Besides being one of the smartest dog breeds, poodles are friendly, active dogs who are great for allergy sufferers.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Groups: Non-Sporting (standard and miniature); Toy (toy poodle)
  • Height: 15 inches and up (standard); 10–15 inches (miniature); 10 inches or less (toy)
  • Weight: 45–70 pounds (standard); 15–17 pounds (miniature); 6–9 pounds (toy)
  • Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The poodle is one of the most intelligent dog breeds — and one of the most popular dogs, according to the American Kennel Club‘s registration statistics.

The standard poodle is medium to large with a round skull and a long muzzle. The eyes are oval-shaped, set far apart and either brown or black. The long ears are flat, and the tail is carried high. The coat may be corded or curly and comes in many colors and combinations.

2. Where They Came From

The standard poodle is considered the oldest variety of the breed and is believed to have originated in Germany. Paintings dating to the 15th century depict the breed, with some artifacts suggesting it existed as early as the 1st century. The name “poodle” comes from the German word pudel, describing water activity or one who plays in water.

The dog was used in water retrieval, so the coat was trimmed to help them swim. The trim involved shaving certain areas of the rear end but leaving leg hair to protect from sharp debris while hunting or patches of fur covering locations of vital organs susceptible to cold.

The miniature and toy varieties were bred down in size from the standard poodle. The American Kennel Club (AKC) added the breed in 1887.

The poodle is an affectionate companion pet who also participates in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, rally and field events.

Poodles are one of the most popular dog breeds. By: Stanislav Tolubaev (Top: dgmckelvey)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Being extremely intelligent, poodles are one of the most trainable dog breeds. They are active with a graceful appearance and movement. Though less energetic than other dogs, poodles need firm, consistent training and regular exercise to curb unwanted behaviors. They are sensitive to voice tones and don’t respond well to harsh discipline.

This friendly breed doesn’t like solitude, may suffer from separation anxiety and should never be housed in kennel or forced to live outdoors. Standard poodles are great with children and get along with other dogs, but all varieties should be socialized and slowly introduced when meeting other animals.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

HIGH: This active breed needs daily exercise. The larger standard poodle needs daily walks, and many love to frolic in the water. They possess great stamina and need more exercise than the miniature and toy poodles.

The smaller poodles will still need daily walks for exercise and to release energy. Poodles are inactive indoors and can do well in apartments with regular outings.

Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: Poodles participating in conformation will require extensive grooming.

The shaved rear with patches of fur is a popular style seen at dog shows (called the English saddle or Continental clip). Puppy clips or shorter cuts are popular for companion-type puppies or poodles. The breed sheds little to no hair and is great for allergy sufferers. Because poodles don’t shed, the coat needs to be trimmed.

The ears should be checked for wax buildup and mites. Hair growing inside the ear canal should be removed. The teeth require regular cleaning (brushing) and scaling. The nails can become thick and require regular trimming.

Health Problems

HIGH: This intelligent and graceful beauty comes with several health concerns. While these issues may not affect every poodle, they are considered common in the breed. They include:

Charlie the poodle shows some of the tricks and tasks that make him an ideal assistance companion:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Poodles are popular, and all three size varieties end up in shelters and rescues. Check these resources first or use our adoptable dog search to find a poodle. If you contact breeders, inspect their facilities first and stay alert for puppy mill warning signs.

Additional Resources

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