The Irish Doodle is a hybrid canine, a cross between two very different breeds of hunting dog; a German retrieving dog, the Poodle, and an elegant red field hunting dog called the Irish Setter. The Poodle is often associated with France but it was actually developed in Germany, where it was known as a Pudlehund; Pudle meaning to splash around, and hund meaning dog. Many people view the Poodle as mainly a companion or a trained entertainment animal, particularly the miniature and toy varieties, however, the Poodle was originally bred to be a hard-working retriever of waterfowl in the same vein as Labrador or Golden retrievers. The Standard and sometimes even Miniature Poodles can still fill that role quite admirably, although the Miniature Poodle generally focuses on smaller game-birds. In fact, their signature haircut was designed to reflect that history, with the length of the leg and the body shaved to reduce drag and prevent tangling in the weeds but the vital organs and the joints are still covered by a thick layer of protective hair. Poodles today are still sometimes employed to retrieve waterfowl, although the modern hunter is more likely to clip them short all over to prevent tangling in the brush and weeds. The Irish Setter was developed in Ireland, at some point in the 1700s as a field hunting dog and by the early 1800s, the breed was popular not just in Ireland, but also throughout the British Isles. Most experts believe that the Irish Setter is an ancestor of breeds such as the Irish Water Spaniel, the Gordon Setter, and the Irish Terrier, but written records from the time are nonexistent. The earliest Irish Setters were bred to be able to search out birds then hold their position, preventing them from entering the line of fire and they often came in either red and white or yellow and white, but in the mid-1800s their characteristic deep red color became the ideal. They were imported into the United States as gun dogs and retrievers that specialized in retrieving game birds during the mid-1800s as well and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878. Although the Irish Setter could be crossed with a Miniature or Toy Poodle, the most commonly included Poodle for this hybrid is the Standard Poodle.
The Irish Doodle is a medium to large dog with a square build and a fairly narrow, elegant head and a long muzzle that can be either square and sturdy like the Irish Setter or straight and fine like the Poodle. They have medium to dark brown eyes that can be either almond or oval shaped and their ears are set slightly below the level of the eye and hang down to the sides of their face. The coat of the Irish Doodle may vary somewhat from dog to dog, both in composition and in color. The Poodle parent has a single layer coat that is soft and curly and may be kept long, trimmed short, or even corded, a style that closely resembles dreadlocks and can come in several solid colors. The Irish Setter, on the other hand, has a double coat that consists of a soft, dense undercoat overlayed by glossy, flat hair that typically comes in several shades of dark red, although large patches of color over white may occur on occasion. Typically, the coat of the offspring puppies is similar to the Poodle.
The Irish Doodle is an intelligent, energetic, but sometimes sensitive animal that craves human companionship. They are extremely intelligent and they love to learn, making them an exceptionally trainable animal, in fact, some may take after the Irish Setter and once they learn something you will be hard pressed to get them to unlearn it. This trait can apply both to those things that you want them to learn, like obedience and manners, and sometimes to things you didn’t intend for them to learn, like how to get into drawers and cabinets. Both the Irish Setter and the Poodle are extremely good with children in most cases, although some Poodle lines are more physically sensitive than others, startling easily and excessively due to stimuli like quick actions, unexpected touch, and loud sounds. Irish Doodles that exhibit these traits may not handle children well and may become depressed or otherwise emotionally disturbed in a house with a great deal of conflict or too much chaos, and should be extensively but calmly socialized to help them learn to deal with outside stimulus. In most cases, however, this combination will result in a happy-go-lucky companion who loves to play and to learn.
The Irish Doodle is an energetic and athletic animal, and as such, requires a fairly large time commitment when it comes to exercise. In order to be at their happiest and healthiest, this eager to learn pup should get at least 90 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. This can take the form of walks or jogs, advanced obedience training, agility classes, or even swimming. Because of their trainability, you might be able to acclimate a mature Irish Doodle to apartment living if you provide them with additional exercise each day, but for the most part they are too active and vocal for this type of environment and will be much happier in a larger home with a yard to run in.