When we talk about Poodles, it’s very easy to conjure up the perfect image in our minds. Graceful, intelligent, and perfect curly coats which Poodles are renowned for. We are here to top up your knowledge of Poodle coats and to talk you through the differences there are. It’s not a one size fits all and they are not all the same. We set out to discover why and what it is that determines the curliness of their coat.
Poodles have hair as opposed to fur and unlike many other breeds, this grows continuously. They come in an abundance of colors including black, white, apricot, and cream. They can be solid in color or have mixed and patterned colorings. They are high maintenance in terms of grooming.
You will be fully versed on the ins and outs of Poodle hair, coats, colors, and maintenance after you have read this article. So, stick the kettle on, make a hot drink and get comfortable while we explore the world of Poodle coats.
Table of Contents
Poodle Coat Types
Poodles have different coat types, each one needing a specific routine to keep it healthy and in perfect condition. When you are considering purchasing a Poodle it is very important to understand the implications of owning a curly-coated dog.
They will need regular brushing and grooming otherwise your Poodle’s hair will become matted. This doesn’t just look untidy but can be uncomfortable and even painful for them. You need to factor in grooming costs for their regular trims as it is very much part of their lifestyle. In this respect, Poodles are high maintenance.
The Puppy Coat
Puppy coats look and feel different from adult coats, they’re usually straight to mildly wavy and have a soft texture. For Toy, Miniature, and Standard Poodles, they will begin to develop their adult coat at around 9 months old.
It can take up to 24 months for the full adult coat to develop in the Toy and Miniature Poodles, whereas Standard Poodles usually have their full adult coat by 12 months of age. Puppy coats need daily brushing to prevent knots from forming.
The Curly Coat
Once the full adult coat develops your Poodle most typically will have a coat that is made up of dense, tight curls. Poodles have just one coat unlike some breeds and their adult coat needs regular grooming.
The curly Poodle coat is considered hypoallergenic because their hair doesn’t fall out as such, any loose hair stays on their curls. Daily brushing stops these curls from matting which can cause a lot of pain if left alone.
The Corded Coat
This is a less common coat type in Poodles and it’s one that is achieved through effectively giving your Poodle dreadlocks. It requires patience because it’s quite a lengthy process that can begin when the adult coat starts to emerge.
The combination of the puppy coat being shed and getting caught up in the adult coat is the beginning of the corded coat process. Once the cords start developing the process involves making sure each cord grows separately. This process can cause matting so it’s important to keep on top of the cords with regular sprays of water and plenty of manipulation.
The Improper Coat
An improper coat refers to Poodle coats that lack the tight curls of the breed standard required for shows. Improper coats are usually wavy, even straight in places, and are easier to brush.
They will be solely used as companion dogs because their coat type doesn’t meet the AKC standards, unlike the curly and corded coat types. Improper coats come from irregularities within the breeding process and are quite rare.
Poodle Clips and Cuts
When we envisage the Poodle most of us will recall to our mind’s eye the elegant, neat, and well-maintained look that they are so well known for. Originally and before the show ring had even been dreamt about this was actually borne from a sense of practicality.
The Poodle was a retriever and a hunter. A working dog, they spent their days with their master’s hunting duck and other waterfowl. The cut that we associate so well with this breed was in fact deliberate in order to make their transition through the water smooth and agile whilst, most importantly, protecting their vital organs from the harsh temperatures of the water.
The cut has developed in the hundreds of years since their duck hunting days. We now have various different clips and cuts, some for the show ring and some for sheer preference.
The Puppy Clip
Some Poodle owners opt for a puppy clip which is performed before the adult coat comes through. This process involves clipping the Poodle short all over and then shaving the face, throat, paws, and base of the tail.
The signature Pom Pom is kept at the back of the tail. This clip is acceptable for show dogs under the age of 12 months. Pet owners who have Poodles as companions often opt for this clip for its practicalities.
The English Saddle Clipped Coat
The English Saddle Clip is the hardest clip to do and also the most time-consuming one. It’s not a one clip design for all which adds its complex nature. You can commit to maintaining this clip at home, but it’s thoroughly recommended to have the very first one professionally done.
This clip is considered somewhat traditional, dating back many years. The tail, legs, and chest are cut into pom-poms with a coat in between. However, this clip has lost a lot of its popularity and is very expensive to maintain.
The Continental Clipped Coat
This coat has many features similar to the English Saddle Clip, except the rear legs and back are clipped differently. The rear legs of a Continental clipped Poodle are shaved leaving a pom-pom at the bottom instead of a series of pom-poms.
This clip also features pom-poms on the body and hips. It’s another high maintenance clip that takes a lot of work and not as many Poodle owners opt for this nowadays. This and the English Saddle Clip stem back to their days as working dogs when they would be easier to spot.
Other Poodle clips include:
- The Lamb Clip
- The Teddy Bear Clip
- The Bikini Clip
- The Kennel Clip
- The Town and Country Clip
- The Sporting Clip
Do Poodles have Hair or Fur?
Poodles have hair, not fur. Their hair is not that dissimilar to human hair. It grows continuously unlike many other dog types and is one reason why they shed so little.
Its continuous growth is why is it susceptible to knotting and matting and also why it needs a lot of maintenance. It is one reason why some owners opt for the corded look.
They have a single coat which is dense and will require daily brushing
Poodle Coat Colors
Poodles not only have a variety of coat types, but they also come in a plethora of colors. Here are some of the common terms and definitions you will hear which relate to Poodle colors:
- Solid Colors: This refers to dogs who are just the one color. For Poodles, the most common solid color is black.
- Parti-Colors: This term means a Poodle who has more than 50% of their base coat in white and another secondary color.
- Phantom Colors: This refers to Poodles with a solid color but which also contains specific markings.
- Sable Colors: This is when the coat is one color, and the tips of the hairs are black.
- Mismark Colors: This refers to any color other than white as the base coat, then light markings covering less than 50% of the coat.
- Multi-Patterned Colors: Quite unusual but this is achieved when a Poodle has more than one of the acceptable color patterns.
- Ticking: This refers to small spots of color on the Poodle and is usually dark spots on light hair.
There is an abundance of colors that you will see in the Poodle and these include:
- Café Au Lait
- White and black
- White and apricot
- White and brown
- White and red
- White and cream
- White and silver
- White and blue
- White and grey
- White and Cafe Au Lait
There are so many Poodle colors and much potential of very distinctive coat types. If you wish to own a particular color of Poodle, then you will need to use a reputable breeder who knows what they are doing and is using a careful selection of dogs for the breeding process.
You can learn more about which matings will produce certain litters in our sister article Poodle color breeding chart. However, even the most experienced breeders aren’t averse to the odd surprise in the litter – it’s not a guaranteed science as color genes are often hidden.
Poodle Coat Color Changes
Now we have learned about the different colors prevalent in the Poodle breed it is time to take a look at whether those colors will remain the same throughout each dog’s life. You may often see photographs of a young Poodle and what seems to be a completely different older dog. Quite often there is other genetics at play that can alter your Poodles color and that red puppy is indeed the apricot adult dog.
If your Poodle puppy is one color and stays this color throughout its life it is termed as holding its color. If, however, their color as a puppy changes as they get older, they are known to clear. This means their color fades somewhat and this can be patchy, not necessarily every inch of the coat will change.
Colors that are susceptible to change as the puppy grows include dark brown, black, and dark apricot. You might have a black puppy that one day is quite obviously a blue Poodle. This happens a lot, however, if you use an experienced breeder, they should tell you all about Poodle colors and how and why they can change.
Poodles can also possess something called the greying gene which is a progressive condition, most often affecting long-haired breeds. Greying can also be found in many Doodle breeds. This is because only one parent needs to have the gene known as G locus so can be passed down through the Poodle.
Why Is My Poodle’s Coat Turning Yellow?
Yikes, your dog is looking on the yellow side, how can this be? There isn’t any need to panic and it’s quite normal. It’s the elements and age taking their toll on your dog – for instance, sunlight can turn their hair yellowish. If it bothers, you then you can buy specially formulated shampoo for your pooch that helps keep their color for longer.
Why Is Poodle Hair Considered Hypoallergenic?
Poodles and Doodle breeds are often chosen for their hypoallergenic qualities. This is down to their hair and those curls. You may experience a small amount of shedding when your Poodle is a puppy while their adult coat grows in. However, even this shouldn’t cause issues with allergies because the hair doesn’t tend to drop onto the floor or furnishings like with other breeds.
Instead, it stays on the coat. This is why grooming is so important. Of course, it’s not just dog shedding that causes problems with allergy sufferers, it’s also dander so it’s important to know what triggers your allergies before bringing a dog home.
Poodle Coat Maintenance
Poodle coats are high maintenance, and this is something you’ll need to consider as a potential owner. Even if your Poodle doesn’t have elaborate curls or beautifully placed pom-poms, they still need regular brushing and grooming to keep them in top shape. If you let the grooming routine slide you run the risk of a big vet’s bill as your Poodle may develop skin infections as a result of their hair matting.
The first thing to do as a Poodle owner is to get them accustomed to the brush, right from the offset. The quicker you introduce the brush, the better and it needs to be part of their daily routine. Popular brushes for Poodles include slicker brushes, bristle brushes, and pin brushes. All of these are great for removing tangles and any preventing matts. So, before even considering your Poodle’s coat or what clip you’d like them to have, first just get them used to being brushed.
Next up you should begin to think about what clip (if any) you would like your Poodle to have. If your Poodle will be taking part in shows then it must conform to one of the AKC’s clips which include Puppy Clip, Continental Clip, the English Saddle Clip, and the Sporting Clip. You might instead wish to achieve the corded look which you can begin when your Poodle is a puppy.
If you aren’t sure what’s best in terms of costs and time, then you can ask the opinions of some professional groomers. They’ll be able to give you some prices and advise how regular each style will need redoing. Your Poodle may need grooming every few weeks. You may also wish to factor in the weather and seasons when getting your dog groomed – for instance perhaps getting a closer shave in the summer months.
Is Professional Grooming Best?
Some owners might be keen to keep their costs down and undertake the grooming responsibilities themselves. This is fine and doable if you are confident to do so and also have the appropriate equipment and help on hand. However, for that first cut, it might be best to get it done professionally. You can then ask questions and also see how the finished cut should look. They might give you some tips on how to keep your dog calm and the best place to start.
If you do decide to learn how to and to maintain their coat yourself then the following tools will be needed:
- Decent pair of scissors
- Nail cutters
- YouTube tutorial
- An assistant to help
- Dog lead
Coat Maintenance – What’s Involved?
Whether you use a groomer or do the grooming yourself you will still need to brush your Poodle daily. Their hair doesn’t shed, so if brushing isn’t a daily occurrence then knots will form. Nails will also need clipping from time to time and they will need to be bathed.
Poodles need baths about every 3 to 4 weeks. This can seem a lot but as Poodles have hair, not fur if they are left too long between baths their skin pores can clog with their body’s oils. This can cause your pooch to become rather smelly.
It is important to prepare your Poodles’ coat before their bath by brushing it to ease out any knots or dirt. Make sure before lifting your Poodle into the bath or shower you have everything you will need to hand – towels, shampoo, conditioner, non-slip mat, and a sponge. When your Poodle is a puppy and still small you may want to consider just using an old tub. They may feel overwhelmed in a huge bath and you want those first experiences to be positive.
Be careful not to get water in your Poodle’s ears when you get their hair wet. You can shampoo and rinse your Poodle twice depending on their needs and it’s vital to ensure all the shampoo is rinsed out. Conditioner is also important for Poodle coats to stop those unwanted tangles. Poodles can suffer from tear stains under their eyes so these need to be washed too. Be gentle and do not use any bathing products near their eyes.
After their bath make sure you dry them as much as possible, either with a towel, hairdryer (on cool), or specific blaster if you have one. They will perform a very vigorous shake or two as well so stand well back.
You can use a hairdryer on your Poodle as long as you use a cool setting and don’t get the nozzle too close to their skin. Once dry a quick brush will finish their pamper session and they will smell and look great again.
Here are some of our top tips for grooming your dog at home:
- Groom them after they’ve had a bath. They should be completely dry, clean, and brushed before beginning.
- Make sure they are comfortable and have been to the toilet.
- It’s best to start from the paws first – trim any long hairs growing between the claws. You can then shave around the feet and be very careful to not catch any skin between the claws.
- You can move onto the face next, moving slowly so as not to startle your dog.
- The back and rear can be done next, again move slowly but confidently.
- Your Poodle’s torso will be next and if you miss any bits out simply go back over it, there’s no rush.
- Legs are next so you can style these to whatever Poodle clip you are going for.
- The blades will depend on the look and style you are creating so do some research first. You will need more than one blade type for the clip. Don’t be afraid of using YouTube to learn techniques.
Common Coat Problems in Poodles
- Hormones: When females are in heat, they may experience issues with their coat, including its thinning. This can also happen when they are feeding their young due to an increase in estrogen. Spaying your female Poodle can help to resolve this.
- Atopic Dermatitis: This is an inherited issue that is a reaction to allergens such as pollen. You might also notice your dog sneezing or having weepy eyes.
- Hypothyroidism: This condition can be treated with medication and hair loss is just one symptom. You may also notice your Poodle’s skin is greasy and there may be weight gain or signs of being bloated.
- Alopecia: This commonly affects male Miniature Poodles although other sizes, and females, can suffer with it too. It can be linked to dogs going through puberty and often rectifies itself.
- Sebaceous Adenitis: This is when the sebaceous glands become swollen which can cause hair thinning and lack of curls.
- Allergies: Poodles can suffer from allergies and these allergies can cause problems with the coat and skin.
- Fleas and Ticks: Keep up with their regular treatment to ensure this doesn’t become an issue for your Poodle.
- Bacterial Infection: Poodles have tight curls so seeing issues with the skin underneath can be tricky. Sometimes you may notice an unpleasant smell before you know anything is wrong.
- Knots: Poodles need daily brushing so if knots are occurring, they aren’t being brushed well enough. Matting can lead to their hair needing to be shaved.
Hopefully, we’ve equipped you with the knowledge needed to look after your Poodle’s coat. There’s no skirting around the fact that Poodles are high maintenance when it comes to their grooming needs. But this doesn’t mean you should be put off, it’s part of their package and what a package they offer. Lots of brushing means lots of bonding time too, so enjoy your Poodle and their gorgeous coat.