The Poodle: From History to Health

As the Poodle is responsible for at least 50% of the genes of every first-generation Doodle breed, we thought it made sense to include on the site a dedicated Poodle breed guide to give our readers the information they need about this prevalent Doodle maker.

When choosing a crossbreed, it’s always advisable to research both of the purebred parents so that you can have some kind of an idea as to what qualities, and even bad points, you could be potentially looking at. There are no breed standards for most Doodles, with the possible exception of the Australian Labradoodle, so it’s important to arm yourself with lots of information.

Quite often each of the Doodle breeds will have similar personalities to each other, inheriting the best qualities from each purebred parent. Equally, they can also favor one side of the family over the other, just like us humans. Nurture will also have a big part to play in how their personality develops so your input is going to count.

Knowing what kind of traits to expect is certainly information you should be aware of before you decide on which breed is going to be the best fit for you. In this guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about the Poodle and therefore some of the traits you can expect from your Doodle.

History of the Poodle

Germany vs France. We’re not talking about the soccer world cup final here but the debate as to where this stylish, elegant and intelligent breed first originated.

The Kennel Club (UK), the American Kennel Club (ACK), and the Canadian Kennel Club all recognize the Poodle as originating in Germany. However, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which both the German and French Kennel Clubs are members of, claims that the French Barbet is from where the Poodle derives. However, this could have been a political move to avoid any disputes when the FCI was founded.

Notwithstanding that the Poodle is the national dog of France, the overall consensus does place them in Germany first. Bred to hunt and retrieve duck and other waterfowl, in French it is known as Caniche derived from French word cane, meaning duck. The German equivalent Pudlehund translates to the dog who splashes in puddles, quite apt we think.

The Poodle’s presence in Europe dates as far back to the 15th century where they can be found depicted in German artwork of the time. By the late 1700’s they had found their way to Spain and to the court of Louis XVI, and records can be found of them at The Palace of Versailles during his reign. The interest the King had in the Poodle is sure to be a factor in them being the number one pet dog in Spain at the time.

From proven hunter to companions of the nobility, the Poodle is also known for its popularity at the circus. The ease at which they learned new tricks coupled with their extravagant appearance made for a natural entertainer who endeared audiences throughout Europe.

Truffles: A super expensive fungus found underground by the roots of trees are considered a delicacy across the world. These little beauties need to be sniffed out and pigs were originally used to do the job. However, the treacherous little critters earned themselves a reputation for gobbling up their wares. This behavior got them fired and their replacement was the ever-trusted pooch. The Poodle’s excellent scent of smell earned them a place on the payroll adding yet another string to their bow.

What Does a Poodle Look Like?

The ostentatious look of the Poodle that still makes them so easily recognized today was in fact deliberate during their time as duck hunters. Their coat, designed to protect both their vital organs and joints from the inclement weather and cold river waters was groomed at the legs, neck, and tail. This style meant that their coat gave the protection it was designed for whilst allowing for smoother movement through the water.

Today the cut is still widely popular, especially in the showground. However, this is just a style of grooming. That cute, Teddy Bear look of a Doodle is the Poodle genes shining through. In grooming terms, as the saying goes; “You can Doodle a Poodle and Poodle a Doodle”

Coat Type

Unlike many other breeds, the Poodle has a single coat. Their fur is dense, curly, and when they shed it becomes embedded within their coat rather than your carpet. This is why they are considered to be hypoallergenic (although no dog is truly so). The texture is variable from coarse to soft and can be anywhere from curly to wavy.

Coat Colors

The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists ten standard colors for the Poodle. Apricot, black, blue, brown, cream, grey, red, silver, silver-beige, and white. Additionally, there are a further 18 duel combinations of these 10 colors. Café au lait falls into the non-standard category although it is a solid color. The breed standard states:

“The coat is an even and solid color at the skin. In blues, grays, silvers, browns, cafe-au-laits, apricots and creams the coat may show varying shades of the same color” and continues to clarify that providing that variation in shading is natural it should not be considered a fault. The full breed standard can be found here.

Coat Maintenance

Regular brushing and grooming are required. Without this time spent on their coat, it won’t be long before it’s knotty and tangled leaving them with an unkempt and disheveled appearance. Pay particular attention to their ears as hair does grow inside them. Hair in their ears needs to be carefully cut otherwise earwax will build up increasing the risk of infection. 

They are likely to need a cut around every 6 – 8 weeks depending on how fast their fur grows. You can learn to do this yourself and there are lots of YouTube tutorials for beginners to help you on your way. Professional clippers are also easily obtainable either in stores or online. Brushing is best done daily to maintain a healthy and tidy coat.

Nails will also need to be cut. Again, this can be done at home or you can request that your groomer take care of it. An adult Poodle will generally need their nails trimming and/or filing around every 3 – 4 weeks but it will need to be more regular when they are a puppy. Ensure that you don’t cut the quick along with their nails as this will be painful for them. Equally a consequence of leaving them to grow is sore and painful feet.

You may find that your dog’s nails need a little less attention if they are mainly walking on hard surfaces, but this should be a routine that is easily established once your dog is home and able to spend exercise time outside.

How Big is a Poodle?

The Poodle comes in three sizes Toy, Medium, and Standard. It is important to note that they are all considered Poodles and they are not different breeds, just different sizes. Dogs are measured from their paw to their withers, the withers being the highest point of the shoulders. The breed standards for all three sizes of Poodle are as follows:

Toy10” or under6lbs – 9lbs
MiniatureOver 10” and 15” maximum15lbs – 17lbs
StandardOver 15”45lbs – 70lbs
Breed standards are height only. Weight is a guideline

Common Poodle Health Issues

A trustworthy breeder will health check their Poodles before breeding. In the case of the Doodle, if hiring a sire, then the breeder should ask for, and in turn, be able to show you health check certificates. This ensures that any genetic abnormalities are halted rather than bred on.

Whilst reputable breeding should help to eliminate genetic issues and hybrid vigor should also go some way to decrease known breed-specific conditions, dogs do sometimes still get poorly. Complications that Poodles are most prone to are as follows:

  • Hip Dysplasia – Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket which make up the joint either do not fit or develop incorrectly. The joint should slide smoothly as the dog walks or runs but in the case of hip dysplasia, it will grind causing deterioration in the long term. Initial symptoms can include a change in gait, reluctance to jump or run, and an overall decline in mobility.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – Progressive Retinal Atrophy literally means the gradual wasting away of the retina. There is no cure and the end result will be blindness. Generally, dogs have to inherit the mutated gene from both parents (recessive). The severity and consequences of this condition is why it is especially important to have both the dam and sire tested before breeding.
  • Idiopathic Epilepsy – Idiopathic indicates that there is no specific cause. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that will generally present in one of two forms. Focal seizures do not involve the whole of the brain, your dog may twitch, or they may just stare into space. Generalized or Tonic-Clonic seizures involve all of the brain and will appear more severe with your dog stiffening and shaking. They may foam at the mouth and will oven lose control of both their bladder and bowel. Focal seizures can often progress to generalized seizures. Like PRA, IE is typically a recessive gene. When both the sire and dam carry a copy of the mutation there is a 25% chance that each offspring will suffer from IE. The severity and frequency will depend on if, and when your Doodle will be medicated but with regular checks the condition can usually be managed.
  • Sebaceous Adenitis – Affecting the sebaceous glands, Sebaceous Adenitis is an inherited disease of the skin. Symptoms include crusty and scaly skin which can lead to alopecia. The condition can be managed, and treatment is typically topical and lifelong.
  • von Willebrand’s Disease – vWD is a bleeding disorder that affects the ability of the blood to clot. The severity of the condition is variable, and symptoms can include nose bleeds, bleeding when they lose their puppy teeth, and excessive or prolonged bleeding after surgery, or when an open cut results from an injury. Dogs with von Willebrand’s Disease will often bruise easily too. Most dogs with this condition will live to the usual expected age but in rare instances, it can lead to death.
  • Bloat (GDV) – Bloat or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus is a life-threatening and sudden onset condition. ‘Dilation’ is when the dog’s stomach fills with gas and ‘Volvulus’ indicates that it has twisted. Twisting essentially cuts off any way for the dog to be able to relieve the pressure that the gas is causing whether that be by vomiting, burping or passing wind. Emergency surgery is likely to be needed if the stomach twists. If you suspect bloat, then it is imperative that you seek medical advice straight away. Common symptoms are restlessness and dry retching. You can decrease the risk of bloat by feeding little but often, encouraging your Doodle to eat slower and avoiding arduous exercise after eating.

Two further orthopaedic issues which are more likely to be seen in the Miniature and Toy Poodle which are:

  • Legg – Calve – Perthes Disease – Perthes Disease occurs when there is a disruption of the blood flow to the head of the thigh bone. In turn, this causes necrosis to the head and neck. Impacting your Doodle’s hips, affected dogs are likely to progressively struggle with weight-bearing on one or both hind legs. Surgery is considered to be the most effective treatment plan with many dogs making a full recovery after physical therapy and recovery time.
  • Luxating Patellas – The patella is the kneecap and luxating means ‘dislocated’ or ‘out of joint’. Smaller dogs are more prone to this condition and the severity can vary. If the kneecap pops out of joint, you may notice a skip in your Doodle’s step, or they may only use three legs momentarily. Often the joint can pop back in as easily as it popped out. Surgical intervention is an option for those Doodles with the most severe cases.

If you suspect any of the above conditions or your Doodle appears unwell in any way, please seek veterinary advice in the first instance.

Some available and recommended health tests are:

 Hip EvaluationOphthalmologist EvaluationPRA Optigen DNA TestPatella Evaluation
Toy ***

The full and official breed health club statement can be found here.

Why is the Poodle Used for So Many Crossbreeds?

Not only is the Poodle a pretty sturdy breed health-wise but they are known for their ‘hypoallergenic’ properties. No dog is 100% hypoallergenic, they do all shed to some degree. However, as it is minimal to unnoticeable in the Poodle they come as close as you can get. This makes them very low risk to allergies sufferers, even those with moderate to severe allergies stand a chance with the Poodle.

Of course, then there are their magnificent good looks. From that Teddy Bear appearance to the super stunning curl that makes them truly stand out from the rest. Their beauty is another huge plus to pass on to future generations.

The Poodle is a super-intelligent breed of dog. In fact, they are second overall behind the Border Collie. This makes them typically easy to train so their input for service and therapy dogs is a welcome positive.

All in all, there are many fabulous traits that the Poodle brings to the table. Primarily the allergy factor is what makes them a number one choice but it’s easy to see why their all-round fabulousness makes them so popular for cross breeding.