Poodle Dog Breed Facts and Characteristics

Poodle Dog Breed Facts and Characteristics

Poodles…whether you love them or don’t love them yet, they’re certainly hard to miss. Known mostly for their curly locks and bright personalities, Poodles have a rich history and much more to offer than just their looks or their undeniable brains. Read on to learn more about this popular dog breed, and let us help you decide if a Poodle dog is right for you.

Poodle Overview

Pros
  • Generally does well with children
  • Smart and easy to train
  • Low shedder
Cons
  • Requires a significant amount of grooming
  • Requires sufficient daily exercise
  • Needs lots of attention

Poodle History

  • Despite being associated with France, poodles can actually trace their origin back to Germany. Going back more than 400 years, Germany had a dog that resembles today’s poodle—a retriever that was skilled in the water. In fact, the breed’s name comes from the German word for puddle.
  • The standard poodle is the oldest form of the breed. Hunters used this dog to retrieve waterfowl as well as to be a loving and loyal companion. They gave the poodle its trademark haircut, shaving parts for better range of motion but keeping the hair long around the chest and joints for protection and insulation.

    In the early 20th century, the breed was downsized to the toy poodle and then the miniature, as more people wanted the poodle as a companion and not for hunting. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1887, and it is still one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. today.

    Poodle Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts
    Poodle Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Breed Characteristics

Poodles tend to have a friendly and outgoing personality. High energy and intelligence also influence their temperament, and they prefer to have an active lifestyle. They generally are good around kids and even open to meeting strangers.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

Poodle Appearance

  • Besides their curls, long round ears, and a nice balanced look, you may have noticed different sizes of Poodle. But no matter the size (including the standard Poodle, the miniature Poodle, and the toy Poodle), they’re all the same breed.
  • Within this breed, you’ll see a wide variety of colorings, from solid colors like cafe-au-lait, black, silver, apricot, and brown to Poodles with a blend of colorings, including phantom and particolored Poodles (one of which is called a tuxedo). If you’re among Poodle aficionados, try making a joke about wearing a tuxedo to the parti…
  • Side note: a Goldendoodle is not a coloring of Poodle, but rather a mix of Poodle and golden retriever.
  • Poodles all have that unmistakable dense, curly coat, but do you know what it’s for? They were originally bred and used as water dogs, and those curls are for more than just show. Their coat is water-resistant and acts kind of like a sweater to keep them warm, even in cold water. These dogs also have webbed toes, which act like flippers underwater.
  • Compared to other dogs, a Poodle has unique hair. They don’t have a double coat; instead, they have one single layer that barely sheds. This has led many to claim that Poodles are hypoallergenic, which may be close to the truth, but isn’t entirely the case. All dogs shed, at least a little, and for the severely allergic, any amount is a risk.

Poodle Personality: Bright, Energetic and Alert

A typical Poodle is bright, energetic, and friendly. Although they can be standoffish with strangers at first, they’re quick to warm. Because they’re not particularly territorial, they make bad watchdogs and questionable guard dogs. However, when there’s a clear danger, they’ll protect their owners and families. For the most part, though, they’re quiet, calm, and alert, and act as a playful and perceptive companion to their owners and families.

Poodle Dog Breed - Facts and Personality Traits
Poodle Dog Breed – Facts and Personality Traits

Ideal Human for a Poodle

  • The ideal Poodle owner will be active and willing to spend lots of time playing and bonding with their dog. Providing plenty of opportunity for mental and physical exercise is a must.
  • Like many other dogs, they don’t like to be left alone, and they particularly love to be touched. The ideal human for this breed will be around the house more often than not, and just as affectionate as their curly-haired pet.
  • In a perfect world, a Poodle parent would probably work part-time, or from home, so they could spend maximum time caring for their pet. That said, enlisting the help of a trusted pet sitter or daycare provider can be a lifesaver for those days when you can’t fit in a daily walk.

Ideal Environment for a Poodle

  • Poodles are adaptable, and that means they’ll be happy in an apartment or a big home with a backyard. As long as they have your love, and plenty of opportunities to play and exercise outdoors, they’ll do well. Take them to the dog park, and they’ll love playing catch with a ball. They also love hikes, especially if they end in a lake to swim in.
  • If you share your home with others, Poodles also make great family pets. And when properly socialized, they tend to be very gentle with children. But be sure yours has a quiet place to retreat to when things get too hectic because these dogs are prone to over-stimulation.

How to Approach Training a Smart Dog Breed

  • Is the Poodle the smartest dog? That’s up for debate, but they’re pretty close to the top. Like other smart dogs, they will learn commands quickly and want to move onto more advanced tricks.
  • Despite being easy to train, their intelligence also means that any harsh or punitive training won’t be well-received. Positive reinforcement tends to be a much better approach. Keep training sessions short and fun, and make sure your Poodle gets plenty of stimulation to help prevent bad behavior stemming from boredom.
  • A common frustration among Poodle owners is leash training their dogs. It’s important to start early with training your dog to heel and be sure to stop walking when your dog does something you’d rather they not do, and only start up again when they’re leaving enough slack in the leash for your taste.
  • On the bright side? While leash training can be difficult, potty training tends to be a breeze, so count your lucky stars, Poodle parents.
Poodles: 10 Fun Facts About This Smart, Stylish Dog Breed
Poodles: 10 Fun Facts About This Smart, Stylish Dog Breed

Poodle Grooming

  • Grooming a Poodle might seem like a chore to the uninitiated, but as long as you’re not showing the dog, a short pet clip (or “puppy clip”) will keep you from having to comb too much.
  • In the show ring, adult dogs will need an official haircut, any of which will need extensive upkeep to prevent matting. Some show clips require the owner or groomer to spend around ten hours per week on grooming. And some more elaborate hairstyles, including the rope-like locks of corded Poodles, take time and expertise.
  • If you’re like most Poodle owners, though, you’re not headed for the show ring. Instead, you’ll opt for a pet clip, which can be an easy DIY job with electric clippers, and you’ll only have to brush when things start to look a little tangled.

Poodle Health

Just like other dog breeds, the Poodle is more prone to certain health conditions. One of the most common is Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency), which can be managed with medication. Other health problems include bloat, gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), thyroid issues, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, hip dysplasia, and, more rarely, von Willebrand’s disease. Many pet parents opt for pet health insurance, just in case.

Due to their long ears, they tend to get ear infections, so it’s recommended that you clean your dog’s ears regularly, and consult with your veterinarian about proper cleaning tools and techniques.

Common Health Problems

Poodles are a healthy dog breed overall. But they are prone to some hereditary health issues1, including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems
  • Von Willebrand’s disease (a blood disorder)
  • Sebaceous adenitis (a skin disease)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (a hip disorder)
  • Luxating patella (in which the kneecap moves out of place)
  • Bloat and potentially life-threatening stomach twists

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your poodle. Most owners feed two measured meals per day of a quality, nutritionally balanced canine diet. Discuss the type of food and the quantity with your vet, as this can vary depending on age, activity level, and other factors. Make sure to factor treats and other extra food intake into your dog’s daily diet to prevent overeating.

Exercise

All sizes of poodle have a high energy level, along with high mental stimulation needs. They need at least an hour of exercise per day. Brisk walks, jogging, hiking, and swimming all are great options to give them exercise. And as retrievers, they love a game of fetch. Plus, they excel in dog sports, such as agility, which also can challenge them mentally. In addition, classes for service dogs, therapy dogs, and similar activities are a great way to challenge them mentally and physically.

Welcoming This Breed Into the Family

  • Getting a Poodle is simple, but it’s important to be prepared. If you’re buying a puppy, you’ll spend plenty of time on basic obedience, socializing the puppy to other people and dogs, and teaching important skills like sleeping through the night and going to the bathroom outside.
  • Finding a puppy or adult dog can be as easy as an internet search, but be careful of puppy mills and internet scams. There are many ways to find a reputable breeder, and it’s good to ask around, visit before committing to payment, and trust your gut.

Poodle Adoption

Another way to find a Poodle dog is to adopt a rescue. Unlike puppies, rescues often come spayed and neutered, and with all their shots. Many rescues are surrendered by individual owners, and these dogs are likely to know basic commands and be socialized. If not, that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them. Contact a trusted dog trainer for more information on how to teach a dog who hasn’t experienced much structure, or how to help a dog who has been traumatized to feel safe and welcome.

Poodle Breeders

To find breeders who have to meet stringent requirements, use the American Kennel Club (AKC) search tool to find a reputable Poodle breeder near you. When you visit, be sure to ask about any health issues in the dog’s bloodline, and discuss any genetic tests you might want to run.

Related Questions

Are poodles good apartment dogs?

The toy and miniature poodle can be good apartment dogs, though they still need to get out for daily exercise. The standard poodle might be able to live in a spacious apartment as long as it gets ample activity each day.

Are poodles good family dogs?

Well trained and socialized poodles can make for excellent family dogs. They generally are good with children, though the smaller varieties might be too fragile around kids who don’t know how to treat a dog gently.

What were poodles bred for?

Poodles were bred to be hunting dogs, specifically for their strong swimming ability in retrieving waterfowl. They also were bred to be lovable and friendly companions, especially the smaller varieties.

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