Intelligent, agile, affectionate, and highly trainable -- what isn’t to love about the Poodle!
Most poodles love the water, which comes as no surprise considering the origins and history of the breed. They originated in Germany in the 15th century, but the French standardized the breed and commonly used them for retrieving water fowl. They love the water so much that their name is actually derived for the German word “Poodle,” which means “to splash about.”
The Poodle is categorized as both a Gun Dog and Companion Dog. In terms of size, there are three types of poodles: the Standard, Toy, and Mini Poodle. The Standard Poodle represents the Gun group, while Mini and Toy Poodles represent the Companion group.
The Standard Poodle were bred as retrievers. As time went on, Mini and Toy Poodles were bred for their ability to finding and digging for truffles (an edible fungus delicacy highly valued, especially in Europe), as well as for their ability in “bird pointing,” which is a fancy way of saying Poodles are highly skilled in scoping out birds for hunters.
Smart as a Whip!
The Poodle is an excitable, lively dog that is quite easy to train due to their high degree of intelligence. In fact, they're ranked # 2 in Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Poodles are also recognized for their quickness and agility, making them a very entertaining breed to watch.
Poodles are affectionate with their owners and people they regularly come into contact with, but they may be cautious around strangers. Like many dog breeds, the Poodle needs some time to get accustomed to someone before they are completely comfortable around a “new” person. The Standard Poodle gets along very well with children, while Mini and Toy Poodles will need some extra socialization with children, since these breeds tend to be more sensitive to rough-housing and the loud noises a child may make.
Mini and Toy Poodles may not react well to being kenneled or confined, and the Toy Poodle may have initial difficulties with potty training. Extra time and patience is needed on the part of the owner until this breed is fully trained and comfortable with potty-training.
The activity level for the Standard Poodle is high and moderate for Mini and Toy poodles, so they're best suited for high-energy owners who have the time and ability to continually stimulate their dog, both physically and mentally.
Poodles can become restless quite easily and will get into things like the garbage to entertain themselves if they become bored. To prevent your beloved Poodle from becoming restless, a daily run or two walks a day (I suggest each walk lasts 20-30 minutes) will be required, along with a rigorous playtime of 30 minutes a day. I also highly recommend Doggy Daycare for this highly active, highly intelligent breed. I would also advise Poodle owners to sign up for obedience training, something that will benefit you and your poodle greatly!
A Distinguished Look
The Poodle has a long skull and natural “drop-ears.” Their eyes are dark and oval, and depending on their coat color, their nose may be a dark black or gray. The Poodle has an upright, docked tail. Their coats are famously curly, and may come in the following colors: apricot, black, blue, cream, gray, silver, brown, café au lait, or white. Their coats can be kept corded, clipped, or left natural.
Poodles come in a wide range of sizes: Standard Poodles can be over 15" and weight between 45 and 70 lbs. Mini Poodles, as their name suggests, are typically between 11 and 15" tall and range from 14 to 16 lbs. Lastly, Toy Poodles are generally a little less than 10" tall and only weight 5-7 lbs.
This breed will require a professional groomer, especially if you want to show off their beautiful coat of fur! Even though shedding is virtually non-existent with this breed, those with pet allergies should be aware that Poodles still release skin dander and hair, which can trigger allergies in humans. Still, some breeders continue to incorrectly label Poodles as hypo-allergenic dogs, which they are not. Research has demonstrated there really is no such thing as a “hypo-allergenic" dog.
Health concerns for this breed include:
- Addison’s disease
- Bloat (most common among the Standard Poodle)
- Hip dysplasia
- Luxating patellas
- Renal disease
- Sink disorders
- Sebaceous adenitis
- Thyroid problems
- Cushing’s disease (mostly affects Toy and Mini Poodles)
- Legg-Perthes disease (again, most common among Toy and Mini Poodles)
- Von Willerand’s disease.
Don’t let this long list of potential health issues scare you away. All dogs, like humans, have a wide range of health concerns to watch out for. As with any breed, avoiding some of the nasty dog food on the shelves and selecting a high-quality food instead, should lengthen their lives and decrease the chances of developing these problems.
Consider looking for a Poodle through rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005.