When you think of poodles, images of elegant, neatly pampered, “frou-frou” dogs first come to mind.
But just like the character Leonard from The Secret Life of Pets 2, who, when left alone, dances to heavy rock with his companions instead of the French classical music you’d expect, there’s much more to the breed that meets the eye.
Poodles come in classifications of three: the Standard Poodles, the Miniature Poodles, and the Toy poodles. The breed we’re going to be discussing today is the Standard Poodle.
Where does the Standard Poodle come from? What is their average lifespan? Are they the right dog for you? In this article, we’ll be answering these questions and more.
History of Poodles
The exact origin of poodles isn’t set in stone. There’s been a prominent dispute over whether the poodle descends from the French Barbet or Germany as a type of retrieving water dog.
Despite this, the British, American, and the Canadian Kennel Club all state that the breed came from in Germany. It’s quoted that the breed, “originated as a duck hunter in Germany, where the word “pudelin” refers to splashing in water.”
No matter where they came from, one thing’s for sure: poodles have been present in Europe for centuries. The first drawing of a poodle was by a German artist named Albrecht Dürer, found to be painted in the late 15th to early 16th century.
Another was by Rembrandt in a self-portrait he created in 1631, with his poodle sitting idly in by him.
Poodles are often labeled as “dogdom’s true aristocrats” because, during the medieval period, only those of high ranking royalty owned breeds of poodles. “Common men” – that is, of peasants and farmers – never owned or bred poodles.
This is further evidenced by Louis XIV’s favorite Toy Poodle named Filou, who he owned in Spain in the18th century.
Origin of the “Pompom” Look
You may be surprised to know that the flamboyant, “pompom” look isn’t merely decorative. It actually served a practical purpose in the early years of the dog’s breed, especially to those who help hunters catch prey.
As poodles — Standard Poodles, specifically — were bred as retrieving water dogs more than 400 years ago, hunters used them for duck hunting and oftentimes upland bird hunting.
Hunters shaved the Standard Poodle’s neck, legs, and tail, but left the chest, hips, and leg joints coated. Doing so will allow poodles to move freely in water, while at the same time protect their joints and vital organs. Clever, isn’t it?
As a matter of fact, the “pompom look”, also known as the Continental Cut, has now become the standard cut that most poodle owners prefer.
However, the Continental cut isn’t the only cut for poodles. You’ll also find poodles with the following cuts:
- Bikini clip
- Puppy clip
- Kennel clip
- Lamb clip
Some owners even let a poodle’s hair grow out. Because their short, fluffy, curly coat is virtually non-shedding, their fur naturally cords if left to grow in time.
Standard Poodles: An Introduction to the Breed
Standard Poodles are one of the oldest purebred dogs and their origin. They’re elegant, energetic, and move in a light, springy gait. Here are some more facts about the beautiful Standard Poodles.
Standard Poodle Size and Weight
Tallest among all the poodle varieties, the standard poodle is at least 15 inches in height. For makes, they may weigh up to 60-70 pounds. For females, they come at around 40-50 pounds.
Standard Poodle Colors
Standard Poodles come in a variety of colors. Some of the more notable colors are Apricot, White, and Brown. On some occasions, poodles may come mixed. However, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), an international federation of several national kennel clubs, require poodles to come in one solid color before they’re deemed “acceptable” for show.
Apricot Standard Poodle
Apricots are one of the most sought after and rarest color in Standard Poodles. Their coats can be described as “sunny”, and has a nice, gleaming hue. It’s quite a gorgeous color on Standard Poodles.
White Standard Poodle
White Standard Poodles, often also called the White French Poodle, is the second most common after black. The color is a beautifully pure, snow-white.
Brown Standard Poodle
The coats of Brown Standard Poodles come in a deep, dark color, and are often confused Cafe Au lait colored poodles. Pure Brown Poodles have dark amber eyes that match their fur.
Poodles are considered to have above-average intelligence.
According to canine psychologists, poodles are among the top five most intelligent dog breeds that exist. They rank second just behind the Border Collie, and above the German Shepherd.
Poodles are capable of picking up ticks and commands with ease. Back in the day – around the late 1920s, I would say – poodles were used regularly in circuses because they’re quick learners and so easy to train.
Even now, you’ll find poodles participating in dog shows and circus performances. In fact, a Standard Poodle recently won “Best in Show 2020” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Showan, an all-breed conformation show that’s been hosted in New York City annually since 1877.
They’re also bred to retrieve things from the water, making them remarkable swimmers. Poodles are an all-around “perfect” dog; polite with strangers, sociable with other animals, lively, playful, and smart.
We often see poodles as aloof and snotty-nosed dogs, mainly because they’re shown in fashionable clothes and exaggerated haircuts. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Standard Poodles get along nicely with strangers and other animals, especially when raised around people when they’re young. But regardless of how friendly poodles are, they can be quite protective of their family and the home they live in.
Out of the three poodle classifications, Standard Poodles are generally more reserved.
Miniature Poodles tend to be lively, mischievous little pooches. Toy Poodles, on the other hand, love being the center of attention. Toy Poodles are open to dressing up in dog hoodies and stylish clothes.
Poodles are recorded as the sixth most popular dog breed in the United States as of 2020 according to the American Kennel Club. Seeing how amazing these little creatures are, this doesn’t come as a great surprise.
The Two Other Pedigree Poodle Breeds
Despite there being three recognized poodle classes, the Standard, Miniature, and Toy, there are actually two other poodle breeds: the Klien Poodle and the Teacup Poodle.
The latter two aren’t officially recognized as “pure poodle classifications” as of yet, but they’re a type of poodle nonetheless.
Before we proceed to a Standard Poodle’s care, health, and training, allow me to introduce the five other poodle breeds out there so we can easily compare it to the Standard Poodle.
As its name suggests, Miniature Poodles are, well, small. They stand between 10-14 cm tall and weigh around 15-17lbs even as fully grown adults.
They’re small, but not as small as the Teacup Poodle, and aren’t as big as Klein Poodles.
Teacup Poodles are considered to be the cousin of Miniature Poodles and tend to be 9 inches or smaller in height, and just under 6 pounds in weight. Both Teacup and Klein Poodles are an unofficial size variation of poodles.
Toy Poodles are the smallest of all three traditional poodle breeds. They’re smaller than Miniatures but bigger than Teacups. They stand between 9.5-11 inches and can weigh up to 20lbs.
Caring For Standard Poodles
Caring for Standard Poodles is fairly easy, but they do require special attention in several aspects of their care.
Poodles are high-maintenance dogs. They require regular grooming and a good deal of daily exercise.
One of the best traits found in poodles is that they barely shed. This makes them great companions for those with allergies. But because of this, their non-shedding coat is also what makes poodles a high maintenance breed.
No matter the length, a poodle’s coat requires daily combing and brushing. If owners failed to do so, their coat may mat close to their skin, which in turn may cause sores and skin infections. When matting becomes too thick, the only solution is to opt for a trip to the groomers.
On the subject of groomers, poodles need to be professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks for a bath, coat maintenance, and nail trimming. Close cuts such as the Puppy cut, Summer cut, and the Modern cut are preferred as they allow maintenance to be more manageable to owners.
Nail clipping, as with any other dog, is essential to poodle maintenance.
As a general rule of thumb, nails need to be cut every 3-4 weeks. Nails that click on the floor are already too long and may injure the poodle’s nail bed.
Poodles have floppy ears, and as such, can be prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning is necessary to avoid such infections and can be done after every bath.
A simple solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water works well for regular cleaning. Moisten a gauze and gently clean the inside of your poodle’s each with the solution.
Tear stains can be a problem for light-colored poodles, like the white standard poodles, the apricot standard poodles, and cream standard poodles.
Discoloration may occur under a poodle’s eyes if constantly exposed to tears. Occasional tears are normal, but constant dampness under the eyes may be a sign of something more serious.
If you own a poodle who appears to constantly have tear stains under her eyes, it’s advisable to consult a vet before treating it yourself.
Once your vet gives you the go-signal, you can try the following to treat your poodle’s tear stains, as per expert advice by the AKC:
- Gently clean her eyes with saline eye-wash solutions or Terra Septic eye drops with a cotton ball.
- If you don’t own an eye-wash, you create one yourself with 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Purchase a tear-stain removal that’s approved by vets.
- Mild hydrogen peroxide helps lighten the color enough until it grows out, but be sure to avoid the eyes.
- Trim the hair above your poodle’s eyes to avoid irritation in the future.
Poodles require daily exercise to suit their high energy levels. Standard Poodles tend to be more active than Miniatures or Toys and don’t tire as easily, so they must receive plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Swimming makes for a great exercise for Standard Poodles, especially since they love it so much. They also thrive for long walks and/or jogs, and a rousing game of fetch. It’s recommended for poodles to get up to an hour a day of exercise per day.
As poodles are extremely intelligent, they’re easily trained. They’re agile, graceful, and excel in a variety of canine sports. Standard Poodles are excellent water-retrievers, and as such may compete in dock diving and other retriever hunt tests.
Eager to please and exceptionally people-oriented, poodles will do their best to understand and learn new commands, especially if training routines are made fun and positive.
As much as you can, involve your Standard Poodle in advanced obedience classes and agility in your local dog club to give them enough mental and physical stimulation.
Common Health Issues Found in Standard Poodles
The Poodle is a generally healthy breed. Most poodles live long, happy, healthy lives with their beloved owners. But as with all breeds, although rare, some health issues can occur.
Unfortunately, Standard Poodles can inherit or develop a number of eye conditions, most of which can be extremely painful. Some may even cause blindness if not treated properly.
Glaucoma affects not only Standard Poodles but people too. Glaucoma is a disease in which the pressure within the eye is increased caused by inadequate drainage of aqueous fluid.
This type of disorder may rapidly lead to blindness if not treated right away. Symptoms may include:
- Watery discharge from the eye
- Obvious swelling or bulging of the eyeball
- Poodles constantly rubbing at her eyes as if in pain
- Cornea may look cloudy or bluish
- Lethargy and loss of appetite
All of these signs can either occur slowly or suddenly. In both cases, treatment should be as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of irreversible damage and blindness.
This eye disorder is another common cause of blindness, especially in older poodles. Just like cataracts found in people, the lenses of a poodle’s eyes may look cloudy or opaque. With cataracts, sight may be restored with surgical operations.
Cataracts can develop from trauma to the eye, disease, or just old age. However, it’s found that inherited conditions are the most common cause and may be present at birth or developed when a poodle is very young.
Symptoms may include:
- Changes in the eye’s color, pupil size or shape
- Frequent rubbing or scratching of the eyes
- Cloudy pupils in one or both eyes
Poodles are prone to a variety of skin problems. The most common found in all breeds of poodles is called the Sebaceous Adenitis, which is the inflammation of the sebaceous glands.
This gland is responsible for lubricating hair follicles and the skin of a dog. If inflamed, it may cause dry, scaly skin, with patches of hair loss atop a poodle’s head, neck, and along the back. In severe cases, it may lead to sores and bad odor.
- Excess scaling
- Brittle, dull, and/or matted hair
- If found in a Standard White Poodle, the coat may turn an unnatural brown or rusty red
- Loss of curls
Two of the most common heart disorders found in Standard Poodles are known as Atrial Septal Defect and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
Atrial Septal Defect, although relatively rare, is found to be a congenital malformation seen in Standard Poodles, which means that it’s often present at birth. ADS is characterized by a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of a dog’s heart.
If the hole is small enough, with proper care, poodles may live long and healthy lives without any symptoms.
However, poodles with ASD may find it difficult to breathe and perform physical activities. As of today, the only solution is open-heart surgery.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
DCM is a life-threatening heart condition in which the heart becomes so large, thin, and weak that it can no longer function and pump blood to a dog’s body effectively. Just like the above heart condition, genetic factors are presumed to play a role in the development of this disorder.
The signs found in DCM are related to symptoms of congestive heart failure. This includes:
- Fainting spells
- Difficulty breathing
- Constant, uncontrollable coughing Distension of the abdomen with fluid
Standard Poodle Lifespan
According to the AKC, poodles have an average life expectancy of 15 -18 years.
In comparison, Labradors live up to 10-12 years, German Shepherd, 7 – 10, and the American Bulldog 8 – 10. Suffice to say, poodles can live a pretty long time compared to other breeds in the non-sporting group.
Poodles of all kinds make for amazing, beautiful companions.
They’re full of love and have so much to offer. Despite their high-maintenance grooming requirements, poodles will steal your heart when it comes to their even tempers and eagerness to please.
Is the Standard Poodle for you? Well, if you’re looking for a lively, playful, and highly intelligent dog to train, then yes, absolutely!
But remember: poodles are peaceful, sensitive dogs, so they need to live in a stress-free, harmonious home. Before getting a poodle for your family, make sure you can provide everything she needs for her to live her life to its full, 18 years capacity.