All About Poodles

white standard poodle resting on a red couch with colorful pillows

The Poodle is an intelligent and friendly dog breed that can make for a delightful companion. Although they often carry the stereotype of being prissy or froufrou indoor dogs, this is certainly not the case. Instead, most Poodles love to go on hikes in the woods, for a swim in the ocean, or just romp around in the great outdoors.

About the Breed

Poodles are unique for many reasons, one of which is that they come in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. No matter their size, each Poodle is considered the same breed, and a majority of their characteristics are similar—although there are still some variances between the three. 

Ranked right behind Border Collies, Poodles are one of the smartest dogs around. These dogs thrive at being given tasks that put their mind to work. In other words, when it comes to your Poodle’s training, don’t be afraid to keep teaching your pal progressively more complicated tasks.

Throughout the years, Poodles have gained plenty of experience in the workforce, including roles in the circus and military. These dogs have also trained as therapy dogs and hunting and duck retrieving dogs. Not to mention, Poodles have even run in the famous Iditarod race.

You should never underestimate the intelligence level and capabilities of your Poodle—these dogs are more observant than many people may realize. For instance, if you give your dog a scrap from the table just once, they will most likely remember exactly where the food came from, and they may pick up the habit of begging. Plus, they may even begin to refuse their dog food since they are holding out for the yummy human food.

Poodles are also known to be stubborn or independent. Due, in part, to their high IQ, when a Poodle faces a situation, they often prefer to solve the problem on their own.

With all of that said, Poodles still make for excellent adventurers, cuddle buddies, and roommates. Sometimes these dogs are reserved around strangers when first meeting them, but they typically warm up to their new friend in no time. These pooches adore being around their family, including children of all ages.

Even though Poodles are known to be sociable and friendly, it is still essential to monitor any interaction your dog has with a child. Simultaneously, it is equally helpful to teach children how to interact with a dog appropriately. In addition to kids, Poodles typically get along well with other dogs or cats in the house. However, because every dog is unique, each situation of introducing a new family member to your dog’s household should be taken slowly and be made a positive experience.

Do you plan on bringing your Poodle along for your next vacation? Check out our tips for traveling with your dog.

Breed History

Poodles have been around for many centuries, with their earliest ancestors being curly-coated dogs from central Asia. Over the years, other variations of this uniquely coated water dog began appearing, and they were given the name Barbet. These dogs could be found throughout Russia, Hungary, Spain, and France, but it was the strain of German dogs that would begin the lineage of the modern-day Poodle.

Even though Poodles originated from Germany, the French have always adored these dogs, and they are now the national dog of France. As Poodles became more popular, people began wanting a smaller version of them. By breeding the smallest Poodles from different litters, people eventually achieved creating the Miniature Poodle—which quickly became a hot commodity.

Within a short amount of time, people then wanted a smaller version of the Miniature Poodle. Using the same breeding method as before, the Toy Poodle soon came into existence. While the Standard Poodle was typically used for duck hunting and the Miniature Poodle was used for truffle hunting, the Toy Poodle was sought after just for being a lap dog and an in-house companion.

Around the 1800s, many people began using Poodles in performances and the circus. Between their intelligence and trainability, people discovered that these pooches have a natural talent for the spotlight.  

Over the years, Poodles had been making their way over to North America. By the early 1900s, their popularity in the States began decreasing, and by the 1920s, there were hardly any left in the U.S. Thankfully, between the 1930s-40s, Poodles gained back their popularity, and they have since become one of the most popular dog breeds in America.

Poodle Mixes

Dogs mixed with Poodles (often referred to as ‘Doodles’) have been around for the better part of a century, but it wasn’t until the past couple of decades that their popularity has skyrocketed. Chances are, if you don’t have a Doodle of your own, then you probably know someone who does have one.

Poodles have become such a popular choice to mix with other dogs because they have many desirable characteristics, including fur that rarely sheds, an even temperament, and a high IQ. In a perfect world, all Poodle mix puppies would get the best of both of their parents’ traits, but of course, there is never a guarantee on which attributes a dog will inherit.

Although some of the most common Poodle mixes include Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, and Bernedoodles, Poodles are also mixed with many other breeds. Some of these mixes consist of Newfypoos, Maltipoos, Cockapoos, and Yorkipoos.

red toy poodle puppy sitting in a tan dog bed with a red and white ball

Attributes

Poodles are a distinct breed that carries an air of sophistication around them. They have a signature curly coat that can be found in various colors, including white, cream, silver, silver beige, gray, brown, blue, black, café au lait, red, and apricot. Their coat can also be solid-colored, parti-colored (solid-colored patches over a white coat), abstract (colored-coat with white markings), sable, brindle, and phantom.

Poodles have a lean, athletic build that allows them to move about with a spring in their step. They have long, narrow faces outlined by their large and droopy ears.

Before adopting a Poodle, most pet parents have questions about these dogs that they first want answered. Some common questions include,

Where Do Poodles Come From?

Although they have a reputation of being associated with the French, Poodles are originally from Germany. In their home country, these dogs were called pudel, which is German for “puddle.”

What Were Poodles Bred For?

Poodles were originally bred to be hunting dogs and retrievers. They would accompany hunters and help retrieve ducks or other birds that had fallen into the water. The French even called Poodles caniche, which meant “duck dog.”

How Big Do Poodles Get?

Toy Poodles typically weigh between 5-10 pounds, and they do not stand more than 10 inches at the shoulder. The Miniature Poodle averages 15-20 pounds, and they stand around 11-15 inches. Standard Poodles can weigh anywhere from 45-70 pounds, with males typically weighing more than females. The average height for a Standard begins at 15 inches, but many can reach 22 inches or taller.

How Long Do Poodles Live?

The Standard Poodle has a typical life expectancy of 10-13 years, but the smaller Miniature and Toy Poodles typically live longer. These little pups can live to reach the age of 15, up to 18 years old.

Do Poodles Have Hair or Fur?

When describing a dog’s coat, the terms ‘hair’ and ‘fur’ are often used interchangeably. However, as a general distinction, fur typically refers to a thicker, double coat, while hair refers to a single coat. Poodles only have a single coat, so they have hair.

Are Poodles Hypoallergenic?

Technically, Poodles are not hypoallergenic, but they do produce less dander than most dogs. They also shed far less than many other breeds, so people with dog allergies often find that Poodles do not cause allergic reactions.

Although these are the standards for most Poodles, every dog is unique, so yours may fall above or below the averages.

How to Groom a Poodle

As a Poodle parent, it is essential to know that just because these dogs rarely shed, that does not mean that you are off the hook for grooming. When it comes to grooming, Poodles have one of the higher grooming needs among dogs.

These dogs have a unique type of continuously growing hair, so they will require a regular visit to the groomers for a haircut. Many style options exist for how your Poodle’s coat can be trimmed or shaved, so if you have a preference, be sure to relay your request to your groomer. Just keep in mind, the shorter your dog’s coat is cut, the longer you will be able to go in between grooming appointments 

Depending on the preferred length you have for your dog’s coat, some Poodles may only need to visit their groomer once every other month, while others require a trim every three weeks. Not to mention, each dog’s hair grows at a different rate.

Some Poodle parents have learned how to trim their dog’s coat at home, which helps cut back on expenses and stretch out the time between appointments. Although this may be an ideal option for some dog parents to consider, be sure to do an appropriate amount of research beforehand to ensure that you do not accidentally injure your dog while giving them a trim.

In between haircuts, it’s essential to still brush your dog. Regular brushings help keep your dog’s coat healthy and prevent unpleasant matting of the hair.

At least once a week, be sure to brush your dog’s teeth and to check and clean their ears when necessary. Poodles are also prone to tear staining. A few times a week, you can take a damp towel and gently wipe clean the area around their eyes to help reduce staining. About once a month, your dog’s nails will need to be trimmed as well. A good rule of thumb is that whenever you hear their nails click on the floor, they need trimming.

Did You Know?

The flashy haircut Poodles are famous for was originally not just for show. During their initial job as retrievers, their hair would be left long around their joints and organs to keep them warm in the cold water. The rest of the hair would be trimmed or shaved so it would lower the resistance and risk of something getting caught.

Care

Even though Poodles adore being outside, they should never be kept as an outdoor dog. These pooches thrive off of being indoor dogs where they can spend time playing and cuddling with their family.

To help keep your Poodle in tip-top shape, it’s important to provide them with an age-appropriate, nutritious diet and daily exercise. Although all Poodles require exercise, Standard Poodles will need the most since they typically have the most energy to burn off. Great options can include walking, hiking, swimming, or playing fetch. For most dogs, one longer walk or two shorter walks a day are enough exercise, but you may find that your dog requires even more. Even though it may be tempting at times to skip your dog’s daily walk, keep in mind that a bored Poodle often becomes a destructive Poodle.

woman in a white sweater holding a miniature poodle in her arms

Training

Another vital part of being a Poodle parent is to train and socialize your dog properly. Poodles are an intelligent breed, and they enjoy being able to put their mind to work. Training is the perfect opportunity to provide physical exercise and mental stimulation for your dog, plus it gives you the chance to create a stronger bond with your dog.

Poodles are prone to learn bad habits just as efficiently as they can learn good habits. In other words, if you don’t want your dog begging for food from the table, then it is best to resist ever feeding them, even just a nibble, from your dinner plate. By allowing your Poodle to break the rules or get away with something even occasionally, they will quickly begin to think that they don’t have to follow any rules and that they are the ones in charge. This behavior is especially true for the smaller Miniature and Toy Poodles—be sure to walk them on a leash (don’t carry them) and still train them like you would a larger dog.

Be sure to start training as early as possible, remain consistent, and keep all training sessions a positive experience. Because they can have a tendency to be independent, training your Poodle may at first seem daunting, especially if they aren’t listening well. Persistence will be the key to success, and you’ll discover that all the hard work will be worth it in the end.

Common Health Problems

Poodles are overall a reasonably healthy dog breed, but they are still susceptible to health conditions just like any other canine. According to our claims data,^ the top 5 issues that affect Poodles are,

  1. Diabetes
  2. Digestive system issues
  3. Cancer
  4. Ear infections
  5. Uneasy stomach

One of the best ways to stay on top of your pet’s health is to take them for a yearly checkup with their veterinarian. During these annual appointments, the veterinarian can examine your dog for any new or worsened issues, and your pal can get updated on any necessary shots. Plus, these appointments can give you a chance to talk with your veterinarian about any questions or concerns you may have. It’s vital that you establish your dog with a veterinarian as soon as possible and not wait until there is an issue to find a veterinary clinic—veterinarians can be a fantastic resource for both you and your dog. As a pet parent, it’s helpful to remember that a healthy dog is a happy dog.

^Internal Claims Data, 2014-2019

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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