Poodle: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

White poodle playing in the yard
Patrick Heagney/Getty Images

Among the most popular dog breeds, poodles are highly intelligent, energetic dogs with good temperament. Although they are historically considered a French dog, poodles likely originated in Germany as water or retriever dogs. The popularity of poodles may be, in part, due to the breed's three size varieties: standard, miniature, and toy. All of the sizes are considered the same dog breed and are held to the same breed standards. Poodles can be affectionate dogs that make truly wonderful companions.

Breed Overview

Group: Non-Sporting Group

Height: Standard: over 15 inches; miniature: 10 to 15 inches; toy: 10 inches and under

Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds; miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; toy: 5 to 9 pounds

Coat: Curly, dense single coats

Coat Color: One of many solid colors, including but not limited to white, black, grey, brown, and apricot. Parti-colored poodles are accepted by some registries.

Life Expectancy: 10 to 18 years

Characteristics of the Poodle

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

History of the Poodle

Poodles are believed to have originated in Germany, though they have been known as French dogs for many years. Their name is derived from the German word pudel, meaning "to splash in water."

Standard poodles are considered the oldest form of this breed. Their history of use as retrievers and water dogs led to the well-known poodle haircut, which was designed to protect joints from cold water temperatures. Poodles would retrieve ducks and other fowl for hunters. Miniature and toy poodles were also good swimmers and hunters. Eventually, small poodles were noted as pampered companions of French aristocrats, though they have also been known as performing dogs.

The poodle was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1874 and the American Kennel Club in 1886. They were not common in the U.S. until after World War II, but they have been in the top 10 most popular breeds for decades.

Poodle
Poodle in St. James' Park, London in 1976. Evening Standard / Getty Images

Poodle Care

Poodles have beautiful, unique hair coats. Because their coarse, curly hair is constantly growing, much attention must be placed on proper grooming, including regular haircuts and brushing. Their coat is a single layer, and the hair is retained in the coat rather than being shed. This can lead to matting if the dog isn't brushed regularly. They are also prone to tear stains under the eyes.

The poodle is considered to be one of many hypoallergenic dog breeds, due to its coat and shedding pattern. While they still have allergens in their dander and saliva, they shed them less into the air. They may be suitable for those who are mildly or moderately allergic to dogs. However, if you are sensitive, spend time around a poodle to see whether your allergies are triggered.

Your poodle will need its nails trimmed every couple of weeks. It is also good dental hygiene to brush your dog's teeth at least two to three times a week. Be sure to check your dog's ears, as breeds with drop ears are more likely to get ear infections.

Like all dogs, the poodle requires proper training and socialization in order to be happy and well-adjusted. Because poodles are extremely smart, they can easily be trained to perform a variety of commands and tricks. They will also learn bad habits if you aren't consistent in your training. Be sure your poodle accepts you as the alpha dog and isn't spoiled into thinking it has that role in your household.

The poodle has a moderate to high energy level and requires daily exercise. Establish a routine that includes walks and fun activities like games to keep your poodle mentally and physically stimulated. A bored poodle may show destructive habits. Be sure to train your poodle to walk on a leash and socialize your dog so it's welcome at the dog park.

When raised properly, poodles can do well in families with children. Standard poodles are a good choice for a family with children, while toy and miniature poodles might be injured by a small child who doesn't treat a dog gently. These small dogs can be defensive if handled roughly. Older children who respect a dog can find a poodle to be a fun play companion. Poodles can be good in multi-pet families, especially if raised with the other pets.

Toy poodle in a park
Naho Yoshizawa/Aflo / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Routine veterinary care will help keep your poodle healthy for many years. Poodles, especially miniatures and toys, are sometimes considered to have a lifespan longer than the average dog.

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. Some conditions to be aware of include:

poodles as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

The amount that you feed your poodle will depend on its size, age, activity level, and other factors. It is best to give your dog two meals a day. Standard poodles may need up to 1.5 cups of dog food per meal, miniatures up to 1/2 cup, and toy poodles up to 1/4 cup.

You will need to resist giving your dog human food, no matter how much they beg or try to teach you tricks to get a treat. That can lead to finicky eating habits and contribute to weight gain. Be sure to monitor your pet's weight as obesity can lead to more health problems and shorten your dog's lifespan. Discuss your dog's nutritional needs with your veterinarian.

Pros

  • Does well with children

  • Has a longer lifespan than many other breeds of dogs

  • Doesn't shed significantly and can be considered hypoallergenic

Cons

  • Require a significant amount of grooming

  • Need plenty of exercise and entertaining

  • Requires training to avoid developing bad habits

Where to Adopt or Buy a Poodle

Check your local animal shelter or rescue groups to see if there's a poodle available for adoption. The Poodle Club of America Rescue Foundation, Inc., is a national organized dedicated to rescuing poodles from neglect, abandonment, and abuse. Additionally, The Poodle Club of America provides a list of local clubs and breeders across the country but does not endorse or guarantee any organization or person.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, if you think the poodle is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before adopting one. Talk to other poodle owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you are interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare:

With a little research, you can find the right breed of dog to bring home.