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First, pretty much every purebred dog association has a code of ethics that forbids deliberate crossbreds. Therefore, the purebred dog clubs would say there is no such thing as an ethical doodle breeder. The question, then, becomes what flavor of bad you consider acceptable.

One thing to consider is whether the breeders health test their breed stock. Every dog breed has issues. Crossing two breeds doesn't guarantee hybrid vigor, despite the claims of unscrupulous breeders, and in fact might give you the health problems of both parent breeds. Therefore, it is extremely important for the breeder to do health screenings appropriate to both breeds before pairing the dogs. You want to see those results. Not, "Oh yeah, we took them to the vet and they passed everything with flying colors." No, you want to see the actual genetic (from a company such as Embark) and orthopedic (OFA.org, Pennhip, etc.) results.

Another thing is whether the pairing of the two breeds actually makes sense. Look at the purpose for which the parent breeds were developed. Standard poodles were originally bird hunting dogs. Their purpose was to go out in the field, wait patiently until told to go flush a pheasant or duck, then find the downed bird and bring it back. They needed to be smart, good tempered, and trainable to do their job. Miniature poodles were used for a similar purpose and were also used to locate truffles underground. If you are going to cross poodles to another breed, it makes sense to cross them to another breed that was used for a similar purpose. Labradors, Goldens, Cockers, were also bird hunting dogs. They have somewhat similar drives. Chances are the cross of an excellent poodle with an excellent Labrador or excellent Cocker will at least give you a good tempered and biddable dog.

However, these days a lot of doodle breeders are crossing breeds with completely unrelated origins. Yorkshire terriers were originally ratters. Unlike bird dogs, they were bred to work independently without input or direction from their masters. Sheep dogs were bred to work closely with their masters, but they were also bred to tirelessly push livestock around. Crossing in a terrier has the potential to dilute the biddability of the poodle, and crossing in a sheepdog has the potential to dilute the patience of the poodle. Therefore, I can't see the point of creating Yorkiepoos, sheepadoodles, bernedoodles, and all the other weird crosses happening today.

Unfortunately, yet another factor to consider in getting a doodle is whether the parents were excellent examples of their breed. In many cases they aren't. Right now I have a really nice tempered poodle and one who is a bit anxious. Of course, the anxious one is the one with the pretty color. If I were breeding to make money he is the one I would breed, because his pups would look great posed in a cute little basket on my web page. His offspring would also stand a high chance of having poor temperaments.
 

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The issue major issue I have with the modern doodle craze is that it starts with many false assumptions and makes many false promises.

Poodles are neurotic
Poodles are mean
Poodles are wimps
Doodles don't shed
Doodle coats are easier to maintain
Doodles are healthier

The better of my two poodles once had a kid unexpectedly run up to him and grab his ear hair while he was suffering from an ear infection. My cocker spaniel would have bitten the kid's face off. Heck, I would have bitten the kid's face off. My poodle merely whined, lowered his head, and made it very obvious he would be grateful if the kid let go. That's a dog with a good temperament. The same dog has the endurance to hike all day and the obedience to leave a dog in heat and return to me.

The original labradoodle was bred to meet the need for a non-shedding service dog. The breeder had tried training full standard poodles and was not satisfied with the results. Consequently, he took a SUCCESSFUL SERVICE DOG and bred her to a poodle. After working with the cross for a bit he ended up with a dog with the right temperament and size to be a service dog. My poodles have all been too smart for their own good. They want to solve problems their way; they detest micromanagement. They think constantly and come up with unusual solutions to problems I didn't think needed solving. It's like having Sheldon Cooper in a dog suit. They are also fiercely loyal; I think they would have difficulty recovering emotionally after being repeatedly moved from a puppy home to a service training home to their working home. Therefore, I can see why a service dog trainer might want to dilute the poodle intellect with the chill and optimism of a service bred Labrador. I have no problem with that.

However, I keep encountering doodles in training classes that could never cut it as a service dog and are even having trouble cutting it as a pet. It's like they got the worst of the cross instead of the best. About 3/4 are too small to perform guide or mobility support. (Yes, a smaller dog could still be a diabetes or epilepsy alert dog, but most are at the awkward size of being too large to carry and too small to handle most physical tasks.) About 3/4 are so anxious, hyper, or overly social that their pet owners struggle to keep control of them. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I think one of my two poodles is a bit anxious and reactive; I don't consider him good breeding material. Yet, in a room full of barking bouncing doodles, he's the one keeping his head together. Clearly whatever these doodles have been bred for, it's not temperament.
 

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I would look into adult rescue dogs if cuddling is important and you are only able to walk 15 to 30 minutes a day. Poodle and poodle cross puppies tend to be very high energy for the first year or two. They have two modes: play and sleep. Cuddling tends to be something they grow into later.

There are some Cobberdog breeders I would consider buying a puppy from. They are trying to stabilize the cross into a registrable breed, so some of them are putting quite a bit of thought and health testing into their programs.
 

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Both a miniature poodle and a Lagatto Romagnolo fall into that size range. Both might be a bit high energy for your needs. Unfortunately, a lot of mid sized dogs are somewhat energetic, as their original purpose was hunting, verminating, or companionship to active people.
 

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Bichons are adorable. I think Bichons are truly the package people want when they go searching for miniature goldendoodles- affectionate, cheerful, sociable, non-shedding, smart but not over the top smart. They are just a bundle of joy and enthusiasm. It's important to get one from a good breeder, however, one who screens for things like patella problems.
 

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One thing to consider is that breeds exist in the first place because people wanted to concentrate characteristics they considered desirable. Size, color, temperament, physical quirks, behavioral traits all have a strong genetic component. Too much outcrossing can destroy the very traits for which a breed was selected. A collie that won't herd or a setter that won't point are not useful to a shepherd or a hunter. Someone living in a condo or an HOA with a 30 pound pet limit faces a tough decision when their puppy matures to 40 pounds. Someone with allergies might need a dog guaranteed not to shed. A well bred dog should have at least the regular size, coat texture, and temperament of its breed.

Of course, too much inbreeding will destroy a breed as easily as too little. Dalmatians are known for bladder stones; every single purebred Dalmatian in existence has a mutation affecting their ability to excrete uric acid. Standard Poodles have a high level of auto-immune diseases; it is thought this issue traces back to loss of diversity caused by the post-WWII Mid-Century bottleneck. Some standard breeders are outcrossing to miniatures in hopes of reducing autoimmune issues in their lines while maintaining other poodle characteristics.

The thing about outcrossing is that it doesn't always solve problems. Even if you don't care about losing the physical appearance of your breed (your Golden Retriever's offspring are no longer golden; your Corgi's offspring are all long legged) you still don't necessarily eliminate your breed's problems by outcrossing to another breed. The gene associated with IVDD is found in many small dog breeds. Crossing a miniature poodle to a cocker spaniel could still produce an IVDD prone litter, because both breeds have a high number of carriers.
 
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