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Poodles - A Complete Guide To The Breed

Posted by Lisa Bateman , on

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101

Here's a quick overview to everything you ever wondered about the amazingly intelligent poodle.

Poodles are best known for their dignified stature and iconic look. But, there’s so much more to the breed than its elegance.

In fact, the Poodle consistently ranks among the top 3 most intelligent breeds in the world. It is also the most popular breed used for designer mixes.

History of Poodles

Poodles are often thought to have originated in France. This is because of their association with French aristocracy.

The exact origin is hard to trace because the breed doesn't seem to have a full-recorded history. But, they're believed to have originated from Germany, from a line of curly-coated dogs.

Poodles are descended from the German line of Barbet breed (Source)

The Poodle’s closest ancestors are the German Barbet and the Hungarian Water Hound. Its name comes from the German word “pudel” or “puddle,” which speaks of its long history serving as water dogs.

In Europe, Poodles were primarily used to assist in hunting. Their specific tasks involved retrieving ducks and other prey from the water.

The “Poodle trim” grooming style we know today actually started with a functional purpose. The limbs were closely shaven to help them move efficiently in the water.

The fur left at the top of the head, chest, and feet helped protect its joints and vital organs from the cold.

Over time, the Poodle became popular in France where the breed was first standardized. “Caniche” is the French term used to refer to the Poodle, which further spoke of their history in duck hunting.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles were commonly used for duck hunting. (Source)

Later on, dog enthusiasts created smaller Poodles. The Miniature and Toy Poodle variations eventually became widely accepted. The Poodle's intelligence and trainability still makes them ideal for various work.

But, they are now classified under the “Non-Sporting Group” or “Companion and Toy Dogs.” Today, they are most commonly kept as household pets or as show dogs.

Physical Characteristics

Size & Weight

Size is the major difference between the three recognized Poodle variants. They range anywhere from 9 inches to 24 inches from the shoulders and could weigh anywhere from 4 to 70 pounds.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is the world's largest federation of national kennel clubs.

They have set and published international standards for the breed. According to the FCI Poodle breed standards, the following measurements are acceptable for each type:

TypeAverage WeightAverage Height
(from shoulder)
Dog Harness
(chest size)
Standard Poodle60 to 70 lbs. (male)

40 to 50 lbs. (female)

18 to 24 in.22 to 24 in.
Miniature Poodle10 to 15 lbs.11 to 14 in. 14 to 16 in.
Toy Poodle4 to 6 lbs.9 to 11 lbs.8 to 10 in.

The FCI recognizes the Medium Poodle as another type ranging from 14 to 18 inches. For the American Kennel Club and the Poodle Club of America, those are still Standard Poodles.

Coat Types

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101
Corded poodles have long, dense ringlets. (Source)

Covering their lean, athletic bodies are luxurious coats. Poodle coats could either be curly or corded but always fine and wooly.

The curly type tends to be frizzy and elastic. On the other hand, the corded type is dense with uneven ringlets (cords) that measure at least 7.5 inches.

Coat Colors

Poodles come in a wide variety of colors and color combinations.

However, the FCI requires Poodles to be solid in color. Otherwise, they aren't acceptable for show. Any white mark on a non-white Poodle is a disqualifying fault.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Only solid-colored Poodles are generally accepted as purebreds. (Source)

The generally accepted Poodle colors include:

  • White
  • Black
  • Cream
  • Apricot
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Gray
  • Silver
  • Silver Beige
  • Blue

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles with a combination of colors are not eligible for show. (Source)

Equally cherished but only as companion dogs are the following color combinations:

  • Black and White
  • Black and Cream
  • Black and Apricot
  • Black and Brown
  • Black and Red
  • Black and Gray
  • Black and Silver
  • Black and Tan
  • White and Apricot
  • White and Silver
  • Brown and White
  • Brown and Apricot
  • Blue and White
  • Café Au Lait
  • Cream and White
  • Gray and White
  • Red and Apricot
  • Red and White


Poodles may seem prissy and aloof. This is especially true when they're seen wearing fashionable dog clothes and other accessories for dogs. However, they are actually known to be quite friendly and outgoing.

Poodles are also incredibly easy to train. This is true not just for housebreaking but for various activities as well.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles are playful and energetic. (Source: David McKelvey)

In fact, Standard Poodles are the only non-sporting breed that’s eligible for the American Kennel Club’s Retriever Hunting Test.

When socialized early, Poodles tend to get along well with other animals. The same is true for small children.

They are also known to be friendly with strangers. However, they could also be quite protective of their home and family.

While the Poodle temperament is similar across all three types, there are a few minor differences.

  • Standard Poodles are generally more reserved and enjoy both mental and physical stimulation.
  • Miniature Poodles tend to be more playful and mischievous. They thrive on human attention. They also love grooming sessions and walking around in stylish clothes for dogs.
  • Toy Poodles also love being the center of attention. They are the most open to dressing up in dog hoodies and other clothes for dogs. If given the chance, they'll follow their humans around all day.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles love dressing up in dog clothes, like this Woof-White Hoodie. (Source: @_rue.bear_)


Coat Maintenance

Among the Poodle’s most desirable traits is that they barely shed. This makes them a great companion for people with allergies. However, their non-shedding coat is also what makes them a high maintenance breed.

Depending on the owner’s preferences, Poodles’ coats are grown out or trimmed short. However, no matter what the length, Poodles need daily, meticulous combing and brushing. Otherwise, their coat tends to mat close to the skin.

This makes them prone to sores and skin infections. When mats become thick and unmanageable, a careful trim and close clip is the only solution.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101The Continental Clip is the most iconic Poodle trim style. (Source)

Daily combing and brushing will help keep Poodles' coats manageable. However, they will still need to be professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks. With some training, Poodle owners can also opt to groom their dogs at home.

Companion Poodles are typically given pretty close cuts. This is to make coat maintenance more manageable for their owners. However, iconic Poodle trim styles are still popular among the more fanciful owners.

Today's “Cosmopolitan Clip” or “Lion Clip” is still the same grooming style of their hunter-retriever ancestors.

Nail Trimming

As with any other dog, regular nail trimming is essential to Poodle maintenance.

The frequency will depend on each individual dog and their daily activities. Poodles that spend more time on pavement tend to need nail trimming less frequently.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Nail trimming is essential to Poodle Maintenance. (Source: Pet Guide)

Poodles can get their nails trimmed during their regular grooming sessions. For those that get groomed at home, the owners must take the time to keep their dog’s nails in check.

As a general rule, nails that click on the floor are already too long and could permanently affect the dog’s gait.

Ear Cleaning

Regular ear cleaning is also very important. Like most dogs with floppy ears, Poodles can be prone to ear infections. Cleaning the ears and drying them after every bath will help avoid such infections.

Regular ear cleaning can easily done at home. A vet or professional groomer can handle more thorough cleaning.

For regular cleaning, make a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water. Wrap your finger with some gauze and moisten it with the solution.

Use that to wipe dirt from the outer ear. Make sure you wipe in the outward direction, away from the canal.

Oral Hygiene

Daily tooth-brushing is the best way to avoid the development of periodontal diseases, or infections of the structures around the teeth

Approximately 80% of dogs in the United States suffer from periodontal disease by the age of two.

This is according to a study led by researchers from Purdue University in 2018. Regular teeth cleaning could have prevented a great majority of the cases.

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Daily brushing can prevent periodontal diseases. (Source:

For daily brushing, you can use a toothbrush, finger brush, or some gauze. Remove the film of plaque around each tooth to keep it from hardening into tartar.

Make sure your toothpaste is specifically made for pets. Some ingredients used in human toothpastes could be toxic to dogs.

Tear Stains

For lighter colored Poodles like the white, apricot, and cream, tear stains could be a problem.

Tear stains are discolorations that appear below the dog’s eyes. Typically, this is due to the area’s constant exposure to tears.

Tear stains are normal but could actually be a sign of something more serious. Constant dampness under the eyes could also lead to fungal or bacterial growth. Make sure you have your dog checked by a vet before trying to treat this yourself

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Tear stains on a white Poodle. (Source: Gabriel Saldana)

If your vet gives you the go signal, you can begin trying to remove your Poodle’s tear stains.

To do this, create a saline solution with 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Moisten a gauze pad with the mixture and use that to gently wipe over the tear stains.

The rust-colored or yellow stains should lighten over time. Alternatively, you can also use commercially available tear stain removal products for dogs.

Paw Care

Indoor dogs can usually keep their own paws clean. However, those that go outside or walk on dirtier surfaces may need some extra help.

It’s important to keep Poodles’ paws clean to keep it from accumulating bacteria.

Poodle owners should also take the time to inspect their dog’s paws on a regular basis. Cracks and crusts may worsen and could lead to infections.

In hot climates, protect their paws from asphalt burn. In winter conditions, a paw wax might help to protect from the icy, salty ground.

Living Conditions

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Toy Poodle Puppy resting indoors. (Source: Yasuhiko Ito)

All types of Poodles are pretty adaptable and so can live in large homes as well as small apartments. The Standard Poodle tends to be inactive indoors but would need access to a yard or have daily walks.

Poodles are not yard dogs and will not be happy being isolated outside.

They thrive in the comforts of indoor life and when they’re around their family. They especially love active households where they get constant attention.

Weather Requirements

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Closely-clipped Toy Poodle for summer months. (Source)

Poodles do equally well in warm and cold weather. During hot seasons, it helps to keep them in a close clip to minimize the risk of heat stress. During the summer months, keep them indoors or under shade when going out.

During the winter, it’s good to let their hair grow out to provide ample insulation from the cold.

In extremely cold weather, it helps to get some clothes for dogs to provide extra protection and warmth. This is especially helpful for the Miniature and Toy types.

Exercise Requirements

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101A poodle competing in dog agility courses. (Source)

The exercise needs of Poodles vary per type.

Standard Poodles tend to be more active. They require plenty of mental and physical stimulation. At the minimum, they should get daily half-hour walks. Standards would also enjoy being able to hike and swim occasionally.

Miniature Poodles require less activity than Standards. However, they still need regular walks of at least 20 minutes a day. Ideally, they would spend most of their time indoors but have access to a yard or garage. That way, they can also roam and stretch their legs on their own.

While Toy Poodles are actually full of energy, it doesn’t take much to tire them out. They would enjoy short daily walks. However, even some indoor play would be sufficient for as long as they get to expend their energy.

For all types of Poodles, the lack of exercise could lead to a variety of destructive behaviors. These include excessive barking and chewing. They could also start pestering for attention.

Health Issues

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Standard, Miniature, and Toy Poodles are health breeds. (Source)

The Poodle is a generally healthy breed. Although rare, these are some of the health issues associated with them:

Eye Disorders

Miniature and Toy Poodles sometimes suffer from a variety of eye disorders. Among the most common cases involve Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This is generally considered to be a genetic disease.

Other common Poodle eye conditions include:

  • Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
  • Entropian Corneal Dystrophy
  • Adult Cataracts
  • Juvenile Cataracts

Skin Disorders

Sebaceous Adenitis is a skin disorder commonly observed in Standard Poodles but also affect Miniature and Toy Poodles. This condition affects the ability of sebaceous glands to properly lubricate hair follicles and the skin itself.

Sebaceous adenitis can cause hair loss and flaking or scaling of the skin. In bad cases, it can cause skin infections, leading to sores and bad odor.

Heart Disorders

Although relatively rare, Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is now recognized as a congenital malformation seen in Standard Poodles. ASD is a condition where there is a hole between the upper chambers of the heart.

If the hole in the heart is small enough, dogs could live long and healthy lives without any symptoms.

However, dogs with ASD usually have difficulty breathing and tolerating physical activities. Open-heart surgery is the only way to correct this.

Neurological Disorders

A variety of conditions can cause seizures in dogs.

For Poodles, the most common cause is a condition called “idiopathic epilepsy.” This is generally considered as a genetic condition.

Although a very serious condition, dogs with idiopathic epilepsy can enjoy long lives. All that's needed is early diagnosis and proper management.

Other conditions that can cause seizures in Poodles include metabolic disorders, infectious diseases, tumors, and toxic exposure.


poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles tend to live longer than other popular dog breeds. (Source)

According to the American Kennel Club, the Miniature and Standard Poodles live up to 18 years.

In comparison to other breeds in the non-sporting group, that's pretty long. The Lhasa Apso and the Bichon Frise both have a life expectancy of up to 15 years.

Toy Poodles also have a life expectancy of up to 18 years. That’s much longer than others in the toy group. These include the Pekingese (up to 14 years), the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (up to 15 years), and the Pomeranian (up to 16 years).

Here’s how Poodles' lifespans compare with other breeds in the American Kennel Club’s top 10 list of the Most Popular Dog Breeds:

#BreedAverage Life Expectancy (years)
1Labrador Retriever10 to 12
2German Shepherd Dog7 to 10
3Golden Retriever10 to 12
4French Bulldog10 to 12
5American Bulldog8 to 10
6Beagle10 to 15
7Poodle10 to 18
8Rottweiler9 to 10
9Yorkshire Terrier11 to 15
10German Shorthaired Pointer10 to 12

As with all dogs, a proper diet, ample exercise, and access to proper healthcare will help Poodles lead long and happy lives.

Designer Breeds

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101A Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle Mix) (Source)

Because of their remarkable intelligence, even temperament, and low shedding coats, Poodles are the basis of a large number of designer breeds.

Some of the most popular ones include:

Designer Breed NameMixed With
BarnedoodleBernese Mountain Dog
BassetoodleBasset Hound
BossipooBoston Terrier
CavapooCavalier King Charles Spaniel
CockapooCocker Spaniel
EskapooAmerican Eskimo
GoldendoodleGolden Retriever
Jack-a-PooJack Russell Terrier
Lhasa PooLhasa Apso
PoochonBichon Frise
ShihpooShih Tzu
YorkipooYorkshire Terrier

poodles, icon dogwear, everything you need to know about poodles, intersting facts about poodles, poodles 101Poodles are amazing and beautiful companions. (Source)

Poodles have so much to offer as canine companions. They’re beautiful, adaptable, and healthy dogs. Additionally, their even tempers and eagerness to please makes them worth their high-maintenance grooming requirements.

reposted with permission

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