Originating in Germany, mainly to retrieve waterfowl, Poodles are believed to be descendents of the now extinct French Water Dog. Their extraordinary intelligence, high energy and willingness to please made them effortless to train to adapt to whatever task was at hand. Be it hunting, companion pet or performing, you will always find a Poodle getting plenty of attention.
Farmers used them to sniff out truffles, hunters used them to retrieve water game, royalty and nobles adored their devotion. Gypsies and circuses throughout Europe tapped into their inherent need to perform! Poodles love center stage and lots of spotlights directed on them.
Ironically, even though initially they were bred to retrieve and are in the Gun group, Miniatures and Standards are classified as Non-Sport. Toys are in the Gun and Toy classifications.
There are not many breeds that come in such a variety of sizes, colors and temperaments. On the record, they come in three sizes, Toy, Miniature and Standard. Those 9 inches tall or less and weighing less than 6 pounds are unofficially tagged as Teacups.
You will find them in blue, black, silver, white, cream, brown or apricot. They can weigh as little as 2 or up to 70 pounds. Their temperaments vary from unsocial, timid, fearful, nippy ankle biters to well-trained, well-mannered, calm, fun-loving clowns.
Few breeds are easier to obedience train or housebreak. Second only to the Border Collie, Standard Poodle is at the top of the intelligence list. Learning is as natural as breathing for them.
To be considered a Toy Poodle, they must be 10 inches or less, weighing 6-9 pounds. Dogs smaller than 9 inches and less than 6 pounds are being marketed as Teacups. Teacups and Toys are not recommended for families with young children. Because of their petite size, they are quite fragile. In addition, if not socialized and trained as early as possible, they tend to be timid, fearful, nervous, snappy and in general, unpredictable. Toys and Teacups should have their pictures next to the word Small Dog Syndrome in the dictionary! Without fair, firm and consistent leadership, these tiny dogs can become little terrorists that take over your life and home.
The Miniature Poodle stands from 10-15 inches tall and weighs approximately 15-17 pounds. Their larger size and more even temperament make them better suited for children. Clownish behavior, high-energy, willingness to please and need to be noticed as well as included, makes them an ideal family pet. Although they are more even-tempered than the Toys and Teacups, they still need plenty of obedience training and socialization to keep them in their place.
The Standard Poodle stands over 15 inches and can weight from 45-70 pounds. Usually, they are the calmest and more laid back than their smaller cousins. They love to learn, so get your Standard into a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten as soon as possible. Then stand back and be amazed at what they can do.
Poodles of all sizes do have their fair share of genetic health problems. Most common are: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, eye problems, ear infections, cancer, slipped stifle, epilepsy, allergies and diabetes. Standard Poodles are also prone to hip dyplasia and bloat. It is suggested to feed them three small meals per day, rather than one large one. If not walked and exercised regularly, Poodles can pack on weight quickly.
For all sizes, their average lifespan is 12-15 years or more.
Your Poodle needs a reasonable amount of daily exercise; otherwise you will be faced with serious behavioral problems. Not only must their pent-up energy be spent, Poodles bore easily and require oodles of mental stimulation. They love the challenges of obedience, agility, tricks, rally and retrieving training. Without it, they may become high-strung, nervous and even destructive.
Ask any Poodle owner to describe their pet and you will hear: silly, smart, devoted, loving, friendly, sweet, loyal, fun, and jealous! Poodles are very jealous. Most believe they are the center of the universe; which sometimes makes it difficult for them to share the planet with other critters. Again, socialization and obedience training will help take the edge off of their untiring need for constant attention. They also make good watchdogs, as many love to bark at threats real or imagined.
They are not easy to groom and it can get expensive! Their hypoallergenic, curly coat requires regular bathing and professional clipping. There are dozens of hairstyles to experiment with, until you find the one best suited for your dog’s unique personality.
Bottom line: Do your homework! Make sure you know just what you are looking for in a pet before getting your Poodle. Remember, the size of the dog and their temperament does have a lot to do with how well they will fit into your specific situation. Stay away from flea market backyard breeders and puppy mill filled pet stores. Poodles are one of their most popular victims. You may have to pay a little more, but find a reputable, trustworthy breeder. Also check with local shelters and rescues. Many are surrendered for nothing more than financial or health problems of their previous owner. Your new best friend may be patiently waiting there for you.