Other names: Caniche, Pudelhund
The poodle is a dog endowed with many qualities and whose varieties come in four sizes (toy, miniature, medium and standard) and five different coat colours (black, white, grey, brown or apricot). She is a very intelligent dog who, despite her misleadingly fragile appearance, is actually very robust and resilient to all kinds of terrain. She can adapt to many different lifestyles and family constellations. Cheerful, playful, lovable and affectionate, there is no better choice for a peaceful and enjoyable companionship than the poodle.
Key facts about the Poodle
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Origins and history
This currently predominantly companion dog’s ancestor was a fierce, rather primitive hunter of feral character: the Barbet, a water hunting dog. The Poodle was in fact originally employed in the hunting of water birds. Contemporary breeding has since focused on the production of companion dogs, resulting in one of the most beloved and widespread breeds in the world. Despite all of this, the dog’s name still references a hunting capacity in almost all languages: in french, ‘Caniche’ comes from the word ‘cane’, which is the female designation for a duck. It is called ‘Pudel’ in german and Poodle in english, both of which mean ‘swimmer’.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 2 : Poodle
Physical characteristics of the Poodle
Female : Between 9 and 24 in
Male : Between 9 and 24 in
- Male: Between 14 and 18 inches
- Female: Between 14 and 18 inches
- Male: Between 11 and 14 inches
- Female: Between 11 and 14 inches
- Male: Between 9 and 11 inches
- Female: Between 9 and 11 inches
Female : Between 13 and 51 lb
Male : Between 13 and 51 lb
The coat is always a solid colour: black, white, cream, brown, silver, red, though apricot-coloured Poodles are particularly appreciated.
Colours derivative of beige are not admissible and grey coats must neither be ‘blackish’ nor ‘whitish’.
Type of coat
The coat is medium-long.
The coat is curly but can, in rare cases, be corded. Other than that it is abundant, thin, wooly, quite frizzy and elastic.
In the case of corded coats, the rope-like mats must be a minimum of 8 inches in length.
The eyes are usually black or dark brown. In individuals sporting a brown coat, the eyes tend to be amber-coloured.
The four size-based varieties (standard, medium, miniature and toy) are subdivided into five further categories: black, white, grey, brown and apricot. The same general standards do however apply to all varieties. This dog’s general constitution is harmoniously and proportionately-built, covered in the breed’s signature curly coat; a corded variety exists, but it has become very rare. The head has an elegant appearance- elongated, well-defined, and proportional to the frame: it should neither be heavy or imposing nor too dainty. The rather solid neck supports a head proudly held high. The body is of even proportions, with the frame only slightly longer than its height. The limbs are perfectly straight. The chest’s circumference, measured just behind the shoulders, must be at least 4 inches greater than the shoulder height. The tail, set high, is shortened to around a third of its natural length. It hangs aslant. The dog’s demeanour is one of the breed’s important characteristics: light on her feet and rather ‘prancy’ in her step, the poodle’s posture resembles that of an Arabian horse.
Good to know
So-called ‘Doodles’ have been around for a few years now. It is one of those emerging breeds that tend to eventually be officially recognised, but is currently still only considered to be a hybrid.
The ‘Doodles’ are crosses between the Poodles and other breeds. For instance, there is the Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever x Poodle), the Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle) as well as other smaller breeds crossed with the Toy Poodle.
These dogs are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the United States and in Australia, because of their remarkable set of qualities derived from the crossing of so-called working and service dogs with more malleable and, more importantly, hypoallergenic breeds such as the Poodle.
The initial goal of this type of cross-breeding was to produce service dogs for people with allergies to dog fur. And even if this has given rise to many abuses of power on the part of greedy, opportunist breeders, the idea of the crossbreed itself is by all means worthy.
This little, frizzy dog is the perfect life companion, on account of how lovable, sociable, excitable and, above all else, loyal she is to her owner. She loves displays of affection and enjoys spending long bouts of time on the couch being patted and stroked at her owner’s side.
Remarkably lively, the Poodle has large stores of energy to spare and is not last in line when it comes to having fun and frolicking around. Training sessions are actually often a synonym of playtime to her, since she loves to learn and to please her master. You should therefore never hesitate to involve her in both recreational and training-oriented games.
Even if she is capable of being still and ‘fading into the woodwork’, this dog is always hungry for action, especially if it involves stimulating her intellect or sense of smell. In this sense, she is a dynamic and active companion, infecting both big and little ones alike with her joy on a daily basis.
The Poodle is renown for her great loyalty and remarkable capacity for learning. She can adapt to many different lifestyles and is therein a very intelligent dog and a particularly pleasant day-to-day companion.
An ancient waterbird hunter as well as a descendant of the French Barbet, the Caniche, as is her original name in French, has undeniably preserved her hunting instincts, good nose and attraction to water. This instinct does, however, remain contained- not least due to contemporary breeding, which has favoured her companion dog aspect.
Fearful / wary of strangers
A rather good ‘alarm dog’, she does become rather alert when something out of the ordinary disrupts her usual routine. She is very approachable once she starts trusting though.
Very loyal and attached to members of her social group, this dog could willingly spend all of her time by her owner’s side. In this sense, she is not independent at all, and requires near constant contact with her family to feel fully at peace.
If left to her own devices, she loses her joyous exuberance which makes her so charismatic in the first place, and can become ‘yappy’ and anxious.
Behaviour of the Poodle
This dog does not like to be left alone, and only feels good when surrounded by her family (be it the humans or fellow animals in her family). She requires available owners, preferably always present.
Moments of solitude will only be somewhat tolerated if the Poodle pup has been exposed to her owners’ absences in a gradual and positive manner, and from the youngest possible age.
Easy to train / obedience
This dog is very easy and pleasant to train, since she rapidly integrates what is asked of her. Endowed with an exceptional intelligence and sensitivity, coercive training methods will only serve to impact her in a very negative way. You must therefore prioritise gentle methods based on positive reinforcement and trust.
Despite her great docility, the training process must be implemented as soon as the Poodle pup integrates the house, so as to prevent her from developing any bad habits- especially in the case of toy and miniature specimens, which one tends to be more lenient towards.
Very much alert, she barks as soon as she perceives something out of the ordinary. This has its good and bad sides. For instance: in the countryside, which tends to be calmer and less eventful, the dog’s barking could warn her owners about a potential intruder… but in the city, where many different noises can resound, the barking is at times excessive and not necessarily pertinent.
Tendency to run away
The smaller-sized varieties (toy and miniature) are much less prone to run away than the bigger varieties. But one can indeed observe a certain penchant towards solo expeditions, especially if her needs for stimulation (physical, social or olfactive) have not sufficiently been met.
What’s more, since she has a very refined sense of smell, this dog can quickly become intrigued by an interestingly-smelling trail.
Her difficulty in handling solitude can sometimes lead to destructive behaviour, directed at objects bearing the owner’s scent in particular (the phone, remote control, pillows, etc.), which she seeks out for comfort.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog’s gluttony can be put to good use during training sessions, for example. You should of course be careful not to overfeed the dog, but it is true that reward snacks are particularly welcome.
Without ever resorting to aggression, this descendant of the Barbet is a good ‘alarm dog’ that will be sure to let his owners know of any imminent presence that seems out of the ordinary. He will announce any kind of intrusion, but his misleadingly fragile appearance and size will not constitute a deterrent.
This breed, whichever variety it comes in, is perfect for a first adoption, since it possesses all the traits needed to adapt to various types of owners. Docile, intelligent, playful and jovial, he is suitable for both children and adults, the most active of owners as well as the more fragile ones.
What’s more, his four size varieties and five distinct colour variations allow you to find your perfect fit.
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Poodle in a flat
Very versatile indeed, the Poodle, and the Toy Poodle more specifically, can adapt both to the city and country without a problem- she will find ways to enjoy life in both environments, as long as she is taken out on walks regularly.
At ease in a flat, she can also live in a house with a garden, which would allow her to spend time both inside and outside as much as she likes.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Very dynamic and active, this dog needs to get ample amounts of both physical and mental exercise, in addition to social interactions and stimulations for her sense of smell.
She can be exposed to many activities that will allow her to fully express her full potential. Long walks constitute the very base of her daily expenditure needs, to which several further sports must be added- such as musical freestyle, trailing, swimming, etc.
Travelling / easy to transport
The small-sized individuals are of course easier to transport and take with everywhere, by means of a travel bag for instance. Having said this, the bigger varieties, even the Standard Poodle, are relatively easy to travel with on account of their ample intelligence and capacity to adapt, which allow them to integrate the principles of social conduct well.
Poodle and cats
Very sociable and playful, this dog gets along well with cats and with all other pets in general. The richer his social environment, the happier this dog is.
Poodle and dogs
Socialising the ‘Caniche’ really isn’t difficult since she has a natural propensity for affection towards fellow dogs, which she simply loves playing with. Be careful to pick appropriately-sized playmates for the smaller varieties though, in order to avoid any risk of accidental injury.
The Poodle will have to be exposed to dogs of all sizes from a young age and on a regular basis, in order to reinforce her canine code of conduct, even she has a generally agreeable approach towards her peers.
Poodle and children
The poodle is a very good companion to children, she loves playing and spending time with them, as long as the latter respect her of course.
Poodle and the elderly
Her remarkable adaptability allows this dog to integrate an elderly person’s life without a problem. Be careful not to subject her to a sedentary lifestyle however, as this would quickly result in her losing her joviality and even-temperedness.
The price of a Poodle varies depending on its origins, and variety (toy, miniature, medium or standard). You have to count an average of £875 for dogs registered at the Kennel Club.
Depending on her size, the monthly budget required to meet this companion dog’s needs will range from £20 to £40 per month.
Depending on whether the dog takes part in shows or not, her grooming will have to be more or less diligent. For show dogs, a rather precise trimming will have to be carried out by a professional dog groomer (or handler), which entails an investment in terms of time and money, particularly in the case of standard-sized poodles.
Regarding companion dogs that do not take part in shows, regular care is still needed: weekly brushes (or more) are key, and regular grooming/trimming are essential in maintaining the coat’s shapliness.
The Poodle belongs to those dogs that experience only very little hair loss, making them a particularly good choice for people allergic to dog saliva and hair.
Nutrition of the Poodle
Daily food rations will have to be adapted to the dog’s size and activity level. Premium-quality kibbles meet this companion dog’s needs perfectly, but so could home-cooked meals.
Even if this dog is easily capable of pacing itself throughout the day, it is not advised to allow self-service. One meal a day is enough, preferably in the evenings, to encourage a better digestion.
If the nutrition of choice consists of dry food, it is absolutely not advised to purchase it in big commercial outlets, since they only ever have low-quality dog food on offer.
Health of the Poodle
Life expectancy is 15 years on average.
Strong / robust
This dog’s only weak point are her ears: they are vulnerable to infections if not cleaned on a regular basis. It is otherwise a very robust dog, and by far the longest-living dog around: she lives not a dozen, but 15 years on average, and many times even longer!
During the summer, and especially during heatwaves, you are advised to reschedule your walks to early in the mornings, and late in the evening, and to opt for walks along water sources which the dog could take a quick dip in to freshen up. Of course, fresh water at will and a spot in the shade must be made at her disposal.
The toy and miniature varieties are slightly more fragile and do often suffer in the cold. They must therefore reside indoors.
Tendency to put on weight
It is especially during training sessions that one tends to spoil one’s pooch with several reward snacks- and that is a good thing! But if this is the case, be sure to regulate this in regards to daily meals, to avoid overfeeding this dog, which could rapidly become overweight.