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A Dog That Knows How Special It Is
(Just Ask It)

Home »  Dog Breeds »  Poodle

When you are thinking about getting yourself a Poodle, your first decision will have to do with how big. This dog comes in three distinct sizes-Standard, Miniature and Toy. The Standard Poodle, a good-sized pooch that can weight up to seventy pounds, is considered by many to be the standard for the breed, in fact as well as name, in all the ways that count.

Here is the Poodle at a Glance
Name Poodle
Other Names Pudle, Caniche
Nicknames None
Origin Germany, then standardized in France
Average size Medium large
Average weight 45-70 pounds
Average height 15 plus inches at the shoulder
Life span 11-12 years
Coat type Single coat, dense and very curly
Hypoallergenic For most people, yes
Color Various solid colors
Popularity High
Intelligence Extremely high
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Okay
Shedding Low
Drooling Not droolers
Obesity Fairly low
Grooming/brushing Needs frequently
Barking They bark
Exercise needs Normal
Trainability Very easy to train
Friendliness High
Good first dog Yes
Good family pet Very
Good with children Yes
Good with other dogs Yes
Good with other pets Yes
Good with strangers Yes
Good apartment dog Yes
Handles alone time well No
Health issues Addison's disease, Cushing's disease, hip dysplasia, sebaceous adenitis
Medical expenses $330 annual average
Food expenses Standard $235 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $100 annual average
Average annual expense $665
Cost to purchase $1,000-$1,500
Biting Statistics Human attacks: 4 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 2

The Poodle's Beginnings

These days the Poodle's image tends to be that of a pampered pet mostly owned by people with time and money to spend, and sporting a pompom haircut, or maybe a circus dog that prances around and does tricks. It wasn't always so. The Poodle actually has an ancient and honorable history as a hard-working game dog. It has been around for a long time. Dogs that carry the Poodle's distinctive looks can be found in first century BC tombs and other art work in Rome and Greece.

Just where the Poodle originated isn't clear, and there are different theories. Some people are convinced that it is a mix of different dogs from Spain, Portugal and Russia. Another theory holds that the dogs originated in Central Asia and migrated west from there. What is known is that by the fourteenth century or earlier it had settled into Western Europe, and was recognized as a useful breed by the Germans, where it was referred to as a Pudelhund-a dog that splashes in the water. From there it was further developed in its present-day form in France, where it is known as a Caniche. That name comes from the French chien canard-duck dog. In France, the Poodle was so popular that it became essentially the French national dog; and today when we speak of Poodles, "French" is understood. But whether in France or anywhere else, chasing ducks and other water fowl was the Poodle's job from day one, and it was, and still is, superb at that line of work. Poodles are smart, extremely fast, and very good at tracking the location of a fallen duck and retrieving it. They also have a soft mouth so that they can bring the ducks back to the shooter without damage. The Poodle's fancy haircut, or clip, actually goes back to those times, and served a practical purpose. The hair was typically cut very short, which helped the Poodle move more efficiently through the water; but tufts of long hair-those pompoms-were left on places, like the ears, that needed protection from the cold.

New Lease on Life

On the western side of the Atlantic, although there were some Poodles and Poodle breeders, the dogs had nothing like the popularity they have today. That began to change during and after World War Two. First, when the war began, the United States had no military canine program of any kind. An American kennel owner, Arlene Erlanger, decided to do something about that. Erlanger, who bred Poodles, got together with other breeders and kennel owners and started Dogs for Defense. The idea was to get dogs from all over the United States and train them for use as guard dogs, watch dogs, and other military uses. Erlanger donated a bunch of her Poodles as starting stock. In the long run, Poodles did not prove successful as military dogs. A good K9 dog has to be able to bond with a solitary handler, and be distrustful and wary of everybody else. The trouble with Poodles was that they are simply too trusting. They love everyone. As a result, they were eventually dropped from the K9 program, but the experience did leave more people aware of Poodles.

The war also clearly had another impact on Poodles in the United States and Canada. Thousands of GI's went to Europe, and one of the things that many of them must have discovered was the charm of Poodles. When the warriors returned, a lot of them wanted Poodles as pets, and that got things going. That love affair has not stopped, with the result that the Poodle has become one of the most popular pets going. From the 40's until 1982, the Poodle was recognized as the most popular registered dog in the United States. Since then it has continued to be perennially among the top ten breeds in the country. In addition, the Standard Poodle has become increasingly recognized and appreciated as the superb waterfowl hunter and retriever it was bred to be from the earliest days of its existence.

The Dog You See Today


A Standard Poodle weighs in at forty-five to seventy pounds and stands fifteen plus inches at the shoulder. The Poodle has a squared off appearance, with its length and height at the withers about the same, and stands very erect, almost at attention. The muzzle is long and straight, the feet are smaller than many dogs, and the tail is carried high. The eyes are dark, usually black or brown.

Poodles have a single coat, instead of the double coat more typical of dogs. The hair is extremely curly, and tends to get easily matted and tangled, which makes grooming and combing important. The coat is a solid color, but that color can be almost anything-black, brown, white, apricot, you name it.

The Inner Poodle


All Poodle varieties have pretty much the same outlook on life.

First of all, they are very smart, probably one of the most intelligent canines around. They learn things quickly and easily, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, because they learn bad habits just as well as desirable ones. This means you need to work with them actively and not let them get away with behaviors that will be troublesome down the road. They will follow your lead, but if you don't provide that leadership they will make their own decisions, and you might not like the result. This is a dog that will be happy to be spoiled if you allow it.

Poodles love everybody, and take it on faith that everybody loves them back, which is why they do not make good guard dogs. On the other hand, they can be protective, and will bark at strangers, although they will learn to warm up to that new person over time. They crave attention, they are themselves very attentive, and pick up on people's attitudes quickly.

Poodles are calm, easygoing dogs. At the same time, they have a sense of their own specialness, and expect to be the stars. They do, however, need a reasonable amount of contact and time with their people. This dog is no Greta Garbo-it does not want to be alone.

Living with A Poodle

Training needs

Poodles also love learning things, and are easy and fun to train. They are nimble and fast, which has made them popular circus dogs, but the same thing applies to any skills you care to teach them. And once again, it applies to skills you might not want them to learn, because once they learn, they don't forget. Early obedience training will be a good thing.

How active is the Poodle?

Poodles are good apartment dogs. They don't need a lot of space, and as long as they get a reasonable amount of exercise to burn off energy, they will be calm and easy to be around. They are not among nature's chewers, scratchers and diggers, and they don't feel confined by lack of space.

Poodles also make good first pets for people who have not had a dog before. They are adaptable, and so they can deal with different personalities and life styles. They are not extremely demanding, and they learn quickly what things are important to their owners. Their need for exercise is reasonable, and they are mostly easygoing and accepting. On the other hand, they do have very active minds, which they need to keep occupied. You will want to spend at least a little time everyday helping them learn a new trick or practice some skill.

Caring for the Standard Poodle

Grooming requirements

The Poodle is a high maintenance dog to own so you need to be prepared for a lot of time spent on having the coat professionally stripped on a regular basis, about every three to six weeks. Because the coat needs stripping and trimming it sheds a minimal amount and is deemed to be hypoallergenic. It also leaves little hair around the home. Even when that coat is kept short it will need to be brushed daily still and bathed. Make sure only a dog shampoo is used and that baths only happen when they are needed to protect the oils in its skin.

Poodles can have tear stains so it will need to be wiped around the eyes and face every day. Check its ears for infection and give those a wipe clean too. Hair can grow in that ear canal and will need to be plucked if it does. If the nails are not worn down naturally they need to be clipped short. Since there is an area that cannot be cut through as it contains nerves and blood vessels dog nail cutting should be done by a vet, groomer or experienced owners who know the score. Brush its teeth two or three times a week to look after its dental hygiene.

Feeding time

When feeding your dog use a high quality dog food as they have better nutritional value so are better for your dog. How much you feed them will depend on their metabolism, size, age and activity levels. On average though they are likely to need 2 1/2 to 3 cups of food a day and that should be split into two meals at least. Poodles can be prone to putting on weight so avoid leaving out food where he will over graze and watch the treats and table scraps.

Interacting with children and other animals

Poodles adore children, and get along well with other pets, so they are excellent family dogs. They bond well with children and love to play with them. They do not tend to be jealous types, and they feel no need to be competitive with other critters, human or otherwise, because they already know that they are the top dog, so to speak.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

As with many purebreds, Poodles have some inborn medical vulnerabilities that may crop up with time. A common disorder is hip dysplasia, where the hip is dislocated. The more active the dog, the more likely this can be. Another common problem is Sebaceous Adenitis, which up to fifty percent of Standard Poodles suffer from. It is marked by very dry skin, itching, scratching and hair loss, especially on the head.

More serious disorders include Cushing's Disease and Addison's Disease. Cushing's Disease is caused by excessive levels of cortisol, which shows up in excessive water drinking and urination. Addison's Disease comes from insufficient adrenal hormones, and leads to poor appetite and general lethargy. Both of these disorders are treatable.

Another serious disorder Poodles are prone to is called gastric dilation volvulus, where a twisted stomach causes bloating from excessive gas trapped in the abdomen. Dogs with this problem will be restless, unable to settle down, and sometimes have dry heaves. In these cases the dog needs immediate attention from a veterinarian.

Biting Statistics

Looking at data that covers reports of dog attacks on people going back 34 years the Poodle can be found involved in 4 attacks. 2 attacks were on children and 1 attack was considered a maiming. A maiming means that the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb and disfigurement. One of those attacks there was a Pit Bull who instigated the attacks and two Poodles joined in. This average to about 1 attack every 8 years making the Poodle a dog who is very unlikely to attack people.

Any dog can become aggressive given the right circumstances and bad upbringing. It is important to make sure the dog yo choose for yourself will suit your living arrangements, is given enough stimulation mentally and physically, is fed, trained, socialized, loved and given enough attention.

Your Pup's Price Tag


Starting with the purchase price, aStandard Poodle will run somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500. It you can find a Poodle at an animal shelter the price will go way down, but Poodles don't show up very often at shelters. Another possibility is a rescue organization. The main one for Poodles is the Poodle Club of America.

Once you bring the Poodle home, the next step is usually it spaying (female) or neutering (male) your pet. This typically costs about $220. There are also things like puppy shots and deworming, for about another $70. Then there are things like a license, and leash and collar. Unless you have the skill, time and patience to do it yourself, you are going to want to take your Poodle in for at least some initial sessions of obedience training, which will probably cost about $110.

After that there are the ongoing expenses through the year. Poodles average about $260 a year in ongoing veterinary expenses. If you decide to obtain doggie insurance, you are looking at $225 a year or possibly more.

And of course, your Poodle needs to eat. The average food cost for good quality food for a Standard Poodle is about $235 a year.

Overall, the Standard Poodle has average annual expenses of $665 a year, not counting pet insurance.


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  • Poodles are a perennial favorite among pet owners for a good reason. They are good looking, even elegant. The Standard Poodle is not only a good companion but an excellent retriever for waterfowl. Poodle's are smart and love to learn things. They love people and are great with children. They like attention, but aren't jealous or excessively demanding of your time and attention.

    They are prone to a few more medical problems than some breeds, but that has not stopped them from being one of the most popular dogs going. Most of all, they are never boring to be around.

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