Toy Poodle

AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Poodle is most likely descended from early German water retrievers, but may also be related to spaniels from the Iberian Peninsula. The name probably derives from the German word “Pudel” (one who plays in the water). Hunters originally clipped the dog’s thick coat to help it swim, leaving hair on the leg joints to protect it from extreme cold and sharp reeds. The French capitalized on the breed’s high intelligence, trainability, and innate showmanship, using 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 and in bas-reliefs from the sixteenth century. Toy Poodles became royal favorites, particularly in the eighteenth century. The Toy and Miniature Poodle varieties were bred down from the original larger dogs, now known as Standard Poodles. The three sizes are considered as one breed, and are judged by the same standard. Today, the Poodle is primarily a companion and show dog, though he can learn almost anything.


The Toy Poodle is an elegant, lively, small dog with a profuse, but well-groomed and clipped curly coat. The ears are long, flat, and wide, lying close to the head. The head is long. The dark, almond-shaped eyes have an alert expression. The skull is a bit rounded, with a slight stop. The teeth should form a scissors bite. A good Poodle has a square silhouette, with approximately the same overall length as the height at the withers. The level topline has a slight depression behind the withers. The feet are small, oval, and webbed, with arched toes. Dewclaws generally are removed. The tail is docked to produce a balanced dog. The coat may be groomed into three basic styles: the pet clip (or puppy clip) with relatively short hair all over the body, the English saddle clip, and the Continental clip. In the latter, the rear half of the body is shaved, and bracelets are left around the ankles and pom-poms on the tails and hips. All solid colors are permissible. The Poodle has a delightful springy gait.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Up to 10 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  Averages 6 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


The Toy Poodle is a very popular breed, so many poorly bred animals are being produced to meet the demand. Avoid puppy-mill animals, as these tend to be very high-strung and nervous. Buy only from a reputable source. Select a puppy from parents you have met and liked, and ask to see the grandparents if possible. Some bloodlines are prone to ear infections, runny eyes, digestive tract and heart disorders, skin conditions, slipped stifle, and PRA. Buy only from stock with current CERF or OFA eye clearance. Frequent professional grooming is necessary and may be quite expensive. Unless trained otherwise, the Toy Poodle tends to bark a lot.


Highly intelligent and one of the most trainable breeds. Pleasant, happy, and sensitive. Perky and lively. Demanding and delightful. Very amusing and clever. Likes to be with his people. Tends to be reserved with strangers; should be well-socialized as a puppy. Any effort the owner puts into training and socialization will be well-rewarded. Some bloodlines may be high-strung and timid. May snap if teased or surprised.


  • 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:  Very little 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:  Long (15 years or more)

Useful Links

AKC® Poodle Breed Standard

Poodle Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Poodle

Poodle Gifts