What exactly is a Sheepadoodle?
Imagine a Poodle, bred to work alongside hunters for water retrieval and one of the most intelligent breeds in the world. Now think of a shaggy Old English Sheepdog, a descendant of the British Isles, driving cattle in the late 1700s. Combine the best traits of the two breeds, and you have our Sheepadoodle!
Why are Sheepadoodles so Expensive?
Anyone looking to raise a sheepadoodle could find themselves at the end of a long waitlist before paying an avg. cost between 1-5 thousand dollars! Why in the world would they cost so much?
First, large to giant breeds will usually cost more in general. Standard Poodles can weigh up to 75 pounds, while Old English Sheepdogs can run up to 100 pounds (sometimes more). Consider sheepadoodle size; they are going to be large dogs.
These dogs only have one coat rather than two, making them hypoallergenic (they won’t shed much).
They are adorable while highly intelligent and generally easy to train! Even this can contribute to the value.
Mini sheepadoodle puppies usually run between $1-3,000 USD. A Mini sheepadoodle is the offspring of an Old English Sheepdog mated with a Miniature Poodle. A miniature sheepadoodle can grow to around 15-20 inches, weighing in at 30-35 pounds (a far cry from standard size).
Consider a Sheepadoodle Mini if you’re worried about too great a size or don’t want a large breed!
The Costs of Breeding
Finally, much more goes into breeding healthy offspring with desirable traits than you might think, and the process itself is not cheap. First, (reputable) sheepadoodle breeders need to genetically test both the dam and sire to rule out any inherited health complications/disorders; you cannot just mate any female and male you find. That in itself will limit the breeding pool.
At the same time, genetic diversity is crucial for future health, so the parents cannot be related. This will limit the number of pups that can be produced at once, affecting supply vs. demand. The puppies will also need to be bred from the correct parent generations to offer the right combination of traits, limiting the available selections.
These final three reasons are the main contributors to the price. Then, of course, there is the demand. Sometimes people will be waiting around a year for their pup, driving up the price.
Do Sheepadoodle Dogs Shed?
No, most Sheepadoodles will not shed! They are what we call ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs, meaning they will not leave much dander and aren’t likely to cause any allergic reactions. Thanks to their Poodle parentage, most will only have one coat that will rarely fall out.
Old English Sheepdogs are a double-coated breed, so the amount your sheepadoodle sheds/doesn’t shed can depend upon the generation they are (more on this later).
This doesn’t mean your Sheepadoodle won’t need to be groomed regularly to maintain that single, beautiful coat!
No dog is truly 100% hypoallergenic. All dogs will leave some degree of dander, but this breed will be recommended for those looking for a “non-shedding” dog.
Hygiene such as teeth brushing, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and brushing are most certainly an essential aspect of regular dog care, regardless of the breed. –American Kennel Club
Are Sheepadoodles Easy to Train?
Yes, Sheepadoodles are some of the easiest dogs to train you’ll ever meet! That being said, there is still a catch, and it really isn’t as simple as the headline there.
Dog training always comes down to the education and experience of the handler. For example, a very experienced, highly educated behaviorist would probably have an easier time training some of the most difficult breeds out there than a first-time dog owner with no experience and very little training education working with a highly trainable dog. Thankfully for you, a simple internet search will bring you countless great training articles! If you’re not sure where to look, check out some of these sources:
YouTube offers the ability to watch professional trainers work, which can be more beneficial than anything else you’ll read! Viewers beware, YouTube is also filled with poor examples, bad training methods, and marketing gimmicks from those trying to sell you things. The same is true for internet articles, and not all are good sources, so try and stick to the links I’ve posted unless you know a source is credible.
In short, it really depends on how willing you are to devote a little bit of time researching training methods. So why are Sheepadoodles different from so many others? Why are they easier to train than most other breeds?
“Puppies can be taught the commands ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ and ‘stand’ using a method called food-lure training (Horwitz, Debra. DVM.).” -VCA Hospitals
Why are Sheepadoodles so Easy to Train?
Sheepadoodles are one of the smartest dog breeds you’ll ever meet! Sheepadoodles are highly intelligent compared to most other breeds, and they are very reward-driven (both very important when it comes to dog training).
In almost all cases, the ‘agreed upon’ smartest dog breeds were bred to help their handlers perform complex (for a dog) tasks because being so smart makes them capable! For example, Border Collies were bred to easily perform complex herding tasks most humans would have a hard time with and is arguably the most intelligent dog breed out there.
Sheepadoodles are descendants of Standard Poodles (bred for hunting and water retrieval), having what many experts argue rival the intellect of Border Collies. Old English Sheepdogs were primarily bred to work with sheep and cattle, performing similar functions to Border Collie. This means both parent breeds were very smart!
They are Very Reward Driven.
Sheepadoodles love to please their owners, especially when it means rewards for them! Even simple praise and play is a reward to these people-oriented dogs. They crave your attention and approval!
Take advantage of this desire to please during your training. Make gratitude a reward in itself for a job well done! Some examples of positive reinforcement are:
- Play given as a reward (i.e. rope toy)
- Toys in general given as rewards
Aversives (unwanted stimuli used to stop unwanted dog behavior, usually uncomfortable) can be beneficial training tools in very special situations. You probably should avoid them at all costs. You need a long history of experience for aversives to work and know exactly what those situations are. Examples of aversives most behaviorists today would recommend you avoid are:
- The ‘shock’ collar
- The slip collar, ‘choke chain,’ or prong collar
- Citronella spray collars (the scent can be very uncomfortable)
- Physical corrections (i.e. swatting with newspaper)
- ‘Alpha Rolls’ or ‘Dominance Downs’ (inferior training techniques, never perform these)
What is the Best Way to Train a Dog?
If you’ve looked through those links above, you might notice there are generally two main approaches (simplistically; think in general) to training a dog:
1. The first is Aversive related Positive Punishment (most simply call this negative reinforcement training, though that isn’t quite correct in psychological terms, negative meaning ‘take away’ while positive meaning ‘add to’). You would be adding a ‘punishment’ your dog doesn’t like, so he will perform the way you want next time to avoid getting the same punishment. This was a very popular method early on in dog training history (usually not recommended today).
2. Reward-based Positive Reinforcement (positive meaning addition) training is meant to encourage your dog to behave a certain way to receive that reward! Take advantage of your Sheepadoodle’s desire to please you and reward him for his efforts! Most professional trainers in nearly all cases would agree: this is the best way to train a dog.
Do Sheepadoodles Bark a Lot?
They usually won’t bark too much! Compared to certain herding/guardian breeds, like Shetland Sheepdogs, many Collies, or Great Pyrenees, most Sheepadoodles won’t bark a lot. By ‘bark a lot,’ we mean to bark at absolutely everything they are not sure about!
One of the two parent breeds, the Old English Sheepdog, will bark more than many other breeds. Remember, these were bred to drive stock animals while serving somewhat of a guardian function; the desire to bark at suspicious activity was natural and even desired.
Barking at suspicious activity might seem natural to your Sheepadoodle, though even then, he shouldn’t bark as much as the others listed above. If you don’t want your Sheepadoodle to bark much, be sure to follow the step listed below!
What is the Best Way to Limit Barking?
Socialize your Sheepadoodle at an early age and continue to socialize throughout his life! Teach him that other animals, strangers, and friends/family are good things and not potential threats to worry about. If your big fellow isn’t worried someone will break into your home or means you harm and isn’t constantly on a watchful guard, they are much less likely to want to bark.
Socialization is absolutely integral for the psychological development of any breed for countless reasons, many far more important than simple barking. If you learn to train your Sheepadoodle puppy anything, learn the importance of socialization and how to do it correctly. Socialization is the best way to ensure a great sheepadoodle temperament!
Are Sheepadoodles Chewers?
They can be ‘Chewers,’ especially as a teething Sheepadoodle puppy, but this applies to nearly any dog breed. Most breeds alive today were bred to help humans in some way. None of those include ‘chewing.’ This is simply a natural dog behavior.
Sheepadoodles can be described as ‘mouthy,’ but ask yourself why they would want to be. Dogs in general, especially puppies, experience the world with their mouths! They don’t have our human hands and must pick up everything with their mouths. They play with their mouths and ‘feel things’ with their mouths.
Training and Bite Inhibition (Soft Mouth)
Outside of teething puppies, who will chew regardless of what you do, requiring you to ‘puppy proof’ your house, this is simply a question of training! Teach your sheepadoodle what can be chewed and what can’t, or when it’s not appropriate to chew. Remember, chewing is natural for dogs, and they won’t understand why it isn’t acceptable unless you show them.
If you aren’t sure where to look, visit any of the credible links listed above!
Bite inhibition training teaches a puppy how to control his bite pressure and what not to bite at all. Imagine one puppy biting a little too hard when playing with another littermate. The ‘victim’ yelps and ‘wee wee wee’ and scurries away. Play stops temporarily for both pups, which is not at all what the ‘biter’ wants! Eventually, they will start playing again, but the biter will know not to bite so hard this time, so play can last longer.
As the human handler, simply try to mimic that behavior! Let’s say you’re playing a game of ‘rope tug.’ If your puppy bites a little too hard or clamps down on your skin at all, simply utter a small yelp (your pup will think he may have hurt you), yank your hand away and immediately stop playing. No other correction should be needed.
Your pup doesn’t want the play to stop! He’ll quickly learn to avoid your skin if he wants the game to continue. Bite inhibition training is important for all large breeds to undergo as puppies, if only because they can grow large and powerful and could easily harm a human without meaning to.
How Long can a Sheepadoodle be Left Alone?
Think of a dog, then think of a cat. All dogs are social animals and crave social contact to be happy! They evolved from animals that would hunt and live in social groups, relying on each other for survival. On the other hand, Cats evolved from solitary hunters, and nearly all cat species tend to be more solitary themselves compared to the social dog. Don’t confuse the two!
Sheepadoodles can learn to be left alone for several hours throughout a workday, but this isn’t ideal or even desirable. You certainly can crate train your sheepadoodle, and even should if only for a puppy’s safety (see links above for resources). Training is always recommended and will help prevent cases of separation anxiety. For a full-grown sheepadoodle, you can use a heavy duty dog crate due to its large size.
- Spending the day working from home with your sheepadoodle or any dog breed is ideal.
- If you can’t work from home, try not to leave your sheepadoodle alone for more than 4-5 hours, or ask a friend/neighbor to check on the big fellow during the day.
- Even if he is trained exceptionally well, don’t leave your dog alone for more than 9-10 hours at a time. This can lead to depression.
- Crate train your dog early, allowing him/her to slowly adjust (desensitize) to solitude.
- If you arrive home to a disaster area, your pup has a case of separation anxiety (exactly as the name implies). See the credible links above for training recommendations.
Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone—often within minutes. -ASPCA
What is the Life Expectancy of a Sheepadoodle?
Most larger breeds will face a shorter lifespan than the avg. small breed, but sheepadoodles are lucky exceptions with an avg. of 12-15 years! Usually, mixed breeds will display traits either of both parent breeds or somewhere in between, but these guys thankfully adopted their longer-lived parent’s traits here.
Avg. Standard Poodle Lifespan: 12-15 years
Avg. Old English Sheepdog Lifespan: 10-12 Years
How Often Should You Bathe a Sheepadoodle?
Because they usually won’t shed like double-coated breeds, you won’t need to groom, bathe or brush them as often. There isn’t much of a standard recommendation other than avoiding bathing too often. Frequent bathing can wash away the natural oils these dogs need to keep their skin and coat healthy.
Usually, bathe once a month at most.
To keep his luxurious coat nice and sleek, brushing at least once a week is recommended. They can form mats from that long hair, so you don’t want to avoid brushing entirely. Any groomer will be able to help you remove mats that might occur.
Nail trimming should be regular, about once every two weeks. Waiting too long will cause the quick (vascular, nervous portion) to grow and potentially make grooming difficult.
Ask your veterinarian and/or groomer to check the ears for any possible infections or other health complications. These are generally healthy breeds, but it is always good to be cautious! In worst cases you’ve to use drugs like cefpodoxime for dogs.
Sometimes you can use dry shampoo for dogs to keep the smell under control but not actually wash the dog.
What do I Need to Know before Buying a Sheepadoodle?
When it comes to sheepadoodle temperament, expect a well-behaved, social and eager dog, great with kids and family! Sheepadoodles love to be active and will keep the kids busy during those rambunctious times during the day. Though they are not as high energy as many other smaller breeds and maybe good apartment dwellers, your big guy will still need a decent level of exercise and enrichment every day.
Make sure your big fellow gets at least one walk a day, and try to provide regular social interaction (at the dog park, for example). Introduce him to children, neighbors, friends, and even strangers- all beginning during those first few months after you bring him home. Socialization is very important for any large breed.
They aren’t Cheap, and That’s Good
Sheepadoodles are costly for a reason! Unless you’re opting to adopt a sheepadoodle rescue, don’t skimp on the price. You want to expect to pay more for a healthy dog bred from other proven healthy dogs! The breeder you choose should not only be registered with some type of major breed registry but be able to show you vaccination paperwork as well as familial health records. Your breeder should be:
- Experienced and educated
- Registered or accredited
- Both willing and wanting to meet personally
- Willing to answer questions
- Able to provide medical documentation
- NOT willing to separate pups before 8 weeks
- Inquisitive- greet breeders want to make sure their dogs go to great homes!
Manage Your Financial Expectations
Raising a dog, any dog breed in general isn’t cheap- nor should it be! Make sure you can afford the future costs before buying such a luxurious dog.
Have you considered the price of food for a large breed? Opting for a cheaper brand could mean health sacrifices, and good quality brands aren’t cheap. If you opt to feed a homemade diet, be sure you’re very familiar with your sheepadoodle’s nutritional requirements!
Veterinary care is much cheaper than human medicine, but it still isn’t free. You have all of the vaccinations necessary for any dog, plus regular checkups, nail trimmings, grooming (if you don’t do it), and any unforeseen issue. Have you considered pet insurance?
It’s important you own your own vehicle or at least can find quick transportation at a moment’s notice in case of emergency.
Learn the Breed
Try and learn as much as you can about the sheepadoodle breed and dog behavior and body language beforehand! The more you understand the way dogs behave and why they do what they do, the better prepared you will be to raise your sheepadoodle while handling any problems with ease.
If this seems like a daunting task, consider setting aside just a few minutes every day for research (15 or so). With all of the resources available, you’ll become an expert before long! Familiarize yourself with canine body language and try to learn what certain visual cues mean. This is especially important when ensuring the success of social interactions!
Because they are so intelligent, have such a great temperament, and tend not to shed much, Poodles are mixed with several breeds to create new breeds. Whether you’re considering a sheepadoodle vs. goldendoodle, bernedoodle, pomapoo, or one of the many others, options exist for nearly anything!