Whether Standard, Miniature, or Toy, and either black, white, or apricot, the Poodle stands proudly among dogdom’s true aristocrats. Beneath the curly, hypoallergenic coat is an elegant athlete and companion for all reasons and seasons.
Poodles come in three size varieties: Standards should be more than 15 inches tall at the shoulder; Miniatures are 15 inches or under; Toys stand no more than 10 inches. All three varieties have the same build and proportions. At dog shows, Poodles are usually seen in the elaborate Continental clip. Most pet owners prefer the simpler Sporting clip, in which the coat is shorn to follow the outline of the squarely built, smoothly muscled body. Forget any preconceived notions about Poodles you may have: Poodles are eager, athletic, and wickedly smart dogs of remarkable versatility. The Standard, with his greater size and strength, is the best all-around athlete of the family, but all Poodles can be trained with great success.
The Poodle is the national dog of France, and the French sure do love their Poodles. There is, however, no such breed as the “French Poodle.” In France, Poodles are known as the Caniche, or “duck dog.”
Despite the Poodle’s association with France, the breed originated as a duck hunter in Germany, where the word “pudelin” refers to splashing in water. The Standard Poodle began its development as a retrieving water dog more than 400 years ago. With a crisp, curly coat as protection against the elements, superlative swimming ability, and off-the-charts intelligence, the Poodle was, and still is, a magnificent retriever. (The Standard and Miniature varieties are classified as a non-sporting dog and are eligible for AKC Retriever and Spaniel Hunting Tests.)
The flamboyant Poodle show coat served a practical purpose in the breed’s early years. Hunters wanted their dogs to have free range of movement in the water, but they also wished to protect vital areas of the anatomy from the cold. They shaved the legs, neck, and tail but left the chest, hips, and leg joints coated. The rounded tufts on the legs, hips, and tail tip are called pompons. (Note the spelling: Cheerleaders have pom-poms; Poodles have pompons.)
The Poodle’s many fine qualities allowed it to move from the lake to the lap of luxury. Elegant Poodles of the Standard and Miniature varieties found favor among the nobles of France and, eventually, all of Europe. The breed’s showy looks and trainability made it a natural entertainer, and Poodles have long been associated with the European circus tradition. An excellent nose brought the Poodle additional work as a truffle hunter.
The Standard was bred down to the Miniature. The Toy was first bred in America, in the early 20th century, as a city-dwelling companion dog. Well-bred specimens of each variety are exact replicas of each other and are bred to the same standard.
Temperament: active / proud / very smart
Height: 10-15 inches
Weight: 10-15 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years
Most Poodles live long, happy, healthy lives thanks to the efforts of dedicated, responsible breeders who routinely test all breeding stock for health issues such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, von Willebrand’s disease, and immune-mediated disorders. Two orthopedic problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes and luxating patellas, are more likely to occur in Toy and Miniature Poodles than in Standards. The Standard variety is more at risk for gastric dilatation with volvulus (bloat) and sebaceous adenitis.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation (Miniature and Standard)
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation (Miniature, Standard, and Toy)
- PRA Optigen DNA Test (Miniature and Toy)
Unless you plan to keep your Poodle clipped in a short trim, you will need to learn how to brush him daily to keep his coat from matting. If you do not brush and comb a full-coated Poodle completely to the skin, the hair will mat near the roots and will have to be shaved off to start all over with new growth. Most pet owners opt to keep the Poodle in a shorter trim. Some owners learn to do this clipping and trimming themselves, while others choose to take their dog to a professional dog groomer every four to six weeks for a bath, grooming, and nail trim. The breed’s relatively non-shedding coat makes the breed a good choice for people with allergies.