Hi all,

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

Summer_5 weeks.jpg


comparison 4 and 6 weeks.jpg

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  • You will find that punnet squares and percentages don't work very well for predicting mixed breed dogs' coats. There are a good number of open faced F1 and F1B doodles, which should be impossible if the gene for furnishings has complete dominance. (We've had many discussions about this here, and my own personal theory is that the Poodles those doodle breeders are using are not purebred; but that's just my theory, based on what I have observed of the quality of the Poodles used for breeding mixes. Also, when using gene abbreviations of capital and lower case letters, the dominant gene is always the capital letter, which has nothing to do with your questions, lol) 
    There is no such thing as I/C in purebred Poodles. Optigen doesn't even offer testing for it for Poodles. 
    As for Pulik (plural for Puli)  having double coats which is what "allows them to cord", as opposed to Poodles' single coats, a picture is worth a thousand words:
    3438478409?profile=originalI'll be very honest with you. 
    I think that part of buying a mixed breed puppy is accepting the fact that you can't really know what the dog will look like as an adult. There is absolutely no way to know for sure how big it will be, what kind of coat it will have, which parent breed it will take after, which genes it will inherit from which parent, and even what color it might end up. I think if these things are very important to you, a mixed breed puppy is not the right choice. With all the purebred dogs there are, there is going to be some breed that meets all of a person's desires in a dog, or pretty darned close, and that's guaranteed in stone, at least if you go through a truly reputable performance breeder. 
    I am heavily involved with doodle rescue, and we have educational information on our website. Unbiased, impartial information, unlike that found on most doodle breeders' websites, because we aren't selling anything, lol. In one of our articles, we say this:

    "A goldendoodle does not necessarily have the temperament of a Golden Retriever with the coat and/or intelligence of a Poodle. Genetics don't work that way. It is just as likely that a goldendoodle will have the temperament of a Poodle with the coat and/or intelligence of a Golden Retriever, or any combination thereof. The same is true of labradoodles. These are mixed breeds, and no two are alike, in personality, temperament, or appearance."

    Obviously, this applies to Irish doodles as well. It simply defies logic to believe that every Poodle mix puppy is going to get their intelligence and trainability from their Poodle parent, and their other personality/temperament qualities from the other breed. It just doesn't work that way.
    And speaking of a "bon vivant" spirit, you would be hard pressed to find any breed with more of that than a well-bred Poodle, lol. A well-bred Poodle believes that life is one big party and he/she is the guest of honor.
    I totally understand not wanting to deal with the grooming requirements of Poodle-type coats, and in fact, that's one of the few arguments for not getting a Poodle that makes complete sense to me. 
    I also personally love dogs with furnishings and would not want one that doesn't have them, but I also understand people who feel as you do. Most of the performance Poodle people I know, including Jasper's breeder, like their dogs' faces clean shaven.
    So I get that you don't want to buy a Poodle.
    However, nobody can know ahead of time what kind of coat, furnishings, temperament, intelligence, trainability etc your puppy is going to have, and IMO, if these things are very important to you, a mixed breed pup might not be the best choice. I think when someone buys a doodle, any doodle, they need to know, accept, and relish the fact that they are getting a surprise package, one that is going to be unlike any other. :)

    • Karen,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my (very) long post, and to answer so thoughtfully.

      There are a good number of open faced F1 and F1B doodles, which should be impossible if the gene for furnishings has complete dominance. (We've had many discussions about this here, and my own personal theory is that the Poodles those doodle breeders are using are not purebred; but that's just my theory, based on what I have observed of the quality of the Poodles used for breeding mixes. Also, when using gene abbreviations of capital and lower case letters, the dominant gene is always the capital letter, which has nothing to do with your questions, lol)

      That's an interesting theory. I have to admit that I've seen a the same thing (open-faced F1 and F1b Doodles) and been puzzled by it, because as you point out, unlike PWDs, I have never heard about a Poodle popping up with improper coat. Although cynics would say there could be other reasons we don't hear about it.

      As to the notation, I would use F and f, but certain DNA test vendors use the terminology "N" and "IC" or "F" and "IC" instead. In some papers, researchers might use WT to indicate wild-type/original, or the small letters "a" for ancestral and "d" for derived. 

      a picture is worth a thousand words.

      It certainly is!!! (Where is the eye-popping emoji?) But does the picture show that long, curly-haired furnished dogs don't need double coats to cord, or that Poodles aren't necessarily single-coated? :)

      Regarding a great personality, you reminded me that the only dog I ever saw to match Seamus's joyful bounciness was a lovely white Standard Poodle. I wouldn't describe him as considering himself the guest of honor - he is more like the mayor, or the cruise director. 

      All of what you say about the unknowns is true, though I think as we learn more we will find there's more sense to the coats than there currently appears. It'll be fun to look back in 6 months.

      So what's your bet? Am I investing in a Swiffer or Wahls?


      • Last question first, I honestly can't tell. I wish the top two photos were bigger and clearer, because I can't really see the top of her muzzle between the eyes real well, and that's the most telling place on young pups when you're looking for furnishings. However, her coat looks to be just as long and fluffy as my purebred Poodle's coat was at 5 weeks, so if you held a gun to my head, I might have to go with the Wahl's. :)

        Poodles have single coats that do cord. Havanese are another non-shedding single coated breed that can be corded. I think the big difference is that the single coated dogs coats' won't cord naturally like Pulik or Komondors, I think you have to do a little coaxing in that direction.
        And "cruise director" is a great description of a Poodle's natural joie de vivre! 

      • Okay, I just looked at Jasper's puppy pictures and your pup's coat is not as long, thick or wavy as his was. So don't panic, lol

        This is the litter asleep at 6 weeks:

        • Thanks, this has been super educational! I did not know that Havanese coats could be corded, or that the plural of Puli was Pulik for that matter. Guess I'd better keep watching YouTube videos. Does it bother them to have no whiskers? Jasper and his littermates are adorable and yes, very uniform. If their breeder can trim their feet and faces so perfectly at that age, I might be able to manage this with help from YouTube.

          Here are a few more pictures! Summer is on the left at 4 (top) and 2 weeks. Her brother is on the right at more like 4 (top) and 6 weeks.

          • Summer does look to have furnishings. People here are usually happy to hear that, lol. She is really very cute. 
            Jasper's breeder is a pro and has been "in Poodles" as we say for a long long time. But, a lot of people groom their own Poodles and doodles, and you'll find lots of tutorials online. Check out Poodle grooming videos, because those are going to be just about the only ones that show you how to do a clean face on a dog with furnishings, since Poodles are the only breed I can think of that has furnishings that are shaved off, lol. All the other furnished breeds get to keep theirs, even for show, which is something I will never understand.

      • I know this is old post but I want to clarify something that Summer's Mom said just so everyone understands. 


        "There are a good number of open faced F1 and F1B doodles, which should be impossible if the gene for furnishings has complete dominance."


        Genes are not inherited by a dominance.  They are inherited by complete randomness.  To understand how an open face doodle is possible you need to understand basic genetics.  The two alleles in a gene pair are inherited, one from each parent.  Once a puppy has these 2 inherited alleles the dominant one wins out.  If you have a puppy that has F from the poodle parent and IC from doodle or retriever parent the dog will be furnished because the F is dominant.  Open face doodles have two copies of IC so they are IC/IC.  NOT ALL poodles are F/F some are F/IC.  Most likely from some sort of cross breeding in its ancestry.  Hope this clears up the confusion.


        • "Most likely from some sort of cross breeding in its ancestry. "

          THAT is the key and the issue.  Doodle breeders are NOT using proper poodles or there would be no unfurnished F1bs.  If a significant number of truly pure bred poodles were F/IC, then you'd see more "poodle" puppies that end up IC/IC by luck of the draw.  That is NOT happening in proper poodle breeding.  I have not heard of it AT ALL, to be honest, but if it is, it's not happening in actual pure bred poodles.  

  • The problem with making predictions in genetics is very few things have complete dominance and are controlled by a single gene.

    More often than not there is polygenetic inheritance or pleiotropy (multiple genes controlling one thing...or one gene controlling multiple things), multiple alleles (more than two), incomplete or dominance, issues of penetrance...the list goes on :p

    When you mix two breeds things get even messier...and as Karen pointed out with doodles the genetic profile of the parents is often a bit unknown.  Breeders of very high quality purebreds would not mess around with producing doodles.  

    Riley is our second doodle and from better breeding than our first doodle Luna (who was open faced)... but if I wanted to be 100% sure of how my dog would turn out in terms of coat I'd be looking at a purebred.

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