GENERATIONS & GENETICS
Allergy Friendly Dogs
Poodles have hair, not coats like most other dogs. Coats grow to a certain length and then fall out, which is why most breeds shed. Hair simply continues to grow and doesn't fall out when it reaches a certain length, but you can expect to see some hair come out in a brush or a comb (much like your own hair).
Properly bred Goldendoodles will have hair like a Poodle does, except their hair is typically easier to care for than Poodle hair, leading to dogs that are particularly allergy friendly.
There is no guarantee that all Goldendoodles will be hypoallergenic for all people, but overall, they do tend to be significantly better for families with allergies.
It is important to note that if a person has allergies to dog saliva, there is no dog in existence that will be allergy friendly for that person. Non-shedding coats do not make dogs allergy friendly to people with saliva allergies.
There are certain coat traits that determine whether a dog is more or less apt to shed.
When a dog is "non-shedding" that means that they don't have the genes that cause seasonal shedding. They do, however, have hair turnover, just like humans or other animals with hair. So you should expect to see hair in the hairbrush when you brush them, but not on your clothes, furniture, or floor.
If you have a low shedding dog, you can expect to also see hair in the brush when you brush them, and occasionally you will find a little fluff bunny on the floor. Low shedding dogs don't shed to the extent that you will regularly find hair on your clothing or furniture.
GENETIC TESTING FOR SHEDDING
When we started breeding Goldendoodles, there was no genetic testing available to determine these coat traits. Because of this, at that time we did not breed and did not recommend multigenerational Goldendoodles. We were not able to tell with certainty if our dogs would have the distinctive Goldendoodle furnishings (their “moustache” and eyebrows), whether they were likely to shed, and how curly they would be. Genetic testing has advanced so far, however, that we can now test for these very specific and very important coat traits. Because of this amazing testing, we are now able to better predict the likelihood of hypoallergenicity of a dog as well as whether a breeding will produce the Goldendoodle look we all love so much.
It turns out that the very coat traits that give us the distinctive Goldendoodle look are some of the same traits that confer the allergy friendly coats. Let’s take a quick look at three important coat traits.
CURL. The first trait is whether or not a dog will have curly, wavy, or straight hair. Before genetic testing, it was widely believed that curliness conferred hypoallergenicity. This is due to the fact that the curl gene comes from the foundation poodles along with furnishings and non-shedding hair.
FURNISHINGS. Furnishings are the distinctive bushy eyebrows and moustache that characterizes the Goldendoodle. The vast majority of Poodles have two genes for furnishings (FF), but some only have one (Ff). Golden Retrievers have no furnishing genes (ff). So, depending on the specific breeding and generation, a Goldendoodle can have no furnishing genes (called “incomplete coat”), one furnishing gene, or two furnishing genes.
SHEDDING. There is an actual gene for shedding and it can now be tested for. Most poodles, surprisingly, have shedding genes, just like Golden Retrievers. We have completely non-shedding Poodles and doodles that have two shedding genes. It has been our experience, as well as the opinion of canine geneticists we have spoken to, that if a dog has furnishings and curl genes (like most Poodles and Goldendoodles do), then the shedding genes aren't terribly relevant.
So, as with furnishings, depending on the specific breeding and generation, a Goldendoodle can have no shedding genes, one shedding gene, or two shedding genes.
The furnishings and curl genes work together to determine the overall likelihood of shedding, and thus, allergy friendliness.
We do not breed combinations that would give use dogs we expect to shed and to date our dogs have been extremely low-shedding (infrequent) to non-shedding (the vast majority).
This means we do not breed for straight or "flat" coats at all. Our puppies can be expected to have wavy and curly coats only.
It is well known in genetics that out-breeding (breeding of genetically different parents) typically creates a healthier and heartier offspring.
This phenomenon is known as “hybrid vigor.” Hybrid vigor has been scientifically proven to overall produce increased general health, increased resistance to disease through more vigorous immune systems, as well as to produce other superior qualities in offspring.
Goldendoodles are a product of an out-cross (a breeding of two genetically different parents—a Poodle and a Golden Retriever), and therefore benefit from hybrid vigor.
Some additional information:
What the "F?"
Filial, or "F" generations (F1, F1b, etc.) were created by monk and scientist, Gregor Mendel in the 19th century.
Mendel was studying simple inheritance in peas. As part of his studies, he came up with the filial, or "F" generation system.
That system was groundbreaking at the time and works great for studying simple inheritance of one or two genes in peas, but in reality, it gives little or no information about individual dogs.
The filial generation can give us a statistical estimate of how many offspring of a certain generation may carry a single trait.
But that doesn't tell you anything about YOUR puppy, since it's just a statistical estimate.
If you want to know more about the genetics of your puppy, then you need to use modern tools, not 19th century pea breeding estimates.
That's where DNA testing comes in. Modern breeders use DNA testing to determine many characteristics about their parent dogs so that they can have the best possible results in their breeding programs.
So if you want to find out if your peas will be wrinkled or smooth, then by all means use the filial (F) generation for information.
But if you want to have reliable, real information about the parents of your Goldendoodle, then we suggest you work with a breeder who uses modern methods, such as DNA testing, to produce only the best possible puppies.
"F" Generation (F1, F1b, F2b, etc.) and Percentages of Poodle vs Golden Retriever
Most people think that knowing the generation (F1, F1b, F2b, etc) will tell them what they need to know to make sound breeding and family placement decisions.
Unfortunately, that is not the reality, due to the complexity of breeding genetics (see "What this All Means," below for an explanation of why.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE-BASED DECISIONS
A breeder will need to evaluate her dogs genetically and through type and temperament to determine the characteristics to produce desirable Goldendoodles.
Using statistical estimates is not a reliable method for evaluating the traits and characteristics of a dog, and therefore not a reliable method of making breeding choices.
Therefore, we do not base our breeding decisions on generation, but instead on the more reliable information we get from genetic testing and structural and temperamental evaluation of our dogs.
What This All Means to You
So what does this F-whatever alphabet soup all mean to you?
That's because no dog is ever genetically 50/50 Poodle/Golden Retriever or 75/25, or whatever the mix is purported to be. It just doesn't happen that way.
Those numbers are statistical likelihoods, not the reality of what your dog will be. This happens because of something called "genetic recombination." Those numbers are a statistical estimate and not the reality of what any given Goldendoodle is genetically. It can be useful only to a certain point.
When two animals are paired, the offspring gets one of each chromosome from each parent. And if that were the only thing that happened, then our dogs (and other animals) would perfectly fit the statistical estimates for percentages.
But before each sperm and egg is formed, there's a process called "crossing over." Crossing over causes some of mom's chromosomes to exchange genes with some of dad's chromosomes, totally mixing up the genes from both. So that's why some offspring may resemble or have traits that seem like they come from one parent more than the other—because they likely do!
If you are interested in the biology of how this happens, here's a good video that explains and illustrates the process.
How to Use this Information
So how do you select a puppy and a generation that gives you the mix and traits you want? Simple—be sure to use a breeder that makes science-based decisions and understands the genetic mechanisms we just spoke about, and who knows how to use existing genetic testing, temperament testing, structural evaluation, and more to evaluate their mom and dad dogs and to make sound breeding decisions so that you are much more likely to get the traits you want in a dog and not a blind stab at a statistical estimate of what you want.
How We Solve the Problem for You
We genetically test our parents for shedding genes, as well as other traits, to ensure that we are actually breeding what we want to breed (such as puppies with the least likelihood to shed and solid genetic health) rather than just spinning the genetic roulette wheel by guessing that a certain generation will give you what you are expecting (it will, sometimes, but not most of the time).
With masters degrees in Microbiology and Biochemistry, graduate courses in genetics, decades of experience with scientific research, and published scientific papers under her belt, Ji has had the education and experience to make sound genetic decisions that will produce the best possible genetic outcomes for your puppy. Please call us if you want to learn more, we love to talk about this!
The Benefits of Genetic Diversity
Goldendoodles are an "outcross." That means that one breed is crossed with another to produce a new, hybrid, breed. In addition to the favorable characteristics we find in the Goldendoodles cross, there are extremely sound scientific reasons for it, one of the most important of which is the mitigation of problems associated with inbreeding.
Inbreeding is sometimes referred to as "line breeding" to make it sound more palatable. Regardless of the term, when you breed first cousins, siblings, or parent-to-child, which is what line breeding involves, the results are the same: significant dangers to the breed and individual through enhanced likelihood of genetic problems.
A Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) is a statistical tool that allows breeders to determine how inbred their dogs are. Inbreeding, or lack thereof, determines the amount of genetic diversity present. Genetic diversity is directly related to health and longevity.
A recent analysis by the Institute for Canine Biology determined that there is NO existing "pure" breed (AKC breed) that has a COI of less than 6.25%, which is what you would expect when breeding first cousins! Click here to see that paper.
You can statistically expect health problems to show up when the COI hits .05, or 5%. It's interesting to note that there is NO "purebreed" listed with a COI less than .05,* which is frightening to me. (Please note that's a breed average, and does not necessarily represent each individual within a breed.)
Breeding the hypothetically average Golden Retriever with a hypothetically average Standard Poodle will give you a COI of ZERO. 0. Nil. Nada.
One outcross can make a huge difference. It doesn't fix everything, but it most certainly can make a significant impact in health via genetic diversity. This is why I, personally, oppose closed stud books on the basis of genetic health.
A few interesting related links:
* "The deleterious effects of inbreeding begin to become evident at a COI of about 5%. At a COI of 10%, there is significant loss of vitality in the offspring as well as an increase in the expression of deleterious recessive mutations. The combined effects of these make 10% the threshold of the "extinction vortex" - the level of inbreeding at which smaller litters, higher mortality, and expression of genetic defects have a negative effect on the size of the population, and as the population gets smaller the rate of inbreeding goes up, resulting in a negative feedback loop that eventually drives a population to extinction."
"A study of Standard Poodles discovered that dogs with a COI of less than 6.25% lived on average four years longer than those with COIs over 25%."
"In Standard Poodles, dogs with inbreeding less than 6% live 4 years longer than those with higher COI, and the risk of bloat is roughly proportional to the increase in COI - a 10% increase in COI elevates the risk of bloat by about the same amount."
There's a direct inverse correlation between inbreeding and longevity.
The best COI found in a large population of Standard Poodles is 2%.