This is a long one! I would like to test my understanding of coat type genetics, get help predicting how my puppy's coat will turn out, and ask some questions about grooming, so there's something for everyone :)
The way I understand it, there are 4 known genes that affect coat type:
- Long vs. short
- ll = long-haired
- LL and Ll = short-haired
- Furnishings/wire-haired vs. open-faced/improper coat
- ff or IC/IC = improper coat, flat-coated, open-faced; dog's fur coat will grow to pre-determined length then shed
- FF and Ff or N/IC and N/N = furnishings, wire-haired; dog's hair will grow continuously
- Curly vs. straight
- CC = tight curls
- Cc = wavy
- cc = straight
- Single-coated vs. double-coated (incomplete dominant, depends on other coat factors)
- SS = dog retains soft, single, shorter puppy-like coat, and does not develop distinct guard hairs or undercoat; without an undercoat, they have nothing to "blow" spring/fall so shed less
- Ss = dog retains puppy-like coat, but may have some undercoat, depending on other coat factors
- ss = dog loses puppy coat and grows double coat of guard hairs, which shed continuously as they reach maximum length, and undercoat, which sheds seasonally; if the dog is furnished, the coat will cord
Have I got this right?
Poodles are expected to be ll, FF, CC, SS or long-haired, furnished, curly-coated, single-coated. My understanding is that Pulis have the same coat factors, but are double-coated, which allows their coat to cord.
Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers would be ll, ff, cc, ss or long-haired, unfurnished, straight-haired, double-coated. All F1 Irish Doodles and Goldendoodles would then be ll, Ff, Cc, Ss or long-haired, furnished, wavy-coated, with more undercoat than a Saluki but less than a Golden Retriever.
F1 x F1 Irish Doodles would be expected to produce about 25% unfurnished puppies, with coats ranging from long and silky (like a Papillon, long-haired Dalmatian or GLHP), to densely curled or wavy open-faced (Irish Water Spaniel, Curly-coated Retriever), to Golden Retriever-like coats.
Of the 75% furnished puppies, we'd then expect a few to have wooly Poodle coats, and small percentages to have coats that wanted to cord, dense straight hair coats (Bearded Collie), or cottony straight coats (Coton de Tulear, Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier), while the rest (about a third of the total) would have wavy fleece coats of varying fluffiness and density.
Anyone care to comment on whether I'm understanding this right?
I ask because my new puppy is an F2 Irish Doodle. I chose her breeder and litter specifically because I was looking for a dog with Irish Setter good looks and bon vivant with Poodle intelligence and trainability. I helped raise her older full brother, who is pictured below. He is truly beautiful, besides being an absolute delight. I'll wax lyrical about him some other time. He attracts a lot of attention, especially from those who had Irish Setters. They always smile knowingly when I remark that he's half Poodle and it's all in his brain.
I had hoped to choose a red puppy without furnishings, but the latest pictures from the breeder have me worried. She's obviously quite curly, but I'd appreciate some additional weigh-in on the topic. Is it possible she is just fluffier and curlier than her brother?
I would prefer an unfurnished doodle primarily for aesthetic reasons, because you can see their eyes and expressions more easily, and I just find them nicer to pet. When I think "dog", I think of the brother, with his soulful eyes, silky soft ears and head, and beautiful plumed tail. I understand that a furnished puppy would have less dog stink and wouldn't shed, but I don't feel fully prepared to maintain the doodle coat. If she does "doodle" so to speak, keeping her in a clean-faced clip would preserve her expressiveness, but I hate the thought of trimming off her whiskers. I'm sure I'd love her regardless, but I'm trying to use my head here.
Can anyone speak to this? I guess if I left her face long, she still wouldn't really be able to use her whiskers. Doesn't the hair in their ears grow continuously, too?
The doodle coat sounds laborious to keep unmatted and the prospect of learning to clip is daunting, but the idea of paying someone else to do it for 15 years is equally unpalatable. I appreciate that all dogs are work and commitment, as I have an elderly horse who has been retired for years but will always be my responsibility. But I would rather spend that time playing, doing obedience or trick training, or doing agility, or hiking or biking or horseback riding with my dog, all of which I've done with the brother.
Maybe what I'm really looking for is support for conversations with the breeder about whether this puppy is suitable for me.
Picture #1 - Summer, my puppy, at 5 weeks and looking very fluffy and perhaps wiry
Picture #2 - Seamus, her full older brother, at 18-20 months
Picture #3 - Summer (left) at 4 and 5 weeks, and her brother Seamus (right) at 4 and about 6 weeks