Poodle

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Non-Sporting

Personality
Intelligent, active, gentle and eager to please

Life Expectancy
Standard 11-12 years; Miniature and Toy 14-15 years

Average Height
Standard 15+ inches; Miniature 11-15 inches; Toy up to 10 inches

Average Weight
Standard 45-70 lbs; Miniature 15-17 lbs; Toy 6-9 lbs

Coat Color
Solid black, blue, silver, gray, cream, apricot, red, white, brown, or cafe-au-lait

Coat Length/Texture
Profuse and wiry, can be corded or left curly

Shedding Propensity
Little or not at all

Also known as Standard Poodle, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, Pudle Caniche, Barbone, Chien Canne

General Temperament

The Poodle is a highly intelligent and cheerful breed. All three sizes make excellent companion dogs for families, and many can also excel in hunting, agility, watchdogging, competitive obedience, and even performing tricks; in fact, many Toy and Miniature Poodles are used as circus performers. They are sensitive dogs that crave the attention of their families, and may feel slighted if left out of family activities. Poodles, particularly Standard Poodles, are good with children, as well as dogs and other household pets (the Standard Poodle tends to be a bit more docile than it’s smaller brethren).

All Poodles enjoy a good daily walk and lots of playtime. The smaller versions are relatively active indoors and can do well living in an apartment, but the Standard Poodle might function better with house with at least a small fence-in yard.

Poodles are quite clever and are easily trained, and they love to learn tricks. They have a keen sense for instinctual behavior, including marking and hunting. They love to bark and function well as watchdogs, although they seldom become aggressive.

Some Poodles can be high strung, timid, or neurotic, so it’s important to find a reputable breeder and a good breeding line, and be sure to meet the parents of the puppy before purchase. Avoid puppy-mills and pet store specimens, as these for-profit breedings tend to have significant temperament issues. All Poodles should be properly socialized during puppyhood to avoid any conflicts with children, other pets, or strangers.

Breed History

Although some claim that the Poodle is native to Germany, it is the French who are credited with the proliferation of the breed, as well as developing the breed into it’s three current sizes (standard, miniature and toy). The Poodle is a water retriever, retrieving downed waterfowl during hunts. The “Continental Poodle clip,” where the rear half of the is body shaved and bracelets are left around the ankles and pom-poms left on the tails and hips, was developed to help the dog swim while still protecting them from extreme cold and sharp reeds. The smaller Poodles were bred to sniff out truffles lying underground in the woods, and became favorite companions among royalty. Although the Poodle may have been bred with other breeds to obtain the toy and miniature versions, all three sizes are judged by the same breed standard.

The Poodle is now the national dog of France, giving way to the common name “French Poodle.”

Body Structure and Composition

The Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodles are all judged by the same breed standard by the American Kennel Club, with the exception of height. Toy Poodles must be 10 inches or less at the shoulder; Miniatures should be between 10 and 15 inches; Standards can be anything over 15 inches. They are squarely built and proportioned dogs, usually as long as they are tall, although they can appear to be long-legged. The head and muzzle are well proportioned and the ear are long and pendulous, laying flat against the head. The top line is level and the tail is set high, often docked to half it’s length. A Poodle’s feet are webbed, owing to their history in waterfowl retrieval.

Medical Information

The common health problems that afflict the Poodle vary somewhat between the Standard and the smaller versions.

One of the most common afflictions in the Standard Poodle is Addison’s Disease (also known as Chronic Adrenal Insufficiency, Hypocortisolism or Hypocorticism). This is an endocrine disorder in which the adrenal gland produces insufficient amounts of steroid hormones. Symptoms include lethargy, premature aging, muscle weakness, lameness/limping, depression, increased nervousness, vomiting, excessive burping, diarrhea, loss of appetite, slow heart rate, increased water consumption and urination, and collapse.

Standard Poodles can also experience Hip Dysplasia, a condition in which the head of the bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the socket, causing lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. Another major problem for this breed is Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), also know as bloat/torsion. Excess gas trapped in the dog’s stomach causes “bloat,” and twisting of the stomach (volvulus or “torsion”) causes or is caused by said excess gas. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment.

The smaller Poodles are prone to diseases such as epilepsy (recurring seizures), diabetes and heart disease. Patellar Luxation (also known as “Slipped Stiffle”), a situation in which the kneelike joint above the hock in the hind leg slips and may require surgery, sometimes occurs in Toy and Miniature Poodles.

Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodles alike are prone to a variety of eye conditions, including cataracts, Glaucoma, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is characterized by degeneration of cells of the retina, leading to eventual loss of sight. Their dangling ears can also make this breed prone to ear infections; the ears should be checked and cleaned regularly. All three breeds are prone to skin conditions and allergies.

Grooming a Poodle can be quite extensive. There are various versions of clip styles for show, including the Puppy Clip, the Continental Clip, the English Saddle Clip, all of which were originally developed to better accommodate the dog during it’s water retrieval work. Many owners of companion Poodles, however, choose a simple lamb clip – where the fur is trimmed to the same length all over – for ease of care.

Anecdotal Information

Poodles enjoyed longest reign as the most popular dog according to American Kennel Club registrations, staying at the top of that list for 22 years, from 1960-1982. This is the longest reign that any breed has held that position consecutively, and the Poodle has continued to be among the top ten AKC breeds.

Poodles have won the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show title 9 times in the last 72 years.

Nobel prize winning author John Steinbeck had a black Standard Poodle named Charley, about whom he wrote the novel Travels with Charley: In Search of America. Charley starred in the television miniseries of the same name.

Poodles have played roles in many animated television series, including Cleo in Clifford the Big Red Dog, Fifi in The Rugrats and Puff in The Proud Family. They have also played major roles in many films, including Oliver and CompanyBest in Show, and Look Who’s Talking III.

In the closet drama Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the character of Mephistopheles (a.k.a. the devil) manifests himself in the form of a poodle and follows Faust home, before revealing himself inside the protagonist’s study and striking a deal with him.

“Weird Al” Yankovic has a poodle named Bela, who sat on his head for the Cover of his 2003 album Poodle Hat.

Winston Churchill had a poodle named Rufus.

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