English Boodle

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult English Boodle
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Look at a photo of a typical English Boodle, and if you didn’t know, you’d be hard-pressed to guess one of the parents is a Bulldog. This gem of a dog is a hybrid between a Poodle and an English Bulldog, and whilst the curly hair hints at the poodle heritage, the bulldog element is harder to see.

However, this hybrid cross of two pedigree breeds, can throw up a wide variation in the appearance of the pups. Which parent dominates depends on the laws of genetics, so that even in the same litter some pups may be stocky and blocky, whilst others are leaner and taller.

One of the outstanding features (apart from their obvious shaggy cuteness) is the Boodle’s temperament. The modern bulldog is an even-tempered sort that loves children, whilst the poodle’s intelligence and love of people is well documented. This gifts the boodle the potential to be a near perfect family pet. If they have a downside, it’s the bulldog’s stubborn streak, which means if they decide not to do something it takes considerable effort to persuade them otherwise.

About & History

The English Boodle is a new pup on the block, a dog that’s riding the crest of the wave in the fashion for hybrid breeds. Thus, there’s no solid origin for the breed, which has largely come about through the efforts of individual dog owners or breeders who decided to out-cross their dogs. In contrast, both parent breeds have long histories.

The Poodle

Take the Poodle, for example. We know their origins go back multiple centuries, going back to medieval times. Indeed, there is debate over their exact country of origin. Whilst there are strong associations with France, the word ‘poodle’ is derived from a German word ‘pudel’, meaning to splash in water. Indeed, the first poodles are likely to have Germanic origins, but rapidly became popular in France.

But those first poodles were working dogs, rather than pets. The splashing in water which gave the breed its name was down to hunting water fowl, with the standard poodle being a consummate duck hunter. Again, this is where those fancy poodle clips originated. All those fancy pom-poms were originally designed to protect the dog’s joint from being damage by thorns as they ran in scrubland.

In the 1400s, the French started breeding together smaller specimens of poodle (rather than cross-breeding with other smaller breeds) and so the miniature and toy poodle came into being. The miniatures were still working animals, used to sniff out truffles, whilst toys became the canine companions of the wealthy.

The English Bulldog

The English Bulldog is likely to have descended from a Mastiff-type dog. Their origins are altogether more disturbing, with them being breed specifically for the blood sport of bull baiting. This distressing ‘sport’ required a strong, aggressive dog with a low centre of gravity. This enabled the dog to lunge at the bull’s throat and use their weight to drag the poor animal to the ground. Happily, bull baiting is now an unsavoury lesson from the past, with modern bulldogs being of altogether a more placid disposition.


As with any hybrid dog, no two pups in the same litter may look the same. This is down to how the parental genes combine and which parent each pup takes after. A typical English Boodle tends to be a shaggy, curly coated dog of medium size. But this is variable, with some dogs being smaller if they take after a mini-poodle parent. Indeed, some examples can be long-limbed with the elegant waistline of the poodle, whilst other may be more chunky and block-shaped, with the larger square head of the Bulldog.

Character & Temperament

English Boodles have earned a reputation as being great family pets. This is because their temperament is a blend of the poodle’s intelligence and the bulldog’s laidback loyalty. When correctly socialised as pups, they grow into a delightful blend of intelligence and calmness, which makes them a good match for families.

The English Boodle has the enviable reputation of being affectionate, gentle, and patient, along with being slow to anger. They love to please and enjoy nothing better than human company. However, this can be a disadvantage, as well as an advantage, because they can suffer from anxiety issues when left alone.

However, the potential boodle owner should be aware that bulldogs have a stubborn streak. If a full-blood bulldog decides they don’t want to do something they become as pliable as a block of concrete. In some cases, the boodle can inherit this trait, making them less tractable than other breeds.


Poodles are intelligent dogs, whilst the bulldog is eager to please. Combine the two and you have a clever dog that responds well to training. As with all dogs, reward-based training methods work best, whereby the dog is taught that obeying commands earns a reward.

If the bulldog’s stubborn streak pops to the surface, the Boodle should never be punished. Instead, use distraction techniques with a squeaky toy to make the dog forget why they’d put the brakes on, and have them do what you want instead.


There are no statistics on the diseases to which the English Boodle is prone. However, both parent breeds have genetic links to various inheritable diseases. It is reasonable to assume that this passes a certain health traits onto their pups, of which the most common are listed below.

Patellar Luxation

This condition occurs when the kneecaps are not properly lined up with the knee. It allows the kneecap to pop to one side when the dog takes a step. This is a frequent cause of dogs ‘skipping’ a step with a back leg. Treatment ranges from the use of pain relieving medications to reconstructive surgery of the knee.


This is a serious condition where the stomach twists over on its sealing air inside. Fermenting food in the stomach causes further distension, which leads to toxicity and shock.

The first hint that a dog has bloat is non-productive retching. It’s important to seek urgent veterinary attention, even if there’s only a suspicion of bloat. Without emergency surgery, this condition is invariably fatal.

Addison’s Disease

Whilst rare, Addison’s disease is more common in poodles than most other dog breeds. Dogs with this condition are deficient in the stress hormone cortisol. They struggle to cope with stress, and in the worst cases this can lead to collapse, coma, and death.

Recognising this condition is not always straightforward, but once a diagnosis is reached Addison’s disease can be controlled and treated.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The English Boodle is energetic and spritely as a youngster, but tends to mature into a mature and stately adult. Whilst young, they are the life and soul of the party, and love to run and play. But as they grow up they slow up, and prefer to watch what’s going on rather than take part.

This doesn’t mean the Boodle doesn’t need exercise – they most certainly do – but this isn’t a breed to go on day long hikes. Instead, let them set the pace and tell you how much exercise they’re happy with.


The poodle part of the coat means the English Boodle does need regular attention at home. It’s best to get into the routine of a quick brush daily (or at least every other day) to keep the tangles at bay. They may also need clipping every couple of months or so, depending how strongly they take after the poodle parent.

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