So, you’ve heard about the fluffy and joyful Sheepadoodle that has melted hearts everywhere! An incredible cross between the Old English Sheepdog and a Poodle, these puppies look like little white clouds of happiness bounding across the room. They are typically on the larger side of the poodle cross because of the size of the Old English Sheepdog but can vary depending on the Poodle parent.
Sheepadoodles are incredibly athletic, if not a bit goofy in their temperament and movement. They provide plenty of humor as they navigate the world and interact with their family. When thinking about whether this breed is right for you a few considerations are in order. Do you have an appropriate size indoor and outdoor space for your pup? How much training time can you set aside? Are they the right energy level for you? Sheepadoodles vary between medium to high levels of energy and need either daily walks or a yard big enough to allow for a couple of big bursts of energy to be released.
If you are considering the Sheepadoodle for your family, it’s important to know if they are the correct fit as far as their size, temperament, training needs, and maintenance. Old English Sheepdogs are a herding breed meant for moving cattle and sheep over long distances for their owners. This requires both physical and mental stamina and the bravery to take on predators to keep their livestock safe along the way. The Poodles job, as a game fowl retriever, also requires mental and physical fortitude in all types of weather conditions and the ability to work closely with humans.
No matter which personality characteristics the Sheepadoodle takes on from its parents, it will need consistent and predictable training to reach its full potential. There a couple of basic qualities in the Sheepadoodle that can make it more difficult for your family to train.
I Herd you
When a working dog uses its natural instincts, to do the job they were bred to do, we sit in awe of its beauty and intelligence. To see an Old English Sheepdog drive livestock and use its herding instinct, it’s magical, until you realize that your children, cats, cars, scooters, and just about anything else is also fair game! Even though you have taken half of the herding gene pool out, a Sheepadoodle will still retain at least some of that drive to contain and manage movement in their environment. This can be especially difficult for young children and other pets that do not understand what’s happening to them. All they see is a big fuzzy ball of energy running towards them and cutting them off every time they try to play soccer or a game of tag.
Recognizing the herding behavior is the first step to gaining control over your pup. Consistent training from a very early age is imperative. Creating an outlet for your pup’s energy will help dampen some of this instinct but won’t eliminate it completely. You need to be watchful of your Sheepadoodle around movement that excites them. Long walks around the neighborhood, games of retrieving, hide and seek, and agility, will facilitate a better connection with your pup and help prevent excessive herding. On leash and off leash obedience
I Didn’t Mean To
An extension of the herding behavior that a Sheepadoodle may exhibit is nipping as they work. Nipping is encouraged when the Sheepdog goes out in the field of work and is an acceptable tool when herding livestock, but not with people. As much as we know and understand this is not meant to be an aggressive act, it will lower the trust of the human that has been nipped and make the Sheepadoodle a less reliable choice, especially around small children.
Much of this nipping can be tempered by proper training and early socialization. Teaching bite inhibition, where a puppy learns to use its mouth softly during play, is the first and most important step. Some of this is learned from littermates but it must be transferred to its new playmates, you, and your family, when your pup comes home. Sheepadoodles will carry this nipping behavior with them as they mature but will be softer in its application if trained correctly early on.
Before investing your heart into a Sheepadoodle, consider how much you like your privacy or your ability to pick up and head out of the house on a whim. Is having one shadow enough or would you like a second dog shaped shadow too? It can prove difficult to live even a semi-independent life with a Sheepadoodle. Both the poodle and the Old English Sheepdog are naturally dependent and thrive on proximity to humans. This breed is a great fit for families that work from home or have someone that is in the home the majority of the day.
Being in the same room with you is probably not close enough for this pup. They will want to be under your feet while you eat, outside the shower, in your lap while you watch tv, and probably under the covers if you let them. There is no such thing as too close or too much!
If your lifestyle includes work in the office full time and going away for the weekend on fun trips, your Sheepadoodle will feel unfulfilled and frustrated by your absence, and in return will look for ways to self-entertain. Unfortunately, this boredom and frustration are usually worked out in less than desirable ways. This separation anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors around the house. Crate training your pup early on and draining energy can be helpful but is not a fix for their emotional needs. They naturally need to be close.
Who is That?
Sheepadoodles are a natural watchdog, keeping you up to the minute on who is coming and going. They have a deep bellowing bark to announce the presence of strangers and friends alike. The good news is that there is little intent behind that bark other than to communicate. With training their bark can be quieted quickly. What they are looking for from you is acknowledgement that they have done their job well and that you approve of the visitor. Once the stranger comes inside most pups will forgo the barking and attempt to be the lap dog they were born to be.
Where this could vocalization be a concern is dependent on where you live. Country living with a dog that barks is probably not going to bother anyone. If you are a city dweller with shared walls you may find yourself getting some complaints on the noise. Boredom contributes to how much your Sheepadoodle will bark. A pup who has been well drained of its energy through walks, mental stimulation, and play will be less likely to nuisance bark and easier to settle if they do alert to a noise.
I’m So Sorry
Most of the reasons a Sheepadoodle can be difficult to train have to do with their drive to work. Herding people and animals when we don’t want them to can be frustrating. Nipping and biting while they herd can be uncomfortable and a bit scary for the younger children. The barking can be a bit annoying depending on where you live.
The WORST part about training a Sheepadoodle is that no matter what they do, how upset you might be, it is impossible to be mad at them! The expression in their eyes is one of absolute love and adoration for their owner. You know they would do anything for you and all they ask of you is to let them be your shadow and your friend. It melts your heart every time and keeps you from following through on the training they need, because how can you say no to those eyes? Stay vigilant. Follow through. Be firm but fair. Remember that a Sheepadoodle will love you always.