Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Furnished vs Unfurnished
When you think "Doodle" you probably think a fluffy dog that has that "teddy bear" cuteness. The Doodle has become overwhelmingly popular in the past decade and now there are all kinds of Doodles out there. We of course are in love with our multigenerational goldendoodle and bernedoodle, but the list of Doodles goes on and on and on. They provide very unique and special qualities for what we hope to achieve in a companion/therapy dog.
But there's a type of Doodle out there that some now experienced doodle breeders are familiar with but most are unaware of: the Unfurnished Doodle.
The Unfurnished Doodle is a well accepted fact of breeding doodles, but they are not well known away from the breeding communities as they are not openly talked. This is because there is so much unknown science behind it and gets a bit overwhelming for some. So this is the best explanation.
There is a gene that has been identified called either the "Furnishings (F)" or "Improper Coat (IC)" gene. The Furnishings gene is dominant and it is the major contributor to how Poodles look (hair on the face, legs, etc). If you are familiar with a Punnett Square and how it is used to predict the probability of genotype, this will be a little easier. The visual Punnett Squares do help.
When breeding doodles it is important to understand how the presence or absence of the Furnishings gene contributes to how the next generation will look. Now there is more to the coat type and shedding levels than just this one gene we are talking about here. There are several other identified and unidentified genes that play a roll in the type of coat a dog possesses. This is why we do a full DNA panel of both breeding parents to show these other factors. But we are going to keep it simple here and focus just on Furnishings. Poodles are a furnished breed. All Poodle genotypes look like this: FF. They receive one F from their mother and one F from their father. Simple enough. Now when you Doodle a dog, let's use the Bernese Mountain Dog because we breed Bernedoodles, you now introduce a new genotype to the mix: “f.” All full Bernese Mountain dogs are (ff). “f” is the recessive to “F.” So, when you breed a Poodle (FF) to a BMD (ff) all of the offspring are (Ff.) This means they get one “F” from their Poodle parent and one “f” from their Bernese Mountain dog parent and the dominance of F causes them all to be fluffy doodle looking dogs. A first generation Doodle like this is referred to as an F1 - the F in F1 has nothing to do with Furnishings (F) (I know, it's confusing!).
Now, here's where it can get a little challenging because the generation lingo can be a bit misleading. This is why you need to know the background of the breeding AND the Furnishings status of the dog. Many inexperienced or unknowledgeable breeders will use an F1b dog in their pairing and make the statement that ALL of the coats in the litter will be "perfect". An F1b dog can still be an IC (f) carrier. To know whether or not the dog is or is not a carrier of this gene it must be genetically tested.
You can not determine if a dog is or is not a carrier of the IC(f) gene through visual characteristics alone.
Note that all three of these pairings are considered second generation or multigenerational (F2). Yet the family tree behind the offspring can vary.
The left example shows two dog that are each 50% of their parent breeds passing this down to their puppies.
The middle example highlights offspring this down to their puppies. The middle example highlights offspring that are heavier on the Poodle genetics as one parent is 3/4 Poodle. On the right we cannot tell the lineage of the F1b dog by the information provided. This dog could be 3/4 Poodle carrying the IC gene (f) from it's Bernese heritage or it could be 3/4 Bernese carrying the Furnishings gene (F) from it's Poodle heritage.
The IC "f" gene is one identifies gene responsible for a "funky" mix of straight and wavy coat type usually with a straight face. It is a recessive gene requiring the pup to possess "2" copies of the gene in order to express these coat traits. When breeding the subsequent generations it is important to know if either breeding dogs are carriers, or not in order to accurately predict coat qualities.
These 3 pups are from an F1xF1 pairing. They were genetically tested and confirmed ff, FF, Ff. As you can see the FF and Ff have similar types of coat qualities. You would never know the puppy on the right was just a carrier of the Improper Coat gene (f) without genetic testing. There was no coat difference when both grew out of their puppy coat. The puppy on the left had a much straighter coat, but still in on the lower shedding side.
What are the benefits of an Unfurnished Bernedoodle??
The benefits are many.
While the average life span of a Bernese is 6-8 years. It is expected that by adding the poodle gene, your dog will enjoy a life span of 12-14 years +. Being a miniature size even lengthens this life span even more.
An unfurnished doodle is much easier in our experience to maintain as far as grooming goes. Very low maintenance. This can mean a savings of $400-600 a year in grooming fees.
You can expect an unfurnished doodle to shed far less than its Bernese counterpart. A Bernese is a heavy shedding dog. An unfurnished doodle will be a medium to low shedding dog.
For the true Bernese lover who does not want to have a dog with a shorter lifespan, this dog will fulfill you. The appearance will be similar to that of a Bernese. (Again this is dependant on the types of dogs used when breeding) An unfurnished bernedoodle will likely take on a close appearance to a wavy straight coat Bernese Mountain Dog .
So with an unfurnished doodle. You can have your cake and eat it too !!!!!!
So, what is the big deal??
In my opinion: NOTHING!! Unfurnished puppies are something that is not ideal in the Doodle breeds, but there is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, they may be MORE desirable than a furnished doodle, depending on the needs/wants of the family. I get more comments, when I walk around town with Bernedoodle puppies, that denote many people like the concept of the doodle (temperament, size, more diverse gene pool, etc.) but the coat upkeep with the brushing and grooming requirements are a total turn off. They really don't realize that they can have their cake and eat it too! There are some trade offs when you are looking at an Unfurnished Doodle. They can shed a little more than a furnished but generally (though this is not ever a guarantee) not as intensely as the original parent breed (let's say Bernese Mountain Dog in our case), as there are other Poodle influences at play. The Unfurished Doodle's coat is much more unpredictable. What they look like as a puppy may very well change dramatically into adulthood. The dog can become wirey, scruffy, silky or wavy - they may maintain a sleeker look, they may sprout random scraggly bits.... it's kind of a fun mystery and you can usually bet that your Unfurnished Doodle will get all kinds of attention simply for being incredibly unique. Also, when cut or shaved down like we usually do 2-3 times a year you would never tell a difference between any of the,. These trade offs may not even be considered a trade off to some.
An Unfurnished Doodle is very likely not going to require constant grooming like we said, both at home and professional clipping. They generally do not get as filthy because they do not possess the kind of coat that is "swiffer-like", grabbing all of the road dirt, mud, burs, sticks, snow, etc. Their coat may have a low shed, but the overall maintenance is completely different than that of a Furnished Doodle. Unfurnished Doodles can have little to-no muzzle hair which means no smelly, wet, messy beards to keep clean, no hairy ears to pluck (which decreases the risk of ear infections), and no walking into walls because they can't see through their mop of hair. Furnished Doodles usually require a pretty dedicated grooming schedule or they end up shaved at the groomer because the mats and knotting was too much to overcome. Some people want a big, fluffy typical doodle coat and some people simply do not. Unfurnished Doodles are the answer for those that like doodles, but don't like the grooming chores that come with all that coat! This really helps for more active dog owner that like to swim, hike etc. It also keeps the dogs cooler not having so much hair in warmer climates.
So Unfurnished puppies are not an accident. We are aware of what we are breeding. There are many people who ask for an unfurnished doodle and there are many people who have never heard of them but are thrilled to find out they exist.
I hope I have helped out a little with explaining what these gorgeous dogs are !!!