Extremely intelligent, proud, and active, the Poodle is often regarded as a delicate dog, but it’s anything but. They love to play and show off, and are more apt to bound through dirt and splash through puddles than they are to be prim and proper.
The Poodle is the national dog of France, but despite its association with the country, it actually hails from Germany. The actual origination of this breed is not known. Some believe that it was developed as a result of crossbreeding between various types of European water dogs; however, others think that it may be the descendant of the Barbet, a North American canine that was somehow transported to Europe. Still others have theorized that the Poodle is the descendant of Asian herding dogs that made their way to Germany.
No matter how the breed came to be, Poodles are sturdy dogs and make excellent hunters. In Germany, they were used to retrieve duck. Their incredible intelligence coupled with their love of the water made them the perfect breed for this type of work.
The popularity of Poodles extended beyond Germany and spread throughout the rest of Europe. The French took a particular liking to the breed; hence the reason why they are considered the national dog of France. Eventually, they made their way to the United States. American hunters used Poodles for retrieving work; however, due to their intelligence and generally even-tempered personality, they became popular companion animals, too. In 1887, the first Poodle was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Today, Poodles continue to be extremely popular; they are ranked #7 of the 193 breeds that are registered with the AKC; however, these dogs primarily serve as companion animals and family pets. They are also commonly featured in dog shows, where they consistently receive praise for their intelligence, agility, and good looks.
Characteristics of the Poodle
Next, we’ll go over the appearance and temperament of the Poodle.
There are three different varieties of the Poodle, and they are grouped according to size. Standard Poodles stand taller than 15 inches and can weigh up to 70 pounds, Miniatures stand 15 inches or less and weigh between 12 and 20 pounds, while Toy Poodles are 10 inches or shorter and weigh between 6 and 9 pounds. Height and weight is the only difference between the three varieties; otherwise, they are the same build and have the same proportions, as well as the same coat. Additionally, all Poodles have a life expectancy of 10 to 18 years; much longer than many other breeds.
The coat of the Poodle is dense, curly, and long. Their hair is hypoallergenic, which makes them a good choice for people who suffer from allergies. Their snouts are long, and their ears are floppy. The eyes of the Poodle are kind, yet showcase the sense of pride that this dog has in itself. They stand tall and walk with an air of distinction and exudes dignity. Their coats vary in color; common colors include apricot, black, blue, brown, gray, red, cream, silver, and white. They can also feature a combination of these colors.
The Poodle is often associated with being a “sissy” dog; the sense of entitlement that they appear to exude and the manner in which they are cut for competitions is likely the reason for this assumption, which is quite false, because Poodles are anything but “sissies”. This breed is incredibly outgoing, friendly, and curious. They are also quite playful typically, they are patient. Generally, they do well with others, including humans of all ages and other animals. These dogs have stamina and can spend an entire day practicing agility training, playing with rope and tug toys, or chasing children around as they fetch plush dog toys. After a full day of activity, though, they do like to cuddle up in a comfortable dog bed or in the laps of their human companions.
Poodles are highly astute; they are considered one of the most intelligent breeds. They are also very alert. As such, they are very inquisitive and are protective of their pack, and will notify you if anything seems awry, making this breed a good watchdog; however, they are not aggressive, rather, they can be reserved around people that they do not know.
While this breed does offer many positive traits, the Poodle does exhibit a few undesirable traits that some humans may find bothersome. Since this breed is highly energetic, Poodles do require a good bit of exercise. They also tend to be sensitive to stress and loud noises, as well as separation anxiety. The use of dog calming aids or dog calming apparel can help to offset these reactions, though. They can also be a bit on the skittish side, especially if they are not properly socialized. Lastly, due to their inquisitive, astute nature, they do tend to bark a lot.
While there are some negative traits associated with this breed, overall, the Poodle will make a great pet for families with young children, the elderly, and as a first-time pet.
Caring for a Poodle
Poodles have a life expectancy of 10 to 18 years; with proper care, they can reach or even exceed the higher end of this average age range.
Typically, Poodles do not have any major concerns when it comes to their diet. They can consume both dry dog food and wet dog food with ease, and usually they aren’t picky. However, with that said, if you are feeding your pet commercial dog food, it’s important to select formulas that are made with healthful ingredients that offer meet the nutritional needs of this breed. Those needs are dependent on the variation of Poodle.
All Poodles require a diet that is rich in quality sources of protein, as well as carbohydrates that are easy to digest, as they have high energy levels, and these nutrients fuel those energy levels. However, Toy Poodles require even more energy than Miniature Poodles, and Miniature Poodles need more energy than Standard Poodles. The size of the dog plays a big part in the amount of protein and carbohydrates that he needs. Additionally, the variation of the breed will also indicate caloric intake; smaller variations should consume more calories, while larger variations should consume less. Therefore, selecting a high quality dog food brand that is formulated for the size of the breed is recommended. If you are unsure of the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that your pet should consume, speak to your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist.
It should be noted that some Poodles can suffer from skin allergies, which can be aggravated by certain ingredients. If your pet is showing signs of food sensitivities, feeding him a limited ingredient dog food for allergies can help to alleviate these problems, as can a grain free dog food that is free of gluten-based ingredients. It’s not usually the case, but some Poodles can develop obesity, especially seniors who are not as active. To prevent the problems that are associated with canine obesity, consider feeding your pet a dog food for weight loss, as these recipes contain fewer calories and can help your dog maintain a healthy weight.
The best dog food for Poodles are brands and recipes that are free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, as well as animal byproducts. Recommended brands include:
One of the most famous features of all variations of Poodles is their coat. It’s long, curly, and dense, and surprisingly, it does not shed as much as other breeds – including short-haired dogs; but, this luxurious coat does require proper care. Brushing should be done on a daily basis to prevent tangles and mats. A metal bristled dog brush will be easier to move through the dense coat, but do use caution while brushing to avoid pulling the hair and damaging the skin.
In addition to regular brushing, Poodles need to be trimmed. Their hair grows continuously, and if left unattended, it will quickly become unruly. Generally, the coat can be trimmed once every four weeks; however, depending on the style of the cut, more frequent trimmings may be necessary. You can purchase a high quality pair of dog grooming clippers and attempt to trim your pet yourself; but, if you are not comfortable, you can employ the services of a professional groomer.
Bathing is also important for Poodles, as dirt and debris easily accumulates in their coats, as do the natural oils that are produced by the skin. Without regular bathing, there is an increased risk of skin infections; additionally, your pet will likely begin to emit an odor. Select a gentle dog shampoo; one that does not contain dyes, perfumes, and other harsh ingredients. After washing, you may consider applying a conditioner that is specially formulated for dogs, which will moisturize the coat and make it easier to brush. You may also want to consider investing in a dog hair dryer, as a Poodle’s thick coat can take a long time to dry on its own.
The ears of this breed are floppy, and as such, they are prone to infections. To reduce the risk of problems, cleansing the ears on a daily basis is strongly recommended. Use a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt, debris, and wax buildup. You may also want to use a gentle dog ear cleaner once a week or every few days.
It’s important to attend to your Poodle’s paws, too. Since this breed is so active and because their hair is so long, dirt can accumulate between the pads, and they can dry out. Cleansing the feet and applying a dog paw wax once a week can help to nourish and protect the pads. Clip your Poodles nails once a month to avoid overgrowth, which can lead to a number of problems, including ingrown nails and pain.
Dental health is important. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs to remove plaque and tartar, strengthen his teeth, and freshen your pet’s breath. Additionally, offering your pet dental chews is an effective way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup, and a dog breath freshener can prevent halitosis.
Exercise and Activity
Poodles are exuberant, and as such, they need to be presented with plenty of exercise and activity. Regular activity helps to promote greater health and prevents the onset of boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior and anxiety. This was bred to retrieve water fowl and loves to swim; therefore, playing fetch with water toys for dogs is a great way to keep your pet active. They also enjoy playing robust games of tug-o-war and fetch.
Since Poodles are highly intelligent, they need to be presented with activities that promote mental stimulation. Puzzle toys for dogs that require the use of their wits to retrieve treats are a great option for this breed, as are interactive dog toys.
While all of these activities are beneficial for Poodles, walking is the best form of physical activity for Poodles. It’s a low to moderate cardio workout, which helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system and the muscles, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight.
Poodles are one of most trainable dog breeds. Because they are so intelligent, inquisitive, and observant, they are keen to learn and pick up new commands and tricks with ease. You should have no trouble training a Poodle basic commands, as well as more complex commands and tricks; additionally, this breed does very well with agility training and tracking. Since they are water retrievers, they also compete in diving and retrieval competitions.
As with any breed, consistency and positive reinforcement are the keys to successful training. The earlier you start, the more successful your pet will be. Additionally, make sure to keep training sessions high-energy and engaging to yield the best results. Poodles will go out of their way to please their human companions, so they have little trouble following consistent direction; especially when it’s fun.
Begin by training your Poodle the basic commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, and “heel”. Once mastered, you can move onto more difficult commands and tricks. Starting training at a young age is recommended; however, if you have adopted a senior Poodle who has not been trained, you should have no trouble teaching him new tricks, as long as you are consistent and positive.
Housebreaking a Poodle is quite simple. In fact, according to animal trainers, this breed can be fully housebroken within just a few days. As with any breed, crate training is recommended for housetraining. Confine your pet to a dog crate that is properly sized for him; he should be able to stand and turn around with ease, but should not have additional room to roam. Keep your pet in his crate when you are unable to keep a close watch on him and respond to the signals that indicate he needs to relieve himself; but, do not keep your Poodle in his crate for an extended period of time, as doing so can increase the risk of separation anxiety and problematic behavior. As soon as your pet leaves his crate, take him outside to his designated bathroom area; do the same 10 to 15 minutes after eating. Additionally, do not leave his food bowl down and allow him to eat as he pleases, as this can increase the risk of accidents. As with any form of training, consistency and positive reinforcement will increase the success of housebreaking.
Poodles can live up to 18 years or more, which is a longer life expectancy than most breeds. However, in order to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy life, it’s important to understand the health conditions that this breed is prone to, and how to respond to those needs.
This breed is genetically predisposed to various health problems; but, with proper care, these issues can be prevented or maintained.
Some of the most common health concerns that are associated with Poodles include:
- Hip dysplasia. This condition occurs when the hip joint is malformed, which can result in pain, reduce mobility, and increase the risk of arthritis. Offering your pet a dog joint supplement can offset this problem.
- This chronic condition is marked by regular seizures. Veterinary care is necessary to manage this condition.
- Progressive retinal atrophy. This is a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness. Symptoms include glassy eyes, dilated pupils, and clumsy behavior. See your vet if symptoms present.
- Addison’s disease. This disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol, which can lead to depression, anxiety, lethargy, and weight gain.