AKC Non-Sporting Group
The Poodle is most likely descended from early German water retrievers, but also may be related to spaniels from the Iberian Peninsula. The name probably derives from the German word “Pudel” (one who plays in the water). Hunters clipped the dog’s thick coat to help him swim, leaving hair on the leg joints to protect them from extreme cold and sharp reeds. The French capitalized on the breed’s high intelligence, trainability, and innate showmanship to use the Poodle as a circus performer. The breed’s great popularity in that country led to the common name French Poodle. In France, however, the Poodle is called the Caniche, or duck dog. The Poodle has also been used to sniff out truffles lying underground in the woods. Poodles are depicted in fifteenth-century paintings. Toy Poodles became royal favorites, particularly in the eighteenth century. The Toy and Miniature Poodle varieties were bred down from larger dogs, today known as Standard Poodles. The three sizes are considered one breed, and are judged by the same standards. Today, the Poodle is primarily a companion and show dog, though he can learn almost anything.
A good Poodle has a square silhouette, with approximately the same length as the height at the withers. He has a level topline and elegant appearance. The head is long with dark, almond-shaped eyes and an alert expression. Eyes are oval. The ears are long, flat, and wide, lying close to the head. His feet are small, oval, and webbed, with arched toes. The tail is docked to one-half its length or slightly less. Dewclaws are generally removed. Always a solid color, the poodle may be black, blue, silver, gray, cream, apricot, red, white, brown, or cafe-au-lait. The Poodle’s dense, curly coat may be groomed into three basic styles for show: puppy, English saddle, or continental. The latter is the most popular at shows, with the rear half of the body shaved, bracelets left around the ankles, and pom-poms left on the tail and hips.
- Height: 10 to 15 in.
- Size: Small
- Weight: 15 to 17 lbs.
- Availability: Very popular
- Talents: Retrieving, watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks
Buy from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip dysplasia clearance and ask questions about the hips and knees of parents and grandparents. Prone to PRA, runny eyes, and ear infections. Ears should be cleaned regularly and excess hair removed from the insides. For the longer grooming styles, the coat requires brushing several times a week. Unless trained otherwise, the Miniature Poodle tends to bark a lot. This breed is extremely popular. Be sure to buy from a reputable breeder to avoid serious personality problems.
The Poodle is a cheerful, super smart, sensitive, and highly trainable companion dog. The breed is great at learning tricks, and a favorite in the circus ring. He is very amusing and clever. Many owners feel this dog understands speech in an uncanny way. Some love to play with children, but some are sensitive and nervous. Can be somewhat high-strung; be careful where you buy your puppy. Purchase from parents you have met and liked, and ask to see the grandparents if possible. Tends to be quite reserved with strangers—socialize extensively as a puppy. Any effort the owner puts into training and socializing will be well-rewarded.
- Children: Best with older, considerate children
- Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
- Trainability: Very easy to train
- Independence: Moderately dependent on people
- Dominance: Low
- Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
- Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
- Noise: Likes to bark
- Indoors: Very active indoors
- Owner: Good for novice owners
- Grooming: Extensive grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: Professional trimming or stripping needed
- Coat: Curly coat
- Shedding: Very light
- Docking: The tail is customarily docked
- Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
- Jogging: A fair jogging companion
- Apartments: Good for apartment living
- Outdoor Space: Does OK without a yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Longevity: Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)