Irish Doodles are the mixed breed produced by crossing Irish Setters with a Miniature or Standard Poodle. Because they’re a relatively recent mix, Irish Doodles aren’t recognized as an official breed and therefore lack a breed standard. But looking at their well-established parent breeds will help you know what to expect if you decide to add an Irish Doodle puppy to your family.
Bred to work as bird dogs, Irish Setters are athletic and energetic. But aside from their glossy chestnut coats, they are perhaps best known for their endearingly sweet and playful demeanor.
Poodles, contrary to their reputation as decorative companions, have dense, curly coats that were integral to their early work as duck retrievers in frigid waters. And they aren’t just a pretty face; they are brainy dogs with chart-topping intelligence.
With parents like these, you can expect your Irish Doodle to be an affectionate, energetic, playful, and friendly dog. And given their hair heritage, be sure to devote some time to the care and keeping of their coat, which tends to be wavy or curly and shades of red.
Caring for an Irish Doodle
Irish Doodles can be wonderful family dogs, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for every family.
As the offspring of two working breeds, Irish Doodles have energy and drive that need to be channeled into safe, appropriate activities that challenge their brain and body. They do best with active families who can provide exercise and attention every day. Given their hunting instincts, outdoor play should take place on a leash or within a securely fenced area to keep them from following their noses into danger.
Size is another consideration, and how big a full-grown Irish Doodle grows depends on the parents. While Irish Setters range 60–70 pounds, Miniature Poodles are 10–15 pounds and Standards are 40–70 pounds. Mini Irish Doodles (with a Miniature Poodle parent) will be smaller than those with a Standard Poodle parent.
Because of their size and energy level, Standard Irish Doodles tend to require space and may not be well-suited to apartment life. They may also overwhelm and even unintentionally harm young children with their boisterous behavior. Irish Setters have a reputation for puppy-like energy lasting longer than the average dog, and their Doodle offspring could easily knock over a small child while engaged in play.
Irish Doodle Health Issues
Both Irish Setters and Poodles are healthy breeds with long life expectancies (12–15 years and 10–18 years, respectively). Still, like all dogs, the two breeds are prone to various health conditions that can be passed to their offspring.
Bloat in dogs occurs when gas and/or food cause the stomach to expand. Sometimes, bloat progresses into a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), in which the dog’s stomach twists and cuts off blood flow to and from the stomach and the spleen.
GDV is painful and a life-threatening emergency, and it’s more common in large and deep-chested breeds like Standard Poodles and Irish Setters. It’s imperative that pet parents with Irish Doodles know the signs of bloat, which include:
Retching or dry heaving without vomiting
Sudden anxiety, pacing, or inability to get comfortable
Panting and drooling
If you notice any of these symptoms in your Irish Doodle, seek veterinary care immediately.
Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to a loose joint and degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). The disease is more common in large dogs, including both of the Irish Doodle’s parents. Mild cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, but severe cases may require surgery.
Common signs of hip dysplasia include:
Reluctance to get up or jump
Shifting of weight to front legs
Loss of muscle mass in the back legs
Epileptic seizures tend to last a minute or two, and signs can include loss of consciousness, uncontrollable spastic muscle movements, urination, and defecation. Lifelong medication is used to manage the condition.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Both of the Irish Doodle’s parent breeds are prone to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), an umbrella term for a family of eye disorders in which the rods and cones of the retina either:
Don’t develop properly in puppies (early-onset PRA)
Begin deteriorating in adulthood (late-onset PRA)
Signs of disease include a reluctance to enter dark spaces; clumsiness; dilated pupils that constrict slowly in response to light; eyes that are more reflective in the dark; and cataracts. There’s no cure for PRA, and the condition eventually leads to blindness.
Hypothyroidism is when a dog’s thyroid glands aren’t producing enough thyroid hormones, which serves an important function in metabolism. This hormone deficiency affects the functioning of all organ systems, and treatment typically requires lifelong hormone replacement therapy with oral medication.
Hypothyroidism tends to affect medium to large dogs, including Irish Setters, and it’s most common in dogs 4–10 years old. Dogs with hypothyroidism are often overweight, have hair growth issues, pant excessively, and have recurrent skin and ear infections.
Poodles are prone to an inflammatory skin disease called sebaceous adenitis. In long-coated dogs like Poodles, the signs of sebaceous adenitis include:
Odor along the hairline
Small clumps of matted hair
Dull, brittle, or coarse hair
White scales on the skin
Clusters of lesions (typically on the head)
The treatment plan will depend on severity, but may include oral medications and topical products like antibiotic-based shampoos.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is a genetic blood disorder that, while rare, is more common in Poodles. The condition causes a deficiency in the von Willebrand factor, a protein that helps platelets stick together to form a blood clot, and affected dogs may have difficulty clotting.
This can lead to bleeding from the nose, vulva, bladder, or gums. Additionally, dogs with this condition may bleed for a long time after trauma or surgery. Most veterinarians recommend testing for VWD before any planned surgery, including spay and neuter procedures.
What To Feed an Irish Doodle
No two Irish Doodle dogs are exactly alike. In fact, because one of their parents can be a Standard or a Mini Poodle, it’s especially difficult to make one-size-fits-all recommendations. Partner with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for your pup’s age, size, and health history.
How To Feed an Irish Doodle
Most full-grown Irish Doodles should eat two meals a day: once in the morning and again in the evening. Breaking up meals can help reduce the risk of bloat. If your dog tends to snarf their food (another bloat risk factor), try a slow feeder bowl to reduce the pace.
Because puppies have a higher metabolism than adult dogs, it’s generally best to add a midday feeding for Irish Doodle puppies, for a total of three meals. Your vet can help you determine the best schedule for your dog’s age and energy needs.
How Much Should You Feed an Irish Doodle?
The nutrition label on your dog’s food bag includes a feeding guide that gives a general idea of how much you should feed your dog, based only on their weight. But for a more accurate amount, ask your veterinarian. They will tailor their recommendation not only to your dog’s weight but also to their body condition score, lifestyle, and health needs.
Remember to factor treats into your daily calorie count, as they can quickly add up during training—especially for Mini Irish Doodles.
Nutritional Tips for Irish Doodles
If your Irish Doodle is eating a dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), they shouldn’t need anything extra. However, nutritional supplements and even prescription diets are sometimes used to treat or prevent certain health conditions.
Talk to your veterinarian before adding anything new, including supplements, to your dog’s diet.
Behavior and Training Tips for Irish Doodles
Irish Doodle Personality and Temperament
Irish Doodles are sweet, outgoing dogs that tend to love humans and other animals alike. But due to their size, huge energy stores, and extended puppyhood, they may be a bit too rambunctious for very small children.
As the offspring of hardworking hunting companions, Irish Doodles need opportunities to stretch their brain and body, and plenty of attention from their humans.
Irish Doodle Behavior
The Irish Doodle’s need for daily exercise (around an hour a day) and companionship cannot be understated. These dogs were bred to work alongside their humans. Bored, lonely Irish Doodles with energy to burn may exhibit unwanted behaviors like barking and chewing.
Know that, because of their hunting roots, chasing after small creatures is part of the Irish Doodle’s DNA. All outdoor exercise should be done on a leash or within a secure fence to ensure your pup doesn’t dart off.
You can expect your Irish Doodle to be an affectionate, energetic, playful, and friendly dog.
Irish Doodle Training
All dogs go through a critical development period from birth to around 16 weeks of age. During this time, they learn how to interact with humans and other animals. Talk to your Irish Doodle breeder about how they approach socialization. Once you bring home your puppy, keep up with consistent socialization.
Irish Doodles are intelligent and largely eager to please, but that doesn’t mean they won’t follow their own ideas from time to time. And if your Irish Doodle inherits their Setter parent’s prolonged puppy behavior, you may need extra patience and appropriate expectations when it comes to training.
Regardless of your pup’s attitude toward training, positive reinforcement is the best method.
Fun Activities for Irish Doodles
Irish Doodle Grooming Guide
Thanks to the Irish Doodle’s Poodle parent, your pup shouldn’t shed very much, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be low-maintenance. The Irish Doodle’s long, wavy coat will need daily care, but you couldn’t ask for a sweeter dog to groom.
Thanks again to their Poodle parent, your Irish Doodle may also be a good fit for some people with allergies. But there is no 100% hypoallergenic dog, so always spend time with the breed first before bringing home an Irish Doodle puppy so you can see how your allergies react.
The best thing you can do for your Irish Doodle’s skin is to take excellent care of their coat. Matted fur can trap burrs, moisture, and other irritants against their skin.
Ask your veterinarian how often you should bathe your Irish Doodle. If your pup loves swimming and outdoor adventuring, they may need more frequent baths. Just keep in mind that bathing your Irish Setter-Poodle mix too often can strip their skin of healthy oils, and lead to dryness and itchiness.
The Irish Doodle’s long, curly-to-wavy coat needs to be brushed and then combed—ideally every day—to avoid matting. If matting does occur, don’t attempt to get rid of it with scissors (as this can cause accidental harm). Instead, try picking it apart with your fingers, or carefully pick at it with a comb after brushing.
Regular visits to a professional groomer and shorter cuts can help make your at-home routine easier.
With both parent breeds prone to PRA, it’s important to watch for signs of disease, like cloudy eyes. Keeping the fur around the eyes trimmed can also help avoid irritation.
Irish Doodles have long, furry ears that can easily become infected, especially if your dog loves to swim. Ask your veterinarian how and how often you should clean your dog’s ears. If you spot signs of infection (redness, odor, pain, itchiness), it’s time to call your vet.
Considerations for Pet Parents
Here are some questions to consider before adding an Irish Setter-Poodle mix to your family:
Can I brush and comb a dog’s coat every day?
Am I financially prepared to provide professional grooming when needed?
Am I home enough to give a dog companionship?
Do I live in a home without small children, who could be unintentionally harmed by a rambunctious dog?
Do I have the time to provide a highly energetic and intelligent dog with mental and physical exercise every day?
Do I have the skills, patience, and dedication to train a dog using positive reinforcement?
Am I financially prepared to provide veterinary care?
Can I provide a dog with a loving home for their lifetime, which could be 18 years or more?
If you can answer these questions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” you may be ready to parent an Irish Doodle.
Irish Doodle FAQs
What is the temperament of an Irish Doodle?
The Irish Doodle temperament tends to be a mix of the intelligent Poodle and playful Irish Setter. They often have energy to burn and affection to share, and they do best in active families with room to run.
How big do Irish Doodles get?
The Irish Doodle size can vary greatly. While Irish Setters weigh 60–70 pounds, Poodles can be Miniature (10–15 pounds) or Standard (40–70 pounds) in size. Full-grown Irish Doodles will likely be 50–70 pounds, while full-grown Mini Irish Doodles could be closer to half that size.
What is the difference between a Goldendoodle and an Irish Doodle?
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?