Why is my Poodle so Skinny? Is it Normal?

Poodles are often easily recognizable for their lean build, elegant long legs, and narrow waists.  So much so that the modern-day Poodle cuts seen at pedigree dog shows actively accentuate the Poodle’s model-like proportions.  As a result, it can be a common concern for Poodle owners as to whether their pooch is just slender or has slipped into being downright skinny or even underweight.

In this article, we will look to cover all things weight-related to your Poodle. We will start with the ideal weight and build for each of the different Poodle sizes. We will then delve into what to do if your Poodle is actively underweight and provide some tips to put a bit more meat on their bones. For the Poodle with a bit too much junk in the trunk, we will cover some weight loss tips.

What Should my Poodle Look Like?

Poodles can be separated into three categories: Standard, Miniature, and Toy. While they differ in size, they should all have a similar build.

Poodles of all sizes are generally characterized as having lean, elegant necks and a square-shaped frame meaning they are generally as long in the body as they are tall. The chest is deep with well-sprung ribs which lead back to a narrow waist before flaring over the hips.

One of the areas that can quickly inform an owner if their Poodle is over or underweight is their ribcage. It can be difficult to see your Poodle’s ribs through their coat however you can gently run your palm over each side of their chest. At its ideal weight, a  Poodle should have a thin layer of muscle and fat covering its rib cage.

A good comparative test is that the tissues covering your Poodle’s rib cage should feel like that on the back of a human hand below the knuckles. Just like the back of a human hand, if you apply light pressure, you can feel the individual bones of the back of your hand but the tissues above them coat them slightly. It should be the same for your Poodle’s ribs.

Standing above looking down on your Poodle you should be able to see a narrowing at the waist before a widening for the hip bones. In some Poodle’s the hip bones can sit slightly proud but the full spine should not be easily felt when passing a hand over your pooch.

Poodles are naturally lean dogs thanks to their super-high metabolism which is a throwback to their heritage as working water dogs. They are high-energy dogs that can burn off extremely high-calorie values and as such owners must ensure to adjust the diet and feeding schedule to reflect the activity levels of their particular Poodle.

What Should my Poodle Weigh?

There is plenty of information out there regarding average weights for each class of Poodle however it is worth remembering that these are only for guidance. There is of course variation in height across each category so you would not want to have a Standard Poodle at the lower end of the height average but at the higher end of the weight range.

Here is some guidance for weight ranges for each class of Poodle.  This can give a good idea alongside judging the feel and build of your dog as to whether their weight should be a concern.  The biggest weight range is the Standard as heights can vary and the difference between males and females is more noted at the larger size.

Poodle TypeApproximate Adult Weight range
Standard Poodle16Kg to 32Kg – 35lb to 71lb
Miniature Poodle12Kg to 15Kg – 26lb to 33lb
Toy Poodle6Kg to 8Kg – 13lb to 17lb

How to Spot a Skinny Minnie

As mentioned, the weight ranges can be quite wide and may not be a definitive answer to whether your Poodle is under or overweight.  There are a few sure-fire indicators that your Poodle’s weight may be a cause for concern. These include:

  • The spine is easily felt or even protruding.
  • Ribs are easily felt with minimal fat covering.
  • Minimal muscle over their shoulders and hips.

There can also be other indicators not just related to the overall build. Your Poodle may appear to have lost some fat however if they start displaying the following alongside weight loss it can be indications of malnourishment which goes hand in hand with being underweight.

  • Skin issues and/or hair loss
  • Lethargy and increased sleeping

How to Spot a Chunky Monkey

We have discussed a lot already about Poodles having naturally lean frames which would suggest spotting one sporting a few too many pounds would be simple. This is not always the case. As more owners choose to leave their Poodle’s coat longer it can be difficult to pinpoint where the coat ends, and where your dog actually begins.

It may be after a groom that an owner is perhaps taken aback that when their coat is clipped down their Poodle is not sporting the model measurements they once did. It is good practice to both routinely weigh your dog and feel their body for indications they may be getting a bit overweight.

Indicators that your Poodle needs to lose weight include:

  • Being unable to feel their ribs when applying light pressure.
  • Thickening of the waist and seeing no noticeable narrowing after the rib cage

In addition, if your dog is overweight there may be other behavioral and physical changes such as:

  • Struggling to keep up on walks or declining exercise.
  • Skin irritation from fat folds.
  • Indications of joint pain.

What Medical Conditions Can Impact My Poodle’s Weight?

If you are at all concerned about your Poodle’s weight it is always advisable to seek veterinary advice especially if it is a sudden weight gain or loss as this can indicate an underlying condition.

Some key medical reasons for Poodle weight gain can include:

  • Hypothyroidism – affects the metabolism resulting in weight gain.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome – affects the adrenal gland causing increased appetite and decreased energy levels.

Some medical reasons for Poodle weight loss can include:

  • Diabetes – affecting the ability to metabolize food.
  • Pain – impacting appetite.
  • Food Allergies – resulting in vomiting or loose stools.
  • Anxiety – causing an inability to focus on food/eating.

Conquering a Picky Poodle

Poodles are notoriously picky eaters

Often dog owners despair that their canine companions will exhibit a desire to eat anything and everything that they can get their chops around regardless of the harm it may do them.

There are owners however who are faced with the complete opposite, a picky eater. This can be exhibited as a disinterest in food or a tendency to frequently just “go off” food that they had previously had no problem with.

It can be a real source of anxiety as so often, disinterest in food can be a sign of underlying health issues. However, if testing indicates no underlying cause, perhaps your Poodle just is a picky eater. 

Much to the frustration of their owners (and their wallets), these pooches may turn their nose up time and time again to a whole array of dog food. So, what can you do to make sure they are getting the calories they need and not bankrupting yourself on wasted dog food?

Overall Poodles are thought to be less food orientated than some other breeds so it can be tricky to entice them. Here are some possible solutions to try and get your Poodle to enjoy their chow:

  • Reduce daytime treats – Poodles are smart. They may have realized the high-value treats used as training and reward during the day are much more appealing than their evening bowl of kibble. It can take some commitment but reducing the food available during the day may be the answer to ensuring they eat their actual meals.
  • Change of food – Your Poodle may just have become disinterested in the food they have. Transitioning to a new food can help reinterest them in mealtimes.
  • Limit when food is available – Taking food away after a set time if your Poodle has not eaten it can help them understand that they cannot graze throughout the day. It can be difficult feeling that you are making your dog “go hungry” however most dogs can manage one to two days without food with no ill effects and it may help to kick start their appetite.
  • Increase activity – If your Poodle is not getting much exercise, they are unlikely to be burning many calories. Up the daily steps and this can fire up even the most sluggish appetite.
  • Warm up the meal – Anecdotally some Poodle owners have had success with slightly warming food (typical pampered Poodle behavior).  Some even swear by serving the meal on a dinnerware plate to ensure their pooch thinks they are getting “human” food.

How to Add Some Pounds

If your Poodle has slipped into the underweight category, it can be a challenge to get the weight back on especially if they have developed some food avoidance or picky behaviors.

  • Food type/quality – Ensuring the food for your Poodle is of the best quality you can afford is a good starting point. Protein is sometimes lacking in some cheaper dog foods and this is required to support muscle as well as weight gain.
  • Supplementing meals – Using some wet food alongside kibble or adding higher calories items to standard meals can help. Dog-friendly peanut butter (no palm oil or xylitol), unsalted chicken broth, specific weight gain feeds can all ensure max calories from the meals your dog will eat.

When to Head to the Vet?

Weight can have such a monumental impact on your dog’s overall well-being that it is always best to get veterinary advice promptly if you are concerned.

It can be difficult to not give treats to your best canine friend when they turn the full puppy dog eyes on but increased weight over a prolonged period can lead to painful arthritis. Similarly, just assuming your Poodle is on the skinny side can lead to malnourishment and leave your dog feeling tired and lethargic.

It is also recommended to review the food you are feeding your Poodle every 12 months as dietary needs change as they age. There are several independent dog food comparison websites where cost, protein content, and ingredients can be compared to find the best match for your dog’s needs.

Your vet should regularly weigh your dog at all appointments or routine check-ups which will give a good indicator. However, if you have not been for a while, you can always map your dog’s weight at home. Admittedly it is much easier however to get your Miniature Poodle to step on the bathroom scales than your whacking great Standard who might be better off heading down the vets.