. Females typically measure between 15.75 and 18 inches tall. The breed’s weight is not specifically distinguished, but it should be in direct proportion to the height of the dog.

Per the Standard, the temperament of the Spanish Water Dog is “faithful, obedient, lively, hard-working, and watchful.” The breed is further described as “highly intelligent with an outstanding learning ability. His loyalty and protective instincts make him a self-appointed guardian to his owner, his family and his property.” Like any good dog, this single-coated breed is very affectionate with everyone in the family.

Curly-Coated Retriever

Looking for more of a retriever-type of doodle doppelganger? Well, one old recognized breed that closely resembles a designer dog with shorter hair—but with a bit of a twist—is the Curly-Coated Retriever. The “Curly’s” distinctive coat is a mass of “small, tight, crisp curls” that protect the dog in the water and in all weather conditions. The breed’s overall structure is not very Poodle-esque, but is can resemble a clipped-down doodle.

According to the AKC Breed Standard, Curly-Coated Retriever males should measure between 25 and 27 inches tall, while females are slightly smaller in size, usually standing between 23 and 25 inches tall. The Standard also notes that Curlies of superior quality should not be penalized due to a shorter or taller stature.

The Standard describes the temperament of the Curly as “self-confident, steadfast and proud.” This is an active and intelligent dog that makes a gentle family companion and a determined, durable hunter. The breed has an independent nature and is often less demonstrative than the other retrievers, particularly towards strangers. Although the Curly might look like some Labradoodles, it is a distinctive breed with a determined independence and a uniquely curled coat.

These proud purebreds, and others like the Poodle, the Bedlington Terrier, and the Otterhound, are great alternatives to doodles and most certainly worthy of a closer look.