Poodle Breed Guide
Standard Poodle Traits & History
The lineage of the Poodle dog breed stretches far back into the folds of time. Thought to have come from Asia and then settled into Germany centuries later, it’s not until the French gave light to the breed that we see its ‘true’ beginning. What we know is that in the 15th century, the Poodle became one of the most popular breeds in France, often owned exclusively by royals and nobles.
At the time, there were three variations of the dog (and all were pure, meaning they didn’t breed with other canines to produce different variations): the Standard Poodle, the Mid-Sized Poodle, and the Miniature Poodle. Nowadays, the Standard and Mini are the most common, with the Standard having a larger presence.
As the years went on, the Standard Poodle began to be used by duck hunters. Their striking intelligence, athleticism, and stamina made them excellent hunting dogs. But their intelligence was truly what set them apart from other breeds, and so traveling circuses began to train them to be trick and show dogs. The more the breed streamlined, the more French aristocracy began incorporating them into their lifestyles, in which eventually the regal, posh reputation developed. The dog then became (and is still to this day) the national dog of France.
Later, the Poodle migrated with initial colonists, and was recognized by the AKC in 1887 (as one breed, although the Miniature and Standard were included). It remains to be one of the top ten most popular dogs in the world.
Poodle Temperament & Personality
The Standard Poodle defines the word grace. They’re naturally dignified, carry themselves with a confident demeanor, and have a whole reservoir of love to give to those closest to them. Often—and this is a common misconception—the Poodle personality is thought of as snobby, aloof to strangers, and generally unfriendly. While this can be the case (as many owners that purchase purebred Poodles do so for the showmanship) it’s actually not the innate personality of the Poodle.
Poodle’s are startlingly intelligent. They’re not just famous show dogs because of their perfectly groomed coats or regal stature, they’re show dogs because they’re smart enough to learn and process their training. Perhaps one of the most docile and trainable dogs across the full variety of breeds, what makes the personality of a Poodle characteristics so popular is that they can be just about anything.
Aside from that, they’re quite levelheaded. The Poodle behavior can be a bit guarded and protective of their loved ones, but they’re not an aggressive breed. They do bark, and make excellent watchdogs because they’ll ensure any stranger knows their presence. If not properly socialized, however, the Standard Poodle has a reputation of being introverted, standoffish towards other people and canines, and nippy. Poodle anxiety is also common in this breed. More specifically, they fall victim to separation anxiety, and are not the type of dog that should be left alone for long periods of time.
How to Train a Standard Poodle
Plain and simple: the Standard Poodle needs to be trained. Akin to the German Shepherd, these dogs were meant to be trained in a variety of different fields. Their intelligence begets a need for stimulation, and without proper training they can grow restless and fall into destructive patterns. Not only that, but they’re also docile and easy to train, making the process easy.
Point is: at the very least, obedience classes are a must. Your Standard Poodle will love the stimulation they receive from classes, and they’re smart enough to bring the lessons home. At home, it’s best to use positive reinforcement when training your Poodle, as if you’re too firm (or too much of an alpha) they can grow fearful or nervous of your authority. Beneath these dignified canines lies a soft, sensitive interior. Their feelings are easily damaged if not properly cared for.
Early-socialization is huge, too. Often, because these dogs are such entertainers (or in the hands of an owner that wants them to be similar to that regal reputation they’ve held all these years), they become a one-person pet. In that scenario, they can become wary and even nervous of the world. Expose them to other dogs, people, and environments early on so to familiarize them with the world, and make it easier for them to develop their identity in social situations.
Exercise Requirements for the Standard Poodle
The Standard Poodle needs around 30 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise for this dog—while not as important as others—is still needed due to their energy, health, and prey drive. Yes, the Standard Poodle has a prey drive and will often show it as they chase squirrels or frolic around in the yard. They’re fantastic swimmers, and love to run if given the opportunity.
They’re not the adventurer you’ll want to spend hours with hiking, but they certainly have stamina and adore the outdoors. One of the most productive exercises you can do with your Standard Poodle is to both keep them moving and learning in the same instance. This means when they’re out running around with you, or playing fetch (they love games), you can use the time to instill obedience, teach them new commands, or teach them new tricks. By stimulating both their intellects and releasing the ‘run’ from their legs, you pave the way for a tired and satisfied Poodle, which will in turn allot them a better temperament.
Poodle Life Span
The Standard Poodle typically lives around 12-15 years.
Breed Popularity for the Standard Poodle
The Standard Poodle ranks 7th on the AKC’s most popular list of 155 dog breeds. Their quick wits, regal aesthetic, loving prowess, adaptability, trainability, and temperament with children make them a fantastic home dog. Their long lineage of being ‘royal canines’ doesn’t just arise from their posh and elegant demeanors, but because of their personalities in the home. If raised properly, these dogs are extremely loyal, loving, and playful.
Do note: because they’re in the top ten of the most popular list, there’s a bigger chance that irresponsible puppy mills produce low-quality Poodles. It’s not hard to find a Standard Poodle that doesn’t sit close to its roots, which makes it even more important with this breed to ensure that your breeder is reputable.
Poodle Feeding Requirements
The recommended daily amount for a Standard Poodle is anywhere from 2-3 cups of high-quality food per day, broken into two even meals. These dogs don’t tend to be glutinous about their food, but do tend to be fickle about their food choice. It might take a couple variations in their diet to discover what they truly like, and then what’s also best for them.
As with all dogs, age, metabolism, weight, and activity-level are all integral factors that need to be considered when administering a balanced diet to your Standard Poodle. Be sure to monitor them closely and ensure that the food is of the highest-quality, and that they’re not gaining weight on their meal plan.
How to Groom a Standard Poodle
The Poodle’s coat is one of its most renowned characteristics. If you’re purchasing a Standard Poodle because you want it to look like they do in shows, know that you’re in for an expensive ride: grooming a Standard Poodle is no cheap endeavor.
Their dynamic, single-coats (they don’t have an undercoat so they barely shed) are often hypoallergenic, in which they’re a better choice for owners with allergies. You’d think, then, that since they don’t shed they don’t need to be groomed as much, but it’s the opposite. The Standard Poodle actually requires monthly grooming, and is most often recommended to be done by a professional. Their hair grows at such an intense rate that it can often matt, tangle, and be the stomping grounds for filth. They’re not cheap dogs to groom, and there’s definitely a learning curve in doing it yourself. But if you’re buying a Standard Poodle, just by their general aesthetic you should know what you’re in for.
In terms of hygiene, be sure to brush their teeth 2-3 times a week to avoid tartar and bacteria buildups. Trim their nails as needed, but often their activities will wear them down naturally. Check their ears, nose, eyes, mouth, and bodies for anything that could seem suspicious (redness, inflammation, infection, parasites, rashes, etc.).
Your Standard Poodle is going to be groomed their entire life, so start early. Handle their paws and bodies with care, but expose them to the process early on—incorporate it into obedience training—and you’ll have an adult that’s easier to groom.
Are Poodles Good with Children?
The accounts of the Standard Poodle and children greatly depend on how the dog was raised. In the case that they were surrounded by children in their puppy years, they’re fantastic companions for the young ones. They’ll play together, love abundantly, and most of all protect the child as if it was their own. They do have a prey drive, however, so initially they should be supervised when they’re interacting. Remember that it’s important to teach both the canine and the children how to properly and appropriately interact with one another (right from the get-go).
A Standard Poodle that was not raised with children, however, should not be brought into a home with kids younger than 7. Thing is, they tend to be a bit territorial and aloof when it comes to something they don’t know, and often the lack of communication skills on the child’s behalf will trigger poor responses from this breed. Thus, the Standard Poodle can be a fantastic choice for a home with children, but only if they’re raised together.
Poodle Health Problems
The Standard Poodle is supposed to live for over a decade, which means they’re a dog built for longevity. They’re generally healthy and there’s no overt problem that they face. However, that doesn’t make them immune to health disorders or complications, and that’s why it’s important to ensure your breeder can provide health clearances for the parents (especially because this dog is in the top ten most popular list, and prone to be bred irresponsibly). The conditions that can afflict a Standard Poodle are as follows:
Epilepsy: similar to the human anatomy, epilepsy causes Poodles to have seizures. In the dog world that means your Standard Poodle will run from ‘ghosts,’ hide for hours on end, stagnate, and at times collapse. However, Poodle epilepsy isn’t usually an end-all condition and there are multiple different treatments available for the disease.
Hip Dysplasia: a common condition found in bigger and active dogs, Poodle hip dysplasia occurs when there’s a displacement between the femur and the hip joint. It causes pain when walking, an abnormal gait, lameness in the leg(s), and at worst immobility. X-rays and other tests can diagnose this condition, however, making it even more important to ensure your breed can provide health clearances. There are treatments available for this condition, and surgery can be done if it’s bad enough.
Addison’s Disease: this condition is the result of a faulty adrenal gland. It’s a serious disease that takes place amidst an imbalance of hormones. The symptoms include heavy vomiting, a sudden loss of appetite and energy, and extremely long sleep cycles. Thing is, it’s often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all because the symptoms really aren’t that severe (even the vomiting isn’t usually excessive). In which case the disease can evolve and directly affect the cardiovascular system, causing sudden death or heart failure.
Health Issues Associated with this Breed:
- Addison's Disease
- Cushing's Disease
- Ear Infections
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Eye Diseases
- Hip Dysplasia
- Legg-Perthes Disease
- Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
- Patellar Luxation
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Sebaceous Adenitis (SA)
- Separation Anxiety
- von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)