In popular culture, poodles are the chosen pet of the rich and famous and just as stuck-up as their owners. This couldn’t be further from the truth about poodles. They are very intelligent, great service dogs and very affectionate with their family. Typically called the French Poodle, the breed originated in Germany and was trained as a retriever that could swim. Pudel and pudelin mean “to splash in water” in German.
The elaborate hair trim that is the signature of the breed today was not created as a fashion statement, even though it is very elegant. Poodles have hair, not fur, which means it needs to be trimmed just like yours does. In order to be quick in the water, the dogs needed less hair, but they also needed it to stay warm in the icy water. The answer was to keep the hair around the upper torso and joints and shave the rest. One important thing you should know before owning a poodle is that you can give it any haircut you want.
Poodles are very affectionate and if they are loved in their home they will return it many-fold. They are clever and because of this, they are easy to train. The downside is if you don’t give them direction and establish yourself as the boss, they can just as easily develop bad habits as good ones. There is only one breed of a poodle, but there are three sizes. Here are the top 10 Things You Should Know Before Owning a Poodle.
10Poodles Are Considered Hypoallergenic
If you would like to have a dog as a companion but can’t stand the allergic reaction you always get around dogs, a poodle may be for you. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that as many as 10% of the people in the U.S. are allergic to dogs. While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, the poodle comes close.
Pet dander that sticks to your furniture and floats around in the air is the usual cause of allergies. Not only do poodles produce less dander, what they do have sticks to their thick, curly hair, and since they don’t shed much, voila! You have a cute, cuddly companion that won’t cause health problems. All poodles, standard, miniature and toy are hypoallergenic. They have the added bonus of being virtually odorless. Not only do they not leave doggy hair on your furniture and clothing, but they also don’t fill your house with the doggy odor that most dogs have, even more, bathing and trimming help, even more, to keep the dander at a minimum.
Having said that, there are still very few people who have an allergic reaction to poodles because of the protein in the dander that causes allergies is also present in the saliva and urine.
The great advantages of poodle hair can be seen in other dogs that have bred with a poodle such as:
- Goldendoodle, a mix of golden retriever and poodle
- Cockapoo, a mix of cocker spaniel and poodle
- Whoodle, a mix of Wheaten terrier and poodle
- Labradoodle, a mix of Labrador and poodle
9What’s it like Living with a Poodle?
As already mentioned, poodles are very intelligent, but what does this mean for your day-to-day-living with a poodle? First of all, it means you need to show who is the leader of the pack sooner rather than later. Without proper direction, your poodle will take over your household and run things his or her way whether you like it or not. If this happens, their infamous stubbornness will kick in and it will be very difficult to establish your superiority. Poodles are not finicky eaters unless you make them that way. Just give ordinary prepared dog food and they will be happy and healthy.
Your pet needs to feel like a valued member of the pack. One way to achieve this is to give him enough exercise and playtime to keep him active and mentally stimulated. They especially love swimming, as that is what they were originally bred for 500 years ago. If their owner gives them love and attention, they will return it, and while they will love the whole family, they tend to bond with one person more.
Poodles are prone to separation anxiety. You should seriously consider this if you plan to be away most of the day. If they start to feel anxious, they may exhibit unruly behavior and barking, which can destroy your house and disturb the neighbors. They need frequent interaction, which is one reason they make such good dogs for disabled persons. They understand they are needed and this makes them happy. In addition, a disabled person may be less likely to ever leave them alone.
8Poodles Like to Play a Lot
Poodles are high on the list of playful dogs. They will take every advantage of the slightest chance they can get a game going. This may sound like a lot of fun and be a great characteristic, and if you have children who are ready to fulfill this need, go for it. However, you need to be realistic about the amount of fetch and tag you want to play every day.
You may be attracted to the idea that a poodle is a good companion dog, which is true, but along with this is his need for fun. If you are the only person to supply this fun, it may not be enough to keep the dog mentally and physically healthy. If you have a fenced-in area where your dog can play with doggy toys or run, then the problem may be solved. Otherwise, it is up to you to keep your dog happy and healthy. It should be noted that poodles are very popular dogs and if you let yours roam without human companionship, it could be stolen.
7Poodles Come in Three Sizes
There is one breed standard for all three sizes, including standard, miniature and toy poodles. Standard poodles should be more than 15 inches at the shoulder. Miniature poodles should be 15 inches or less and toy poodles are just 10 inches at the shoulder. All three have the same physical proportions and personality characteristics. Poodles make good show dogs because they love to be the center of attention and show that they can obey and perform on point. Miniature poodles were very popular as circus performers.
Miniature poodles were bred down from standard poodles by French royalty and became so popular they were called French Poodles even though the breed originated in Germany. They were an accessory and status symbol for the upper classes. They even became the French national dog. They called it the Duck Dog because of its ability as a hunting dog to retrieve ducks and other birds from the water.
All three have the same unique coat of close, rough curls that does not shed. Even though they are working dogs, they appear delicate and refined and each one from the standard to the toy looks proud and dignified.
They are all intelligent and easy to train. They like to play but only the standard poodle is suitable for tumbling with children as the other sizes are a bit too delicate for rough play. They may feel overwhelmed by boisterous children. A toy is a popular lap dog, but don’t forget it has the same intelligence, love of learning and love of showing off that the larger dogs have.
6Poodles Are Superior Work Dogs
Poodles remain attentive to their humans outside the home in public situations. They help their owners in doing some tasks.Poodles were originally bred as hunters and have retained their eager and athletic abilities. They are very versatile and fulfill many roles in the working world of dogs. They may be more suitable for less physically demanding jobs than Labradors or German Shepards but their intelligence make them excellent for fetching and carrying a variety of things for humans. Disabled people depend on the reliability of their service dogs. This puts a premium on the characteristics of obedience and intelligence. Today, service dogs do much more than aiding the visually and hearing impaired.
When put with other working dogs such as Labradors, poodles quickly pick up the other dog’s actions and learn fast. Even the miniature and toy poodles were used for work. They could sniff out truffles and learn tricks so fast they made great circus dogs. Poodles excel in canine sports such as dock diving, they love water and tracking. The poodle is the only non-sporting dog that is eligible to enter the American Kennel Club (AKC) Retriever Hunt Tests.
Poodles are eager to please and enthusiastic as well as smart and obedient. They make exceptional assistance dogs, guard dogs, and military dogs. They like mental challenge and to be physically active and both characteristics are needed in service dogs. They easily adapt to different environments, which make them stay focused and alert in crowds. They remain attentive to their humans outside the home in public situations. It’s a win/win situation because the human benefits from the poodle’s expertise and the dog benefits from the mental and physical stimulation.
5Poodles Have Health Issues
Most dog breeds have specific health issues. For example, the Dachshund has a delicate spine and the Pomeranian has brittle bones. One of the top 10 things you should know before owning a Poodle is its health issues. Some of the possible health issues for poodles are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Addison’s disease
- Gastric dilatation volvulus
- Thyroid issues
- Collapsed trachea
Your vet can monitor your pet for any signs of the above conditions. You should be aware if you see a noticeable and prolonged drop in your poodle’s energy level.
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is a common health problem for standard poodles. It is a bleeding disorder that can affect humans also. There is a deficiency of a specific protein in the system that helps red blood cells to clot to repair broken blood vessels. If your dog has any need of surgery or a general anesthesia, it is important for the vet to test for vWD first or at least know if the dog has the condition. One way to avoid many health issues is to have the parents of the pup you are considering tested for some of the above conditions.
Poodles have one of the longest life spans of any dog breed and may easily live for 16 – 18 years. It is important to understand that owning a poodle may be a long-term commitment. If you aren’t sure that you can make this commitment, you may want to consider a different breed of dog that has a much shorter average life span.
4Poodles Have Many Hairstyles
The typical poodle hair cut that has become almost a fashion statement for elegance in a dog was not designed by a hair stylist. It has a very practical origin story that was intended to make the hunting dog fast and agile in the water as well as protected from the icy cold. The puffs of hair that look so cute are actually well placed on the joints to protect them from the cold water. The upper torso also has its share of fluffy hair to protect vital organs.
Each hair cut is perfectly planned. The placement of the puffs and exactly how big they are is all thought out. If you want your adult poodle to compete in dog shows, you must have one of three types of hairdos, including the English Saddle, the Continental Clip and the Modified Continental Clip. Puppies have a special hairdo called the official Puppy Clip, which requires an even length of hair all over the body. If you are not interested in American Kennel Club competition, no problem. There are many other hairdos that look great. Note to self: pom-poms are for cheerleaders, pompons are for poodles. Some interesting facts about poodle hair:
- The coat they are born with will change to an adult coat
- Miniature and toy poodles will start to change at round nine months and it takes about nine months to complete
- Standard poodles start to change between nine and 16 months and it takes about three months to complete
- After having puppies, female poodles may experience hair loss because of hormonal changes
- You can put doggy hair conditioner on your poodles hair to keep it soft
- You can also dye your poodles hair with special hair dye for dogs
3Poodles Need Regular Grooming
Unlike most dogs, poodles don’t shed. As mentioned above, they have hair and not fur. This makes a big difference in their grooming needs. Whether a poodle is a service dog, being shown in dog shows or just a family pet, they all need to have their hair trimmed. Ideally, they should be shampooed and clipped every other month and sooner if it seems necessary. Shedding helps dogs manage their coats because they continuously lose hair. Poodles need your help managing their coats.
If you have the trimming and bathing done professionally, it will cost, and this should be a consideration if you want to own a poodle. There are other breeds that require less maintenance. If you want to save money by doing the grooming yourself, it is advisable to get lessons from a professional and get the right equipment. This will cost you upfront, but may save you a bundle over the life of your dog. You may be tempted to get lessons online, but whether they are thorough enough to handle all the issues of grooming your poodle, you won’t know until you try. You can be sure a professional will set you up to do the job properly.
Finally, grooming should be a regular thing, not hit or miss. If the hair is tangled for a long time, it can actually bruise the dog’s skin. The longer you wait to have your poodle groomed, the more difficult it is to do and it may be painful. In addition, if your poodle’s hair is a real mess, it may cost you more to get it back to normal.
2Poodles Get Bored
Poodles are very smart and considered the second most intelligent dog breed after the border collie. Some poodle owners are convinced they can hold sensible conversations with their dog. As mentioned above, they make superior work dogs. As an owner, you may want to think about what this means because while they are perceptive and interested in all you do, their high intelligence also means they need stimuli or they get bored or worse, display problem behavior.
Right from the start, owners need to give their poodle direction and training. This is the way to have a great pet. Without this, the dog may become stubborn in his own ways and difficult to handle. He will not be the great pet you hoped for when you chose a poodle.
Owners may keep a variety of activities ready to challenge, exercise and entertain their poodle. Some of the things poodles like to do are:
- Retrieving games
- Agility work such as obstacle courses
- Watchdog work
- Learning new tricks
Exercise is essential for their health, but on the days you are stuck indoors, your poodle will need something to do to keep his mind occupied. Some dogs might think staring out the window at the rain or snow is entertainment enough, not so for a poodle. You can get problem-solving toys and games, create treasure hunts with treats indoors and just talk to your dog while you go about your business. Without proper exercise and activity, a poodle may become fat, unhappy and start showing destructive behavior.
1Good to Know
Poodles may have a bad rep as being fancy/dancy, but they are sturdy, hunting dogs that have been bred as companions and for an individual or family there is no better. Here are a few facts about poodles that would be good to know if you are considering owning one.
- Miniature and toy poodles are much more mischievous than standard poodles. Miniature and standard poodles are better with children than toy.
- From eight weeks to one year, poodles tend to be extremely hyper. If this concerns you, don’t worry, it will pass.
- Poodle’s ears have a lot of hair that needs to be clipped so it doesn’t interfere with their hearing. A professional groomer will know this but if you do it yourself, you should learn how.
- Poodles can get allergies from contact with fleas, certain foods, inhalants and bacteria. You should check for unusual behavior and tell your vet. You may be able to identify the specific allergen.
- Hugely popular in the 1950s, some of the celebrities who loved poodles are Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe and many more.
- Poodle hair can be dreadlocked. Called cording, it takes a lot of time and attention but actually looks quite good.
A poodle considers itself as part of the human race and almost perfectly understands English or whatever is the mother tongue. If you are considering these 10 things you should know before owning a poodle, you may want to think about having another family member. Of course, any pet is considered a family member, but a poodle knows it.
Originally bred as a hunting dog that is especially suited for retrieving downed ducks and other birds in water, and even though most poodles are not used for hunting, they have retained their eager, active characteristics and still love to swim and fetch. They need vigorous exercise every day and tossing balls or sticks is a good way for them to run and think. If you jog every day, no problem. Your poodle will gladly keep up.
While regular exercise is a must, poodles have no problem hanging around the house as long as you are there. They prefer not to be left alone, so if you work long hours and are away a lot, you may want to consider another breed. When a dog develops anxiety at being home alone, it could start destructive behavior around the house and bark and whine a lot. On the other hand, if you get a toy poodle, it may fit in your tote and you can take it with you most places.
When it comes to affection with family and being child-friendly, there is no better dog. Poodles are top of the line. Just remember, grooming is a Big Deal for poodles. Either you learn how to do it properly or get it done professionally. You won’t regret it.