Have you ever wished you could read everything about your Shepadoodle on one page? Good news! There is no need to look any further. In this guide we have a complete rundown of everything you need to know about Shepadoodles. We will cover all those questions you need answering. We will explore the breed, their personality, their colors, their life span and everything in between as we present you with our ultimate guide to the Shepadoodle.
Table of Contents
What is a Shepadoodle?
You probably already know this if you’ve got as far as researching them but just humor us for a second. The breed consists of the German Shepherd crossed with the Poodle, bringing together two highly intelligent and sought-after breeds.
The German Shepherd originates from Germany. They are a medium to large working dog who were first used to herd sheep. However, due to their intelligence and obedience, they have been used for many alternative vocations.
They are probably most recognized for their work with the Police and Military worldwide, but they also make excellent assistance dogs. In the UK they are also known as an Alsation which was the breed’s official name in the country from 1918 until the late 1970’s. Since then though, the official name has reverted back to German Shepherd, although people do still commonly refer to them as an Alsation.
The Poodle also originates from Germany (or maybe France, there is much disagreement) and their name is derived from the German Pudlehund. Hund meaning dog and Pudle to splash around. A lover of water and a great swimmer, they were working dogs used to retrieve waterfowl. They are known for their intelligence and in fact are the ranked second of all breeds. They are also easy to train, loyal and faithful.
The Shepadoodle came about in the 1960s, originating in the U.S with the intention of being bred as military police dogs.
The size of your Shepadoodle can vary greatly depending on their parentage. Poodles come in Toy, Miniature and Standard sizes so this will be the deciding factor in how big your dog will grow. To get a true picture of their adult size, it is a good idea to look to the parents.
When bringing your little bundle of cuteness home please do remember that they will grow – a lot! Your puppy will reach their full adult height by around 18 months old and their adult weight can vary anywhere between 50lbs to 90 lbs. Height will depend on the poodle height but Shepadoodles are generally considered medium to large dogs and on average will be between 22” to 28” in height.
Due to being a hybrid (crossed with two purebreds), the American Kennel Club does not recognize the Shepadoodle. However other registries do recognize them including the American Canines Hybrid Club (ACHC).
There is no standard look when it comes to the Shepadoodle. It’s a little bit like plunging your hand into one of those lucky dip boxes at the carnival and not knowing what you’re get until it’s unwrapped.
Shepadoodle colors can include:
- Tri color (black, white and brown)
They can be one solid color or a combination depending on their parents. However, even taking their parents coloring into consideration won’t provide certainties. The dominant color in the parents can sometimes be masked by a recessive gene which means your Shepadoodle can develop colors you may not expect. Puppyhood to adulthood can also see some changes to the coloring so don’t be surprised if your pup changes with age. Older dogs can go grey just like humans so this might result in a further change in coloring as time goes on.
The Shepadoodle can be an F1, F1b, F2, F2b and F3. Let’s briefly touch on the generations of the Shepadoodle for some background knowledge.
- F1 Shepadoodle: 50% poodle, 50% German Shepherd. This means both parents were 100% poodle and 100% German shepherd. This cross along with F1b have the most variations in their appearance
- F1b Shepadoodle: 75% Poodle, 25% German Shepherd due to being back crossed to a poodle. This generation will likely be more hypoallergenic than the F1. F1b can also be a Shepadoodle crossed back up to the German Shepherd. This is less common and sometimes referred to as a reverse F1b
- F2 Shepadoodle: 50% poodle, 50% German Shepherd. An F2 is the result of crossing two F1 Shepadoodles. This cross tends to have more consistency in their lines.
- F2b Shepadoodle is a second-generation backcross and made up of 62.5% Poodle and 37.5% German Shepherd. This is achieved by breeding an F1 Shepadoodle and an F1b Shepadoodle where the backcross was a Poodle. This can also be an F2 Shepadoodle and Poodle cross.
- F3 Shepadoodle is the result of breeding two F2 Shepadoodles.
The Shepadoodle Coat
Much like the colors of a Shepadoodle, the coat too can vary immensely and will come down to genetics and the generations. Coats can be curly, wavy, or even straight. The fur length can be short, medium or long. It’s easy to now see that between the size, color and coat style you can have a very diverse range of Shepadoodles.
Their coat is typically considered dense and thick like the German Shepherds. To produce a largely (not 100% as this isn’t possible) hypoallergenic dog you should go for an F1b Shepadoodle. Generally, this generation will have curlier hair and therefore less shedding and less dander will be produced.
How Much do Shepadoodles Cost?
This of course depends on where you choose to buy your puppy from. Using a reputable breeder who has reviews and testimonials is always the safest option, both for you and for the puppies.
Using a reputable breeder may mean you will pay that bit more, but in the long run this is well worth it – more so with hybrid breeds. A reputable breeder will really know their Doodles, and this should be evident during your visit.
They should also be interested in your home and lifestyle – and show a keenness to keep in touch once you take a pup home. At the time of writing, you can expect to pay around $1800 for a Shepadoodle from a reputable breeder but prices do fluctuate over time.
The Shepadoodle Temperament
This breed boasts a rather special nature. Not only do they make good guard and watch dogs, but they are also great around families. German Shepherds were bred for herding and warning off predators, and they have this trait inbuilt to a large extent. They are extremely loyal to their humans and will protect and love you in equal measures. They are placid in nature and are as happy indoors as they are outdoors as long as there is company and stimulation on tap.
They are great around children and other pets and animals but, as with any breed it’s important to socialize and train your dog from the offset. They are loyal, loving and clever making a great addition to the suitable family. They do have a lot of energy so ideally need living spaces where they have room to move around. They need the ability to let off steam, requiring regular walks of at least an hour a day.
Vaccinating your Shepadoodle
During your Shepadoodle’s life there will undoubtedly be trips to your vet and their vaccines contribute to these visits. Below are the main vaccines you can expect your dog to receive during its lifetime:
- 6 – 8 weeks: Parvovirus, and Distemper
- 10 – 12 weeks: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus
- 16 – 18 weeks: DHPP (as above) and rabies
- 12 – 16 months: DHPP and rabies
- Every 1 – 2 years: DHPP
- Every 1 – 3 years: Rabies
There are other optional vaccinations alongside these, and some may depend on where you live. Your vet will be happy to advise on what your dog needs.
Puppies should be wormed every two weeks until they reach 12 weeks old and then monthly until they are 6 months old. Thereafter, once every 3 months is fine. Generally, puppies do not need flea treatment until they start going out for walks. If your pup lives with other pets though it is important to make sure they are up to date with treatment. How often you use flea treatment and preventatives really depends on the product you choose and will come with usage instructions. Dogs need flea treatment at all times of the year.
What to Feed your Shepadoodle
As with all dogs it is important to feed them a good quality food, whether you opt for wet, dry or a combination of both. It’s also important to get the quantities right so that you aren’t under or over feeding. Let’s take a look at what you should feed your pup when they first come home and what will see them through their adult life.
When your puppy first comes home, they will be already be eating a solid diet. Often dry dog food is recommended over wet but make sure that you research each choice in depth and speak to your vet regarding the pros and cons of all options. Be sure to choose a puppy specific food as puppies need a whole host of nutrients and vitamins which will be different to that found in adult food. Shepadoodles can suffer with sensitive tummies so it’s important to find the right brand for your pup and if possible, stick with this.
Your dog will eat smaller meals more frequently when they first come home. Feeding them three or even four times a day is quite normal for those first few months. Dry food may need to be moistened but by 10 weeks your Shepadoodle should be absolutely fine with it unmoistened.
At three months old or thereabouts your pup will be fine with three meals, and from six months meals can be set at twice a day for the rest of their life. At around 12 months your dog can move onto adult dog food. You can switch to a senior dog food at around 6 years old for larger breeds. These will be less calorific and will keep your dog filled without the extra calories.
The correct quantities of food to feed your dog will be on the packet instructions. However, it’s important to tweak this when needed – for example if you are using food as a reward in training they won’t need as much at their mealtimes. Also, if your dog isn’t as active as it should be or is very active you may need to reduce or up their food as you feel fit. You can have your dog regularly weighed at the vet and some pet stores offer this service too meaning you can monitor their weight.
To feed your Shepadoodle food scraps or not? This subject has been discussed in a lot of detail and ultimately will come down to personal choice. However, it’s absolutely vital that you never feed your dog food items that are poisonous to them. Below are just some of the examples of food you should never feed your Shepadoodle:
- Cooked chicken with bones
This list isn’t exclusive, and you need to ensure you are aware of all the nasties before feeding your dog leftovers. Just be careful your dog doesn’t put on the pounds and keep them nice and active.
Are Shepadoodles High Maintenance?
We have already discussed the hypoallergenic nature of Shepadoodles and rest assured a Shepadoodle will generally not shed as much as a German Shepherd. However, your pooch will need regular brushing to maintain a healthy and smooth coat which is free from knots. They will need brushing at least a few times a week, potentially more during seasonal shedding periods. A brush which will get all the way through the coat to the undercoat will be best, such as a pin brush.
Generally speaking, the shorter the hair, the less chance there will be of matting, but your dog should still be groomed regularly to keep them in tip top shape. As for bathing your dog, this does not need to be done too often, 2 or 3 times a year as routine should suffice. They are able to shake out dirt, and do not usually have a bad doggy odor but the level of this will depend on lifestyle. Due to their floppy ears it is really important to thoroughly dry the ears after they get wet and also to regularly check for dirt in the ears as this could potentially lead to infections.
They are an active breed so if you are looking for a dog that doesn’t need much exercise and is happy to be indoors a lot then the Shepadoodle probably isn’t the breed for you. Shepadoodles thrive from mental stimulation as well as physical which is another reason training is so important.
Let us now look at the health issues surrounding their purebred parents due to the fact the Shepadoodle is a cross breed. There are other potential illnesses your dog could get such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or worms but below are the more serious common conditions in both the poodle and the German Shepherd.
Common Poodle Health Issues
- Hip Dysplasia: A condition where the thigh bone starts to wear away which can need surgery and lead to long-term conditions such as arthritis.
- Epilepsy: This can be treated with medication much like the human form.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a disease which can sadly lead to complete blindness in both eyes.
- Addison’s Disease: A condition where the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol.
- Thyroid Issues: A condition affecting the hormones.
- Bloat: A condition that is often fatal and needs immediate surgery. The stomach twists causing blood flow to stop.
- Hypoglycemia: A condition found in puppies, which will usually present itself within 4 months of birth. It’s caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.
Common German Shepherd Health Issues
- Hip Dysplasia: As above.
- Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to Hip Dysplasia but affecting the elbow.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: A neurological condition affecting the hindquarters
- Bloat: As Above
- Heart Disease: Conditions such as heart murmurs and an enlarged heart can be common with this breed.
- Epilepsy: This can be treated with medication much like the human form.
- Hemophilia: A condition where the blood doesn’t clot as it should.
- Diabetes: This can be caused by the greedy nature of German shepherds.
Due to being a cross, the likelihood of your Shepadoodle contracting any of these illnesses is perhaps considered a lower risk than being one of the purebreds. Of course, any dog can develop illnesses because it isn’t always down to genetics. It’s very wise to take out insurance on your Shepadoodle and to check the detail annually for any amendments that your insurer may make.
The average Shepadoodle will live between the ages of 10 to 14 giving you many years of doggy bliss to enjoy.
Training Your Shepadoodle
We have already discussed just how clever this dog breed is. Let’s look at how easy they are to train and what training techniques work best. Shepadoodles love being given a job to do – stemming from their parents’ working history. They are eager to please so generally speaking training shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s worth remembering though that every dog is unique with varying levels of stubbornness.
Starting training early is the key to success along with adopting a positive reinforcement approach. It is important that your dog understands you are the leader right from the start. Without this power your dog is unlikely to listen and take commands from you consistently.
The first training you are likely to undertake with your dog is potty training. They may or may not have begun this process with their breeder. If they have already started, then it’s important to use the same methods they have begun to learn. Starting from scratch allows you to adopt your own approach, but consistency is very much the key. Ideally your pup will be potty trained by 4 to 6 months, however you can expect the odd slip up now and again.
You might want to start crate training early on if you intend to use a crate. Dogs need a space that belongs solely to them and the crate is a perfect option. This can be used for at night time as well. It comes in handy in those early days of pining for their Mom. Crates come in handy when your dog is stressed or scared or if you are popping out and you want to make sure no mischief takes place.
Leash training (and off leash training) will be another task that is more successful the earlier it is started. Treats can be used as a reward when your dog walks nicely and learns to heel. Gentle tugs on the leash remind your dog to walk with you. It’s important your dog isn’t pulling you along (unless out for a jog or run, this is different). You can buy special leashes such as ‘Haltis’ which deter dogs from pulling. These worked perfectly on our dog and we only had to use one for a short time until the pulling habit became a thing of the past.
Any other training you decide to undertake, be it tricks or other formal training should be done when your puppy has learned the basic commands. Remember the old saying – don’t try to run before you can walk! You can take on all the training yourself if you are confident in doing so, but there are also plenty of classes on offer if you would prefer some help along the way.
When Can I Walk My Shepadoodle?
One of the most exciting times when you’ve got your puppy home is gearing up for that first walk. It’s one that is always remembered too, so now let’s look at ways we can ensure this is a positive experience.
You cannot walk your dog until after their last set of booster vaccinations which will be around 14 – 16 weeks. Once they’ve had these you should then wait a further 14 days or so before venturing out. To take an unvaccinated puppy out can be fatal due to potential viruses they may come into contact with. Before this time, you could bring a friend’s dog over for some puppy socialization as long as their dog is fully vaccinated. This time in a dog’s life (8 to 16 weeks) is when your puppy is at its most impressionable and early socialization is always very beneficial and reccomended.
Top Tip: A good rule of thumb for walking puppies is 5 minutes for each month of their age twice a day. This means your 6 month old Shepadoodle puppy will need two half an hour exercise sessions daily. This can be built up until your pooch fully matures when longer walks are safe.
Is a Shepadoodle a Good Guard or Watch Dog?
They can indeed and as we have discovered this is what German Shepherds were bred for. You may have more success in seeking the help of a professional with something this specialized, but there are things you can do too.
- Obedience Training: A good guard dog needs to be well behaved, trustworthy and able to accept commands both verbally and using actions
- Barking: Training your dog to bark at strangers is the key component to watchdog training. Rewarding your dog as they bark and telling them to stop and again rewarding when they stop is the key to this training. Eventually your dog should bark only at strangers. You will need to use a command word such as “bark” for this training so your dog associates the command with the behavior.
Shepadoodles are fiercely loyal and protective which are great attributes for a guard dog. Consistent training is a must, and often rewards are given when your dog does what is expected of him. Learn more about the difference between a guard dog and a watch dog in our article is a Labradoodle a good guard dog.
Committing to a Shepadoodle
Taking on a Shepadoodle is a huge commitment that will have implications for years to come. Let’s look at some of these to see if this breed will be the perfect fit for you and your family.
- Cost: Perhaps the most obvious and decisive factor in choosing your forever pooch. Bear in mind though it isn’t just the initial costs of buying a pup. It’s the vet bills, insurance, food, toys, treats, grooming equipment, leashes and crate to name but a few. The cost can be huge, so it’s important to factor in all costs that may pop up, particularly those unexpected ones.
- Time: Again, maybe a fairly obvious consideration that must be thought about carefully and from every angle. How much free time do you realistically have between you and other household members to walk, play and care for your Shepadoodle? You also need to consider vacations, who will care for your dog then? Shepadoodles can’t be left alone all day every day, there needs to be someone checking in.
- Space: This breed needs space to roam, ideally in an enclosed garden so a small apartment is not suited to this larger breed. On top of this they need regular activity so if you don’t have an active lifestyle you may struggle to meet their needs.
So, in summary what’s not to love? Loyal, but protective. Intelligent, but playful. Energetic, yet loving. They are a special breed indeed and with the right environment can really thrive and you’ll soon wonder what life was like before your furbaby came home.
Fun Fact: Shepadoodles also go by the names Shepapoo, Shepherdoodle, Sheperdpoo, Sheppoo and the Shepherd Poodle. Some of those are quite the tongue twister so we can see why we generally stick to Shepadoodle!