One of the elements of choosing a new pet is what you can learn about the breed. Breed characteristics can determine whether or not a dog is right for you and your family. Some breeds are playful and silly; other breeds can be overprotective or aggressive. Having a simple breed fact sheet would make it easier to know exactly what to do.
The poodle is known to be intelligent, full of humor, easily trained, and family-friendly. While they have had a reputation for decades as being prissy, stuck-up European snobs, nothing could be further from the truth. Poodles are people friendly and loving dogs perfect for a family with children.
History of the Poodle
Germany is where poodles are thought to have come from, where they were named Pudel, or splash in the water. This was a reference to their primary function as water retrievers. Though today’s poodles are more commonly kept as pets, they were originally one of Europe’s best working dogs.
The standard poodle was the original of the breed. The toy and the miniature were selectively bred to be smaller, though they were also working dogs. Miniatures, according to some, are said to have sniffed out truffles, a highly coveted edible mushroom that is found underground. Miniatures and toys became popular as circus dogs because of their love of performing, ability to learn tricks, and high intelligence.
Though the English and Spaniards loved poodles, the French truly adored them. King Louis XVI was infatuated with toy poodles. The breed was soon considered the national dog of France. Their time in France gave the breed status as companions – the status they enjoy today. They are one of the most beloved breeds all over the world today.
Breed Fact Sheet: Personality
Poodles are generally happy and friendly pups who love hanging out with people and other animals. They love to clown around and have a great sense of humor. They absolutely adore being the center of attention. They are incredibly bright, with the ability to learn both tricks and behaviors, including agility training. It is not beyond a poodle to outwit its owner.
Though you may think any size poodle is just a poodle and they are all the same, you would be wrong. Standards are high-energy and very active, but they prefer to work rather than play. Miniatures are obsessed with their people, following them around and being very active and playful. They are great for a family with kids. Toys are outstanding companion dogs who are born to strut around the ring at a dog show. They love to perform tasks and be the center of attention.
Intelligence Builds Character
Poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds, but that can make them incredibly stubborn. Despite that, they are awesome therapy dogs. They are extremely empathetic and find joy in visiting people in hospitals, schools, or nursing homes. Standards, the most work-oriented of the breed, are very well suited as therapy dogs.
Though most poodles are very active, the miniatures and toys need less room and not as much exercise. Toy and miniature poodles are great companions for people who are more sedentary. Toys and miniatures can thrive as lapdogs and life buddies. However, they are still prone to getting into mischief. Poodles still want to have tasks to complete. Teaching them tricks will certainly keep them busy and happy.
Because poodles were originally working dogs, they will not be happy in a home with very little activity. They want to walk, run, play, and perform. To keep a poodle happy in your home, give your dog all the work it can handle while maintaining a fun-filled and loving environment.
Breed Fact Sheet: Health Concerns
Just like humans and other breeds of dogs, the poodle has its share of genetic issues – these can lead to lifelong illnesses, diseases, or lameness. There are many conditions that can occur in all sizes of poodles:
Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome – Addison’s disease is an adrenal gland disorder that stops production of the hormone cortisol. Dogs get depressed, lethargic, and can’t handle stress. Addison’s can be controlled with medication, though acute episodes will require hospitalization. Cushing’s syndrome is the opposite – the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. The dog will gain weight, be overly hungry and thirsty, have recurrent bladder infections, and the dog may start urinating in the house. Cushing’s can be treated with either medication or surgery.
Hypothyroidism (inadequate levels of thyroid hormone) – The symptoms are weight gain, excessive hunger, hair loss, lack of resistance to disease, and finding warmth. Thyroid hormone supplements can manage the condition.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) – this inherited eye disease can eventually lead to blindness. Other potential eye problems are cataracts and glaucoma.
Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus) – this is more common in standard poodles and is a potentially fatal condition where the stomach twists on itself. This condition requires immediate veterinary care and most frequently requires corrective surgery.
Cancers – standards have a higher frequency of some cancers, like hemangiosarcoma and insulinoma.
Sebaceous Adenitis – this inflammation of the sebaceous glands leads to skin problems and hair loss in standard and toy poodles. It is usually diagnosed by skin biopsy, but treatments and their efficacy vary greatly.
Hip dysplasia – this orthopedic problem starts when the poodle is a puppy. The hip’s ball and socket joint is malformed or doesn’t fit properly. While the manifestation can be a minor irritation requiring occasional medication, some cases are so severe that surgery, include total hip replacement, is possible.
While every poodle is susceptible to all of the above, toy and miniature poodles can have other health problems common to small breed dogs: kneecaps that slip out of place (luxating patellas); dental problems due to tooth crowing; and breathing difficulties due to a collapsing trachea.
Toy poodles specifically can also suffer from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a disorder that causes a decreased blood supply to the head of the thigh bone, which makes it degrade. You can detect this in puppies 4 to 6 months old. The first sign is limping. Surgery is the only treatment, but it does increase the likelihood of arthritis later on in the pup’s life.
You may not even find one or all of these illnesses in a growing puppy. You never know when any one of these conditions might show up. The best way to avoid immediate worries is to find and work with a reputable breeder committed to breeding healthy pups. A reputable breeder will have independent certification of the breed line and overall health of the pup, including genetic tests.
Breed Fact Sheet: Grooming
Grooming is a never-ending chore with poodles. While their curly coats worked great when poodles were water retrievers, modern poodles must be brushed frequently, washed regularly, and clipped periodically. Even if you choose to use a professional groomer, left untrimmed, the hair will curl into thick cords.
Dental care is an important aspect of grooming, especially for toys and miniatures. Brush your dog’s teeth daily to prevent any oral health problems. See your veterinarian for regular dental check-ups.
When you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. This will usually need to be done every week or two.
These water retrievers from Europe have become a delightful companion for millions of families. While they may have some serious health issues to consider, and they are definitely high-maintenance, nothing can take away from the poodle’s rambunctious, fun-loving personality.