Irish Doodle

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Irish Doodle
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While not as well-known as its close relative the Labradoodle, the Irish Doodle is a handsome and well-mannered dog created by mixing the intelligent Standard Poodle and the well-adjusted Irish Setter. They were developed in the United States and are known for their athleticism and cheerful nature. They have a calming influence on those around them though can be wary in new situations.

Irish Doodles are incredibly attractive with their long muzzle, fluffy ears and soft, curly coat. Many have the eye-catching red coat of the Irish Setter, though this is not a must and others will have brown, grey or even black fur. They have long and straight limbs that give them that cute ‘gawky teenager’ look.

About & History

Irish Doodles, like Labradoodles, are believed to have originated in the USA. Like many designer dogs, they were probably first bred in the 1980s or 1990s. While a relatively new crossbreed, both parent breeds have plenty of history that we can take a closer look at.

The Poodle

Poodles are the breed that is probably most commonly used in hybrids all over the world and this is no coincidence. Poodles make for smart training partners, have an attractive and hypoallergenic coat and can adapt to living in most households. The original Poodle was developed in Germany but the breed was further refined within France where the high society would commonly keep them as companion animals.

They made a real name for themselves in the show ring and audiences delight in their jaunty gait and unique hair style. As Poodles were traditionally used to hunt water fowl, they continue to have a strong prey drive and are an athletic breed. The Kennel Club recognise them within their Utility Group.

The Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is also referred to as the ‘Red Setter’ or ‘Madra Rua’, which translates as red dog from Gaeilge (the Irish language). They are well known in Ireland where they are the mascot for Bus Eireann, the national bus company. They are a striking looking dog with a luxuriously red coat and a handsome face and soulful brown eyes.

They were originally used as hunting dogs and were bred from a number of local dogs, including the Irish Water Spaniel and Irish Terrier. As with the Poodle, they were mainly used in the pursuit of water fowl. They belong to the Kennel Club’s Gun Dog Group.


Irish Doodles are large dogs with long, lean limbs and rectangular bodies that are longer than they are tall. They have boxy muzzles and black, button noses. Their ears are sizeable, thick and covered in plenty of fur. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes give them an alert and intelligent expression. Their chests are reasonably large and they have a developed abdominal tuck-up. Their tails are medium in length and taper to some degree towards the end.

When an Irish Doodle is fully grown, they weigh roughly between 20kg and 30kg and reach heights of 56cm to 66cm. The coat of the Irish Doodle is one of its most loved features. It is long and either wavy or curled and is usually the rich red of the Irish Setter, though can also be fawn, cream, grey or black. Some individuals will also have white patches of fur.

Character & Temperament

Some Irish Doodles can be sensitive, and owners will have to tread lightly to prevent their nerves from getting the better of them and to help build their confidence. In the right home, they can thrive and make fabulous pets that get on famously well with their family. They dote on children and have a high tolerance for horseplay as they themselves have a strong mischievous streak.

As the Irish Doodle can be needy, some will develop separation anxiety. This reliance on their family speaks volumes of the love and loyalty they have for them. In most cases, separation anxiety can be prevented if owners take the time to nurture their dog’s development. Crate training is one of many training techniques that can really help.

More nervous dogs can take longer to warm up to new people and may be wary of them, leading them to keep their distance and bark. However, with good socialisation from a young age they can be taught to accept all people and animals.


The Irish Doodle responds well to training as they are very clever and have a natural desire to be obedient and please their master. Younger Irish Doodles can be slightly hard to handle as they are big, gangly and often clumsy. With plenty of treats and praise they can quickly be taught how to settle down.


A hybrid like the Irish Doodle is a generally robust breed but there are still a number of health conditions they tend to experience.


As the Irish Doodle has quite a deep chest, they are prone to their stomach’s bloating and rotating, leading to a GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus). Vets are uncertain why some dogs develop this condition and others don’t but there are thought to be several potential causes including feeding certain diet types, the elevation of food from the ground and exercising too soon after eating.


Dogs typically develop epilepsy between the ages of one and five years and may go on to have a handful of fits during their lives or may fit far more regularly than that. The majority can be very well managed on medication that is taken every day.

Hip Dysplasia

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include a ‘bunny hop’ gait, crepitus of the hip joints when moved and muscle wastage over the hips. It is an orthopaedic condition that is easily diagnosed by X-ray. It is irresponsible to breed a dog that has been proven to have poor quality hips as we know that this is an inherited condition.


Symptoms of an underactive thyroid can be vague but generally consist of unexpected lethargy, repeated skin infections and obesity. Dogs who fit the profile should have a blood test to check thyroid levels, which will be low. Medicine that replaces the thyroid hormone can be given to affected dogs to improve their quality of life and limit the symptoms experienced.

Exercise and Activity Levels

These are high energy dogs that relish being outside in the fresh air and particularly enjoy running about off lead. They are athletes who do not tire easily and are hard to keep up with when out on a jog! Given that both parents have been bred to hunt water fowl, it is little wonder that they enjoy swimming. Due to their size, it is not advised to keep them in a small home or garden as they will quickly outgrow the space and become bored.


The curly coat of the Irish Doodle is quite high maintenance and can become matted, particularly around the face and ears. Owners should keep on top of things by brushing the fur regularly. On top of this, their ears need to be cleaned whenever wax builds up and must be dried out after getting wet as, otherwise, ear infections are likely to set in.

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