The Poodle: What New Owners Need To Know!

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Poodles are probably best known for two things - their distinctive looks and their intelligence.

White poodle at park looking happy
Karen Porter Author of The Poodle: What Owners Need To Know

History Of The Poodle

There is some disagreement on the history of the poodle. Most people believe that they originated in France but this isn’t exactly true. Some breed experts believe that they actually originated in Asia. The Asian ancestor is believed to have traveled to Germany with tribes of the Goths, or possibly to Portugal with the Moors.

Almost all breed historians have agreed that today’s poodle ancestry can be found linked to the barbet, a Hungarian water hound.

The name poodle comes from the German Pudelhund - pudel meaning puddle or splashes about, and hund meaning dog.

The poodle became a very popular breed with the French aristocracy and this is probably why most people assume that the breed came from France. It was referred to as a cache, so it was probably used for duck hunting.

Despite its image as a pampered lap dog, poodles are actually sporting dogs and were bred to hunt. They have water-resistant coats and a natural affinity for swimming, making them great hunting and water sport dogs.

Today the poodle is bred to fit into three different size categories; the standard (large), the miniature (medium), and the toy (small).

The size of a standard poodle can range to be between 15-22” in height and their weight can range from about 40-70 pounds.

The miniature poodle’s height can range from 11-15” and weigh about 15-17 pounds. The miniature poodle is thought to have been bred as a truffle-hunting dog. They have a great sense of smell, but a standard poodle is a large dog. Large dogs would damage the truffle, whereas a smaller dog would not. It’s thought that some sort of terrier or truffle hound was bred into the genes to create a smaller dog.

The toy poodle stands at about 9-11” and can weigh at about 6-9 pounds. Like most smaller dogs the toy poodle is less independent than the others. If you are looking for more of a lap dog then the toy might be for you.


Jobs Suitable For Poodles

Poodles are primarily water hunting and retrieving sports dogs, however, they are suitable in other capacities as well. For example, they are very intelligent and can be trained as service dogs, such as hearing dogs or guide dogs. They can also be trained as entertainment dogs and were often used as performers in circuses. Some Poodles have been trained to pull wagons.

Poodles have been used in the military since the 17th Century. Initially, this may have been as a companion animal, but by World War 2, they became one of 32 breeds classified as war dogs. They were trained as sentry and guard dogs.


Personality

The three varieties of poodle share many of the same personality traits, but there are a few small differences.

The poodle temperament is one of the most desirable among dog breeds. In general, the poodle is an extremely intelligent dog, which makes them very easy to train. They’re also eager to please and willing to learn. They need firm, consistent training, but they can be very sensitive, they won’t react well to loud voices or shouting.

As they were bred as hunting dogs, they do need daily exercise, to be properly trained and socialized so that they can make the best companions. They can have a strong prey drive which can be utilized in training.

These dogs do need quite a lot of attention. Intelligent, sensitive dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, or if they aren’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation. They need to be around people and to feel part of the pack, therefore if you are looking for a more independent dog that can be an outside and inside dog then the poodle might not be for you.

Standard poodles can be great family dogs and can be brought up around young children, and other animals, providing they have been properly socialized. The miniature and toy varieties can be a little more highly strung, and might be better suited to families with older children.


Grooming

Popular poodle grooming styles info-graphic

Poodles have a curly-haired coat. They have hair rather than fur, which makes them quite good for people with allergies. They can have quite high maintenance grooming needs.

Unless you plan to keep your poodle’s hair cut short, they will need daily brushing. This will need to be part of your dog’s daily routine and should be introduced at a young age. At the very least, you will need to brush with a slicker brush and a comb.

Poodles will also need regular nail trimming. Most experts recommend that this is done every two weeks. It can be done at home or a professional groomer can do this for you if you’re nervous. They will also need to have their teeth cleaned daily.

Grooming a poodle can be pretty fun, poodles have a pretty wide range when it comes to haircut options. If you have ever watched a dog show or visited the Poodle Club of America website, then you know the cuts can get pretty fancy.

Commonly, owners ask for their dogs to have a lion cut, an English saddle cut, a Dutch cut, or a European cut. If you are not a big fan of those fancy cuts, then you might try the puppy cut, which is basically nothing fancy just an even short cut. Some of these haircuts can be difficult to achieve if you aren’t experienced, so most people will leave this for a professional groomer to carry out.


Common Health Issues

There are a few common health issues that new owners should be aware of.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can occur in any breed of dog, and at any age. It’s a joint condition where the joint doesn’t fit into the socket as it should do. The treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may be able to be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, but severe cases will almost certainly need surgery.

It’s thought to be a genetic condition, so there’s little that an owner can do to prevent it. However, if you’re buying a dog, make sure to only choose a reputable breeder, and ask about the joint health of the parent dogs. Also, keep your dog at a healthy weight, as overweight dogs can damage their joints much more easily.

Knee Issues

It isn’t only the hips than can have dysplasia. Knee dysplasia can also be common in poodles. Treatment and management would be similar to treatment for hip dysplasia.

Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudiness in the lens of the eye. They can be common in older dogs, but some breeds can develop cataracts at a young age. This can cause blurred vision or complete loss of vision in the eye. Depending on the age of your dog, your vet could recommend cataract surgery, which removes the lens and replaces it with an artificial one.


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Epilepsy

Epilepsy is another relatively common condition for poodles. The symptoms can include drooling, odd behavior, staring at nothing, walking in place, odd movements, and seizures. This will need veterinary attention, but epileptic dogs can still live a very full life providing they get the correct medications, and any adjustments to the home are made for them.

Fun Facts

  •  The poodle was the favorite dog breed of Elvis Presley
  •  The Iditarod dog sled race has had one team made up of only Poodles.
  • The FCI recognizes four varieties of the poodle, but other Kennel Clubs will only recognize three.
  • They need around 13 hours of sleep per day.

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Meet The Author 

Karen Porter author of Poodles: What Owners Need to know

Karen Porter

Karen loves to write and is very fond of animals. She has grown up around animals her whole life and loves that she now gets the opportunity to combine her two favorite things together.