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An Owner's Guide to Poodles

Updated on October 16, 2013

Introduction to Poodles

Poodles originated in Germany in the 1500s where they were used as water based retrieving dogs. The full history of the breed can be found at http://www.poodle-place.com/poodlehist.htm. Their coats are a reflection of their initial purpose and are thick, coarse, and curly. Poodles are available in three sizes. The original size was the largest, a Standard Poodle. The Toy and Miniature varieties were introduced later. Regardless of the size, all Poodles share some of the same characteristics. They should all display a sturdy design, high intelligence, and an above average activity level. Poodles have the ability to remain rugged while still maintaining an unequaled level of elegance.

The Standard Poodle is the largest of the varieties. They are, on average, 22” – 25” at the shoulders and weigh between 45 – 65 pounds. The Miniature Poodle was bred down from the Standard and is between 10” – 15” at the shoulder height and 12 – 18 pounds full grown. The smallest variety of Poodle is the Toy Poodle. Any Poodle under 10” at the shoulders is considered a Toy Poodle and the average weight is 4 – 8 pounds. Recently there have been breeders advertising Teacup Poodles, but they are not a breed standard and are not recognized by the AKC. Teacup Poodles are nothing more than extra small Toy Poodles. They also have no listed standards and are prone to have more health problems than the three known varieties.

The Poodle’s intelligence makes it a great candidate for skill based activities. Agility, hunting, and therapy aid are all things that a Poodle will excel at. Their trainability allows them to fit into a variety of households. Another great aspect of owning this breed is the image flexibility. A Poodle can be groomed to reflect a wide range of looks. Whether an owner is looking for a long coated attention grabber or a short coated, easily maintained look, they will find a Poodle will fill these needs.

What Makes a Poodle Unique?

Coat

The Poodle’s coat is truly one of a kind. The coat should be thick and tightly kinked. The Poodle requires a great deal of grooming because of the texture and growth of the coat. It grows very quickly and can mat easily. It is important that a Poodle owner brushes the coat regularly.

Poodles are available in a wide variety of colors. The coat can be a solid color or a combination of two colors. There are special names for certain coat markings, such as parti-colored and phantom. Parti-colored refers to a Poodle that is a combination of two different colors, while a phantom coat is two colors in a certain pattern. The pattern is similar to the markings of a Rottweiler or Doberman. A few of the most popular colors are listed below. A complete list of all acceptable colors can be found at http://www.akc.org/breeds/poodle/color_markings.cfm

  • Black

  • White

  • Apricot

  • Gray

A Poodle will need to be groomed often, which means that the appearance of the coat varies from dog to dog. Some owners prefer to keep their dog groomed short so the haircut lasts longer, while others like to Poodle to display the extravagant look of a full show clip.

Intelligence

Another unique feature of the Poodle is their extreme intelligence. They are capable of mastering even the most difficult tasks. World renowned Poodle expert, Frank Sabella, is famously quoted as saying, “The intelligence of the Poodle gives him that knowledge of his own importance – that vanity, which reflects itself throughout his entire presence. He knows he is a splendid beast, and he is enormously proud of it!” This quote sums up the intelligence of the Poodle perfectly. They are smart enough to realize that they are smarter than the average dog.

The Poodle’s intelligence makes them excellent candidates for many activities. It, in combination with their stamina and strength, allows the Poodle to excel at agility courses. They can also be used as hunting dogs and will perform well at obedience shows. They are good at retaining what they learn, so they can master many tricks.

Versatility

Poodles are one of the most versatile dog breeds available. The size varieties make allow an owner to choose a Poodle that will fit well into their lifestyle, from a Toy Poodle in a small apartment to a Standard Poodle running on farmland, a Poodle will truly adapt to any lifestyle.

The breed is found across the World in many different climates. In fact, the AKC recognizes the Poodle as the second most popular breed. They can flourish in any environment from freezing to sweltering. Poodles will also adapt to any lifestyle. They are comfortable as lap dogs that are spoiled and equally comfortable working in the fields herding sheep.

A Poodle’s versatility makes is an excellent breed choice for many owners. They will adapt to any lifestyle and accept change well.

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The Poodle Personality

The Poodle is often described as having a personality similar to humans. They seem to understand complex emotions such as humor, empathy, and creativity. They also show a preference for human companionship as opposed to interacting with other dogs. Well known Poodle author, Lydia Hopkins, sums it up perfectly with her quote, “For all their independence, Poodles as a breed are dependent upon human companionship and understanding. All dogs need affectionate understanding, but some other breeds can be happy in their own doggy sphere of life without much human companionship; Poodles cannot be even reasonably happy or smart without it.” This quote displays the true need for human companionship that Poodles display.

The personality of a Poodle can be compared to that of the Golden Retriever. They are eager to please and a pleasure for owners. They do not naturally possess the guarding skills of most dogs, such as a Rottweiler or Chow Chow.

Socializing a Poodle

Adults

The Poodle thrives on interaction with people. They will form a strong bond with their owner that will last a lifetime. Allowing a Poodle to socialize with many different people is important to prevent them from becoming scared or aggressive towards strangers. As long as a Poodle is properly socialized at a young age, they should have excellent socialization skills with people.

Children

The general personality of the Poodle makes them a great choice for families with children, with one exception. The Toy Poodle can develop fearful aggression towards children due to their small size. Children are often easily excitable and rambunctious, which can overwhelm the smallest Poodle and lead to nipping. The largest of Poodles, Standard Poodles, are considered good with children. They are not overly affectionate, and will generally ignore children. The best Poodle variety for children is the Miniature Poodle. They are very affectionate towards children and love interacting with them.

Other Dogs

As with any dog breed, it is important to socialize a Poodle. However, even with a lack of socialization Poodles are known to have a very low aggression level. They are not a dog that is going to be the center of attention in a dog pack. Poodles tend to hang back and watch the action. One trait that is interesting is that Poodles will do their best to stop fights between other dogs. They have been seen putting themselves between the two dogs to prevent fighting. A Poodle acts like a babysitter when interacting with a large group of dogs. They enjoy watching and lounging with others, but tend not to participate in games. The Poodle far prefers the company of people as opposed to dogs, but is not aggressive towards other canines.

House Training

The intelligence and eagerness to please of the Poodle makes it relatively easy to housetrain. The key to success is to stay consistent. Poodles will housetrain in as little as a few weeks when you follow these steps.

  • Crate Training

Like all dogs, a Poodle needs a space that is all its own. Crate training will allow the dog to have a space where no one can interfere with the Poodle. Most Poodles will come to love their crate so much that they will lay in there without you asking. A crate also removes the chance of your Poodle getting into something dangerous while you are away from home.


  • Pick an Elimination Spot

A Poodle will need to be shown where to use the bathroom. Once your spot is picked, take the dog there frequently. When the dog goes to the bathroom in the designated area they should be offered praise and love. This will teach the Poodle to repeat the behavior that resulted in a reward. It takes a minimal amount of time to teach a Poodle where to go potty.


  • Find a Schedule that Works

An owner will have to figure out the best schedule for their particular Poodle, as no two dogs have the same bathroom needs. The smaller the Poodle, the more often it will need to have access to the bathroom area. A Poodle puppy will need to go to the bathroom about every 2 ½ hours, while an adult can go up to 4 ½ hours or longer.


  • What to do When You Catch Your Poodle in the Act

If a Poodle is caught in the act of eliminating in your house, it is important that you do not overreact. A loud “No” will be enough to let the Poodle no that it is not acceptable behavior. Never rub the dog’s nose in the mess or strike the dog, as this can lead to a Poodle with very little self-confidence.


  • Thoroughly Clean Accidents

Accidents are bound to happen, and when they do it is important to thoroughly clean the area. If the smell lingers the Poodle will recognize this spot as an acceptable elimination area and continue to soil there. White vinegar will safely remove the urine smell from carpets and hard surfaces.

Common Health Problems of Poodles

Illness
Standard Poodle
Minurature Poodle
Toy Poodle
Hip Dysplasia
X
X
X
Epilepsy
X
X
X
Gastric Tortion-Bloat
X
 
 
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
X
X
X
prcd-PRA
 
X
X
The most common illnesses for Poodles vary depending on the size. A list of the five most common Poodle illnesses is listed below. Many of these common Poodle illnesses can be avoided by choosing a reputable breeder and maintaining good nutrition al

When Your Poodle is Ready to Breed

Poodles reach sexual maturity at between 6 – 12 months of age. A female will be able to become pregnant during her first heat cycle. If you are not ready to take on the responsibility of breeding a Poodle, they should be spayed or neutered before they are six months old.

If you decide you do want to breed your Poodle there are some things to remember. In order to ensure the health of the female and the puppies, never let a Poodle get pregnant during their first heat cycle. A Poodle that young will not be able to handle the stress that pregnancy puts on her body. Also, never breed a dog that displays any genetic malformations or illnesses. Lastly, never breed two dogs that are related in anyway, as this can lead to problems with the puppies.

Once the mating takes place, a female is pregnant for about nine weeks. The number of puppies in a litter varies depending on the size of the Poodle. Standard Poodles will have larger litters, while Toy Poodles may only produce one puppy. Also, due to the small stature of the Toy Poodle, it is common for them to have to have cesarean sections.

Breeding Poodles requires a great deal of time and money. The adults and puppies will require veterinarian treatment and vaccinations. No reputable breeder becomes rich from breeding Poodles. For information on what to do when the female goes into labor visit http://www.allpoodleinfo.com/Poodle_Pregnancy.html.

Overall, the Poodle makes a great pet for many people. They will fit into a large family as easily as they will adapt to life with a single individual. Poodles excel in agility and are easily trained. They are often used for search and rescue work as well as therapy companions. The Poodle is a highly intelligent dog that is eager to please. They develop a close relationship with their owners and remain loyal throughout their life.

Poodles are high maintenance when it comes to grooming needs and exercise requirements. They will need to be groomed often to maintain the health of their coat. The breed was first developed for working, so they require a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation. A Poodle that is not allowed to release extra energy can become bored and show destructive behaviors.

The Poodle has a very unique coat. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The coat is also unique in texture. The thick, curly hair of the Poodle does not shed. They are also considered hypoallergenic and make a great pet for those with allergies. Due to the grooming requirements, the Poodle can reflect a variety of different looks.

The sad truth is that many people still view the Poodle as a spoiled dog that sits around all day being pampered. This stereotype could not be farther from the truth. The breed is hard working and very energetic. They have a great personality and socialize well with people and other dogs.

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