Goldendoodles are more than just super cute and cuddly family dogs. They have a fierce competitive streak and excellent durability. They are not lazy dogs – their energy levels are famous. Sure they like to nap and relax – but almost every Goldendoodle owner will tell you about the at-times hyper and powerful bursts of energy.
This physical prowess and the sharp intellect of the Goldendoodle combine to make a versatile dog. From playing with children to agility or hunting – Goldendoodles are an excellent dog breed.
An appropriately trained Goldendoodle can be an excellent hunting dog. Their endurance, prey drive, and intelligence make them a perfect choice for many hunters. From bird game and retrieval to other prey and flushing maneuvres – Goldendoodles can do almost all.
What Makes Goldendoodles Such Good Hunters
There are a few reasons that Goldendoodles make such good hunting dogs. We go into detail below.
No, Goldendoodles are not perfect – but no dog breed is! There will always be individual personality and variation. So pick your hunting pal with caution!
Reasons Goldendoodles can be excellent at hunting.
- Both Golden Retrievers and Poodles have history as hunting breeds. Poodles are retrievers for waterfowl traditionally. There are plenty of hunting Poodles that have been bred for that temperament.
- Golden Retrievers are a famous family dog – but their ancestry also lies in hunting. Pick a sturdy English Retriever for more strength – or look for an American Golden Retriever parent for more sprightliness.
- Excellent scent hounds – not quite a Beagle but can excel at nose work and scent tracking.
- Water-resistant coat inherited from the Poodle means you can hunt most of the year, including water retrieval, without too many hassles. Learn the limits of your individual Goldendoodle. Look for signs that your hard-working pup is not in any distress.
- Retrieval instinct is typically powerful
- Soft mouth is standard for Goldendoodles. Excellent for retrieving birds specifically.
Reasons why a Goldendoodle might NOT be good at hunting
- Although all the traits are there, getting a dog that has been specifically bred for hunting is safer. Some dog breeds are available with multi-generations of hunting traits. A Goldendoodle may be one of the “best of both worlds” options, but for pure hardcore hunting – safer alternatives exist.
- The non-shedding and water-resistant coat is excellent in the wet or mud – but can attract bristles and burrs.
- Matting can also occur pretty quickly (knots in the hair). These will typically occur around the harness and collar they rub – especially on longer or wetter hunts.
- So specifically grooming your Goldendoodle for the hunt is strongly recommended—more on that below.
Video of a Goldendoodle flushing while duck hunting
Goldendoodles like any dog will have individual strengths when it comes to hunting. They are going to do best with bird and duck hunting. They can be trained to flush and retrieve. They of course excel at water retrieval.
With specific training these dogs can do well at other styles of hunting. They might not be ideal for a pig hunt scramble… match the hunting style to the type of dog you have.
Interview with a Hunter who Owns a Goldendoodle
I interviewed a USA based hunter on his decision to stick with a Goldendoodle as his primary hunting companion heading forwards.
Jayson said in an email, “I am SO happy with Bax (five-year-old Goldendoodle). We have been hunting since he was 12 months old. He is standard sized but a little lean. I mainly hunt ducks, so use him for shallow water retrieval. It might be the Poodle instinct, but he picked it up straight away. He has energy all day and seems tougher than Retriever Poodles I have met. I will probably pick another Goldendoodle when Bax gets too old.“
Jayson says picking a Goldendoodle was an accident as they wanted a large family dog that was non-shedding. His son has either a mild allergy to dog hair (or, more likely, the dander and dog proteins). They picked a Goldendoodle because there was no allergic reaction when tested with a friend who adopted from the same parents.
The fact that their Goldendoodle ended up being able to hunt with Jayson was a welcome surprise. He wrote in the email – “I was thrilled when I took Bax (the Goldendoodle) for his first hunt, and he picked up the basic training straight away. My hunting buds all love Bax and rate him as a companion.“
Factors That Determine If Your Goldendoodle Will Be Good at Hunting
1) Picking an appropriately sized Hunting Goldendoodle
The appropriate size Goldendoodle for hunting is essential. You need to pick medium to large-sized dogs. The Golden Retriever part of the Goldendoodle usually trends higher – but some Goldendoodles are bred with smaller Poodles. A Goldendoodle with a bunch of Toy Poodle genetics is not likely to be particularly useful at hunting. (These are called Toy or Teacup Goldendoodles)
Pick a Medium or Standard Goldendoodle as a hunting dog. Preferably the larger standard size.
There is not much place on the hunting ground for a Toy or Mini Goldendoodle. Each to their own, but the resilience to the environment will be significantly reduced.
2) Hunt Train a Goldendoodle Puppy Early
Hunting dogs are 25% instinct, 25% genetic and physical traits – and 50% training. Hard work pays off and creates a quality hunting dog.
- Get started with basic obedience. ASAP!
- When the Vet gives the OK, get the endurance going also. You want to start hunting training with a dog that is already in good shape. (Don’t begin vigorous exercise too young that as this can be damaging)
- Introduce banging noises if there will be shots in the future. You don’t want to scare the puppy, but we must get them used to the noise. A commons strategy is to bang a metal pot with a metal spoon while your Goldendoodle puppy is scarfing down dinner (and very happy).
- Practice delivery-to-hand by starting to retrieval very young. Work on the peaceful handover.
- Become closely connected with the dog. Don’t just let your Goldendoodle play with the family and others. This will happen, but the hunter focuses on building a very close and personal trusting bond with the puppy while it is young. Nosework or indoor dog games are a great way to boost
What Generation of Goldendoodle is Best for Hunting?
The most resilient and typically largest Goldendoodles are F1 Goldendoodles. This means they have 50% Poodle and 50% Golden Retriever parents. F1 Goldendoodles will be the sturdiest and probably the best overall generation for a hunting Goldendoodle.
Because they are the first generation, there is greater unpredictability in overall size and coat type. An F2 (second generation) Goldendoodle occurs when two F1 Goldendoodles are crossed. This will also be an excellent pick for a hunting dog.
The insanely popular (and expensive) F1B Goldendoodle is a Poodle back cross. This means the genetics are around 75% Poodle and 25% Golden Retriever. This type of Goldendoodle is in high demand due to the typically non-shedding coat.
F1b Goldendoodles may be less suited to hunting due to their size, which can skew down to smaller depending on the Poodle parents. At the end of the day, Poodles are frequently used as hunting dogs. So a higher percentage of Poodle genetics should not be a deal-breaker.
How to Groom a Goldendoodle for the Hunt
Grooming a Goldendoodle for hunting required a little thinking. DIY grooming and clipping a Goldendoodle is relatively easy. Grab the right tools, and you can quickly home groom. (Also grab some bulk Goldendoodle friendly and budget-friendly shampoo in advance too).
The tricky part is figuring out how long to leave the Goldendoodle hair.
Leave coat too long? It will attract foliage and burrs like you would not believe. It also increases the chances of matting in sensitive areas where there is rubbing. Think around the forelegs and collar. Particularly on a muggy or wet day, knots can form very quickly in long Goldendoodle hair. It can also be too hot in summer with a longer coat length.
Leave coat too short? We lose the exceptional Poodle coat insulation. This waterproof insulation stops the Goldendoodle from getting too cold. You wouldn’t want someone to take away your wind jacket in the middle of Winter!
Most owners find the middle ground at about one inch. Some prefer longer or shorter – the only real way to test is to get out there and hunt.
- So a general 1-inch clip works for most hunting Goldendoodle
- A hygiene clip around the mouth and butt is essential.
- Clip the paw hair thoroughly and be sure to get the hair from in between the toes
- Most owners will leave the hair longer around the face to maintain the teddybear look. No reason that your hunting pal can’t be a cutie!
Why Loyalty Matters – A Secret Reasons Goldendoodles Excel at Hunting
An often-overlooked reason that Goldendoodles make excellent hunting companions is their loyalty. They are very social animals and fall into pack loyalty very easily.
This means that as Goldendoodles mature and become less excitable, their loyalty really shines through. It is one of the primary reasons that Goldendoodles are so trainable.
Combine this with an excellent work temperament and the ability to focus – and you have a winning combination for a hunting dog.
Robust and Healthy Goldendoodles Perfect for Hunting
The typically healthy and robust Goldendoodle also has a low risk of injury. The larger medium and standard size Goldendoodles will tolerate the energy requirements of hunting. They enjoy running and will be OK with the volume of such activity required. It also helps that most Goldendoodles love swimming.
Are Goldendoodles Good Hunting Dogs Conclusions
When considering taking a Goldendoodle hunting, something to bear in mind is that they were not originally bred for hunting.
Golden Retrievers are famous hunting dogs, for retrieval are even stand out hunting companions for special hunts like shed hunts.
Although the natural traits inherited by a Goldendoodle will likely make them an excellent hunting dog – they are bred as companion dogs. Goldendoodles are quite expensive from the outset and have fairly high yearly costs.
Their stamina, intelligence, trainability, scent strength, and persistence make a Goldendoodle a great choice for hunting. Another large Poodle mix breed that is sometimes used for hunting is the Bernedoodle. Compare the Bernedoodle and Goldendoodle here.