The poodle is the doodle when you're talking about goldendoodles and labradoodles. When you compare the two pups, the main differences come from the other breeds used to make these two hybrid dogs, the golden retriever and the Labrador retriever. However, the poodle is the wild card, so the two may be very similar.
Rolling the Dice
Just about everyone has looked at himself and wondered why he inherited a specific trait. Genetics is tricky business. Even with deliberate planning, there's no way to guarantee a particular trait when mixing two gene pools. When you cross a poodle with a Labrador retriever or a golden retriever you're only guaranteed of one thing: a dog with a poodle for a parent. Since it's a crapshoot as to which breed's traits will dominate in any particular pup, there's no hard and fast rule that a labradoodle will be better or worse than a goldendoodle in any one area. The best you can do is look at the traits of the breeds involved and make some educated guesses.
Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers tend to stand between 21.5 inches and 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh about the same, ranging between 55 and 80 pounds. Poodles, on the other hand, come in a range of sizes: standard, weighing 40 to 55 pounds and standing more than 15 inches tall; miniature, weighing 12 to 15 pounds and reaching between 10 and 15 inches; and toy, weighing a mere 5 to 10 pounds and standing less than 10 inches. The size of a doodle dog will depend on whose genes reign supreme, but the range of possibilities is the same. Both labradoodles and goldendoodles come in three sizes: miniature, medium and standard. The miniature doodle weighs between 15 and 30 pounds; the medium weighs between 30 and 45 pounds and the standard hits the scales from 45 to 100 pounds.
Curly or Shaggy
There's a misconception that poodles are hypoallergenic because of their fine, curly coats. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a dog who has an allergen-free coat because dander, which consists of dead skin cells, is the culprit that triggers allergies. Since poodles aren't hypoallergenic, neither are labradoodles or goldendoodles. As with size, the type of coat the dog sports depends on which breed's genes dominate. Some labradoodles and goldendoodles look like poodles with relaxed curls, while others look like a shaggier version of their Labrador or golden parent. The labradoodle may shed more than the goldendoodle, if the Labrador's genes dominate in the fur department.
Purebred dogs are often prone to specific ailments, while mixed breed dogs tend to have a lower risk of the same ailments. Poodles are prone to Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome, hypothyroidism and progressive retinal atrophy. Labradors have a tendency for hip and elbow dysplasia and eye problems, including PRA. Golden retrievers have a host of vulnerabilities, including a tendency for cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, heart disease, hypothyroidism and PRA. It's not known if the hybrid dogs are more or less vulnerable to the ailments that potentially affect their purebred parents.
Minor Personality Differences
Both dogs tend to be moderately active, though if they're on the large size, they tend to be more active. As puppies, goldendoodles tend to be excitable and mouthy, growing out of the phase as they age. Compared to labradoodles, the goldens are a bit more mellow as adults. Labradoodles are often more athletic and a bit hesitant with strangers than goldens, who are usually friendly, engaging dogs with just about everyone. The type of poodle used for breeding makes a difference too; a standard poodle can enhance the doodle's tracking and hunting talents. Both dogs have personalities and intelligence that make them popular therapy dogs and family pets.
It takes generations for a breeder to develop a reliable hybrid dog, a process that entails selecting puppies with the desired traits and breeding them for consistency. Merely breeding a Labrador or golden retriever with a poodle won't necessarily result in the ideal doodle. If you're in the market for the "perfect" doodle, it's best to find an adult version to have a realistic idea of what you're getting.