Popular Dog Breeds: Poodles

Poodles are one of the most intelligent of all dog breeds. Although many people think of them as a frou-frou breed and associate them with fancy haircuts and dog shows, Poodles are actually lively, active dogs who make excellent family companions.

 

History

Poodles originated in Germany and were originally used as water retrievers. It’s said that the original Poodle clip or hair cut comes from the fact that hunters trimmed the dogs and left extra coat on their joints to help them keep warm in cold water. The Standard Poodle – the largest of the Poodles – is considered to be the oldest of the Poodle varieties. The breed was probably established by the 15th-16th century. The Miniature Poodle was later used for truffle hunting; while the Toy Poodle was popular as a performing dog in circuses. Toy Poodles were also royal favorites during the time of Louis XVI in France.

 

Temperament

The AKC breed standard for the Poodle (all sizes) describes their temperament in the following way: “Carrying himself proudly, very active, intelligent, the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself.” Poodles require regular daily exercise, whether you have a Standard Poodle or one of the smaller varieties. They are very smart dogs and they enjoy learning tricks and performing. They like to be the center of attention. Poodles are also affectionate and devoted to their owners. They generally get along well with other dogs and pets. You should be aware that because they are so intelligent, Poodles tend to get bored easily, especially if they don’t have anything to do or something to keep them busy. They can become quite mischievous and get into trouble when they’re bored. Poodles do best if they receive training and participate in an activity they enjoy such as agility or obedience. Poodles can also have a strong natural hunting drive and some people still use Poodles for hunting and retrieving work.

 

Appearance

The Standard Poodle is over 15 inches tall at the shoulder. The Miniature Poodle is between 10 and 15 inches tall at the shoulder. And the Toy Poodle is under 10 inches tall at the shoulder. Otherwise, the dogs are built the same way and come in the same colors. They have a squarely-built appearance with very dark, oval-shaped eyes. Their ears hang down long and close to their head. The Poodle’s coat is curly and naturally harsh and dense. They can be many different colors such as white, black, apricot and gray, but they are not parti-colored under American Kennel Club rules.

 

Unlike most breeds which have a double coat, Poodles have a single coat. They don’t have an undercoat. They also shed minimally. Instead, their hair continues to grow and curls. They have to be clipped every six to eight weeks to keep the coat trimmed for a pet trim. Some owners allow the coat to grow out into curls but if you do this you will need to brush the coat routinely so it won’t mat. Show dogs require much more extensive grooming to achieve the look you see at dog shows. A pet trim for a Poodle is very easy to care for and comfortable for the dog. Any good professional pet groomer can groom your Poodle for you.

 

Because they are single-coated and shed minimally, Poodles are considered to be a good choice for people with allergies. If you have an allergy to dogs, be sure to meet the individual dog to make sure that you can tolerate being around him or her. You will still need to take steps in your home such as vacuuming frequently. It will also help to bathe your dog often.

 

Health

The Poodle Health Registry lists the following common serious health issues for Standard Poodles: Addison’s disease, gastric dilatation volvulus (also known as GDV or bloat, torsion), thyroid problems (both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid), tracheal collapse, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, juvenile renal disease, hip dysplasia, and cancer. Ear infections can also plague Poodles in general because their coat is nonshedding and the hair grows into the ear, trapping wax and dirt. This problem can largely be prevented with good ear care. You should consult your veterinarian if your dog shows signs of an ear infection.

 

You can find out more information about these health issues and others on the Poodle Club of America web site: http://www.poodleclubofamerica.org/health.htm If you are thinking of getting a Poodle puppy or any Poodle, be sure to talk to the breeder about health issues.

 

While these issues can appear in Poodles, these dogs are one of the longest-lived breeds, especially Miniature and Toy Poodles. Various surveys show that Standard Poodles usually live between 11.5 and 12 years. The leading causes of death are cancer, old age, bloat, and cardiac disease. Mini and Toy Poodles have a lifespan of 14 to 14.5 years. Leading causes of death are old age in Miniature Poodles; and old age and kidney failure in Toys. Some Toy Poodles have been known to live into their 20s.

 

Training

With their superior intelligence and desire to learn, Poodles are very easy to train. They can excel at just about any activity. They are natural show-offs. They do well in conformation dog shows, obedience, agility, rally, tracking, and hunting events, as well as sports like flyball and disc dog. True to their origins, Poodles also love water and you can enjoy sports like dock dog with them. Your Poodle can learn to do just about anything.

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