When you think Goldendoodle you think curls but not all will adorn the trademark Poodle coat. Sometimes, the Golden Retriever genes are dominant and your Goldendoodle will have a flat coat and no furnishings. Rest assured though, you will still have a lovable, loyal, and devoted Goldendoodle.
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Why Some Goldendoodles Have a Flat Coat
In this article, we are going to look at perhaps the least well known and certainly less recognizable Goldendoodle – the Flat Coat.
Firstly, what is a Flat Coat Goldendoodle? A Flat Coat is a Goldendoodle who doesn’t have the typical Goldendoodle look, the curls or waves, and ‘furnishings’ which are the beard, mustache, and eyebrows that give him his trademark Goldendoodle look. The flat coated Goldendoodle can and usually does look very much like his Golden Retriever parent although he is sometimes built like his Poodle ancestors.
The Flat Coat Goldendoodle is however a ‘true’ Goldendoodle despite his uncharacteristic looks and can even be a 50/50 mix, just like his hairier siblings. He will have the same typical Doodle temperament despite his less familiar appearance.
So how does this happen? In order to explain this, we need to take a brief look at genetics. Let’s start with Golden Retriever coat genetics.
All dogs have a particular gene that is responsible for the type of coat that they sport and for the sake of this article, we will call the Retriever coat gene the ‘N’ gene, although you may also hear it referred to as ‘I’ or ‘IC’ (standing for improper coat although the coat is not improper at all – it is the coat a Golden Retriever is supposed to have).
The ‘N’ gene gives the Golden Retriever his open or smooth face with no beard or mustache and his silky, shedding coat. The Poodle on the other hand has a coat gene known as the ‘F’ gene, ‘F’ stands for furnishings. When you mate a Golden Retriever to a Poodle, resulting in F1 Goldendoodle puppies, each puppy will inherit one coat gene from each parent so his genetic coat code will be F/N, one copy of each. This means that the puppies will have typical Doodle furnishings. Sounds simple but when we come to F2 or second cross Goldendoodles or multi-generational Goldendoodles it becomes more complicated.
When breeding a Goldendoodle to another Goldendoodle it is a game of roulette when it comes to coat genes. Within a litter some puppies (approx. 50% although obviously, this is not an exact science) will inherit one ‘F’ and one ‘N’ gene from each parent giving the typical Doodle look, some (approx 25%) will inherit two ‘F’ genes, one from each parent giving him a Poodle type coat. Some (approx 25%) will inherit one ‘N’ gene from each parent giving him a Retriever type open-faced coat.
Some breeders seek to avoid this by either breeding F1B Goldendoodles (F1 bred back to a Poodle) or by DNA testing their F2 Goldendoodles for coat type, and breeding from a dog that has inherited two copies of the ‘F’ gene. Some breeders are happy to actively breed flat coated puppies.
How Common or Rare are Flat Coated Goldendoodles?
Flat Coated Goldendoodles rarely occur in F1 or F1b Goldendoodles as unless the Poodle parent only carried one copy of the ‘F’ gene this is impossible; however, they are regularly seen in F2 or F2b litters. Most people when seeking a Goldendoodle puppy are looking for a pup with a typical Doodle look so for this reason the Flat Coat is probably the least common variety that we see.
Worth a mention though is the fact they are considered rarer than they actually are as most people, if they come across one, wouldn’t know the Flat Coat was actually a Doodle without speaking to his owner. Many of the Golden Retriever mixes you have seen out and about may actually be Goldendoodles in disguise!
How Maintenance and Grooming Differs
Your daily routine will be very different and much quicker if you are the owner of a Flat Coated Doodle as he will not have the curls and waves that are prone to matting that our furnished Doodles have. A brush through with a pin brush or slicker brush a few times a week and a rub over with a grooming mitt is sufficient for this type of coat.
Burrs and foliage are less likely to stick to his coat and you will not have the hair between the toes that need to be inspected and combed daily with this type of coat. The Flat Coat should never be clipped or shaved either so he does not require regular visits to the groomer or clipping at home, however, you should still check his eyes, nails and wipe his ears weekly.
Bathing requirements also differ slightly as the furnished Doodle coat does tend to trap dust and dirt more which means he may need bathing and blow-drying every few weeks whereas his Flat Coated counterpart can get away with bathing only when he starts to smell ‘doggy’ or has had a particularly good wallow in the mud as a good brush will often be enough to get him looking as good as new.
Is There More Risk of Being Allergic to a Flat Coat Goldendoodle?
The short answer to this frequently asked question is yes. Many people are initially drawn to Doodles or Poodle mix type dogs in the first place by their search for a pet that they will not be allergic to.
If you are allergic to dog hair, then a Flat Coat is more likely to trigger an allergic reaction than a furnished Doodle. However, there is more to being allergic to dogs than simply hair as most allergies are triggered by the ‘dander’, the microscopic flecks of skin, shed by all animals and birds or the saliva rather than the just the hair.
If you are an allergy sufferer and want to get a dog, the only sure-fire way to discover if a Goldendoodle, or any breed/mix, is to spend time around the dog you are considering adopting. A good breeder will want you to visit and handle their dogs to observe whether an allergic reaction is brought on before agreeing to let you have a pup if you explain that you are allergic. Obviously, no breeder or pet owner wants to have to end up rehoming a dog due to the owner’s allergies.
How to Tell if my Goldendoodle will have a Flat Coat
As puppies, it can be very difficult to determine exactly what type of coat a Goldendoodle will have once he reaches adulthood. Without genetic testing, which tells us 100% which coat genes a pup carries there are a few telltale signs.
A pup that will be furnished will often show crimping or waves in the hair on their muzzles, but this often does not start to show until around 4 weeks of age. Do not look at the body hair as most Doodle pups (and indeed Golden Retriever pups) have fluffy and even wavy hair on their bodies. To determine furnishings, it is the facial hair that counts. Even furnished pups have relatively smooth hair on their bodies as pups compared to adults and it takes around two years before you will see the ‘finished article’. I have seen many extremely curly, heavily furnished adult Doodles that had no curls as pups although the furnishings were apparent.
An experienced breeder should be able to advise you as to what type of coat each pup will have, especially if the litter is a repeat mating so they will have past litters to draw a comparison from. If a furnished pup is of prime importance to you it is best to choose either an F1b Goldendoodle or one that the breeder is willing to DNA test for you so that you can be sure your Doodle will have the coat that you desire.
Curls are a different matter again as it is possible to have an unfurnished but curly pup (smooth face like a Retriever but with a curly coat on his body) or a furnished Doodle with a straight coat (this is a particular favorite coat type of mine and is VERY low maintenance).
So, to summarise, Doodles with all coat types are ‘proper’ or ‘true’ Doodles and all will have the wonderful Doodle nature that we love. A Flat Coat is no less a Doodle than a furnished Doodle and there are people that actually prefer the lower maintenance of the Flat Coat (and don’t mind shedding).
The texture of the hair of a Flat Coated Goldendoodle is truly wonderful to the touch as it is usually softer and silkier than that of a Golden Retriever and often sheds slightly less. For people that want the Doodle nature but with less maintenance and expensive trips to the groomer, the Flat Coat Goldendoodle means that you can have your cake and eat it.