If you love Poodles and choose a Poodle as your pet one of the things that attracted, you to him was probably the fabulous curly coat that Poodles are famous for.
We are all familiar with Poodles in the show ring sporting various incredibly fancy (and often very impractical looking) hairstyles, but these are achieved by extensive grooming, clipping, and trimming.
So, what is the Poodles natural coat like? The coat of an adult Poodle is very dense and contrary to its ‘cotton candy’ like appearance it is almost wiry to the touch. This is because his coat was designed to aid him in his original role as a water retriever.
The dense curls are water-resistant and unlike a straight coat, the hair does not hang down when wet which would weigh him down and hamper his speed when swimming. Think of trying to swim in pajamas, it’s not easy.
Unlike the coats of many other breeds, the Poodle has a single-layered coat which means he has no undercoat at all. Therefore, Poodles are considered hypo-allergenic and good for allergy sufferers as it is the undercoat that sheds seasonally (or more) in many other breeds and some people are allergic to this type of dog hair. Also, when a dog sheds it tends to lose dander or skin particles which is a trigger for many allergy sufferers.
Despite being a water dog, the Poodle doesn’t need a double coat as his curls trap air which is then warmed by his body heat to maintain his body temperature when he is in the water. For double-coated dogs, it is the undercoat that provides insulation. So, you see Poodle’s hair is pretty and practical!
The low to non-shedding curly coat is a huge advantage if you don’t like having to clean up dog hair in your home and needing to use a lint roller on your clothes before you leave the house. Due to its low shedding nature, the Poodles coat continues to grow and grow and if left to its own devices would become floor-length, dirty, and extremely matted so regular maintenance is essential to keep a Poodle healthy, happy, and looking his best even if he isn’t sporting a fancy show ring style.
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Can Poodles have Naturally Straight Hair?
Yes, he can actually but only while he is a puppy. Poodle puppies don’t have the tight curls that they will develop later but rather a fluffy, wispy somewhat straighter coat similar to that seen in many Doodles / Poodle mixes.
As your pup gets older his coat will start to change and develop tight curls around the base. The coat becomes a little difficult to manage at this stage and this is the ideal time for him to have his first full groom rather than just a puppy trim.
Poodle puppies’ coats do not have the density to maintain a style and for the show ring, they sport ‘puppy pants’ which is a trim where just the muzzle and feet are shaved close with the rest of the coat scissored neatly but with no ‘poms’ as you would see on an adult show dog.
Why does my Poodle have Straight Hair?
Assuming your Poodle has not just returned from the grooming salon looking straighter than normal (we’ll talk more about this later) and is not a juvenile there is one other reason your Poodle may have straighter hair than you expected and that is something we call ‘improper coat’.
Curly hair in Poodles is caused by a gene called the KRT71 gene and a variant of this gene known as the CU locus. These genes prevent the keratin in the hair from binding in the normal way and results in curly hair. This gene is dominant and as such a dog only needs one copy of the curl gene to exhibit curly or wavy hair (think Doodle, a retriever does not carry the curl gene, but a Poodle does so F1 Doodles have one copy of the curl gene) and all Poodles SHOULD carry two copies of this gene.
I say SHOULD because unfortunately, due to lack of genetic testing when selecting dogs to be bred from, some Poodles around only carry one copy of the curl gene. This can result in puppies being produced that have what is known as an ‘improper coat’. The coat is in this situation stays similar to the Poodle puppy coat and although there may still be waves or curls the coat will lack the density and tight curls that we desire in our Poodles.
A Poodle with an improper coat will still be beautiful and should be low shedding however he won’t have the typical Poodle appearance and will look more like a mix as his coat will be more ‘Doodle’ like in appearance. By DNA testing their dogs for coat type as well as for genetic disorders responsible breeders can eradicate the non-curl gene from their breeding programs and ensure that all the Poodles they breed have ‘proper’ tightly curled coats.
Why Would you Want a Poodle with a Straight Coat?
In truth, I don’t think many people would want a Poodle with a straight coat out of choice. There are many beautiful breeds of dogs around with coat types to suit everyone. However, I have heard people say they have seen a beautiful Poodle with straight hair on a few occasions.
Usually, this is a case of mistaken identity and they have actually seen an Afghan Hound who with his long, pointed nose, long legs, and graceful movement could perhaps be seen as similar looking. Although, the Afghan’s nose is naturally ‘clean’ not shaved like our Poodles nose and his coat is long, silky, and flowing.
There is a downside to curly coats though and that is the fact that they take a lot of hard work to keep tangle-free. As anyone who has curly hair themselves will tell you, curly hair tangles and can be difficult to brush and if you choose to own a Poodle you will need to spend time every day combing his coat right through to the skin. He will also require clipping, either at home or the salon at least every eight weeks.
When a groomer clips a Poodle, he needs the hair to be straight to achieve a neat finish and when you collect your Poodle after his appointment you will see his coat is less curly and looks fluffier than usual. Read on to find out why this is!
How to Straighten a Poodles Hair
The technique used to straighten a Poodles hair is known as ‘fluff drying’. Fluff drying is used by groomers to achieve an even cut and give the beautiful velvety finish the coat needs to be blown straight.
It is also a very useful technique to learn yourself at home as a fluff-dried coat is much easier to comb and get tangle-free. I fluff dry my Poodle and Doodles every day after their walk before I groom them even if they not wet.
The most important tool you need is a force dryer, also known as a blaster. If you are going to bathe your dog it is vital that you brush him thoroughly first as it’s far easier to get tangles out of a dry coat.
When using the blaster on your dog’s coat make sure you never ‘twirl’ the nozzle as this can result in ‘whip knots’ serious tangles that are almost impossible to comb out. Use the blaster in and up and down motion along the dogs coat working from the roots to the tips of the hair to blow excess water (or dust if he’s already dry) out of the coat until most of the water has been removed and the hair is starting to ‘fluff’ up or stand out.
When your dog is almost dry it’s time to concentrate on blowing the hair straight. This takes a little practice but is not difficult once you get the hang of it. Work on a section of coat at a time and aiming the nozzle towards the root of the hair blow the coat in the direction it grows.
You will need a pin brush or slicker to help you here and brush in the same direction that you are blowing the hair whilst keeping the air stream steady. Remember to keep the power on low for delicate areas. Continue all over until the hair is dry and straight.
As a finishing touch, you need to comb your pet all over using a metal comb. If your Poodle is still not straight enough you can spritz the coat lightly using water in a spray bottle and repeat.
Is it Dangerous to Straighten a Poodles Hair?
Fluff drying your Poodles coat is not dangerous if done carefully but you must take care to keep the power and heat low on sensitive areas such as the face and ears. You should also be careful and always blast with the hair to avoid knots.
Using heat appliances meant for humans such as hair straighteners however is extremely dangerous as you could burn your dog so don’t be tempted to grab the GHD’s to straighten your Poodles coat. Get yourself a blaster dryer and enjoy safely grooming your Poodle.
We recommend this blaster from Amazon.